What’s not to love about chicken wings? They are one of the most versatile and easy-to-prepare dishes.
You can rub them in paprika, BBQ or tomato sauce, then whack them in the fryer or the oven. After 20-30 minutes, they’re ready to eat straight off the bone, having absorbed the rich and delicious flavors.
However, for some chicken connoisseurs, this might not be enough. They might be ready for something a little more challenging.
Well, for those of you out there who want something a little more than just a rub and a marinade, you might be interested in the noble art of brining for your chicken.
Brining can seem like a long, complicated and laborious process, but there’s really nothing to it. All you have to do is soak your chicken in salt water for a few hours or overnight to achieve that flavorsome salty taste.
But why would you want to brine chicken wings in the first place? How long should you brine chicken wings for? What ingredients and techniques will you need to employ to get the peak flavor and tenderness from your chicken?
Well, chicken-lovers, we have the answers to all of those questions and more. So grab your poultry, preheat your oven and read our guide to brining chicken.
Why Brine Chicken Wings?
Brining is an age-old technique that people have been using for centuries to keep various meats from going stale. When it comes to chicken, this is particularly important, as it is very prone to drying out, particularly when exposed to high heats for long durations.
Chicken is a lean meat with a very low level of fat content, which once again can result in drying out. The last thing you’ll want to happen is to take your chicken wings out of the oven and for them to be dry and tasteless. Brining is a great way for them to preserve that wonderful chicken flavor we know and love.
Chicken also has a lot less overall meat than some of the others on the market, so this is another reason you might want to brine them. But prepping your brine first is crucial to getting the quality just right.
Mixing the right levels of water, salt and seasoning will be the perfect method of locking in those juices and flavors, meaning that it will stay moist and tender once it has been cooked at high temperatures.
How Long To Brine Chicken Wings
The fact that chicken has a lot less meat than other animal products on the market means that it will need a little longer to brine.
Ideally, you’ll want to brine skinless chicken wings for a few hours, but to preserve the utmost flavor, you’ll want to soak them overnight.
You can also try going even further and soaking your chicken wings for 24 hours for premium levels of flavor and texture.
What You Need To Brine Chicken Wings
Here are the ingredients you will need to successfully brine your chicken wings:
Chicken wings - make sure your chicken wings are fully defrosted if you're taking them from frozen.
Water - this is the perfect neutral substance in which to brine your chicken. However, nothing is stopping you from experimenting with more exotic flavors like beer, wine, vinegar or apple juice.
Table salt - ensure that this doesn’t contain any additives, as it can negatively affect the purity of your mix. Kosher salt has zero iodine in it, which means that it won’t form clumps.
Container - make sure you have a container that is large enough to hold all your wings. For storage, it is best to use plastic or metal containers.
A Weight - this is to ensure that your chicken will stay submerged in the water. You can use a plate for this.
Sugar - This will give your chicken that crispiness when in the oven.
Extra seasoning - this will all depend on your preference, red pepper flakes, white pepper, black pepper. We would recommend using black pepper, regardless of your preferences.
How To Brine Chicken Wings
Now it’s time to get to what you’ve all been waiting for - the brining!
Firstly, you’ll need to measure out some water. This will all depend on how many chicken wings you’re planning on preparing. If you have too much water, your wings will come out with a soggy and soft texture and too little water will result in that dryness that we’re trying to avoid!
Place the wings in your container first and pour enough warm water, stopping when the meat is completely submerged, with 3 inches of water over the top.
You’ll need to have roughly 6 cups of water per every 3 pounds of chicken you want to use.
After you’ve calibrated your water, you’ll need to add the salt.
We would recommend using 10 ounces of salt per 1 gallon of water. So if you are using less water, which is likely, then you’ll need to amend the amount of salt you’ll be using accordingly.
Make Your Brine Mixture
Once the salt, water and sugar have been measured, stir them into your container until all the particles have been dissolved. This is important for avoiding clumping in the brining process.
For the sugar measurements, we recommend using one third a cup of sugar for your entire brine mixture.
Spices And Herbs
Once you’ve made this basic solution, now it’s time to get feisty with your mixture by adding your favorite herbs and spices.
Take your spices and mix a cup of white vinegar and red pepper flakes and pour it into your brine. Then take a tablespoon of white pepper and two tablespoons of black pepper and add that too.
Dunk Your Wings!
Once your mixture is complete, then gently submerge all of your wings into the brine.
Make sure that all of the meat is completely covered by the water, using the plate to weigh it down.
Now leave the chicken in the refrigerator, ideally overnight for that sumptuous flavor and tender texture upon cooking.