Pouring Boiling Water Over Chicken Wings Is A Major Game Changer

Chicken wings are one of the great casual finger foods. No sports bar or Super Bowl game is complete without them, and the popularity of home air fryers has made them more popular than ever before. The best wings have juicy meat surrounded by crispy skin, just like any other cut of chicken, whether it's a deep-fried thigh or a grilled leg. Biting into a chicken wing with limp, spongy skin is just gross, and no amount of sauce can cover up that texture nightmare.

A lot of tips have been shared on achieving that coveted crispy chicken skin. From tossing wings in baking powder, drying them thoroughly, basting them with butter, and roasting them at a high temperature, many have promised the crispiest results. It turns out that the best way to get skin crispy may lie in boiling water. People like Chicago-based chef Mohammad Yasin swear by the practice of pouring boiling water over uncooked chicken wings before cooking them in various ways. His TikTok video showing this technique went viral, and many others have shared how well the method works for them.

The key to crispy chicken? Very hot water

The technique almost seems too simple. No special equipment is involved, no fancy ingredients and almost no extra time is spent prepping your chicken wings to get them to cook with skin that virtually shatters to the touch. In a separate TikTok video from Yasin, fans see him placing uncooked chicken wings on a baking rack sitting over a pan. He pours boiling water directly on the chicken, which is lying skin side up. You can see the skin immediately begin to retract and shrink. Next, he dries the wings well, seasons them with a mixture of spices and a bit of oil, and tosses everything together so that the wings are coated. He lays the wings flat on another baking rack set over a pan and places the wings in the oven to bake.


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The end result: wings that are fully cooked with a beautiful golden color. While you can't hear the crack of crispy skin in the video, the wings are browned, caramelized and look anything but soggy. You'd think that adding water to chicken would be counterproductive to achieving dry, crispy skin. So how does it work?

Why it works

The initial hit of boiling water begins to render the chicken fat and starts the cooking process of the chicken. You might have noticed that anytime you cook chicken, you may get a crispy exterior, but just below that, there is still a layer of subcutaneous fat over the meat. Pouring hot water on top aims to melt that jiggly stuff away so that the crisp skin lays directly on top of the meat. After you pour the water on the skin, it should be noticeably thinner.

When it's time to cook, a variety of cooking methods will result in the gorgeous skin you want if you use the boiling water method, including roasting, air-frying, deep-frying, grilling, and pan-frying. One thing to consider when using this method is your seasoning. Obviously, if you salt and pepper your chicken right before you pour the boiling water on, it will be washed away, so brining overnight, salting the meat the day before, or seasoning the wings after the water has been poured on top and the wings are dried are all good ideas. Don't stop at chicken wings, either; pre-treating your chicken with boiling water works for chicken thighs, and legs, even if you're cooking the whole bird.