baked chicken wings on display

When you think of chicken wings, you probably picture (and salivate over) a platter of wings with a nice crispy exterior and tender, juicy meat, a combination that can only be achieved with frying, right? But that’s not true — you can make delicious baked chicken wings as well.

Key here, says former chef, food writer, and photography and design professional Keith Kamikawa is "to really make sure you pat the chicken wings dry with a paper towel. This really does ensure a good start to making the baked wings as crispy as they can get." With properly prepped (and spiced) wings, the next secret is to be precise with your cook time and heating, Kamikawa says. After an initial low-temperature baking, you’ll crank the heat, helping to cook the skin nice and crisp while also ensuring the meat within cooks through. And don’t worry if you don’t have a top-of-the-line oven that can ratchet up the heat in a hurry.

"You can absolutely [make these] in an air fryer," Kamikawa says. "Cooking time would most likely be reduced, but the method of prep would be identical." And as for flavoring up the delicious finished product? These wings are best served "with your favorite sauce."

Gather your ingredients for baked chicken wings

baked chicken wings ingrdients on counter

The base ingredient list for these baked chicken wings is refreshingly simple. For success with this baked chicken wing recipe, it’s as much or more about the handling of the wings as it is the ingredients used, especially as you’re well advised to add a sauce selection for slathering or dipping once they’re ready to be served. But for that base prep, you’ll need three and a half pounds of chicken wings, a half teaspoon each of salt, black pepper, paprika, and garlic powder, and one and a half teaspoons of baking powder.

Prep your baked chicken wings and your oven

baked chicken wings being prepared

Cut each of the chicken wings into three segments at the joint, the drum, wing, and tip. Discard all tips you remove or, better yet, keep them to make a stock or broth later. (You can freeze the wing tips if you’re not ready to make it right away.)

Once the wings are prepped, you can set them aside as you prepare your spice blend. For the seasoning, mix the salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and baking powder together in a small bowl. And "if you’re looking for more heat," says Kamikawa, "the easy route to go would be to spice it up by creating a dry rub of cayenne, chili powder, garlic powder, and a touch of brown sugar to add to the seasoning."

Meanwhile, pre-heat your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit to cook your baked chicken wings.

Dry and season the baked chicken wings, then do the initial bake

chicken wings being seasoned

Pat the trimmed chicken wings dry with a paper towel, and place them in a large bowl. Now, dust the wings with your seasoning blend, stirring them around to evenly coat the chicken wings with the spices.

Place the seasoned chicken wings on a wire rack, and put that rack on a baking sheet. A rack is key here to ensure the heat reaches the wings evenly. If you don’t have one, quickly turn all the wings halfway through this first step, minimizing heat loss and adding a minute to the baking time.

Bake the baked chicken wings for 20 minutes at 250 degrees.

Crank up the heat and watch the clock as you prepare your baked chicken wings

baked chicken wings baking

Once the baked chicken wings have baked at 250 degrees for 20 minutes, turn the oven up to 425 degrees. Set a timer for 20 minutes, as you’ll be flipping the wings and rotating the pan after 20 minutes. Then bake them for another 20 minutes — so that’s 40 minutes at the higher heat overall.

Now, you can pull the wings and let them cool briefly, and then serve those baked, perfectly crispy chicken wings with your favorite sauces. When the meal (or game day app spread) is finished, chances are there will be no leftovers, but just in case, Kamikawa says: "The best way to store them is in an air tight sealed container. Making sure the wings cool to air temperature before being sealed [in] helps them not build up moisture." Eat the leftovers within a couple days.