In the absence of oil to crisp up the chicken wings’ skins, which is the best part of eating them, a new technique was devised by J. Kenji López-Alt, the author of The Food Lab and a wizard in food science, to get crispy chicken wings in the oven. He proposed rubbing baking powder onto raw chicken wings. Once soaked into the skins and heated in the oven, the powder expands and bursts the chicken skin cells, making the wings super crispy. Don’t worry about all the science of how it works, though—just know it does work. And the result is even better in the fryer, thanks to the force of the air which expands the fat in the chicken skins even more, making these wings virtually indistinguishable from the deep-fried versions ... except for the lack of super greasy fingers after eating them. These “dry-style” air-fried wings are also relatively healthier, swapping out the traditional Buffalo-style bath of butter and hot sauce for the slow-burn of cayenne coating and a simple brushing of melted butter at the end. If you’re a classic-Buffalo fiend, I’ve got you covered with a variation, too.
Place the chicken wings on a large plate, then sprinkle evenly with the baking powder, cayenne, and garlic powder. Toss the wings with your hands, making sure the baking powder and seasonings fully coat them, until evenly incorporated. Let the wings stand in the refrigerator for 1 hour or up to overnight.
Season the wings with salt and black pepper, then transfer to the air fryer, standing them up on end against the air fryer basket wall and each other. Cook at 400°F until the wings are cooked through and crisp and golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer the wings to a bowl and toss with the butter while they’re hot.
Arrange the wings on a platter and serve warm with blue cheese dressing and celery and carrot sticks.
If you prefer saucy traditional Buffalo chicken wings, simply omit the cayenne from the recipe, and when the wings are cooked, toss in a bowl with ½ cup mild hot sauce, such as Frank’s, and 4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter until well coated. Serve hot.
Wanna make some plain wings to have as is or with your own favorite sauce? Simply omit the cayenne, garlic powder, and butter, and cook as directed, still using the baking powder method so that the chicken wings get super crispy