Ridiculously Good, Crispy Chicken Wings You Need to Make This Weekend

published Nov 3, 2021
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Pepper Teigen's Crispy Chicken Wings

These Thai-inspired chicken wings are marinated in a savory combination of fish sauce, garlic powder, white pepper, and salt before they're fried.

Serves4 to 6

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Credit: Christine Gallary

I love catching glimpses of Chrissy Teigen’s adorable Thai mom, Vilailuck “Pepper” Teigen (who also has a massive social media following) — especially when they’re cooking together. Whether they’re recipe testing, tasting, or just preparing a giant spread of food at their house, it always makes me both extremely hungry and jealous.

Following in Chrissy’s footsteps, Pepper has her own cookbook of Thai-influenced dishes coming out in April called The Pepper Thai Cookbook. Pepper always seems so natural in the kitchen — especially when she’s expertly wielding a knife, cooking on their massive outdoor grill and cooktop, or whipping up traditional Thai dishes. When she shared her recipe from the book for fried crispy chicken wings marinated in fish sauce and served with a sweet chili sauce, I immediately printed out the recipe and got to work. How did she know wings are one of my favorite appetizers?

Credit: Christine Gallary

How to Make Pepper Teigen’s Crispy Chicken Wings

Prepping the wings is quite simple: Start by quickly marinating three pounds of whole chicken wings in a mixture of fish sauce, garlic powder, white pepper, and salt. Then, while the deep frying oil is being heated, you toss the wings in a mixture of flour, cornstarch or tapioca flour, and baking powder. I opted for cornstarch since it’s a more common ingredient, and I dumped all of the flour mixture over the wings when it came time to coat them. I had some difficulty tossing everything around, as big, sticky clumps formed. Also, because the wings are left whole, I had to do a lot of maneuvering to make sure they were all evenly coated, but I got the job done eventually.

When it came time to fry, I appreciated the visual of when the oil would be at the right temperature for those who don’t have a deep-fry or candy thermometer. The recipe suggests tossing in a little piece of bread or a grain of rice — if it sizzles but doesn’t burn, the oil is ready. Although I was using a thermometer, I tried the rice trick anyway and it was a great tip.

Since I had 12 whole wings, I fried in three rounds, and each batch took about four minutes to get deep golden-brown. The thing with whole chicken wings, though, is that they have an awkward zigzag shape, so I did have to flip and move them around a bit since the wing tips tended to stick up out of the oil. The finished wings were served with a Thai sweet chili sauce, which I just purchased from the grocery store. Pepper also recommends serving them with BABE red wine.

Credit: Christine Gallary

Are These Wings Worth the Trouble of Deep-Frying?

These are crispy, super-savory chicken wings with a little bit of funk from the fish sauce — and they’re quite delicious. They didn’t spend a lot of time in the marinade but managed to pick up a lot of flavor, and the coating left a nice, delicate crunch on the outside. I appreciated the Thai sweet chili sauce for dipping and highly recommend it, as it gave a nice contrast to all the salty goodness of the wings themselves. Although there’s a fair amount of white pepper used, it’s not spicy; my 7 year-old daughter gamely tried a wing and liked it.

I did like that these came together rather quickly and without a lot of fuss, as one bowl did the trick for marinating and breading. Is it worth deep-frying? Yes! Deep-frying is not a lot of fun and uses a lot of oil, but you’re rewarded with a satisfying, tasty snack or even a meal (we had them as a weekend lunch with no regrets!). I recommend straining and refrigerating the oil to use for another batch of wings or for future deep-frying. And because I know a lot of you will ask, because the wings have a drier, floury coating I don’t think they will work well in an air fryer. But maybe someone can prove me wrong?

Credit: Christine Gallary

If You’re Making Pepper Teigen’s Crispy Chicken Wings at Home, a Few Tips

1. Use party wings. As much as I love whole wings and the visceral experience of breaking them apart and nibbling on the wing tips, I would recommend using party chicken wings instead. These are the ones with the wing tips trimmed off and the flats and drumettes separated, and I think they would be easier to coat evenly and move around in the hot oil.

2. Mix the marinade before adding the wings. I would recommend stirring the marinade together in the bowl first just to make sure the pepper and garlic powder are evenly dispersed before you toss in the wings.

3. Sprinkle in the flour mixture a little at a time. When you’re coating the wings with the flour mixture, sprinkle in a little bit at a time, using your hands to toss and coat the wings between each addition. This will make a more even coating and keep the flour from forming big, sticky clumps.

4. Don’t fry any big floury bits. Some of the wings had big floury clumps attached, which I didn’t remove and deep-fried. They soaked up the fish sauce and were too salty to eat, so pick off any big clumps before frying.

All in all, these wings are pretty easy to throw together and make a great snack or game-day nibble. They’re a nice change from spicy Buffalo wings and can be made from pantry-friendly ingredients — something I appreciate to minimize trips to the grocery store. Yes, you’ll need to deep-fry, but we all deserve a hot-out-of-the-fryer treat once in a while!

Pepper Teigen's Crispy Chicken Wings

These Thai-inspired chicken wings are marinated in a savory combination of fish sauce, garlic powder, white pepper, and salt before they're fried.

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds

    chicken wings, patted dry

  • 1/4 cup

    plus 3 tablespoons fish sauce

  • 1/2 tablespoon

    garlic powder

  • 1/2 tablespoon

    ground white pepper 

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • Vegetable oil, for deep-frying

  • 3/4 cup

    all-purpose flour

  • 2 tablespoons

    cornstarch or tapioca flour

  • 2 teaspoons

    baking powder 

  • Thai sweet chili sauce, for serving

Instructions

  1. Put the chicken wings in a large bowl. Add the fish sauce, garlic powder, white pepper, and salt and toss to coat. Set aside for 15 minutes (or refrigerate for 30 minutes).

  2. Meanwhile, fill a wok, large heavy pot, or deep skillet with at least 2 inches of oil, making sure to leave a few inches of clearance from the rim. Heat the oil over medium heat to 370ºF (use a deep-fry thermometer or test the oil by throwing in a little piece of bread or a grain of rice; if it sizzles immediately but doesn’t burn, you’re ready). Set a wire rack in a sheet pan or line a plate with paper towels and have it nearby. 

  3. While the oil is heating, in a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch and baking powder. Sprinkle the mixture over the wings and toss until a paste forms, making sure all the wings are evenly coated. 

  4. When the oil is hot, add 4 or 5 wings to the pan and fry until they’re a deep golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. The color of the crust will tell you when they’re cooked, so keep an eye on the wings and adjust the heat as needed as you’re frying.

  5. Drain the wings on the wire rack or paper towels and fry the next batch. Serve warm with sweet chili sauce.

Recipe Notes

Reprinted from The Pepper Thai Cookbook. Copyright © 2021 by Vilailuck Teigen with Garrett Snyder. Photographs copyright © 2021 by Jenny Huang. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House.