Why You Should Be Using Dry Rub For Chicken Wings

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It doesn't take much to make a batch of chicken wings as the perfect snack, appetizer, or entrée. One of the best ways out there to make them truly sing is to use a dry rub. Especially when compared to marinade or a simple sauce, a dry rub is going to give chicken wings a deeper flavor, a crisp exterior, and save you all of the time waiting for them to marinate.

According to culinary scientist Jessica Gavin, a marinade is a sauce or dressing that raw meat is left to rest in for a period of time before it is cooked. Meanwhile, dry rubs are a mixture of any dry spices that are applied to the skin of the raw chicken shortly before cooking, according to cookbook author Debbie Spivey.

The problem with marinades is that they don't necessarily work as advertised. One of the supposed benefits of the marinade is its ability to tenderize meat... except that it doesn't. HuffPost notes that leaving an acidic marinade for too long will overly soften the outer layer of flesh, and actually cause the inner proteins to pack together. This leaves a tough interior and a mushy exterior behind. On top of that, the marinade can only penetrate so deep into the flesh of the meat, leaving less than desired flavor. The dry rub won't be adding flavor to the interior of a chicken breast, either, but it will add a deeply flavorful crust without compromising texture.

Dry rubs are an easy way to pack on any flavor

Dry rubs are a great option for chicken wings because they are easily customized and pack on tons of flavor. Bon Appétit notes that their two criteria for any dry rub are salt and brown sugar. From there, it just depends on what balance of flavors you want to add. You can use lemon pepper, Szechuan peppercorn, cumin, thyme, or any other dried herb you'd like in order to make it your own. The publication also noted that because dry rubs aren't adding any moisture to the surface of the meat, it creates a better environment for it to sear and caramelize (especially thanks to the added sugars).

According to grilling experts Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby in their book, "The Big-Flavor Grill: No-Marinade, No-Hassle Recipes", dry rubs actually add more flavor as well because they cling to the surface better. Marinades and sauces have more of a tendency to drip onto heating elements and cause flare-ups.

Because most of the meat is on the surface of chicken wings, they make especially good targets for dry rubs. You're getting a taste of spice with every bite of the wing because the meat is just below that crisp skin.

There's no need to fret if you're still clinging to that favorite sauce or marinade. Once the dry rub is finished creating that perfectly crisp, caramelized crust, you can glaze on a sauce, or try a reverse marinade instead.

The next time you want to pack the most flavor into your wings, reach for your favorite dry rub.