Brined Chicken Wings are soaked in flavorful brine made with fresh garlic, apple cider vinegar, spices, herbs and roasted or air fried to perfection. Brining produces juicy, flavorful and succulent chicken wings that you will want to eat over and over again!
My favorite way to eat chicken wings Buffalo style, smothered in an absurd amount of Frank’s Red Hot sauce and melted butter with a side of celery and blue cheese dressing. Though that is absolute wing perfection in my mind, it is rather decadent (aka millions of calories) so I reserve this meal for Super Bowl night or some special occasion.
I found that the easiest way to make chicken wings flavorful AND juicy is brining them. Soaking the wings in salty water with all kinds of different spices, herbs and aromatics before cooking produces truly amazing chicken wings that are super tender, perfectly seasoned and, most importantly, NOT dry.
If you like Buffalo chicken wings, you may also like this Buffalo Chicken Thighs recipe.
What is brining
Brining is a way to help tenderize lean meat or fish before cooking so it doesn’t dry out. To make brine, salt is added to water often accompanied with other spices, herbs and sometimes other ingredients such as vinegar, lemon juice or sugar. Typically, the salt to water ratio is 1 tablespoon kosher salt to 1 cup of water.
Meat or fish, such as chicken, turkey, pork chops or shrimp, is placed in cold brine and sits in it usually for hours before cooking. The brining process “locks in” the moisture that lean meat typically loses during cooking.
Large cuts of meat, such as whole turkey or chicken need to be brined for several hours or even overnight. Chicken wings are very small so 2-3 hours is enough time for the brine to do its job.
What you will need
- Chicken Wings: good quality chicken will give you best results. I usually buy organic party wings (wings cut into 2 pieces and the tips removed).
- Salt: kosher salt works best for brining.
- Garlic: everything tastes better with fresh garlic!
- Vinegar: I recommend apple cider vinegar but white or red wine vinegar will also work.
- Paprika: sweet Hungarian paprika has the best flavor
- Garlic Powder and Onion Powder: to flavor the brine
- Black Pepper: I use freshly ground or milled black pepper in all of my recipes.
- Dried Thyme: you can also use fresh thyme leaves if you have them. No need to take them off the stem, just throw in 2-3 stems into the brine.
- Bay Leaves: they can be pricey but I use bay leaves so much, I buy them in bulk on Amazon.
- Red Pepper Flakes: for a hint of heat.
- Water: the base of any brine. This recipe starts with boiling hot water but once the salt dissolves, cold water and ice are added to cool it down fast. Kind of like making Jello!
- Ice: it helps cool down the brine so you can place the chicken wings in it faster.
How to make brined chicken wings in the oven
Step 1: Make the brine. In a large bowl or pot pour in one cup boiling hot water. Add salt, paprika, garlic and onion powder, crushed garlic cloves, bay leaves, thyme and red pepper flakes. Stir with a spoon or a fork until the salt mostly dissolves. Add apple cider vinegar.
Step 2: Cool the brine. Add 2 cups of cold water and a cup of ice to the bowl. Stir until the ice mostly dissolves. At this point the brine should be cold.
Step 3: Brine the wings. Place chicken wings in the brine so they are completely covered. Put a lid on top and place in the fridge for 2-4 hours (no more than 6 hours).
Step 4: Prep for baking. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a large baking tray with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Place a fitted rack in the lined tray and spray with non-stick spray or brush with oil.
Step 5: Dry the wings. Remove the wings from the brine and place on paper towels to dry. Pat with more paper towels until mostly dry.
Step 6: Bake. Place the dry chicken wings onto a baking tray fitted with a rack. Place in the center of the oven and bake for 45 minutes until browned and crispy.
Air fryer instructions
Other than baking, you can also cook brined chicken wings in the air fryer or on the grill. Here’s how:
- Air Fryer - To make these wings in the air fryer, I recommend cooking them in two batches. Spray the bottom of your air fryer basket with cooking spray, place the wings in a single layer and air fry at 400 degrees for 22 minutes, flipping the wings after 10 minutes. The wings should be browned and crispy. The exact cooking time will depend on the type of your air fryer. I like this 7qt GoWise air fryer because it holds a lot of wings at once.
- Gas Grill – preheat the grill to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Oil the grid with a paper towel and place the wings directly on it. Close the lid and grill for about five minutes. Open the lid and flip one or two wings to check the browning level. If it’s already browning or charring, you may need to turn the heat down a bit. Keep cooking while checking and flipping the wings until cooked through, browned and crispy on the outside, about 20-25 minutes total.
What to serve with brined chicken wings
I like to serve these chicken wings with a side of dipping sauce. Sometimes I go for blue cheese but my favorite pairing with these wings is a super quick homemade garlicky ranch dip (recipe below).
In terms if side dishes, you can pair chicken wings with roasted veggies, sweet potato fries or any salad. Here are some ideas of sides that go well with brined chicken wings:
- Air Fryer Butternut Squash Fries
- Greek Chickpea Salad
- Mediterranean Red Lentil Pasta Salad
- Spinach Caprese Salad with Strawberries
- Beet Salad with Orange Tahini Dressing
- Air Fryer Potato Slices
How to make Ranch dipping sauce
This is totally optional but if you’ve never made your own ranch dressing or dip, try this recipe! It’s creamy, flavorful, garlicky and way better for you than anything you’d get at a grocery store.
To make it you’ll need:
- Greek yogurt: I like Fage (2% or 5% fat)
- Mayo: my favorite mayo is Sir Kensington’s avocado mayonnaise
- Fresh Garlic: if you don’t have any on hand, use garlic powder instead
- Dried parsley, Dill Weed and Thyme: you can also use fresh herbs, if you prefer
- Salt & Black pepper
Mix all ingredients in a small bowl and set aside in the fridge until ready to serve.
Storage and reheating
- Cooked wings – let the wings cool completely, place in an airtight container and store cooked wings in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat in preheated oven on a baking tray for 5-10 minutes or until heated through. You can also reheat cooked wings in the air fryer for a couple minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. The latter is my favorite way to reheat chicken because it’s much faster.
- Uncooked wings - if you want, you can brine chicken wings and bake them the next day. Place chicken wings in brine and let them soak in the fridge for 2-3 hours. Remove, dry with paper towels and place in an airtight container in the fridge. Bake, grill or air fry in the next 48 hours.
Yes, but you will need to wait for the brine to cool down completely before putting the wings in it. If you don’t have ice, add equal amount of cold water. Place the brine in the fridge for an hour or so until no longer warm. Then add the chicken and let it brine.
Yes it does which is why it’s important not too brine your wings for more than a couple hours or they will become too salty. I recommend 2-3 hours and definitely no more than 6 hours. If you use less salt (for example ½ the amount), you can keep the wings in the brine for longer.
The main difference is that dry brining, unlike wet brining, does not involve any water. To put it simply, dry brining is seasoning the meat with copious amounts of kosher salt (and other spices) and letting it rest for some time. The salt gets absorbed in the meat and this process help the meat produce its own brine on the inside, without the need to soak in water solution.
No. Just remove them from the brine and pat them dry with paper towels. The only time I would recommend rinsing the wings would be if you accidentally left them in the brine too long.
More easy chicken ideas
- Air Fryer Buffalo Chicken Tenders (No Breading)
- Buffalo Chicken Things (Oven or Air Fryer)
- Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Chicken
- Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken Stuffed with Asparagus (Air Fryer or Oven)
If you try my Brined Chicken Wings recipe, be sure to leave me a comment and give this recipe a rating. I would love to hear from you and see how it turned out for you! You can also share and tag me on Instagram!
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Brined Chicken Wings
- 2 lbs chicken wings cut party style (drumettes and wingettes)
- 1 cup boiling hot water
- 1 cup ice
- 2 cups cold water
- 4 tablespoons kosher salt
- 3-4 garlic cloves crushed
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 2 bay leaves whole or crushed
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- cooking spray
- Make the brine. In a large bowl or pot pour in one cup boiling hot water. Add salt, paprika, garlic and onion powder, crushed garlic cloves, bay leaves, thyme and red pepper flakes. Stir with a spoon or a fork until the salt mostly dissolves. Add apple cider vinegar.
- Add 2 cups of cold water and a cup of ice. Stir until the ice mostly dissolves. At this point the brine should be cold.
- Place chicken wings in the brine so they are completely covered. Put a lid on top and place in the fridge for 2-4 hours (no more than 6 hours).
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Line a large baking tray with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Place a fitted rack in the lined tray and spray with non-stick spray or brush with oil.
- Remove the wings from the brine and place on paper towels to dry. Pat with more paper towels until mostly dry.
- Place the dry chicken wings onto a baking tray fitted with the rack.
- Place in the center of the oven and bake for 45 minutes until browned and crispy.