National Chicken Wing Day is a holiday celebrated annually on July 29, and there's no better time to enjoy one of America's most popular treats. What led to this holiday, though, and how can you celebrate it best? Let's find out.
A Brief History Of National Chicken Wing Day
The chicken wings we know today got their start in Buffalo, New York - which is why they're also known as "Buffalo Wings" in many restaurants. While nobody knows exactly what led to the recipe, the legend says that in 1964, one of the owners of the Anchor Bar in Buffalo tried putting chicken wings in a deep fryer, then tossing them with butter and hot sauce as a late-night snack for her son and some of his friends.
The Anchor Bar wasn't the first to experiment with chicken wings - Wings'n Things, another restaurant in town, was breading and dressing chicken wings at least as far back as 1963. They weren't nearly as popular as the Anchor Bar's creation, though, and in just a few years, the recipe we know and love had spread across town.
Eventually, recognizing the impact the recipe was having on the community, the city declared July 29 to be Chicken Wing Day. The classic Buffalo sauce (a mix of hot sauce and butter) has since spread to a variety of other foods, though many agree nothing is quite as fitting as the classic chicken wing.
If hot and spicy isn't your thing, don't worry - there are plenty of other chicken wing flavors to enjoy. If all else fails, you can make chicken wings in your kitchen and celebrate that way!
Ways To Celebrate National Chicken Wing Day
Now that you know the history, let's take a look at some of the best ways to celebrate National Chicken Wing Day.
Method #1: Join The Celebrations In Buffalo
If you're close to Buffalo, New York - or willing to travel - you can find celebrations of chicken wings throughout July. Of course, you'll want to visit on July 29th for the best festivities, but there's never a shortage of chicken wings in their hometown.
Method #2: Get A Local Restaurant Involved
Here's a little secret: Restaurants love opportunities to advertise. Chances are that any local restaurant selling chicken wings knows about the holiday, but if they don't, you may be able to talk the owner into piggybacking on the national holiday and encouraging people to come in for a limited-time event.
This is also a good way to advertise and support local flavors. Many regions of the country have their own special flavors for chicken wings, and what better day is there to try them?
Method #3: Make Your Own
If you're not going to Buffalo and you're not going to a restaurant, there's one other way to really enjoy National Chicken Wing Day: Make your own. Below are some of our favorite chicken wing recipes - and don't worry, there are some milder flavors if you're not fond of the classic Buffalo flavor.
Our Favorite Chicken Wing Recipes
Let's get right into the recipes.
#1: Restaurant-Style Buffalo Chicken Wings
As the name suggests, this recipe is designed to mimic the flavor of restaurant buffalo wings as closely as possible. If you want that classic flavor at home, this is the best choice.
- 1/2 cup all-purpose white flour
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (preferably small crystals)
- 10 chicken wings, uncooked
- Oil for deep frying
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, refrigerated or room-temperature
- 1/4 cup of your preferred hot sauce
- Black pepper (to taste)
- Garlic powder (to taste)
Get out a small bowl and mix the flour, the paprika, the cayenne pepper, and the salt. Whisk them together until they are as evenly combined as possible. Once you're done, put the chicken wings on a nonporous glass dish and sprinkle the flour mixture over them. They should be evenly coated when you're done. Once that's happened, cover the dish and refrigerate for 60-90 minutes.
When you're ready to cook the wings, heat the oil to 375 in a deep fryer. The oil should be deep enough to fully cover the wings, which is usually one inch or so. If you have particularly thick wings, you may need extra oil here.
While the oil is heating, mix the butter, the hot sauce, the pepper, and the garlic powder in a small saucepan set over low heat. Stir them until the butter has completely melted and the mixture is thoroughly blended. Remove the mix from the heat and set it aside to thicken and cool a bit.
When the oil is hot, fry the wings for 10-15 minutes. The wings should start to turn brown when they're done. Take them out of the oil, add them to a serving bowl, and coat them with your hot sauce mixture. Mix the sauce and wings until they're evenly combined and serve immediately.
If you have leftovers, store them in aluminum foil.
#2: Baked Chicken Wings
If you're not interested in the hot wings, here's a quick and easy alternative.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil (extra virgin is best)
- 3 cloves of garlic, pressed
- Optional: 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- 10 Chicken Wings
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
While it's heating, mix the olive oil, garlic, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a large bag. If you're adding the chili powder - which is milder than the hot sauce used in buffalo wings - add that, too. Seal the bag and shake the ingredients until they're fully combined.
Add the chicken wings to the bag and shake again, ensuring your mixture fully coats the wings. Set the chicken wings on a baking sheet and cook for 1 hour or until done. Remember, the chicken should always be cooked to at least 165 degrees.
#3: Honey Garlic Chicken Wings
If that name doesn't get your mouth watering, the smell of this recipe when you make it will. The critical thing to note for this recipe is that you may want to let them soak in the marinade overnight, so be sure to plan when to do the major parts.
- 1 large onion, chopped (creates about 1 cup of onion)
- 1 cup honey, any type
- 1 cup dark brown sugar (not light brown!)
- 2/3 cup soy sauce
- 1/2 cup salted butter (1 stick)
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 1/2 tablespoons ground mustard
- 5 pounds jumbo chicken wings
Set a medium-sized saucepan on your stove and add the onion, the honey, the sugar, the soy sauce, the butter, the garlic, and the mustard, then stir to mix the ingredients together. Turn the stove to medium heat and allow the mixture to boil. Once it's reached that point, let it continue simmering (you may need to turn down the temperature) for another five minutes, stirring it on a frequent basis. Take it off of the heat and allow it to start cooling.
While that's happening, put your wings onto one layer in an 11 x 15 baking pan. Alternatively, you can use two 9 x 13 pans for this.
Pour one cup of your honey mixture over the wings, then put the rest in a fridge-safe container and stick it in the fridge. Put the chicken in the fridge as well and allow it to marinate anywhere from 1 hour to overnight. The longer you leave the sauce on, the more of it you'll taste later.
When you're ready to make these delicious wings, preheat your oven to 350. You don't need to take the chicken out of the fridge until right before you put them into the oven. When things are up to temperature, put them in and bake them for 30 minutes. After about 20 minutes, put your honey sauce into a small saucepan and heat it until it's just warm.
At this point, take them out of the oven, quickly flip them over, and coat them with another 1/2 cup of your honey sauce. Most people use a brush for this, but spooning the mix over also works. Return the chicken to the oven and bake for another 30 minutes.
After this second round of cooking, flip the chicken over once again and brush with a little more sauce. Bake for another 25 minutes.
Finally, after the third cooking session, broil them for 5 more minutes. This will create a nice, crunchy top when you're finished. Toss the wings with whatever honey sauce remains and serve immediately. Leftover should be wrapped in aluminum foil, then put in an airtight container.
The key to this recipe is the jumbo wings. If you're using smaller chicken wings, reduce the cooking time to compensate.