Should You Marinate Wings Before Baking?

If you are reading this article, you already know that chicken wings are iconic. They are a staple at parties and sporting events, and they are everyone's favorite appetizer. If you plan on baking wings at home, you might be wondering if you should marinate them before baking them. We've done the research to bring this answer to you.

You don't have to marinate your wings before baking them. However, you certainly can if you want to. While some cooking experts choose not to, those who do cite the following reasons for marinating wings: 

  • Marinating wings add extra flavor to the chicken.  
  • Marinated meat will be moister and more tender.
  • The marinade acts like a natural preservative.
  • Some ingredients in marinades offer extra health benefits. 

Stay with us while we explain each of the reasons in more depth. By the end, you'll know everything you need to decide if you want to marinate your chicken wings.

Chicken wings garnished with chives and ketchup dip on the side, Should You Marinate Wings Before Baking?

Benefits Of Marinating Chicken Wings

If you are considering marinating your wings, it would be helpful to know if the benefits are worth the extra time and effort.

Delicious chicken wings and drumsticks garnished with chives and sesame seeds

Added Flavor Inside And Out

Some cooking experts don't believe that marinated meat yields more flavor than un-marinated meat. However, others disagree. Marinade penetrates chicken better when the skin is taken off, but a lot of people enjoy the skin on chicken wings.

Instead, pierce the chicken wings all over to allow the marinade to penetrate to the inside. Of course, the marinade will remain on the surface as well so the skin will absorb the flavor too.

Moister, More Tender Meat

Again, many think that marinating meat doesn't really moisturize or tenderize it. However, this could be because they aren't using the right marinade. There is a science to creating a marinade that makes the meat moist and tender.

The ideal marinade should contain fat, acid, and seasonings. The fat helps keep the meat moist and carries the flavor. The Science Learning Hub states that acid breaks down proteins, tenderizing the meat.

Spices help create the different flavor profiles that add variety. Salt is one spice that cannot be missed when making a marinade. It enhances the other flavors and helps the flavor penetrate the meat.

A Natural Preservative

As you can guess after learning the key ingredients of a marinade, marinating chicken can help it last longer. This doesn't mean that you can keep your wings in the refrigerator for weeks instead of days. In fact, the acid that tenderizes the meat can turn it into mush if the meat marinates too long.

Chicken wings and drumsticks garnished with chives and a mayonnaise dip on the side

Instead, a marinade can mean the difference between having to cook chicken that night instead of the following day. For example, the USDA states that uncooked chicken is safe in the refrigerator for 1-2 days. This means you can plan to cook marinated chicken later on the second day, and it will still be fresh.

Extra Health Benefits

This benefit depends largely on the ingredients used in your marinade. And admittedly, this is more of an added benefit than the main benefit. However, every little bit counts when it comes to improving your health.

Use white vinegar for your marinade's acid to enjoy decreased blood sugar and cholesterol levels, according to Healthline. Olive oil is a healthy fat that reduces blood pressure. Of course, each herb and spice has its own health benefits too.

Should I Cover Chicken Wings While Baking?

Baked chicken wings on a small white plate

You can cover chicken wings while baking, but you don't have to. Most recipes will not ask you to cover them. However, covering meat prevents it from drying out, and chicken is especially prone to drying.

If you choose to cover your wings, uncover them for a few minutes before they finish cooking so the skin can get crispy. If you put sauce on your wings before cooking them, you can skip covering them because the sauce will prevent them from drying out.

How Do You Keep Wings From Sticking To Foil In The Oven?

There are a number of ways that can prevent wings from sticking to foil.

Use Cooking Spray

Carrie Parente, a food stylist for the Today Show, suggests using a rack to separate your wings from the foil. If you don't have a rack, though, you can spray the foil with a non-stick cooking spray. This spray that you likely already have on hand for your pans also works well on foil.

Spray Or Coat With Cooking Oil

If you don't have cooking spray on hand, you can achieve the same effect with cooking oil. Lightly apply oil to the foil to prevent sticking. You can also spray the oil for a more even coat with less risk of applying too much.

Take a look at this oil sprayer on Amazon. 

Parchment Paper

If you are using the foil as a pan liner rather than as a cover while cooking, you can substitute the foil with parchment paper. Parchment paper virtually eliminates the risk of food sticking because it is coated with silicone.

Is It Better To Bake Or Fry Wings?

Chicken wings garnished with chives and ketchup dip on the side

A preference between baking or frying wings depends upon personal preference. Each cooking method offers benefits.

Benefits of Baking Wings

Baking wings is generally healthier than frying them. They also can be more flavorful if they are cooked right. Here's why:

Less Fat

Chicken wings are not the healthiest meat choice since they are naturally fatty. Frying them adds more fat since it requires cooking them in oil.

Moister Meat

When you bake wings, you have more control over how they cook. You can baste them or rub them in baking soda to keep the meat moist and cover them to keep the skin crispy.

More Convenient

You can walk away from wings when they are in the oven and focus on other tasks you need to complete. You can also adjust cooking time and temperature more easily with an oven than you can when frying.

Take a look at the article How Long Should You Bake Chicken Wings And At What Temperature? if you want to give baked chicken wings a try!

Benefits of Frying Wings

While there are many benefits to baking wings, there is a reason that some people choose to fry them. Here are a few of those benefits:

Tender Meat

Frying wings makes them crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, which is the ideal consistency for wings. The oil gives them the restaurant-quality texture you know and love.

Shorter Cooking Time

Wings will be fully cooked, and to desired crispiness in about 10 minutes rather than the 40 minutes it takes to cook them in the oven.

Classic Taste

If you are making wings, it is probably because you loved them after eating them previously. The classic taste that you attribute to chicken wings is achieved through frying them.

Take a look at the article What Oil Is Best For Frying Chicken? if you want to give frying chicken wings a try.

The Verdict

While some people prefer frying wings and others prefer baking them, both cooking methods result in delicious chicken wings. Try each cooking method and discover which one is right for you. Or, change up your preferred method once in a while to enjoy a different taste!

How Do You Keep Wings Crispy?

The trick to crispy wings involves a baking rack. When you cook wings in the oven, you can arrange them on a cooking rack placed over a baking sheet to make them crispy.

Kelly Vaughan, a writer for Martha Stewart, suggests keeping wings warm in the oven until you are ready to serve them. Toss with sauce right before serving rather than as soon as they are done cooking.

Delicious marinated chicken drumsticks on a small white plate


Whether it is necessary to marinate wings is a matter of controversy. While some cooks swear by it, others think it is a waste of time. The best way to determine if you should marinate wings is to give it a try. Experiment with different flavors and combinations and see what you enjoy.

Marinating wings adds to your overall cooking time, but the only risk is creating a flavor profile that you don't like. Purchase some different flavors or make your own marinades to decide if marinating wings is right for you.

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