Why Sauce Isn't The Most Important Part Of Fried Chicken Wings

When you think about chicken wings, your mind (and taste buds) probably go to what kind of sauce you want then slathered in. Maybe it's classic buffalo sauce or something elevated like garlic parmesan or pineapple habanero. Either way, you should recognize that the flavors and spices of your preferred sauce aren't actually the most important components of your fried chicken wings; the breading is where your fried wings really get their flavor.

Like most meats, salt, pepper, and other spices are what bring out the flavors of the chicken. So it's important to properly season the breading of your wings and the chicken itself — or you might be stuck with drums and flats that are bland or only taste like the sauce. Traditionally, breading for wings includes some sort of flour mixed with salt and pepper plus seasonings like garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and cumin. But if you prefer spicy food, you can throw in chili flakes, chili powder, and cayenne pepper to up the spiciness.

How to bread your fried chicken wings for maximum flavor

If you want to keep things simple, you can dip your wings in a beaten egg mixture (throw in some of your favorite hot sauce for extra flavor) and dredge them in the flour mixed with seasonings. This will give them layers of flavor, especially if you use the right amount of spices.

Another option that helps bring out the flavors is to brine the wings in buttermilk. As a reminder, brining is the process of soaking meat with salt, seasonings, and fats to bring out flavors and keep the protein moist and tender. When you brine your wings in creamy, pungent buttermilk, it adheres for the breading to stick and elevates the flavors of the chicken. The chicken should soak in the brine for at least an hour, but some recipes suggest overnight.

The brining and seasoning options are not the only way you can experiment with the breading of your fried chicken wings. You can also swap flour for bread crumbs. You can use plain bread crumbs and mix them with the seasonings mentioned earlier or you can take the easy route and use seasoned bread crumbs. Panko bread crumbs are another popular option as they absorb less oil than traditional breadcrumbs, making them even crispier. No matter what kind of flour or bread crumbs you choose, as long as they're seasoned properly, your wings will come out crispy and ready to take on your favorite sauce.