These five-spice chicken wings are easy to toss together in minutes and taste contemporary even though they rely on a traditional spice blend. They’re baked and served with a creamy cilantro sauce for a more refined riff on classic Buffalo wings.
The sweet yet not too subtle heat of five-spice powder may not be what you typically think of in terms of chicken wings. But these unconventional and very un-incendiary wings are an unexpected keeper. The easy-to-achieve crisp skin comes from the blast of a hot oven rather than the splattering of hot oil, which means ease of cooking as well as cleaning up, which only further endears these wings to us.–Renee Schettler Rossi
Five-Spice Chicken Wings
For the five-spice chicken wings
Make the five-spice chicken wings
- Preheat oven to 500°F (260°C).
- If you’re usign whole chicken wings, cut off the wing tips and cut the wings in half at the joint. Discard the wing tips or freeze them for making stock.
- Place the wings in a large bowl. Sprinkle the five spice powder and cayenne on the wings, add a generous pinch or two of salt, and about 15 grinds of black pepper. Rub the mixture into all the wings until all the rub clings to the chicken.
- Line the wing pieces up on a rimmed baking sheet so the side of the wing that has the most skin is facing up. Roast until cooked through, browned, and crisp, about 25 minutes. (If you prefer a wing that’s every iota as crisp underneath as on top, bake the wings on a wire rack situated on the baking sheet. If you prefer a wing that has one side smudged with a sort of gooey crispness from sitting in a teensy puddle of its juices during roasting, leave the wings on the baking sheet.)
Make the creamy cilantro dipping sauce
- Pulse the cilantro, sour cream, mayo, yogurt, and lemon or lime juice in a food processor. (Or, lacking a processor, whisk them together.) Taste and add a judicious amount of salt and black pepper and pulse again. Cover and toss it in the fridge while the wings do their thing in the oven.
Serve the wings
- Pile the wings on a platter and serve ‘em hot along with the cold creamy cilantro dipping sauce on the side.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
What an easy and simple recipe. You can make this as an appetizer or as a meal. We chose to make it as a meal and all of us loved it. It has a little kick but it’s not so strong as to make people shy away. My toddler alone ate 10 wings. Next time I will be making more of the dipping sauce as she alone ate half of it! It was perfect to lighten the flavor.
I knew I would like these chicken wings as soon as I saw “Five Spice” and this recipe did not disappoint. The warm spice blend is wonderful as-is on chicken as well as pork and a little cayenne added a sharp dimension to the rub. Thanks to the high oven temperature, the chicken wings were addictively super crisp on the outside they stayed that way even after they cooled a bit. I ate my first one without the dipping sauce and loved it. After my third wing, I started to feel the cayenne and black pepper on my lips and I was glad to have the cool creamy sauce to reach for.
These wings couldn’t be simpler and they’ll fill your house with the most delicious aroma. I’m not a fan of wings covered in a sticky sauce, so I appreciated this version, which went with a simple rub of five-spice powder, cayenne, salt, and pepper. They crisped up beautifully in the oven, but I’m sure they’d be great cooked on the grill as well. The cilantro dipping sauce wasn’t very exciting on its own, but went beautifully with the wings. The one thing I would change is perhaps to up the amount of spice next time, especially the cayenne. I gave the sauce a few quick pulses with a hand blender to mix in the cilantro and called it done.
This is a simple and yummy recipe. I enjoy a crisp yet moist wing. I made two batches, one as the recipe calls for, with generous amounts of kosher salt and spices. The other batch I brined with salt and sugar for only an hour and a half. I have to say, brine makes chicken better. So if you have the time, brine the wings, pat dry, then season and bake! You will love it!
With or without the brine, it’s a good recipe, but for the super-moist chicken lover…brine it, baby! The cilantro sauce was good, I recommend making this first so all the flavors have a chance to marry.
Originally published June 5, 2012