Make this delicious honey hot wings recipe for your next gathering or game day. The wings are baked until golden brown and crisp, then tossed in a sticky, sweet, and spicy sauce.
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A plate of chicken wings is an appetizer that always disappears fast! I often serve up tangy lemon pepper wings or BBQ chicken wings. They make for an easy handheld snack for parties or while watching your favorite sports team.
To achieve a crisp texture, I skip the deep frying. Instead, I use a simple oven-baking method for golden brown and crunchy pieces. While baking the wings, I’ll show you how to make a simple hot wings sauce using four ingredients. The sticky sauce clings to the chicken for an irresistible contrast of textures and a lingering spicy kick!
Buy two pounds of “party wings” from the grocery store. They make preparation quick and easy because the wing tips have already been trimmed. The flat (or wingette) and drummettes are cut into two separate pieces. This will yield about 20 pieces, perfect for sharing.
Dry the wings
To accelerate the browning of the chicken skin, dry the surface with paper towels. The natural juices on the meat will make the pieces steam instead of crisp in the oven.
Season the chicken
The wings are seasoned with kosher salt, black pepper, smoked paprika, onion powder, and garlic powder. The combination enhances the savory flavor of the poultry. To make them spicy, add ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
Baking powder is also added to the mixture. It’s the secret ingredient I use for baked chicken wings to yield crunchier skin. The alkaline baking soda reduces the skin’s pH, breaking down the protein peptides, so it’s less chewy. Bubbles also form on the surface that dries in the oven for more crispiness.
For maximum crunch
If you are meal-prepping or like extra crispy chicken wings, refrigerate the seasoned wings uncovered in the refrigerator up to 24 hours in advance. The dry environment wicks more moisture from the surface for crunchier bites!
Oven bake the chicken wings
Elevate the chicken wings instead of placing them directly on the pan. This allows the hot air in the oven to circulate better. Arrange the pieces in a single layer on a greased wire rack, set inside a foil-lined baking sheet. The surface will become golden brown, and the grease will render off the meat.
Bake at a high 450ºF (230ºC) for 30 to 35 minutes, flipping about halfway through. The wings are ready when they reach 165ºF (74ºC), and the skin is golden and crisp.
Make the hot honey sauce
Combining honey, hot sauce, butter, and crushed red pepper flakes makes for a quick and easy wing sauce. I use Crystal or Tabasco hot sauce. They both contain cayenne pepper and vinegar, providing heat and tanginess. The mixture is briefly simmered to warm up the sauce.
Let the sauce sit in the pan for at least 10 minutes to infuse the hot capsaicin from the pepper flakes into the honey. This will give a heat that lingers for a welcomed spicy kick. Strain the mixture to remove large flakes of pepper. However, if you like a really strong spice, leave the peppers. This recipe makes about ½ cup of hot honey butter sauce.
Toss in the sauce
Add the pieces to a large bowl, drizzle half the honey hot wing sauce, then toss to coat. I like to serve the remaining warm sauce on the side for guests to dip. To add fresh herbs, you can sprinkle on chopped parsley, chives, or sliced green onions.
Serve with a dipping sauce
Frequently asked questions
Yes! Cook the wings in two batches. Coat them with the seasoning mix, omitting the baking powder, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil or avocado oil. Fry them at 400ºF (200ºC) for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through. Add more time if needed. Toss with the hot honey sauce.
Add cayenne pepper powder or chipotle chili powder to the sauce. Start with ⅛ teaspoon, increasing until the desired heat level is reached. The chili powder can also be added to the chicken seasoning mix, about ¼ teaspoon.
Add two types of chili’s in the sauce
To make a spicy sauce for the chicken wings, use hot sauce and crushed red pepper flakes. Hot sauce is a mixture of cayenne pepper and distilled vinegar. Adding too much will make the sauce too tangy. Add dried red peppers to increase the heat and keep the flavors balanced. The capsaicin in the chili is fat soluble, and butter helps to dissolve the spicy molecules into the sauce.
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Honey Hot Wings
- vegetable oil, as needed for oiling wire rack
- 2 pounds chicken wings, wingettes and drummetes
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper, coarsely ground
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
Hot Honey Sauce
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ cup honey
- 2 tablespoons hot sauce
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Preheat the Oven – Adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Heat to 450°F (232°C).
- 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 the baking sheet.
- Dry the Meat – 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.
- Season the Pieces – In a large bowl, whisk together baking powder, salt, black pepper, paprika, onion powder, and garlic powder. Add the chicken and mix to coat the surface.
- Bake the Chicken – Evenly space the chicken on the wire rack. Bake for 20 minutes. Flip and continue baking until skin is golden brown and crisp, about 10 to 15 minutes. The internal temperature should reach 165ºF (74ºC). Immediately transfer the wings to a large bowl. Reserve the baking sheet.
- Make the Sauce – While the chicken bakes, make the sauce. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the honey, hot sauce, and chili flakes, and whisk to combine. Simmer the sauce for 1 minute, then turn off the heat. Let sit for at least 10 minutes to infuse spiciness from the red chili flakes. Strain the sauce, or skip straining for a spicier flavor.
- Serve – Immediately transfer the hot chicken wings to a large bowl. Add half of the hot honey sauce and toss to coat. Transfer to a serving platter and serve with the remaining sauce on the side for dipping.
- Serving Size: 1 wing
- Substituting Table Salt: Use ¾ teaspoon salt instead of 1 teaspoon kosher salt.
- Make the Sauce Mild: Omit the red chili flakes or reduce to ½ teaspoon.
- Make it Dairy-free: Substitute butter for margarine, coconut oil, or light olive oil.
- 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.
- Baking Directly on a Sheet Pan: You can bake these wings without a wire rack, although they will be greasier from the rendered fat.
- Storing: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
- Reheating: Cover and microwave on high heat in 15-second intervals until hot.
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