Chili-Glazed Wings

Chili-Glazed Wings

Being bar food, most chicken wings are deep-fried, because deep-frying is fast and tasty, and most bars that serve food have commercial fryers. I would argue, however, that deep-frying is not the best way to cook chicken wings because they already contain enough fat to fry themselves.

But that in and of itself poses a problem, because if we roast the wings in the oven at a temperature sufficient to crisp the skin, we will produce a cloud of acrid, tear-inducing smoke that will stink up the house for days.

Nope, before they roast we’ve got to get some of that fat out, and the best way to do that is steam.


  • 18-24 chicken wing "drumettes"
  • 1 cup Sweet Thai Chili Sauce (Mae Ploy is pretty much the standard and it's really made in Thailand)
  • 1/4 cup vinegar (rice wine or apple cider)
  • 1/3 cup Dr. Pepper (trust me on this)
  1. Place a folding metal steamer in the bottom of a large sauce pot and add enough water to come up almost to the bottom of the steamer.
  2. Arrange wings on steamer like spokes on a wheel with the large meaty end pointing out and the bony narrow bit pointing inward. If you’re working with a standard steamer basket you’ll probably have to work in two batches.
  3. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. When steam comes out from under lid, reduce heat to medium and steam wings for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove the wings from the basket with your trusty spring-loaded tongs and lay out on a wire cooling rack set in a half sheet pan lined with paper towels. Refrigerate 1 hour. If working in batches, make sure chill time is one hour from last batch.
  5. Meanwhile combine chili sauce, vinegar and Dr. Pepper in a small sauce pan and reduce down to a glaze over medium heat. Final volume will be about 1/3 original amount.
  6. Crank oven to 425 degrees F and place rack in middle.
  7. Remove paper towels from the half sheet pan and move wings to oven. After 20 minutes remove wings to a large mixing bowl and toss with the glaze. Return to rack and roast another 10 minutes.
  8. Arrange on platter, sprinkle with kosher salt and serve with plenty of napkins.


Add yours
  1. 1
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  2. 4
    Patrick Magee

    I pressure cook the wings for 10 minutes in hot sauce & water. I then take them directly from the pressure cooker, coat them with flour and deep fry at 350 for about one minute. They are crispy outside and fall apart tender.

  3. 5
    Paul S

    I just made some with Sambal Oelek, Coke and rice vinegar. (because that is what I had). Crippies, I’m going to eat 3 pounds of wings! They are better than anything I’ve had from a restaurant in a year. Thanks, Mr. Brown!!!

  4. 6
    Stefan Shirley

    I substituted Fat Cat’s Bacon flavored Sriracha, Sprecher’s Puma Kola, and used a citrus flavored rice vinegar. I didn’t have the patience to reduce the glaze all the way, but I liked the consistency I ended up with. As I type I’m doing the first bake. I had to kind of guess the steam time on account of my using microwave steamer bags instead, but we’ll see.

  5. 7

    Will cooking the Dr Pepper eliminate the caffeine? I have developed a rather unfortunate allergy to the stuff, but would like to try this recipe!

  6. 9
    L. Soto

    Every receipe I have tried of Alton Brown has been just as described and picture perfect. Many thanks ti you for sharing your expertise with us.

  7. 13
    Vernon jones

    I made these tonight with a couple variations. I tossed the wings in a white pepper, garlic powder, cayene pepper, & brown sugar mixture before smoking them for 1 hr at 250 degrees rather than steaming them, then chilled per the instructions the grilled over the smoker coals. I added a couple table spoons of sarachi to the tossing sauce. These were the best wings i thing i have ever tasted, and i have tasted thousands of wings all across the US!! Well done Mr Brown!

    • 18
      Joseph Murphy

      Dr Pepper is a very unique tasting soda, not at all similar to Pepsi or Coke or any basic cola. If AB says to use Dr Pepper, i must be because of it’s very unique combination of ingredients giving it that unique taste. Use cola if you want to, but the taste will be very different.

  8. 21

    Sounds great… must try this.
    Christine, Dr Pepper is available in Australia. It’s a soft drink (soda) available at Woolworths.

    • 23

      Hi Christine,
      Dr. Pepper is a soda or sometimes referred to as pop or soft drink. Mr. Pibb is an equivalent. I don’t know what Australia would have like it but a coke would work too.

  9. 24
    Steve M

    Dear Mr. Brown,
    I was wondering about a possible modification, instead of steaming the wings, could I smoke the wings at 225 F for a period of time, instead of steaming them and achieve similar results, then finish the same way in the hot oven to crisp the skin. I imagine that the low-heat in air would still render off some of the fat, but would work more slowly than steam (assuming the water would cooks faster due to conduction vs convection? could be wrong about that.) If so, could you offer any suggestions about how to do this?

    • 25
      Dave Manuel

      Do it, that’s how I do it and it works great. Apple wood. If your doing it outside then you don’t have to worry about the smell.

      • 26
        Steve M

        Yep. I agree, it worked wonderfully. I made sure to keep the heat right at 225 F and then I grilled them to finish. It worked about as well as you could have hoped.

    • 27
      Paul S

      The reason AB steamed them first was to reduce the amount of fat rendering from the wings before they took a trip into the oven. I like your technique as well. At 225 the fat would render without a cloud from fat burning. I’ll follow your lead after my homegrown smoker is up and running.

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