Sweet And Spicy Apple Cider Chicken Wings Recipe

Fruity and tangy, spicy and smoky; these baked chicken wings are burnished with a sticky apple cider glaze that will make you want to lick your fingers clean. 

The base of the sweet-and-spicy glaze is an apple cider and honey reduction, which gives the sauce its fruity-floral sweetness and body, balanced by the tang of apple cider vinegar. Gochujang brings smoky heat, subtle funk, and slight sweetness to the party. An additional trio of dried chile powders (cayenne for bold spice, chipotle for smokiness, and gochugaru for both smoky flavor and sweet heat) result in a balanced heat level.

This apple cider hot wing recipe from developer Rika Hoffman utilizes Kenji Lopez Alt's baked chicken wing technique, which relies on cornstarch, baking powder, and a long fridge rest to air-dry the skin, resulting in crispy "oven-fried" wings. Even after being dressed in the syrupy apple cider glaze, the skin stays satisfyingly crunchy ... without deep-frying!

Gather the ingredients for the sweet and spicy apple cider chicken wings

To make these spicy apple cider chicken wings, first assemble two pounds of chicken wings and the ingredients for the dry brine and apple cider glaze. For the dry brine, you'll need kosher salt, baking powder, cornstarch, cayenne powder, chipotle chile powder, and ground black pepper. The spicy apple cider glaze is made with apple cider, apple cider vinegar, gochugaru (Korean red chile flakes), cayenne, chipotle powder, ground black pepper, honey, gochujang (Korean fermented chile paste), soy sauce, butter, and salt.

Step 1: Prepare a baking tray

Line a baking tray with a sheet of aluminum foil and place a wire rack on top.

Step 2: Dry the wings

Pat the chicken wings dry and put in a large mixing bowl.

Step 3: Prepare the dry brine

Add the dry brine ingredients to a small bowl and mix. Add to the bowl with the wings and toss to coat.

Step 4: Rest chicken wings in the fridge

Place the wings skin side up on the prepared tray and refrigerate uncovered for 4 hours or up to overnight.

Step 5: Preheat the oven

Preheat the oven to 450 F.

Step 6: Bake the chicken wings

Bake the wings for 20 minutes.

Step 7: Flip wings and continue to cook

Flip the wings and bake for 20 more minutes.

Step 8: Combine the apple cider glaze ingredients

Make the glaze: In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk to combine everything except the butter and salt.

Step 9: Reduce the glaze

Reduce the apple cider glaze to ½ cup, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Step 10: Finish the glaze with salt and butter

Turn off heat and whisk in the butter and salt.

Step 11: Turn on the broiler

Preheat broiler.

Step 12: Glaze the wings and broil

Brush the tops of the wings with about half the glaze and broil for 3 to 5 minutes.

Step 13: Flip wings and glaze the other side

Flip the wings, brush with the remaining glaze. Broil wings for 3 to 5 minutes until the glaze starts to caramelize.

Step 14: Serve and enjoy

Serve while hot.

Can I make these chicken wings in advance?

Apple cider chicken wings are easy to prepare in advance. In fact, we recommend it! Letting the chicken wings air dry in the fridge for several hours helps the skin get crispy. As mentioned, we used the Kenji Lopez-Alt method for this recipe, which includes baking powder and cornstarch in the dry brine and refrigerating the wings uncovered for up to 24 hours. Feel free to prep the wings a day ahead of time, and revel in the crispiest skin the next day. No deep-frying necessary!

You can also make the sweet and spicy apple cider glaze a day or two in advance. Simply combine all of the glaze ingredients, except for the butter and salt, and reduce to ½ cup. Store this in the fridge until the wings are ready to glaze. Then, reheat the sauce until it just comes to a simmer, turn off the heat, and stir in the butter and salt. 

Can I make any ingredient substitutions for these chicken wings?

While there is no substitute for apple cider, there is still lots of room to remix this recipe with what you have on hand — especially in the spice department.

The apple cider glaze uses two ingredients that are staples in Korean recipes: gochujang and gochugaru. While there isn't an exact substitute for gochujang, you could try using your favorite spicy condiment (maybe a hot sauce from your favorite celeb?) or sriracha, whose 2022-2023 shortage prompted theft. Another more time-intensive but rewarding option would be to create your own pepper paste by toasting, soaking, and blending dried chile peppers of your choice.

If you don't have gochugaru on hand, feel free to swap it with crushed red pepper flakes, or add more cayenne and chipotle powder to compensate. Play around in the kitchen, mixing and matching chile powders to find your perfect combination of depth and heat.

Sweet And Spicy Apple Cider Chicken Wings Recipe
5 from 25 ratings
If you're looking for crispy, flavorful wings without frying, you've found them. A dry brine and a glaze with gochujang and gochugaru are a few of the keys.
Prep Time
4.25
hours
Cook Time
50
minutes
Servings
20
Wings
Aple cider chicken wings on a plate with a side of lettuce and apple slices
Total time: 5 hours, 5 minutes
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds chicken wings, separated into flats and drumettes
  • For the dry brine
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • For the apple cider glaze
  • 1 ½ cups American apple cider (sweet, non-alcoholic)
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon gochugaru
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon gochujang
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Directions
  1. Line a baking tray with a sheet of aluminum foil and place a wire rack on top.
  2. Pat the chicken wings dry and put in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add the dry brine ingredients to a small bowl and mix. Add to the bowl with the wings and toss to coat.
  4. Place the wings skin side up on the prepared tray and refrigerate uncovered for 4 hours or up to overnight.
  5. Preheat the oven to 450 F.
  6. Bake the wings for 20 minutes.
  7. Flip the wings and bake for 20 more minutes.
  8. Make the glaze: In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk to combine everything except the butter and salt.
  9. Reduce the apple cider glaze to ½ cup, about 20 to 30 minutes.
  10. Turn off heat and whisk in the butter and salt.
  11. Preheat broiler.
  12. Brush the tops of the wings with about half the glaze and broil for 3 to 5 minutes.
  13. Flip the wings, brush with the remaining glaze. Broil wings for 3 to 5 minutes until the glaze starts to caramelize.
  14. Serve while hot.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 112
Total Fat 6.5 g
Saturated Fat 2.0 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 51.9 mg
Total Carbohydrates 4.7 g
Dietary Fiber 0.2 g
Total Sugars 3.6 g
Sodium 174.4 mg
Protein 8.2 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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