How to Bake Great Chicken Legs and Wings

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Chicken wings don't have to be dunked in oil and deep-fried to be delicious. By baking your legs and wings instead of frying them, you can still achieve the crispy, crunchy texture you expect without the guilt. Whether you're coating with a glaze before you bake or tossing them in sauce afterward, you can make legs and wings with all of the flavor you want and a fraction of the fat -- no fryer required.

Things You'll Need

  • Baking sheet
  • Aluminum foil
  • Wire rack
  • Tongs
  • Dry rub seasonings or glaze ingredients
  • Meat thermometer
  • Sauce (optional), like hot wing or barbecue sauce
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Bring your sauce, if you're using one, up to room temperature. Remove it from the refrigerator and transfer it into a room-temperature bowl about an hour before you plan on serving your wings.

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and place a wire rack on your baking sheet for your wings to rest on. This allows them to bake evenly without burning them against the hot metal of the baking sheet. If you do not have a wire rack, line your sheet with aluminum foil and turn the wings over twice using tongs as they bake to ensure even coverage and prevent scorching the skin.

  • Massage your dry rub, if you are using one, into your chicken. Dry rubs generally include both sweet and savory spices, like cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and brown sugar. A dry rub alone turns out flavorful wings, so if you decide to use one, you don't need to use a glaze.

    If you decide to use a glaze, combine liquids, seasonings and sugar in a saucepan and cook them down to a syrupy sauce. A traditional Asian-inspired glaze, for example, may be a combination of ingredients like honey, soy sauce, garlic and ginger, boiled and simmered into a thick reduction.

  • Bake your wings and legs in the oven, checking the internal temperature with a meat thermometer around the 25-minute mark. On a baking sheet, they may be fully-cooked by this point. On a wire rack, they may take up to twice as long. Both wings and legs are cooked when they have an internal temperature of 165 F.

    If you plan on using a glaze, take the wings and legs out of the oven and toss them in the glaze once they are fully cooked, or within 5 degrees of being fully cooked. Return them to the oven and cook until the glaze caramelizes and looks glossy, about 10 minutes. Glazes are applied at the end of the cooking process because they may prevent the skin from getting crisp and leave the wings soggy.

  • Toss your chicken in sauce, if you desire, once the skin on the wings and legs is crispy. Glazed wings don't require additional sauce. Pour a small amount of sauce into a bowl and toss a few wings and legs at a time, adding more sauce as needed. This helps you avoid accidentally over-dressing your wings.

Tips & Warnings

  • Serve your wings and legs alongside neutralizing, complementary dressings like ranch and bleu cheese, as well as veggies like celery and baby carrots.
  • When baking wings with a dry rub, vigorously massage the seasoning into the chicken's skin to ensure that the flavor adheres. Lightly tossing or dusting your chicken with dry rub may not lend it enough flavor.

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References

  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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