Brined Buffalo Chicken Wings

published Feb 9, 2023
Brined Chicken Wings Recipe

Brining is a foolproof way to give chicken wings an internal basting and moisture shield that there’s really no substitute for.

Serves4

Prep15 minutes

Cook40 minutes

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someone dipping brined chicken wings in sauce
Credit: Photo: Linda Xiao; Food Styling: Brett Regot

Whether it’s been at a restaurant, a bar, or a friend’s house, there’s one constant over the years that connects all of the great fried chicken wings I’ve had: They’ve been brined. Brining chicken is like giving the meat an internal basting, and there’s really no substitute for it. This is ideal for wings, which can dry out rather easily. That feeling of biting into a dry, overcooked, chewy wing is just completely unnecessary. Wings should be crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. That process, friends, starts with a good brine.

Credit: Photo: Linda Xiao; Food Styling: Brett Regot

Why You Should Be Brining Your Wings

This Super Bowl Sunday I implore you to take the time to brine any homemade wings you think about making. This is the key to providing restaurant-quality wings in the comfort of your home. Not only does the brine create some tender, juicy wing meat, but the flavor from the brine is also wonderful. The salt and sugar of the brine penetrates the chicken meat in such a way that it evenly seasons every morsel of the wing itself. The bay leaves, garlic, lemon, and peppercorn might seem like the type of ingredients you’d reserve for a fancy whole roasted chicken, but here the herbs impart a lovely aromatic flavor that ends up being wholly complementary to the classic Frank’s RedHot and butter wing sauce. Aromatics only deepen the flavor of this classic Buffalo wing, and they’ll have your guests trying to guess what that little extra flavor is.

To Bake or to Fry?

Personally, I much prefer to fry my wings in a Dutch oven full of oil at home. But I acknowledge that deep-frying can be intimidating, so I’ve included steps to bake the wings in the oven instead. It’s very difficult to overcook these wings because the brine makes them incredibly juicy and moist. And, by placing the oven rack on the highest possible level inside the oven, you’ll still get a satisfying crispiness.

Brined Chicken Wings Recipe

Brining is a foolproof way to give chicken wings an internal basting and moisture shield that there’s really no substitute for.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 40 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the chicken and brine:

  • 5 cloves

    garlic

  • 1

    medium lemon

  • 10 cups

    cold water, divided

  • 1/3 cup

    kosher salt

  • 1/4 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 4

    dried bay leaves

  • 1 tablespoon

    whole black peppercorns

  • 2 1/2 pounds

    party chicken wings (separated drumettes and flats)

For the sauce:

  • 3/4 cup

    Frank’s Original RedHot Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

Make the wings:

  1. Smash 5 garlic cloves with the flat part of a chef’s knife and peel. Place in a large pot. Juice 1 medium lemon into the pot, then add the juiced lemon into the pot as well.

  2. Add 5 cups of the cold cold water, 1/3 cup kosher salt, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 4 dried bay leaves, and 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns. Bring to a low simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt. Turn off the heat. Add the remaining 5 cups cold water and let cool to room temperature, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

  3. Add 2 1/2 pounds party chicken wings to the brine and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 and up to 24 hours (the longer they brine, the saltier they will be).

  4. Drain the chicken wings in a colander and rinse thoroughly with cold water; discard the lemon, garlic, bay leaves, and peppercorns. Fit a wire rack onto a rimmed baking sheet. Place the wings on the rack in a single layer and pat until mostly dry with paper towels. Refrigerate uncovered for 2 to 3 hours to dry out the skin.

  5. Arrange a rack in the top rack of the oven and heat the oven to 400ºF. Bake the wings until the skin is evenly golden brown, the fat is rendering into the baking sheet, and the internal temperature is at least 165ºF, 35 to 40 minutes. Make the sauce when the wings are almost ready.

Make the sauce:

  1. Place 3/4 cup Frank’s Original RedHot Sauce and 3 tablespoons unsalted butter in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the butter is melted and the sauce is warm. Taste and season with black pepper as needed.

  2. Transfer the wings to a large or extra-large bowl (the bigger, the better). Drizzle with the sauce and toss until the wings are evenly coated.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.