Do You Put Hot Sauce on Wings Before or After You Cook Them?

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There are many different sauce options for hot wings. Some are sweet, others are tangy. Some are much hotter than others. Your choice of sauce doesn't materially change the dish. However, choosing to sauce the wings before or after they are cooked is a decision that can affect the outcome of your wings. In addition to changing a traditional dish, saucing before or after cooking can also affect the flavor of the hot wings.

Traditional Method

  • Hot wings are made from the plucked wing portion of the chicken. The wing portions are the upper limbs of the chicken that stick outward and come to a point at the end. The wing is separated at the joint from the chicken body. Cooks also separate the detached wing at its two joints to produce a piece that looks like a miniature drumstick, a thick, meaty piece that contains two bones and the tip. The tips can be discarded, as they do not have much meat. Some people cook the tips and sauce them as well. The wings are cooked and then sauced before being served.

Saucing After Cooking

  • The reason for saucing the wings after cooking is to be able to preserve the flavor of the sauce on the wings. Cooking the sauce onto the wings alters the sugars and fats in the sauces, creating a flavor that is unlike the original recipe. Pre-sauced wings are also more likely to burn or become undercooked. By saucing the wings after cooking, you can taste all of the intended flavors in the hot sauce -- the vinegar, honey or sugar sweetness and the hot peppers -- without the transformation of the ingredients performed when they are cooked.

Technique Differences

  • There are different techniques to cooking wings that you should be aware of. Traditionally, wings are fried, but they can be grilled or baked. Grilled wings are seasoned with a dry or wet rub before they are placed on a hot grill to cook. Baked wings are seasoned with a dry mix and an oil to prevent sticking. They are placed on a baking sheet to cook until golden brown. Grilled hot wings maintain their smoky flavor after the sauce is added. The fried wings are the crispiest with the special fried flavor, while the baked wings provide the cleanest flavor of seasoned chicken ready for saucing.

Breaded or Naked

  • There are two types of wing preparation to remember when cooking hot wings. Breaded wings have a flour or batter exterior that adds to the crispness of the wing. Naked hot wings are simply seasoned and cooked. They are not crispy, but are just as flavorful as the breaded variety. Both are traditionally sauced after they are cooked.

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