For the Crispiest Grilled Chicken Wings, Add This Humble Pantry Staple

published Aug 11, 2022
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Photograph of grilled chicken wings on the outdoor grill.
Credit: Kelli Foster

The humble wing is one of my favorite cuts from the chicken: I love the ratio of meat to skin and how there’s plenty of surface area to brush on a glaze or cover in sauce. Deep-fried wings are a tasty treat with all that crispy skin, but one I enjoy at restaurants to avoid frying at home. Grilling the wings is a great alternative, especially when the weather’s hot and you want to keep the kitchen cool. Tossing the wings with one pantry ingredient before grilling is the secret weapon to getting the skin just a little crispier and closer to their deep-fried cousins.

Cornstarch Is the Key to Crispy Wings

The key to crispier grilled chicken wings lies in cornstarch. Cornstarch is often used in combination with flour in fried chicken recipes to create a crispier coating, so I decided to see if cornstarch would help chicken wings crisp up on the grill as well.

When developing my grilled Buffalo chicken wings recipe, I did a side-by-side comparison of plain wings vs. wings tossed with cornstarch before grilling. The wings with cornstarch were crispier and held onto the crispness even when tossed with sauce; the cornstarch absorbs some of the moisture on the skin and helps the wings crisp up. While they were by no means as crispy as deep-fried wings, they still had a satisfying crunch that made them worth the extra step of tossing the wings with the cornstarch first. It’s definitely a technique I’ll use again in the future.

How to Make Grilled Chicken Wings with Cornstarch

I recommend patting the chicken wings dry with paper towels before coating them with just a light dusting of cornstarch and your desired seasonings. Dry wings will get a more even, thinner coating of cornstarch than wings that are damp. Then just grill away and enjoy these crispy wings with your favorite sauce and stack of napkins.