How To Make Hot Buffalo Chicken Wings In The Oven

How to make perfectly crisp, saucy chicken wings in the oven

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Making chicken wings at home isn't a birdbrained idea—but the little suckers do take some finesse.

The meat-to-bone ratio is relatively low, so overcook 'em and the meat shrivels into tough, chewy shreds. Undercook them and you've got a mouthful of slime.

Even chefs have to coax the little suckers into submission: At The Greenhouse Tavern in Cleveland, Jonathon Sawyer uses the CCR method for his fall-off-the-bone confit wings: "Cure, cook, recook. It's more work, but it gets you tender, juicy meat." Ashley Christensen smokes hers low and slow over pecan wood before frying and tossing them in a guajillo chile-and-brown-sugar-spiked spice mixture at Beasley's Chicken + Honey in Raleigh, NC. And at Brooklyn's Talde, Dale Talde marinates his kung pao wings in yogurt and hot sauce before double pan-frying them.

We weren't about to chicken out: We consulted the poultry pros, then cooped ourselves up in the Test Kitchen and tried a few methods to make that game-day favorite, wings lacquered in hot, spicy, buttery buffalo sauce (see the recipe). And the method that most ruffled our feathers (in a good way) comes from the brainiacs behind the Ideas in Food blog, Aki Kamozawa and H. Alexander Talbot, and, more specifically, their new book, Maximum Flavor ($32.50).

Their no-fry method is as close to effortless as we could find: After marinating overnight, the wings are cooked on high heat in the oven, so you don't have to worry about oil temperatures and grease splatters. There are a couple of tips, though, to make your buffalo wings soar:

Give 'em an overnight birdbath. The night before serving, toss the wings in a mixture of egg whites, baking soda and salt, then let them sit overnight in the fridge on a wire rack. The coating both seasons the meat and helps break down the proteins in the skin—making the meat super tender.

Don't leave the meat in the cold. Let the wings sit at room temperature for about half an hour before you cook them. Not only does this help them cook more evenly, it lets that salty marinade redistribute through the meat. (Remember what Sawyer said about curing?)

Crank the oven. You're going to heat it up to 450°—the high temperature is what will give the wings super-crisp, nicely browned skin.

Bring the sauce. Unsalted butter. Frank's RedHot Sauce. That's all you need for the perfect lacquer. We found the ratio of three tablespoons of butter to half a cup of sauce gives just the right amount of heat and that signature fiery orange sheen.

Show your dressing some love. You should absolutely make your blue cheese dipping sauce from scratch; it's just too easy not to and uses ingredients you may already have in your fridge (buttermilk, sour cream, mild blue cheese, lemon, lots of cracked black pepper).

Upgrade your accoutrements. Although buffalo wings are traditionally served with crisp carrot and celery sticks, try cool radishes, daikons or baby bok choy. They have the same refreshing crunch and bite but look even prettier on the plate.

Separating the whites from the yolks for the wings' overnight marinade.

The marinade of egg whites, baking soda and salt seasons the meat and helps break down the proteins in the skin—making the meat super tender.

Toss the wings in the egg white mixture to make sure they're evenly coated.

Bake your wings at 450° on a wire rack over a sheet pan to give them even more air flow. The high temperature results in crisp, browned skin.

The buffalo sauce? Nothing but unsalted butter and Frank's RedHot Sauce. Give the wings a thick coating to ensure a beautifully messy snack.

Upgrade your accoutrements: Make blue cheese from scratch, and throw some different crisp vegetables, like radishes, into the usual carrot-and-celery mix.

Get our buffalo wings recipe.