KOREAN CHICKEN WINGS SPICE RUBBED THEN BAKED UNTIL CRISPY AND SMOTHERED IN THE MOST IRRESISTIBLE SAVORY, SWEET, SPICY, STICKY SAUCE!
These Korean Chicken Wings are utterly addicting and way easier, less messy and healthier than fried Korean Chicken Wings – but with ALL the sweet heat flavor. Simply rub, bake, coat in the mesmerizing sauce then watch them fly of the plate. This Korean Chicken Wings recipe is the perfect appetizer for game day, parties and even snacks and can be prepped ahead of time then baked when it’s GO-TIME! The wings are first rubbed with a simple spice rub of ginger powder, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper then enveloped in a beautifully rich, sticky Korean BBQ sauce that takes just minutes to whisk together. The emerging Korean Chicken Wings are the perfect mesmerizing balance of scrumptiously sweet, spicy, savory AKA the definition of finger-lickin’good!
Korean Chicken Wings Recipe
Game season is here which means appetizers galore! I’m not hugely into football but I am hugely into football food. Do you have a favorite?! From my Chili Cheese Dip and my Bacon Jalapeno Popper Dip, to my Slow Cooker Barbecue Ribs and Philly Cheesesteaks, to my Honey Buffalo Meatballs and Bacon Ranch Cheese Ball, it’s hard to pick a favorite – and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed in any of those choices, but first, you should start with these Korean Chicken Wings – you NEED them in your life! Here’s why:
About Korean Chicken Wings:
- DELICIOUS! The combination of the rub plus the kicking gochujang sauce = mesmerizing Korean Chicken Wings. They are the perfect blend of spicy and savory with a hint of sweetness. It’s one of my favorite flavor profiles due to the gochujang (Korean chili sauce) which delivers bold, complex flavors in just one ingredient. That means this Korean Chicken Wings recipe is super easy to make with less ingredients but boasts huge aromatic flavors that deliver a truly addictive result.
- BAKED! These Korean Chicken Wings are baked and not fried which means they are healthier and less messy than fried chicken wings – but they taste just as delicious! Baking the wings renders the fat and crisps up the skin before they are smothered in the Korean BBQ Sauce which makes them “sticky” instead of “crispy” – whether they are baked or fried.
- EASY! If you’ve never made chicken wings before, you will be AMAZED at how easy they are. In fact, baked chicken wings are one of the TASTIEST and EASIEST ways to prepare chicken! To make, simply shake the wings in a bag with seasonings and bake while you simmer the easy Korean BBQ Sauce.
- SIMPLE INGREDIENTS: Grab some gochujang at your grocery store and now you have ALL the ingredients to make this Korean Chicken Wings recipe any time.
- PREP AHEAD: You can rub the chicken in spice rub and whisk the sauce the ingredients together and refrigerate separately. When ready to make, just bake the chicken and simmer the sauce – that’s it!
Are these Korean Style Chicken Wings?
Before I dive into the ingredients, step-by-step directions and tips and tricks to making Korean Chicken Wings (or you can use my “jump to recipe” button at the top of the page to fly directly to the recipe), I should clarify that these Korean Chicken Wings are not to be confused with Korean Style Chicken Wings. These Korean Chicken Wings are spice rubbed and baked as opposed to restaurant Korean Style Wings that are battered and deep fried. In this recipe, there is no battering and no deep-frying, just minutes of prep and hassle free, hands-off baking!
INGREDIENTS FOR KOREAN CHICKEN WINGS RECIPE
Most of the ingredients for this Korean Chicken Wings recipe are pantry staples, except perhaps gochujang BUT it can be easily found at your grocery store (more on that later). You will need:
- Soy Sauce. Use less sodium soy sauce otherwise your chicken will be too salty. I recommend Kikkoman for the most rounded flavor.
- Honey. Mild clover honey will do the trick.
- Brown sugar. You may also substitute granulated sugar if that’s all you have but brown sugar adds a hint of molasses found in barbecue sauce. Both the honey and brown sugar are needed to balance the savory soy sauce and spicy chili paste.
- Sesame Oil. Is made from sesame seeds and adds a fabulous nutty flavor.
- Rice Wine. Rice wine should become a pantry staple if you do much Asian cooking because it is used ALL the time. Rice wine is NOT rice vinegar- DO NOT switch them out. Rice wine adds a sweetness and depth of flavor while also tenderizing the chicken. Rice vinegar, on the other hand will add an acidic flavor.
- Where do I Buy Rice Wine? I use “Kikkoman Aji-Mirin: Sweet Cooking Rice Seasoning” which is commonly found in the Asian section of most grocery stores or you can Amazon it. I highly suggest you google image before you head off to the grocery store so you know exactly what you are looking for. The best substitute for rice wine is pale dry sherry.
- Gochujang. Gochujang is a spicy Korean red chili paste that puts other chili pastes to shame. Do NOT substitute with any other chili paste and expect the same results.
- Seasonings. Ginger powder, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper and brown sugar. They season the chicken beautifully to create an already delicious canvas for the enveloping Korean BBQ Sauce.
- Baking powder. I’ll go into greater detail below, but baking powder is used to crisp up the wings – you will NOT taste it as long as you use POWDER and not baking SODA!
WHAT IS GOCHUJANG?
Gochujang is a Korean red chili paste and my FAVORITE chili paste. It is a quintessential ingredient in Korean cooking such as my Korean Chicken, Korean Meatballs, Korean Spicy Noodles, Korean Beef Bulgogi and Korean Beef Bowls. It is primarily made from red chilies, glutinous rice and soy beans.
What sets Gochujang apart from other chili pastes is that it is not just spicy, but boasts more of a complex, savory, spicy, sweet heat – kind of like a spicy Asian BBQ sauce. The sweetness comes from the starch of cooked glutinous rice which imparts its distinctly wonderful flavor. It adds a ton of flavor to this Korean Chicken Wings recipe and balances the sweet notes of the brown sugar and honey.
WHERE CAN I BUY GOCHUJANG?
Gochujang is the primary flavor in this Korean Chicken Wings recipe, so please don’t substitute it for any other ingredient – especially because it is so easy to find! Gochujang should be easy to find in the Asian section of your grocery store, or you can find it on Amazon.
I use Annie Chun’s Gochujang Sauce. It is located in the Asian section of my grocery store, but you can also easily buy it on Amazon (LOVE Amazon prime!). I do recommend looking to see what Annie Chun’s Gochujang Sauce looks like so you can easily spot it at the grocery store.
If you live by an Asian or Korean Market, look for Chung Jung One Sunchang Hot Pepper Paste Gold (Gochujang). You can also purchase it on Amazon.
What are Chicken WINGS MADE OF?
Whole chicken wings consist of three segments: the drumette, the wingette and the tip. For this Korean Chicken Wings recipe, I recommend drumettes and wingettes. Here’s the breakdown:
- the first segment – the drumette: looks like a small drumstick. It is attached to the main part of the chicken. It is nice and meaty with a high ratio of meat to skin.
- the second segment – the flat, wing or wingette: are the middle part of the wing, attached to both the first and third segments. It is flat with two thin bones running down its length. It consists of tender dark meat.
- the third segment – the tip: are the end/tip of the wing. They consist of mostly bone, cartridge and skin, with little to no meat and as such, most packages of wings don’t include them.
How TO Break Down Whole chicken Wing
If you purchase whole chicken wings, you will need to break them into the first, second and third segments. You will want to separate the third segment/tips and not use them in Korean Chicken Wings recipe unless you like gnawing on just the skin. Instead, you can save them in the freezer to use for chicken stock.
Breaking down a chicken wing is very simple:
- Locate the two joints which attach the first and third section to the flat//wingette – you will be able to feel where they are connected through the skin.
- Using as pair of kitchen shears, snip through the center of each joint to separate them. You will be left with the drumette, flat and tip.
HOW SPICY ARE THESE KOREAN CHICKEN WINGS?
These Korean Chicken Wings are is supposed to have a kick. That being said, you can control the heat of these chicken wings by adding more or less gochujang.
As written, the recipe calls for 3 tablespoons gochujang which is medium spicy – perfect for anyone who likes some heat. If you know you don’t like heat or want to make this Korean Chicken Wings recipe kid friendly, then use 2 tablespoons gochujang and reduce the sugar by one tablespoon. Alternatively, if you know you LOVE heat, then amp up to 4 tablespoons gochujang.
HOW DOES BAKING POWDER MAKE CHICKEN WINGS CRISPY?
I consider myself a wings connoisseur from my Baked Honey Buffalo Hot Wings to Ancho Baked Chicken Wings, to my Chinese Baked Chicken Wings to my Chipotle Lime Wings and now these Korean Chicken Wings. Although their flavor profiles vary widely, they all utilize the same fool-proof technique that starts with a spice rub that includes baking powder – and don’t worry, you won’t be able to taste the baking powder!
The simplified science behind baking powder NOT BAKING SODA is that baking powder is composed of an acid which raises the pH level in the chicken, which draws moisture to the surface of the chicken skin where it evaporates. The heightened pH level also causes the peptide bonds in the skin to break down which accelerates the browning process so your chicken can get nice and crispy!
For this Korean Chicken Wings recipe, we aren’t necessarily looking for crispy chicken because the wings will be smothered in the Korean BBQ Sauce, but the crispy base provides a delectable structure for our sticky glaze to adorn – as opposed to off-putting slimy skin.
HOW TO MAKE KOREAN CHICKEN WINGS
This Korean Chicken Wings recipe is extremely simple to make – are you ready?!
- STEP 1 – Prepare Pan: Line a baking sheet with foil, parchment paper or nonstick slip mat for easy cleanup. Top baking sheet with baking rack and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- STEP 2 – Spice Rub: Mix Rub Ingredients together in a medium bowl. Add half of the Rub to a large freezer bag. Add half of the wings and shake until coated evenly. Line wings on prepared baking rack so they are not touching. Add remaining Rub ingredients and wings to freezer bag and repeat.
- Step 3 – Bake: Bake Korean Chicken Wings on the upper middle rack for 35-45 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Move oven rack approximately 8″ from broiler and broil to desired crispiness, watching closely so they don’t burn. Optional: Flip chicken wings over and broil the other side until crispy.
- Step 4 – Korean BBQ Glaze: Add all of the Korean BBQ sauce ingredients together to a medium saucepan. Simmer until thickened to the consistency of barbecue sauce, about 5-7 minutes.
- Step 5 – Coat: Remove chicken from oven and add to large bowl. Remove ¼ cup of the sauce/glaze to a serving bowl. Add remaining sauce to the wings and toss with a spatula until evenly coated. Note that as soon as you add the glaze the chicken will not be as crispy – but it provides a structural yummy base.
HOW TO AIR FRY KOREAN CHICKEN WINGS
I honestly don’t find air frying these Korean Chicken Wings beneficial because they get plenty crispy in the oven – which is all we need before drenching them in the sauce. Using the oven method, you can cook all of the chicken at once, verses the air fryer which will require several batches. It is best to save the air fryer for when you really need that crackling crunch.
- Grease 2 racks for the air fryer oven. If your air fryer only has a rack and a basket, grease the basket instead.
- Place the wings on the greased racks in a single layer so they aren’t touching. You will need to cook in multiple batches.
- Cook for 15 minutes at 250 degrees F.
- Flip the wings over and switch the position of the trays, so that the top is on the bottom and the bottom tray is on the top.
- Increase temperature to 450 degrees (or the highest your air fryer goes). Air fry for 15- 20 minutes or until the chicken are wings cooked through and crispy.
TIPS TO BAKE CHICKEN WINGS
- Dry chicken wings. Don’t just pat the wings dry with paper towels, but squeeze them VERY DRY . The drier the wings, the crispier they will get. Dry skin also helps the rub stick. You can even refrigerate your wings for up to 6 hours on a baking rack for the skin to dry out even more. If you do refrigerate the wings, be sure to bring them to room temperature before baking. This should only take about 15 minutes on the counter.
- Use a baking rack. Line a regular size baking sheet with foil for easy cleanup and then top with a baking rack. Spray baking rack with cooking spray – don’t forget this step or your wings will stick! The baking rack elevates the chicken wings so the air can circulate under the wings for crispier skin. It also lets the fat drip off the chicken instead of the wings sitting in a pool of grease.
- Don’t skip baking powder. Baking powder is composed of an acid which draws moisture to the surface of the chicken skin where it evaporates, accelerating the browning process so your chicken can get nice and crispy. Do NOT use baking SODA!
- Broil chicken. Bake chicken wings at 400 degrees F until baked through, about 35 minutes, depending on size. The high heat allows the fat to render, the chicken to cook and the skin to get crispy. The wings will already be crispy after baking but for even crispier skin, you can move the oven rack 6-8″ from broiler and broil away to desired crispiness. Just watch closely so they don’t burn!
- Don’t substitute gochujang. Gochujang boasts complex sweet heat with a complex, distinct flavor profile. Your Korean Chicken Wings will not taste the same if you substitute with a different chili sauce.
- Customize heat. Use more Gochujang if you love spicy, use less for more family friendly.
How to Prep Ahead
These Korean Chicken Wings can easily be prepped ahead of time.
- Prepare the chicken up to baking, then refrigerate for up to 12 hours – you can cover for 6 hours then uncover for the last 6 to help dry out the skin.
- Whisk the sauce ingredients together and store in the refrigerator until it’s time to bake the wings. You can also simmer and thicken the sauce ahead of time and store in the refrigerator but you will need to whisk in some water to thin over heat as it will thicken in the refrigerator.
- When it’s time to bake the wings, let them rest on the counter for 15 minutes then proceed to bake according to directions and simmer the sauce until thickened.
WHAT SIDES DO I SERVE WITH KOREAN CHICKEN WINGS?
You can serve Korean Chicken Wings as a main course or an appetizer. If serving as an appetizer, serve with other Asian favorites such as Egg Rolls, Wontons, Crab Rangoons, Potstickers, Chicken Wraps, or Chinese Chicken Egg Rolls.
If serving as a main dish, here are some delicious options:
- Rice: These Korean Chicken Wings are so flavorful, they are delicious with a neutral, textural counterpart such as white rice, brown rice, quinoa, cauliflower rice, broccoli rice or Pineapple Rice.
- Stir Fry Veggies. You can stir fry any veggies your heart desires from broccoli, to bell peppers, to mushrooms, to carrots, etc. or you can serve with roasted veggies such as Roasted Broccoli, Roasted Broccolini, Roasted Cauliflower, Roasted Carrots, Sautéed Brussels Sprouts, or Roasted Squash.
- Shortcut Veggies. You can purchase pre-chopped veggies perfect for stir fries or use a frozen stir-fry blend or steam-in-the-bag microwavable frozen veggies.
- Salad. Fresh salad is a delicious, healthy counterpart to the baked Korean Wings. Some of my favorites include: Crunchy Asian Salad, Chinese Salad and Asian Pineapple Salad.
- Soups: for a warm, soothing side, you’ll love Miso Soup, Thai Noodle Soup, Wonton Soup, Curried Butternut Squash Soup, Thai Soup
- Fruit: Refreshing fruit is always a welcome addition to cut through the robust, sweet heat. Try chopped pineapple, Grilled Pineapple, Summer Fruit Salad, Perfect Fruit Salad, Creamy Grape Salad,
How long can you keep chicken wings in the fridge?
Korean Chicken Wings should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. When properly stored, chicken wings are good for days.
How to REHEAT CHICKEN Wings
You can reheat the chicken wing in the oven or the air fryer.
- Line basket(s) with foil and spray with cooking spray.
- Add chicken wings in a single layer to baskets.
- Use the “snack” setting to reheat or air fry at 360 degrees F for 4 minutes, then increase heat to 400°F and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Line a baking sheet with foil (for easy cleanup) and spray rack with cooking spray.
- Line wings on baking sheet so they aren’t touching.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until heated through.
CAN I FREEZE KOREAN CHICKEN WINGS?
These Korean Chicken Wings freeze well because they are “sticky” wings verses “crispy” wings. To freeze:
- Line chicken wings in a single layer on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
- Place in the freezer to flash freeze until solid, about 1-2 hours. Flash freezing allows the chicken wings to be placed together in a freezer container without freezing together.
- Transfer frozen wings to a freezer safe container or freezer size plastic bag, squeeze out excess air to prevent freezer burn.
- Freeze for up to three months.
- When ready to serve, line a baking sheet with foil (for easy cleanup) and top with baking rack. Spray rack with cooking spray.
- Line frozen wings on the baking rack and transfer to the refrigerator to thaw.
- Once thawed, bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes or until heated through.
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