I’m here to make a bold claim: there is no better way to eat chicken wings than when they’re smothered in bourbon bbq wing sauce. They take your appetizer game to the next level (maybe a whole other planet?!), whether it’s watching the big game on TV, having friends over and serving loads of finger foods, or a laid-back weeknight dinner, these are a winner.
You’re going to love the sticky sauce that coats the wings, with its mix of sweet and spicy and smoky bourbon, and that the chicken wings crisp up in…yes…the oven!
This recipe was first posted on Fork in the Kitchen way back in our first year posting recipes. Since then, I’ve evolved the method for making the best-baked chicken wings, which I’m highlighting here, updating it from the original recipe. If you’re a long-time Bourbon BBQ Wing lover and can’t do without the old version, I’ll be linking it in the new recipe card for your reference. Ok, now onto the wings!
How to Make Crispy Oven-Baked Wings
It’s so easy to make crispy oven-baked chicken wings, and I have a trick to let you in on that makes it even crispier, a guaranteed win.
You can either make the lip-smackingly delicious Bourbon BBQ Sauce either before you begin the wings or take the time that they bake in the oven to make it. Or, if you’re like my household, just take the jar of it out of the fridge because it’s fully stocked to use whenever the craving strikes.
Even if your fridge isn’t stocked with bourbon BBQ sauce, never fear! It’s incredibly easy to make in just one pan on the stovetop in 10 minutes!
Let’s get to making the chicken wings!
The first step is to pat the chicken wings with a paper towel to dry them. Then, sprinkle the wings with a good amount of coarse salt and pepper until they’re evenly coated, as you would any other meat. After that, is our first secret to making crispy wings: baking powder.
Toss the wings in baking powder until evenly coated and no clumps remain. That’s right, baking powder! I’ve heard it several places, but The Cookful explains it perfectly; baking powder raises the pH level in the chicken, which allows the peptide bonds in the skin to break down and that then allows the skin to get more crisp and brown.
Now that they’re tossed, there’s one more trick to crispy oven-baked wings and it’s in the pan we’re using. Get a rimmed baking sheet, line it with foil, and place oven-safe cooling racks on top. Yes, in the photos I forgot the foil, do as I say, not as I do, or you’re going to have one heck of a time cleaning your baking sheet.
Using oven-safe cooling racks allows the air to circulate around the wings, crisping them up evenly. This ensures that you get the best, most crispy wings around!
Oh, but be sure to spray that cooling rack with some non-stick spray, or brush some oil across it, otherwise you do risk your wings sticking to it.
Spread the wings evenly across the cooling racks or the baking sheet and bake them for 35-50 minutes. I like to toss the wings halfway through, just to make sure the bottoms do get crispier too.
This might be me going a little overboard because the cooling racks help a lot with even cooking. Therefore, this is totally optional.
Wings should be baked to an internal temperature of at least 165°F, however, they’ll likely reach that point before the skin is as crispy as you want it to be. Because there is so much fat in the skin of the chicken wings, it helps to retain the moisture within, which means there’s less need to worry about dry wings.
The cooking time will also vary, depending on how large or small your wings are. The moral of the story: keep an eye on the crispiness and the internal temperature to gauge when you want to remove the wings.
Bourbon BBQ Wing Sauce
And now the chicken wings come together with the most amazing bourbon BBQ sauce to make bourbon BBQ chicken wings and it is a glorious, glorious thing.
Transfer the wings to a bowl and pour in the sauce, reserving any as extra if you like to dip your wings, too. Use tongs to easily toss the chicken wings in the sauce until they are evenly coated.
Once they’re evenly coated, you have two options. You can either (1) dig in immediately, being aware that they are likely still very hot. Or (2), you can put them back on the baking sheet and bake them for about 5 more minutes, which allows the sauce to slightly caramelize and become even stickier on the wings. That’s my favorite.
What to Serve with Wings
You can go as basic or as extra as you’d like with your wing servings. The classic choices are ranch or blue cheese dressing. Because the bourbon wing sauce is so flavorful, I actually recommend a more mild dipping sauce like ranch, as opposed to the more pungent blue cheese, if using any.
Serve it alongside some celery and carrot sticks to balance out any heat, and enjoy!
If you’re making the wings for a party and need a few more appetizers to go alongside them, you could try an easy crostini recipe like bruschetta, crispy garlic parmesan fries, or Mediterranean nachos (of course loaded nachos are always a good call too).
Frequently Asked Questions
I totally get that. You can easily make Buffalo Cauliflower Bites, and instead of using buffalo sauce, you can toss or dip them in the Bourbon BBQ Sauce. So delicious!
The one you enjoy drinking or have at your home! We typically use Bulleit Bourbon. I would recommend choosing something that’s not too expensive, but one you enjoy the flavor of.
Not really; I’d recommend you just leave it out and you may want to turn the broiler on in the last few minutes of baking the chicken wings for a final crisp up of the skin.
You can totally make the BBQ sauce ahead of time, but I wouldn’t recommend making the wings ahead of time. If you’re bringing them to a party day-of, make the wings but don’t coat them, then put them in the oven once you’ve reached your destination to warm and crisp up, then toss in the sauce.
Did you make this recipe? Please leave a star rating and review in the form below. I appreciate your feedback, and it helps others, too!
Get the Recipe Bourbon BBQ Chicken Wings
Bourbon BBQ Sauce (1 cup)
- If you don't have the sauce prepared ahead of time, you can easily make it while the wings bake, too. Whisk together the sauce ingredients in a pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Whisk occassionally and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil and place oven-safe wire cooling racks on top of the pan/foil.
- Pat the chicken wings dry, then evenly coat with salt and pepper. Evenly sprinkle the baking powder (NOT SODA) across the chicken wings, tossing to coat, ensuring they are covered and no baking powder clumps remain; you want to lightly and evenly coat the wings, we're not making a breading. Place the wings on the cooling rack/pan, skin side up, and place in the oven.
- Bake for 35 minutes, flipping halfway through cooking time if desired. I like to flip them, for good measure on the crispiness factor, but it isn't totally necessary. At 35 minutes, check the internal temperature of the wings. They need to be at an internal temperature of at least 165°F. If they are, and the skin is crispy enough to your liking, remove them from the oven. If the skin needs to get a little more crispy, flip them back to the skin side and bake for an additional 10 minutes (note the cooking time is going to depend on how big/small your wings are, too).
- Once the wings are ready, transfer them to a bowl and pour in the bbq sauce, tossing to coat evenly. If you're someone who likes to dip wings in sauce, too, reserve a bit of sauce here to do so.
- Optional (but recommended!): place the wings back on the baking sheet and place in the oven for an additional 5 minutes or so, giving the sauce a chance to caramelize and thicken.
- Remove from the pan and place on a serving tray or plate, then dig in and enjoy!
- This recipe was originally published in 2016; it was updated in 2021 as written above to an improved method for crisping the wings in the oven.
- If you’d like the original recipe, you can find it here: Original Bourbon BBQ Wing Recipe.
- Aluminum-free baking powder is helpful in case you are someone who can really taste the aluminum in some baking powder.
- If you’ve prepared the sauce in advance, bring it to room temperature or slightly warm it on the stove before tossing the wings with it.
- Please see the full Bourbon BBQ Sauce post for additional information on making the sauce.
This recipe is part of our State Fair Foods to Make at Home roundup. Check it out!