Weekend Recipes: Chicken Wings with Thai Chile Sauce

In my house, chicken wings are kind of a big deal. My wife doen’t know how to cook. Her cooking is really limited to two dishes: barbecued chicken wings, and grilled cheese. But her chicken wings are phenomenal. We’ve been married for 20 years, and I haven’t found a wing recipe that had the potential to rival hers.

Until now.

I decided to try making a homemade thai sweet chili sauce, and use that on the wings. And the results were fantastic. Still not quite up there with her wings, but I think this recipe has the potential to match it. This batch of wings was the first experiment with this recipe, and there were a couple of things that I think should be changed. I wet-brined the wings, and they ended up not crisping up as well as I would have liked. So next time, I’ll dry-brine. I also crowded them a bit too much on the pan.

When you read the recipe, it might seem like the wings are being cooked for a long time. They are, but that’s a good thing. Wings have a lot of fat and a lot of gelatin – they stand up to the heat really well, and after a long cooking time they just get tender and their flavor concentrates. They don’t get tough or stringy or anything nasty like a chicken breast would cooked for this long.

The Sauce

The sauce is a very traditional thai sweet chili. It’s a simple sauce, but it’s very versatile. It’s loaded with wonderful flavors that go incredibly well with poultry or seafood. Seriously delicious stuff.

  • 1 cup sugar.
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar.
  • 1 1/2 cup water.
  • 1 teaspoon salt.
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce.
  • Finely diced fresh red chili pepper (quantity to taste)
  • 5 large cloves garlic, finely minced.
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced ginger.
  • 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, mixed with water.
  1. Put the sugar, salt, vinegar, water, and fish sauce into a pot, and bring to a boil.
  2. Add the garlic, ginger, and chili pepper. Lower the heat, and let it simmer for a few minutes.
  3. Leave the sauce sitting for about an hour, to let the flavors of the spices infuse into the sauce.
  4. Taste it. If it’s not spicy enough, add more chili pepper, and simmer for another minute or two.
  5. Bring back to a boil. Remove from heat, and mix in the cornstarch slurry. Then return to the heat, and simmer until the starch is cooked and the sauce thickens.

The sauce is done.

The wings

  • About an hour before you want to start cooking, you need to dry-brine the wings. Spread the wings on a baking sheet. Make a 50-50 mixture of salt and sugar, and sprinkle over the wings. Coat both sides. Let the wings sit on the sheet for an hour. After they’ve sat in the salt for an hour, rinse them under cold water, and pat them dry.
  • Lightly oil a baking sheet. Put the wings on the sheet. You don’t want them to be too close together – they’ll brown much better if they have a bit of space on the sides.
  • Put the baking sheet full of wings into a 350 degree oven. After 30 minutes, turn them over, and back for another 30 minutes.
  • Now it’s time to start with the sauce! With a basting brush, cover the top side with the sweet chile sauce. Then turn the wings over, and coat the other side. Once they’re basted with the sauce, it’s back into the oven for another 30 minutes.
  • Again, baste both sides, and then back into the oven for another 30 minutes with the second side up.
  • Take the wings out, turn the oven up to 450. Baste the wings, and then put them back in until they turn nice and brown on top. Then turn them, baste them again, and brown the other side.
  • Time to eat!

6 thoughts on “Weekend Recipes: Chicken Wings with Thai Chile Sauce

  1. dr24hours

    DANGER WILL ROBINSON! You don’t want to replace one of the only two recipes your partner does well. If she enjoys cooking the wings, or enjoys that you enjoy them, delete this post, crumple up the recipe, and PRETEND YOU WERE NEVER HERE.

    1. MarkCC Post author

      I don’t want to replace anything! I want to augment!

      Chicken wings are one of my favorite things. I love the buggers. I’ll take a chicken wing over a pork rib any day of the week. When only she can make wings, it means that I get to eat wings less often, because she doesn’t like cooking. But now, I can have her BBQ wings whenever she feels like making them, *and* I can have these wonderful thai chili wings when she doesn’t! It’s win-win!

  2. Christina Pikas

    yum! What you could also do wrt brining is what I do with turkey. Brine well in advance, and then let sit open on a cooling rack in a sheet pan in the fridge overnight. You have to have a lot of room but it allows the skin to dry out and not be so rubbery. You can also bake on a cooling rack in a sheet pan – grease the cooling rack for easier clean up. I guess this wouldn’t work so well on the grill because all the sugar, but I’m tempted to try!

    1. Mark Chu-Carroll


      That would probably work. But I lean towards the dry-brine, because I’ve had amazing luck with the method before.

      I’ve been brining turkey for thanksgiving for the last 10 years or so. This past year, based on an article by Alton Brown, I tried the dry brine. It was, by far, the best turkey I’ve ever made.

      The difference between the wet-brined and dry-brined turkey was the texture of the skin and meat. The skin came out even more crisp, and the meat had a firmer texture without being dry.

      The only deficiencies in these wings were exactly the things that were better in the dry-brined turkey. The skin came out a bit soggy, and the meat was a bit mushy. Dry brining should fix both of those. And it’s a lot faster/easier than brining a day in advance and then drying out.


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