If you’re looking for a way to take your chicken wings to the next level, bringing is the answer. Brining involves soaking the chicken in a saltwater solution before cooking, which helps to tenderize and flavor the meat. Not only does brining make your wings more juicy and delicious, but it also helps to prevent them from drying out during cooking. In this article, we’ll go over how to brine chicken wings and share some tips for getting the most out of this technique. So, let’s get started!
Why should we brine chicken wings?
Brining chicken wings has several benefits that can elevate the flavor and texture of the meat. Here are some reasons why you should consider bringing your chicken wings:
Brining makes chicken wings more juicy and tender. Chicken wings can dry out easily during cooking due to their small size and large amount of exposed surface area. Bringing the wings in a saltwater solution helps them retain more moisture by allowing the meat to absorb the extra liquid. The salt in the brine also helps break down proteins in the meat, making the tissue less tightly packed and more tender.
Brining enhances the flavor of chicken wings. The salt in the brine helps bring out the natural savory flavors in the meat. Brining also allows the wings to absorb more of any added spices or herbs in the brine such as garlic, chili peppers, or rosemary. The extra flavor works its way into the meat during bringing chicken wings that taste seasoned all the way through.
Brining prevents the need for long cooking. Chicken wings brined in a flavorful solution do not require as much cooking to reach full taste and tenderness. Brined wings tend to require 10-15 minutes less cooking time. The brining process helps season and tenderize the meat, so less cooking is needed. Quicker cooking also means more moisture is retained.
Brining adds extra crispness when frying or baking. After brining, chicken wings develop a thicker, dryer outer layer from being exposed to air. This dry layer becomes extra crisp when the brined wings are fried, baked, or grilled. The crisp coating also helps lock in moisture and enhances the overall flavor of the fully cooked wings.
Brining creates an evenly-seasoned product. Bringing distributes the salt, spices, and herbs uniformly within the meat of the chicken wings. Each bite offers the same great taste and seasoning. Without bringing, spices only adhere to the surface and can become uneven, with some bites more strongly flavored than others.
Brining may take a little extra time upfront, but it leads to chicken wings that are juicy, flavorful, crisp, and evenly seasoned. The result is well worth the effort for delicious wings every time.
How long should you brine chicken wings for?
The optimal time for bringing chicken wings will depend on the strength of the brine solution and the size of the wings. Here are some general guidelines:
For a standard saltwater brine of 1/2 cup salt to 1-gallon water, brine the wings for:
Small chicken wing segments (drumettes or flats): 1 to 2 hours
Whole chicken wings: 3 to 6 hours
Jumbo whole chicken wings: 6 to 12 hours
For a flavored brine with additional spices and sugar, brine the wings for:
Small chicken wing segments: Minimum 1 hour up to 2 hours
Whole standard chicken wings: 3 to 4 hours
Jumbo whole chicken wings: 6 to 8 hours
The sugar in the flavored brine speeds up the absorption of brine into the meat, so shorter brining is needed.
Use a non-corrosive container for bringing and turn the wings occasionally during bringing for even exposure. A large resealable plastic bag also works well for bringing chicken wings.
Discard the used brine instead of reusing it. Do not brine the wings for longer than 12 hours total, or they may become too salty.
After brining, pat the wings dry with paper towels or a kitchen towel before cooking. This removes excess brine from the surface and allows for better browning during cooking.
Cook the brined chicken wings soon after bringing them for maximum effect. Brined wings can be refrigerated for up to 2 days before cooking, but some moisture may be lost as the wings sit exposed to air.
The longer the wings brine, the more pronounced the effects. But bringing it for too long can make the wings excessively salty. Check for doneness and taste during cooking to ensure the wings do not become too salty.
What do you need for chicken wing brine?
The basic ingredients needed for a simple chicken wing brine include:
Water: Use cold, clean water. For whole chicken wings, use enough water to submerge the wings completely. A ratio of 1 gallon of water to 1/2 cup of salt works well for a standard brine.
Salt: Table salt or kosher salt. Salt is essential for brine, as it seasons the meat and helps break down muscle tissue to make the wings more tender. For a basic brine, use about 1/2 cup of salt to 1 gallon of water.
Sugar (white or brown): 1/4 to 1/2 cup per gallon of water. Sugar helps balance flavor and promotes browning.
Herbs (rosemary, thyme, bay leaves): 1-3 sprigs or 1/2 tsp dried herbs per gallon of water. Fresh or dried herbs add extra flavor to the brine.
Spices (peppercorns, chili peppers, garlic): Add 3-6 cloves of garlic (crushed), 1/2 tsp whole peppercorns, or 1 chopped chili per gallon of water. Spices enhance the overall flavor of the brine.
Citrus (lemon, lime, orange): 1-2 pieces of citrus per gallon of water. Citrus provides a bright, tangy flavor. Scrub the citrus and pierce it several times with a fork before adding.
Vinegar or wine: 1/4 cup per gallon of water. Vinegar or wine helps balance and enhance other flavors in the brine. Use light rice vinegar or a crisp, dry white wine.
A container large enough to hold the brine and submerge the chicken wings: A stockpot, Dutch oven, or large sealable bags work well. Make sure all tools and containers are non-corrosive.
Additional recommended tools: Measuring cups and spoons, kitchen knife, cutting board, tongs.
With these basic components, you can make a simple yet flavorful brine for your chicken wings. Get creative and add your favorite spices, citrus, and herbs to customize the flavor.
How to Brine Chicken Wings – Detailed instructions
Here is a detailed set of instructions for bringing chicken wings:
- 3-5 pounds chicken wings
- 1-gallon cold water
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 6 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
- Large stockpot or Dutch oven
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Kitchen knife and cutting board
Rinse the chicken wings under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Place in a large stockpot or Dutch oven.
In a large pitcher, combine the water, salt, and brown sugar. Stir frequently until the salt and sugar are completely dissolved.
Add the garlic, bay leaves, and peppercorns to the brine and pour over the chicken wings. Make sure all wings are submerged.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or up to 12 hours. Gently turn the wings occasionally to ensure even bringing.
Remove the wings from the brine and discard the used brine. Rinse the wings briefly under cold water.
Pat the wings dry completely with paper towels or kitchen towels.
Place the wings on a wire rack over a rimmed sheet pan and refrigerate uncovered for 30 minutes. This allows excess moisture to drip off and helps the wings develop a dry surface.
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Arrange the wings on a foil-lined sheet pan in a single layer.
Bake for 20 minutes, then flip the wings and continue baking until browned and cooked through, about 40-50 minutes total. The juices should run clear and the wings reach 165 F internally.
Brush the wings generously with your favorite barbecue or buffalo hot sauce (optional) during the last 10 minutes of baking.
Serve and enjoy your juicy, flavorful brined chicken wings! Refrigerate any leftovers within 2 hours.
What to serve with chicken wings?
Here are some delicious options to serve with chicken wings:
Blue cheese or ranch dressing: Cool, creamy dressings pair great with spicy chicken wings. Dip the wings in the dressing or drizzle it over the top.
Celery sticks: Crisp celery sticks help balance the richness of chicken wings. Use them to scoop up extra sauce from the plate.
Carrot sticks: Like celery sticks, crunchy carrot sticks work well for scooping up excess sauce. They also provide nutrition and natural sweetness.
Coleslaw: A citrusy coleslaw, made from shredded cabbage and carrots, adds freshness, acidity, and texture. Its cool, crisp bite contrasts nicely with hot and spicy chicken wings.
Potato wedges or fries: For heartiness, serve hot potato wedges, thick-cut fries, or tater tots on the side. Fry them or bake them with lots of seasoning.
Corn on the cob: Grilled corn on the cob makes a perfect summery side for chicken wings. Slather the corn with butter and your favorite spices before grilling.
Bread: Thick slices of bread, buns, or rolls are ideal for soaking up the extra sauce. Garlic bread, sourdough, or ciabatta all work great.
Citrus slices: Wedges of lemon or lime add a bright burst of acidity and moisture that helps balance boldly flavored chicken wings.
Vegetables: A simple fresh vegetable platter or salad made from bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and red onions makes for a light, refreshing accompaniment to chicken wings.
For extra flavor, you can also make flavored dips and dressings to serve with the wings such as blue cheese dip, honey mustard, barbecue rub, or sriracha sauce. A cold beer is always a welcome accompaniment too! Having a combination of fresh-cut vegetables, starchy sides, and cooling sauces will provide the perfect balance to a platter of delicious chicken wings.
How to Store Chicken Wings
Here are some tips for properly storing chicken wings:
Refrigerate raw chicken wings promptly after purchasing. Raw chicken wings will last 1 to 2 days in the refrigerator. Freeze for longer storage.
Wash hands thoroughly after handling raw chicken wings. Use separate utensils and surfaces to avoid cross-contamination when preparing and cooking the wings.
Place raw chicken wings on a plate or rimmed sheet pan to catch any excess moisture as they defrost or chill in the refrigerator. Do not place them in a sealed bag yet.
After cooking, refrigerate chicken wings within 2 hours. Properly refrigerated, cooked chicken wings will last up to 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator.
When reheating cooked chicken wings, reheat them thoroughly to an internal temperature of 165 F. Do not leave them at room temperature for more than 2 hours before reheating.
Freeze-cooked or uncooked chicken wings for up to 9 months. To freeze, place in a single layer on a sheet pan and freeze until firm, at least 2 hours. Then transfer to an airtight container or heavy-duty freezer bags.
When ready to use, thaw frozen chicken wings overnight in the refrigerator. Do not thaw on the counter, as this allows bacteria to grow rapidly. Use immediately after thawing and do not refreeze.
The store opened canned chicken wing products like chicken wing sauce refrigerated and use within 1 week. Discard any dried-out or moldy products.
Marinated or brined chicken wings should be refrigerated immediately and will last 2 to 3 days. Discard used marinade instead of reusing.
When in doubt, throw it out. Do not take risks with improperly handled or stored chicken, as it may contain harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illness.
By properly refrigerating, freezing, and reheating chicken wings, you can safely store them for enjoying again later. But be very mindful of how long they have been stored for maximum freshness and safety.