These Korean chicken wings are actually baked, not fried, yet are still impossibly crisp. And they’re served with a finger-lickingly lovely sweet and spicy dipping sauce. Move over, Buffalo wings.
What do we adore most about these Korean chicken wings? The impeccably crisp, burnished skin? The impossibly moist, tender meat? Or that elusive balance of sorta sweet but with some heat that most wings fail miserably to achieve? The yangnyeomjang, or Korean dipping sauce, that’s sorta sweet yet still has some heat? We’ll let you guess. Even better, just let us know in a comment below. –Aki Kamozawa & H. Alexander Talbot
☞ Table of Contents
What’s so special about Korean fried chicken?
What’s the trick behind the best Korean fried chicken? Or rather, in this instance, Korean baked chicken wings that are meant to taste like the now-famous Korean fried chicken? According to Aki Kamozawa & H. Alexander Talbot, it’s an overnight bath in a mixture of egg whites, salt, and baking soda. The concoction not only “forms an even coating that clings to the baked chicken wings and seasons them,” as the authors explain, but somehow manages to “break down the outer layer of proteins on the skin,” which renders the chicken skin thin and crackling, the underlying meat moist and juicy. There you have it. Resourceful home cooks may wish to note that the authors also brush this very same marinade on a whole chicken, let it soak up the flavor in the fridge overnight, and then roast it.
Korean Chicken Wings
For the baked chicken wings
For the Korean dipping sauce
- 1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce (seek out a gluten-free brand, if desired)
- 3 tablespoons apple juice
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon Korean red chile flakes or crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds roughly chopped or coarsely ground if desired
- 1 garlic clove grated
- 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
- 1 scallion finely sliced
Make the baked chicken wings
- In a large bowl, plop the egg whites, baking soda, and salt and stir to dissolve the salt and baking soda. Add the chicken wings and toss to coat evenly.
- Remove the wings from the bowl and arrange them on 2 wire racks situated on rimmed baking sheets. Refrigerate the wings overnight, uncovered. (This results in the crisp skin. Don’t skip this step! We know it takes a lot of fridge space. #WorthIt)
- Preheat the oven to 450°F (235°C).
- Slide the wings, still on the racks on the baking sheets, in the oven and roast for 15 minutes. Flip the wings over and cook for 10 more minutes. Flip the wings over again and bake until deep golden brown with ridiculously crisp skin, 10 to 15 more minutes.
- Let the wings cool on the wire racks for 5 minutes.
Make the Korean dipping sauce
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, apple juice, honey, rice vinegar, sesame oil, chile flakes, sesame seeds, garlic, ginger, and scallion.
- Pile the baked chicken wings on a platter and serve the sauce alongside. Oh, and you're going to want to serve these with napkins. Ample napkins.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
Four pounds of wings and two teenage boys, gone in 60 seconds. With a little advance planning, this Korean chicken wings recipe was an easy weeknight meal that satisfied the entire family.
I have to admit, I like my wings a bit more done, so 10 additional minutes in the oven and a quick broil achieved the perfect crispness for me. Next time I make these, I’ll baste the wings with the dipping sauce as they cook so the lovely Korean flavors permeate the wings.
These Korean chicken wings take a little more forethought than some recipes, but they yield a crisp, golden finish that’s worth the few minutes it takes to prep them the night before. The dipping sauce is a lovely balance of sweet and salty and comes together in moments.
Really, the whole recipe is wonderfully low maintenance, though if your oven is not in pristine condition, you may find a certain amount of smoke. A small price to pay.
The next time I make them, I’m tempted to drizzle the sauce over the top, rather than reserve it for dipping. If you’re serving the wings with a stack of napkins anyways, you may as well make the most of them.
Yum! Nothing like ending the weekend with some great chicken wings. This is so simple to make (although it was tough to keep my little sister from trying the sauce before the wings were done). The sauce had a bit of a kick to it, but it was good.
We had shrimp at dinner, too, and we decided to dip the shrimp in the sauce. Shockingly, the dip blended better with shrimps than with the chicken. But overall the wings were very good and simple to make. This recipe was also an excellent excuse to procrastinate on studying for my exams.
Crispy, juicy, and full of chicken-y flavor, these wings were pretty terrific. And completely aside from the actual wings and how they’re prepared with baking soda and egg whites, the dipping sauce is truly delicious.
There isn’t much that I’d tweak in this recipe, though I was able to put the entire 4 pounds chicken wings in a single layer on 1 large baking sheet rather than 2 baking sheets. This not only saved room in the fridge but also saved me from not having to shuttle 2 baking sheets in and out of the oven. Also I baked the wings for an additional 5 minutes to get the skin a little more crisp.
I served the wings with my attempt at a few Korean banchan (small side dishes). I served pickled radishes, soybean sprouts, and a jar of kimchee I’d bought at the store. The one thing these needed was an ice cold bottle of Hite Beer.
What I liked most about these wings wasn’t the Korean dipping sauce, though it’s flavorful and delicious, but the crispy wings themselves. The method of dipping them in the mixture, leaving them uncovered in the fridge overnight, roasting at high heat, flipping them over, and flipping them over again really crisped the skin.
My husband actually preferred the wings plain, without the Korean sauce, which is comprised of yummy things such as chopped toasted sesame seeds, tamari, apple juice, garlic. I enjoyed them both ways. The dipping sauce would be great with crisp shrimp, too, or over noodles. It’s something I would definitely make again.
The additional step of preparing the chicken the night before was definitely worth it. A really great finger food!
If you love chicken wings and garlic, you’ll turn to this recipe again and again. These wings taste delicious and look beautiful. The egg white coating made the skin glisten a uniformly golden brown. The wing tips weren’t even burned at 450°F. The addictive sauce had just the right amount of sweetness and heat for my tasters, and we agreed that it would be fantastic for dumplings and savory Asian-style pancakes.
As with most recipes, there’s plenty of room for adjustments to suit your taste and appetite: more heat, less ginger, skip the scallions, more wings per person, etc. Me? I would leave the wings in the oven a few more minutes for extra crispy skin.
This recipe wins the wings competition, hands down! On first read, it seemed a complicated recipe that was going to be a pain to make. But it really is simple, easy-easy, and oh so good. Don’t be thrown off track by the do-it-the-night-before step—it doesn’t take long, is simple, and then you’re done for the day.
My wings took about 20 minutes longer to cook than the recipe suggested, and I’m not sure why. But as long as you watch the process, you’ll have no problems.
Crunchy, crackly, finger-licking good! One of the secrets to the goodness of this dish is that absolutely award-winning sauce. It hits that spot just this side of heavenly. It would be good on grits!
I can’t walk by a chicken wing recipe without trying it, so imagine my surprise when this recipe utilized a technique I’d never heard of. “Drying” the wings overnight results in an incredibly crunchy, crispy skin—a must-have for wings in this house. The accompanying sauce was delicious—simultaneously salty, sweet, tangy, and spicy. I slathered the wings with a bit of sauce as soon as they came out of the oven and served the rest of the sauce on the side. This will be moving into my permanent rotation during game-day parties!
The only change I made to the recipe was to cook the wings an additional 9 minutes after their final turn, simply to get them more golden in color and to make sure the meat on the drumettes was cooked through.
I love this recipe for its ease and also because it’s a great alternative to fried wings. The chicken wings crisped in the oven and the timing was bang on. The dipping sauce was deliciously versatile—it can double as a sauce for stir-fried chicken or noodles. I’ve made the sauce a couple more times and I even added some chopped green chilies to it to serve it as a sauce to spoon over other Asian dishes. Looks like this will be a staple in our home.
Thank goodness I made these wings, as they turned out to be the highlight of an afternoon spent watching my beloved Patriots lose to the Broncos in the AFC playoff game. I timed the cooking of the wings so that they’d be ready at halftime, and I can report that the cooking times called for in the recipe are spot-on. The wings emerged from the oven, perfectly crisp and golden, right on cue after 35 minutes at 450°F.
I tried one first without sauce, just to get a sense for what the egg white-salt-baking soda coating contributed to the overall flavor of the chicken. The verdict? My sense is that this step has more to do with color and crispness than flavor. Naked, the wings were sizzling, golden, and crisp, but they were begging for sauce. As for the Korean dipping sauce, there is nothing not to LOVE about it. Sweet, salty, and spicy, it fires on all cylinders, though if you’re a Buffalo wing fan and feel cheated unless your wings are so hot that you’re forced to mop sweat from your brow every third wing, then you’ll want to fortify this sauce with additional red pepper flakes, some sambal, maybe even a dash of Sriracha. There is a nice spice to these that catches you in the back of the throat, but they’re not nuclear.
The only way in which I deviated from the recipe was in how they were served. The thought of my beer-fueled horde daintily dipping their crisp wings in the sauce before eating was a no-go, so I decided to toss the hot wings in the sauce to coat, then dumped them onto a large platter that I placed in the middle of the table. It was the right call. After all, we’re talking chicken wings here—tailgate fare. They’re supposed to be fun and messy enough that you’re required to lick your fingers clean every now and again.
Superbowl Sunday is just two weeks away, so I suggest you keep this recipe handy. Your halftime horde will thank you.
I had trouble finding Korean red pepper, so I used the regular stuff, and I felt that it worked fine. I found this recipe to have a couple small, but easily fixable problems.
First I had some small issues with the wings sticking to the wire racks when I went to turn them. What I’ll do next time is before putting them in the oven I’ll remove the wings off the wire rack, and spray the rack with some non stick cooking spray.
My second issue is that I totally disagree about making the sauce at the last minute. The flavors just don’t have time to meld. I intentionally saved some of the sauce, and let it sit overnight. The flavors were much improved the next morning, more complex, and the heat more pronounced (in a good way). I would recommend making the sauce the same night you refrigerate the wings, or the morning before you bake them.
I made the mistake of telling Martin I was testing a wings recipe before I actually read past the title, not realizing these had to sit overnight. If I’d read through the entire recipe before I’d promised him, I may not have chosen it.
Turns out the wings were worth the wait. I really didn’t think the coating—and the annoyance of leaving an uncovered sheet of raw chicken in the fridge for hours—was going to make much difference. These turned out to be the crispest baked wings ever. No need to fry when you can get crunch like this from baking. The baking itself was simple, just a couple of turns. I did experience a little sticking, so maybe I’ll use some pan spray next time. But the wings, with just their bit of salt, were perfect.
The sauce was equally simple and delicious. In fact, we used the little bit of leftover sauce on some dumplings the next night. Just another example of why we test things. A recipe that reads as plain, maybe even a little annoying, turns out to be easy and delicious.
They were awesome! Best baked chicken wings I’ve ever made. The egg white and baking soda technique gave the skin a nice crunch and a chewy texture. The Korean dipping sauce was FANTASTIC! It was filled with wonderful, fresh Asian flavors that just filled your mouth.
Everything was super quick and easy to prep and bake. I didn’t refrigerate the wings overnight, instead I let them dry for 3 to 4 hours.
The only thing I didn’t care for was the consistency of the sauce. I and my testers all thought that it would be great if it was a bit thicker and stickier. Hands-on time for these wings and sauce is about 20 minutes plus about 45 minutes for bake time. Perfect for Super Bowl Sunday, for sure!
Originally published January 28, 2014