The main ingredient in the sweet and spicy sauce is gochujang—a sweet and spicy fermented Korean chili paste that can be found in the international section of many grocery stores. In a pinch, the wings can be tossed in another favorite sauce or eaten plain with flavoring from the garlic and ginger marinade.

Wings are an essential component of any game-day tailgating spread. This unique take on classic chicken wings is an option your guests will go crazy for. Don’t forget to serve the wings with a roll of paper towels or napkins!–Kylie Mazon-Chambers

david caricature

Why Our Testers Loved This

Our testers deem these chicken wings “perfect” and “delicious.” They loved the balance of sweet and spicy flavors and that they could control the amount of sauce depending on how spicy they wanted the wings to be.

What You’ll Need to Make This

  • Chicken wings–If you purchase whole chicken wings, cut through the joint to separate them into the drumette and flat pieces for even cooking. Snip off and discard the wing tips.
  • Cornstarch–This allows the wings to become crispy during frying. If you make them in the air fryer, replace the cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of baking powder.
  • Soy sauce–To make these wings gluten-free, use tamari instead of soy sauce in the gochujang sauce.

How to Make This Recipe

  1. Marinate the chicken wings. Separate the wings into drumettes and flats, if necessary. Combine the wings with garlic, ginger, salt, and pepper, and marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
  2. Make the gochujang sauce. Combine all of the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.
  3. Fry the chicken wings. Let the wings rest at room temperature while you heat the oil to 350°F. Toss the wings with cornstarch, then fry in batches until golden brown.
  4. Serve. Reheat the sauce, if necessary, toss the wings in the sauce, and finish with a sprinkle of sesame seeds and scallions.

Common Questions

Can I make these sweet and spicy wings in an air fryer?

To make this sweet and spicy chicken wings recipe in your air fryer, replace the cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of baking powder and toss it all together until evenly coated. Cook at 400°F (200°C) in batches, flipping once and spraying lightly with oil when flipping, about 10 minutes per side. Serve them as they finish, or keep warm in a low oven until all the wings are cooked.

What is gochujang?

Gochujang, or red chili paste, is a savory, sweet, and spicy fermented condiment popular in Korean cooking. It is made from gochu-garu (chili powder), glutinous rice, fermented soybean powder, barley malt powder, and salt. It’s a dark, reddish paste with a rich, piquant flavor that is used to marinate meat, flavor stews, and as a condiment.
A cermaic bowl of gochujang sauce. : luknaja

Why do you coat chicken wings in cornstarch before frying?

When you coat chicken wings in plain cornstarch mixed with a little kosher salt before baking, you are rewarded with incredibly tasty, divinely crispy wings. This is because cornstarch, more than any other starch, helps absorb moisture (from both the frying and the chicken) and develops a better structure when fried, giving you that gorgeous coating.

Helpful Tips

  • The wings can be marinated for up to 24 hours before cooking. The sauce can be prepared up to 1 week in advance.
  • This recipe is suitable for dairy-free and gluten-free diets. Use tamari if making it gluten-free.

More Great Spicy Chicken Wing Recipes

Write a Review

If you make this recipe, or any dish on LC, consider leaving a review, a star rating, and your best photo in the comments below. I love hearing from you.–David

A basket of chicken wings with wax paper, covered with a sticky red sauce, sesame seeds, and green onion slices.

Sweet and Spicy Chicken Wings

5 / 5 votes
This recipe is inspired by Korean fried chicken, where boneless chicken thighs are fried and tossed either in a sticky, savory sauce or with lots of crispy garlic.
David Leite
Servings4 servings
Calories650 kcal
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time2 hours 30 minutes


For the chicken wings

  • 3 pounds chicken wings
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • Mild vegetable oil, for frying

For the gochujang sauce

  • 1/4 cup store-bought or homemade gochujang
  • 2 tablespoons store-bought or homemade tomato paste
  • 5 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

To serve

  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced


Prepare the chicken wings

  • Separate the chicken wings, if whole, into the drumette, wingette (or flat), and tip. Discard tips.
  • Add the chicken wings, garlic, ginger, salt, and pepper to a large bowl, and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.

Make the gochujang sauce

  • While the wings marinate, prepare the gochujang sauce. In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the gochujang, tomato paste, honey, brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and lime juice until all the ingredients are incorporated, and the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. The sauce can be made up to a week ahead of time and refrigerated in an airtight container until ready to use.
  • Let the wings sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, then toss with the cornstarch. Meanwhile, pour enough vegetable oil into a large, deep cast-iron pan to reach 1 inch (2.5 cm) up the side of the pan.
  • Heat the oil to 350°F (177°C) and, working in batches, shake off any excess cornstarch and fry the chicken wings, turning occasionally, until golden brown all over and cooked through, 6 to 10 minutes. Move to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Allow the oil to return to temperature before cooking the remaining batches.
  • To serve, reheat the sauce, if necessary, and toss with the freshly fried chicken wings. Serve topped with sesame seeds and scallions.


  1. Get ahead–The wings can be marinated up to 24 hours before cooking. The sauce can be prepared up to 1 week in advance.
  2. Air fryer variation–To make these wings in your air fryer, replace the cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of baking powder and toss it all together until evenly coated. Cook at 400°F (200°C) in batches, flipping once and spraying lightly with oil when flipping, about 10 minutes per side.
  3. Dietary–This recipe is suitable for dairy-free and gluten-free diets. Use tamari if making it gluten-free.
Share and Savour

Adapted From

Share + Savor

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Serving: 1 servingCalories: 650 kcalCarbohydrates: 53 gProtein: 36 gFat: 34 gSaturated Fat: 9 gMonounsaturated Fat: 13 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 141 mgSodium: 1055 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 30 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2020 Kylie Mazon-Chambers. Photo © 2020 Kylie Mazon-Chambers. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

These sweet and spicy chicken wings were fantastic! The sauce was the perfect balance of sweetness with a little bit of heat.

Sweet and spicy chicken wings, garnished with green onions and sesame seeds on a blue and white plate.

I made them in my air fryer, so they were perfectly crisp on the outside, and the chicken was super juicy and fell off the bone when we ate them. Our air fryer has a 3.6-quart capacity, so I did have to cook in batches. However, I kept them warm in my oven’s warming drawer until they were all cooked. They still turned out perfect.

I had to cook in batches. The first batch I made with cornstarch but found it was too much coating. I tossed the remaining wings in a bag with 1 tablespoon of baking powder, which helped crisp them up. I can see how the cornstarch would work with frying, but that’s too much for an air fryer.

I gave a taste to one of my nieces, and she found that the gochujang sauce was too spicy, but my brother-in-law said it was “sweet heat.” Personally, I found a slight spiciness, but it wasn’t too much, and the flavors still came through.

When serving, I tossed part of the wings in the sauce and put the rest out for people to put on as much sauce as they wanted. I could see serving these wings with another sauce; however, without sauce, they’re tasty, too. We served these along with black bean noodles and our favorite zucchini recipe as sides.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    These wings are perfect sweet and spicy. I made 6 lbs for the game yesterday. I shared with family and friends. We love them thank you! Stacey D

  2. 5 stars
    I have made these wings. They are by far the best sweet and spicy wings I’ve ever had. Every one loves them!! Perfect for parties and game day.