Crispy-baked buffalo wings are a must-have for parties or game days, plus I have an easy homemade ranch sauce to serve on the side for dipping.
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Crispy buffalo wings are an essential appetizer for game day. These finger-licking wings are coated in a fiery sauce, and they tend to disappear fast! Restaurants often deep fry them to create a crunchy texture, but I’ll show you how to yield similar results using baking powder.
Traditional wing sauces combine dried hot peppers, vinegar, and a lot of butter. Although tasty, I created a lower-calorie version that’s sticky and flavorful, using minimal fat. You’ll also score big with guests when you pair these wings with a creamy ranch dipping sauce.
A store-bought package of chicken wings usually contains drummettes and wingettes or flats. For a large batch, purchase 2 pounds, about 20 pieces. This oven-baked recipe is so great that you can easily double the size, baking one tray after another without using an abundance of oil.
I also have baked chicken tenders if you want to switch up the meat. You can cut them into smaller pieces for an appetizer or keep them intact for dinner. My kids love them!
Dry the wings before baking
Drying the pieces with a paper towel removes excess surface moisture. If the chicken is soggy, the meat will steam instead of roast and brown. Toss them in a seasoned baking powder mixed with salt and pepper.
For an even crispier texture, refrigerate uncovered on a wire rack for no more than 24 hours. The refrigerator will thoroughly dry the surface. I also do this when roasting a turkey for crunchier skin.
Baking powder improves texture
Until now, I didn’t think that baking chicken wings could ever be comparable to deep frying. I came across a recommendation from Kenji at The Food Lab to use baking powder in the coating to yield a crispy texture.
A simple chemistry reaction happens; the protein-rich juices combine with the baking powder, plus high oven temperature, and form bubbles. These bubbles eventually harden, adding a more fracturable surface when bitten. The alkaline baking powder also weakens the proteins in the skin, making it more blistered and crisp.
The same component that gives baked goods their rise can also impart texture and encourage browning in baked chicken wings. The additional uneven surface area created by the baking powder also helps to catch each sauce drop better.
Elevate on a wire rack
You’re ready to bake once you toss the chicken wings with the baking powder mixture. I use a high oven temperature of 450°F (232°C) to accelerate the drying of the skin and browning process. Place them in a single layer on a greased wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet.
Elevating the meat allows the hot air to circulate above and below, and the grease will also drip down through the rack. Some readers have baked the chicken directly on the sheet pan to retain the flavorful fat in the coating. Flip the wings a few times during the baking process for even cooking.
Baking at 450°F (232°C) will take about 45 to 50 minutes to cook the chicken. To prevent the white meat from drying out, monitor the doneness using an instant-read thermometer, testing the thickest part of the drummette and wingette. They’re ready when the temperature reaches 165ºF (74ºC).
Make the buffalo sauce
When formulating the buffalo sauce, I wanted it to pack heat, flavor, and nicely coat each piece. Crystal hot pepper sauce or Frank’s RedHot sauce, savory Worcestershire, cornstarch, and a small amount of butter build a spicy, tangy, and sticky sauce. The sauce ingredients simmer on the stovetop before whisking in the cornstarch slurry.
In under a minute, the starches thicken the mixture instantly. I use just a tiny amount of butter to tame the heat from the hot sauce. If you like your wings even spicer, sprinkle in some cayenne pepper or try my classic buffalo sauce.
Make a ranch dipping sauce
To balance the hot sauce’s fiery heat, serve these buffalo wings with an easy-to-make ranch dipping sauce. For a lightened-up version, I use plain greek yogurt as the base for creaminess, plus extra protein and health-beneficial probiotics.
The sauce is seasoned with Dijon mustard, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and fresh chives for a delicate onion flavor. You can also try my buttermilk ranch dressing to switch things up.
Serve this with
Frequently asked questions
Deep-frying chicken wings will give the most crispy texture. However, coating the wings with seasoned baking powder and oven-roasting them at 450 degrees can mimic the crispiness without oil.
Yes! The baking soda (alkaline sodium bicarbonate) in baking powder creates a bubbling reaction on the chicken. It breaks down the peptides in the skin, and the bubbles harden, creating a crunching texture when dried.
Thickening agents in hot sauces
Read the hot sauce labels before purchasing to be on the lookout for added thickening agents, such as xanthan gum. These recipes will be thicker than other formulas, so you may not have to add the additional cornstarch if you already find the sauce provides enough coating. Brands such as Frank’s Red Hot will be thicker than Crystal and Tobasco.
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Baked Buffalo Wings
- vegetable oil, as needed for oiling wire rack
- 2 pounds chicken wings, wingettes and drummettes
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup hot sauce, Frank's RedHot or Crystal, recommended
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 ½ teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Dry the Surface – Adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Preheat to 450°F (232°C). Line a separate baking sheet or plate with paper towels. Place the chicken wings and drumettes on top, then thoroughly pat them dry with more paper towels.
- Prepare the Baking Sheet – Line a large baking sheet with foil. Add vegetable oil to a folded paper towel, then grease both sides of a wire rack—alternatively, grease with cooking spray. Set the rack inside a rimmed foil-lined baking sheet.
- Season the Pieces – In a large bowl, whisk together baking powder, salt, and black pepper. Add the chicken and mix to lightly and evenly coat the surface.
- Bake the Chicken – Evenly space the chicken on the wire rack. Bake for 20 minutes. Flip and bake for 15 minutes. Flip again and bake until skin is golden brown and crisp, and the internal temperature reaches 165ºF (74ºC), about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- Make Buffalo Sauce – In a medium skillet or saucepan, add hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. Whisk to combine. Bring to a simmer over medium heat until hot and it begins to bubble, about 3 to 5 minutes.In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and water. Immediately add to the sauce and whisk to combine. Constantly whisk and cook until thickened, 15 to 30 seconds. Turn off heat and whisk in butter until melted and fully incorporated.
- Toss the Wings – Immediately transfer the hot chicken wings to a large bowl and toss with enough buffalo sauce to coat—transfer to a serving platter.
- Make Ranch Sauce – In a small bowl, whisk together yogurt and 2 tablespoons of water. Add up to 1 tablespoon more to thin the sauce if desired. Stir in the chives, Dijon mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and black pepper.
- Recipe Yield: About 20 wings
- Serving Size: 1 wing
- For Crispier Texture: Refrigerate the seasoned wings for up to 24 hours, uncovered, on top of a greased wire rack set in a foil-lined sheet pan. Remove from the refrigerator while the oven preheats, then bake in the same pan.
- Adding Garlic or Onion Flavor: Add ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder or onion powder for a more robust allium flavor.
- Substituting Table Salt: Use ¾ teaspoon salt instead of 1 teaspoon kosher salt.
- Baking Directly on the Sheet Pan: If baking without a wire rack, the wings will be slightly greasy from the rendered fat but delicious.
- Substituting Cornstarch: 2 ¼ teaspoons of arrowroot powder can be substituted for cornstarch. Mix it with 4 ½ teaspoons of water.
- Substituting Butter: 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, ghee (14g), margarine, or solidified coconut oil.
- Make it Gluten-Free: Substitute the Worcestershire sauce with gluten-free tamari, or coconut aminos
- Make it WHOLE30: Substitute Worcestershire sauce with coconut aminos, ghee for butter, red wine vinegar for distilled vinegar, and sea salt for kosher salt.
- Make it Vegan or Vegetarian: Substitute butter with vegan butter, margarine, or olive oil. Coconut aminos, soy sauce, or tamari for Worcestershire sauce.
- Storing: Cool completely and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
- Reheating: Place a single layer on a foil-lined sheet pan and bake at 350ºF (177ºC) until warm, about 10 to 20 minutes. Alternatively, cover and microwave in 30-second increments.
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.
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