The Underrated Ingredient You Can't Skip For Crispy Chicken Wings

Chicken wings are the perfect food. Not only do they pair deliciously with countless sauces, but when prepared correctly, they're covered in a delightfully crisp skin that gives way to moist, succulent chicken. However, due to their popularity, there are countless ways to prepare them. The chicken wings you order at a restaurant or buy frozen at the grocery store often achieve their crunchy exterior by being coated in flour and then deep-fried. But you don't have to follow this method for the crispiest results.

In fact, you don't need to use flour at all to achieve a perfectly crunchy chicken wing crust. Breading can easily fall off or become soggy if the wings are left out after cooling down. (Not to mention, it isn't ideal for people with gluten intolerances.) However, if you search in your baking cabinet just a bit longer, you'll find exactly what you need: aluminum-free baking powder, which helps reduce moisture — the enemy of a perfect, crispy chicken wing, no fryer required.

Baking powder is the key to crispiness

Baking powder (not to be confused with baking soda) is often used as a leavening agent in baked goods, making items like cookies and biscuits light and fluffy. It's actually made from baking soda (aka sodium bicarbonate) mixed with an acid or combination of acids. One of the secrets you probably didn't know about baking powder is that it accelerates the browning process, making chicken skin crisp up by absorbing moisture, thus creating a gorgeous skin without adding any distracting flavors.

However, you do want to make sure that you are using aluminum-free baking powder. Most standard baking powders contain aluminum, which can impart a metallic taste to your cooking. Aluminum-free baking powder reacts with liquid while baking powder containing aluminum reacts with heat. This is why the latter is often more common, as it does not start the chemical reaction until your food is in the oven. But as long as your powdered wings aren't sitting out too long before baking, you should be fine. Aluminum-free baking powder should be available at most stores, with the designation clearly indicated on the packaging.

How to use baking powder for chicken wings

You only need a small amount of baking powder for your chicken wings, around a teaspoon per pound of chicken wings. To make even distribution easier, mix it in with some garlic powder, paprika, ground black pepper, and a little bit of salt, then toss your wings in the dry rub.

From there, there are countless ways to impart your chicken wings with a ton of flavor. Buffalo wings are, of course, a classic, made with either a butter and hot sauce combo or a pre-batched sauce made with a high smoke point oil, like the avocado oil-based buffalo sauce from Primal Kitchen. You could also go for more of a barbecue route if you want wings that are sweeter and smokier rather than tangy, or perhaps Thai-style sweet chili sauce wings. But feel free to take risks! Harissa honey wings are a sweet and spicy treat, as are wings made with sriracha. Or you could use a peri peri sauce for something garlicky, flavorful, and likely to clear out your sinuses.