How To Make Chicken Wings Better: 3 Easy Ways

Put a twist on your Super Bowl appetizers this year with Thai, Indian and Korean flavors.

Americans will eat 1.3 billion chicken wings this Super Bowl Sunday, according to the National Chicken Council. That number sounds absurd, but it also gives us an excuse to experiment with new flavors of wings.

Traditionally, you see wings doused in a tangy Buffalo sauce or a classic barbecue glaze. They may vary in heat or smokiness, but there isn’t much variety other than that. This year, it’s time to switch things up and give the wings an international upgrade using Thai, Korean and Indian flavors.

First up is a Thai sweet chili sauce made with sambal oelek as the base. Sambal is a chili paste made with just three ingredients ― fresh chilis, vinegar and salt ― that packs a killer punch. It provides the heat many people seek from Buffalo wings but has a deeper, more intense flavor. I add sugar to balance out the heat, rice vinegar for acidity, soy sauce for saltiness and a little cornstarch to thicken it up to create the perfect sweet, spicy and sour wings that will leave you wanting more.

Left to right: Korean, Indian dry rub and Thai wings.
Left to right: Korean, Indian dry rub and Thai wings.

We all know Korean barbecue is delicious, so adding those flavors to your wings is a no-brainer. Much like the Thai version, this sauce also starts with a chili paste but this one is specific to Korean cooking. Gochujang is a fermented chili paste that brings tang and heat to the sauce. If you can’t find it at your local grocery store, feel free to use red pepper flakes in its place.

For those who love wings but hate the mess, Indian dry curry wings are the way to go. Rather than dousing the wings in a sticky sauce, save the wet wipes and coat your wings in a dry curry rub with many spices you likely already have in your pantry. The wings still pack a punch with the heat you have come to expect from curry, but the spice will stay on the wings instead of your fingers.

Give one or all three of these recipes a shot and skip the takeout this year.

Dry rub wings.
Dry rub wings.

International Chicken Wings

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients

Sweet Thai Chili Glaze

  • 1/2 cup sambal oelek

  • 2/3 cup rice wine vinegar

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water

Korean Barbecue Sauce

  • 1 cup soy sauce

  • 1 cup dark brown sugar

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger

  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil

  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds

  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon gochujang paste (substitute 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes if unable to find)

  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 3 tablespoons water

Dry Curry Rub

  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika

  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder

  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 2 tablespoons curry powder

  • 1 tablespoon cumin

Wings

  • 6 pounds chicken wings

  • olive oil

  • kosher salt

Korean wings
Korean wings

Directions

Sweet Thai Chili Glaze

1. Combine sambal oelek, vinegar, sugar, garlic, soy sauce, and 1/2 cup water in a large pot. Whisk together and cook until sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes.

2. Slowly add cornstarch/water mixture to sauce, whisking constantly, until cornstarch is combined.

3. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook on low heat for 2 to 3 minutes until thickened. Remove from heat and let cool.

Korean Barbecue Sauce

1. Combine soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, sesame seeds, rice wine vinegar, gochujang paste or red pepper flakes, and 1/4 cup water in a large saucepan. Whisk together and cook until sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes.

2. Slowly add cornstarch/water mixture to sauce, whisking constantly, until cornstarch is combined.

3. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook on low heat for 2 to 3 minutes until thickened. Remove from heat and let cool.

Dry Curry Rub

Mix all spices together until thoroughly combined.

Wings

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two or three baking sheets with aluminum foil. Spray with non-stick cooking spray.

2. In a large bowl, toss 4 pounds of the chicken wings with 3 tablespoons olive oil and salt.

3. In a separate bowl, toss remaining 2 pounds of chicken wings with 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil and curry spice blend.

4. Divide wings between prepared baking sheets and spread out in a single layer. Bake until cooked through and skin is crispy, 45–50 minutes.

5. Remove from oven and toss 2 pounds of the naked chicken wings in Thai glaze. Toss remaining 2 pounds of naked wings with Korean barbecue sauce.

6. Serve immediately with your favorite dipping sauce.

Thai wings.
Thai wings.
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