Chicken Teriyaki Wings
"Teriyaki" literally means glossy grilled in Japanese, and although boneless chicken teriyaki can be made in a frying pan, the method doesn't work great for wings. That's why I've developed this easy two-step method that will get you tender flavorful wings, glazed in a gloriously glossy teriyaki sauce. They don't require much work, and most of it can be done in advance making them an easy appetizer, so I hope you give these a shot!
Table of contents
Why This Recipe Works?
- Braising the wings on the stove in teriyaki sauce avoids the need to marinate them first.
- Braising also tenderizes the chicken while rendering out most of the fat from the skin. This makes it easy to brown the skin in the oven while ensuring the inside is tender and flavorful.
- Blasting the chicken wings in a hot oven turns the skin a beautiful shade of mahogany. It also lets you prep the chicken up to this point in advance so you can reheat and brown them in the oven when you want to serve them.
- The braising liquid has absorbed the chicken's flavor and extracted gelatin from the skin, which makes it thick and glossy when reduced.
Ingredients for Chicken Teriyaki Wings
- Chicken Wings - I used a mixture of wingettes and drumettes for this, but if your wings still have the tips attached, you can cut them off at the joint or use them whole.
- Soy sauce - Teriyaki sauce has 3 main components, and the soy sauce brings salt and umami.
- Sugar - Sugar balances the salt of the soy sauce in teriyaki sauce.
- Sake - Sake is a beverage brewed from rice, and it is added to teriyaki sauce for flavor and umami. During the fermentation process, the protein in rice breaks down into its constituent amino acids, and many of these produce the taste of umami. The alcohol boils off during cooking, so the resulting sauce will not be alcoholic. You can learn more about what sake is and why it's used for cooking in this video.
- Aromatics - I like to add aromatics such as fresh ginger and garlic to give the chicken a bit more flavor. It's best to add aromatics in whole so their flavor can be extracted during braising, but you don't end up with particles muddling the sauce.
- Garnish - For ingredients like sesame seeds and scallions, it's best to save them to garnish the chicken at the end. By sprinkling them on after the teriyaki wings are done, you can add a nice texture and flavor without clouding the sauce.
How to Make Teriyaki Chicken Wings
To braise the chicken wings, you want to add the ginger and garlic into a saucepan and then place the wings in it, minimizing the amount of space between the pieces of chicken. This ensures that the liquids cover most of the wings when we add them in.
Pour the sugar, soy sauce, and sake onto the chicken, and then put the pan over high heat to bring the liquid to a boil. Cover the pot with a lid and turn down the heat to maintain a steady simmer. You want to let this braise for 15 minutes for the sauce to soak into the chicken and for the fat in the chicken to render out.
While the chicken is braising, preheat the oven to 430 degrees F (220 C) and prepare a baking sheet by placing a metal cooling rack on top.
When the timer is up, transfer the wings to the rack and let the surface of the chicken dry out for a few minutes.
When there's no longer liquid on the surface of the chicken, put the baking sheet in the oven and bake them until the skin is a rich brown color. This took about 10 minutes in my oven, but it may take a little less or a little more time, so keep a close eye on your teriyaki wings to ensure they don't burn.
To finish the teriyaki glaze, strain the braising liquid into another saucepan and skim off the excess fat using a spoon. Boil the braising liquid to reduce it until the bubbles are big and shiny and it's relatively thick. The gelatin from the chicken will cause the sauce to get thicker as it cools, eliminating the need for thickeners like cornstarch. It doesn't need to be super thick at this point.
Once your chicken teriyaki wings are done browning, remove them from the oven and brush or spoon on the teriyaki sauce.
The plate pictured above was sent over by Musubi Kiln. They have a fantastic selection of both classic and modern Japanese ceramics and tableware and they ship around the world. Get 5% off your purchases by using coupon code “NORECIPES” at checkout.
Other Chicken Recipes
- Tebasaki (Crispy Fried Wings)
- Chicken Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken)
- Umeboshi Chicken Wings
- Korean Fried Chicken
- Grilled Honey Mustard Chicken
Yes, you can braise the chicken wings in advance. Just be sure to let the wings cool to room temperature on a wire rack completely before refrigerating them. This ensures the surface of the wings gets nice and dry so the oven can get right to work browning the skin when you go to finish them off. Then you just put the wings back on a rack over a sheet pan and bake them as explained in the recipe. If you happen to be planning a party, I have a list of 10 Asian Finger Foods that will help you fill out your menu, and many of them can be made ahead.
Because the wings in this recipe are braised on the stove first (to season and tenderize them), you should only need to bake them for about 10 minutes to brown the skin and finish them off.
No, teriyaki chicken wings won't be crispy because the sugar in the teriyaki sauce will burn before the skin can crisp. That being said, with most of the fat in the skin rendered out during braising, the skin is not flabby or fatty. If you really want crispy Japanese-style wings, try out my Tebasaki recipe, which turns out cracklingly crisp wings.
You'll still want to braise the wings on the stove once to season them and render out excess fat, but you can finish them in an air fryer instead of the oven. To do this, set the air fryer for 400 F (200 C). Add the chicken to the basket in a single layer without having the pieces touch each other. Air fry for 10-15 minutes, or until the skin is mahogany brown.
- 15 grams ginger (sliced)
- 10 grams garlic (smashed)
- 1 kilogram chicken wings
- ⅓ cup evaporated cane sugar
- ⅓ cup soy sauce
- ⅓ cup sake
- ½ teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
- Add the ginger and garlic to a pot and arrange the chicken on top, leaving as little space between the wings as possible.
- Add the sugar, soy sauce, and sake on top of the chicken, and then bring this to a boil over high heat.
- Cover the pot with a lid, turn down the heat to maintain a full simmer, and cook the wings for 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 430 degrees F (220 C).
- When the chicken is done, transfer the teriyaki wings to a metal rack set on top of a sheet pan.
- Let the teriyaki chicken wings sit for a few minutes to let the residual heat evaporate any liquid on the surface of the chicken.
- Bake the wings until the skin is a deep mahogany brown (about 10-12 minutes).
- While the wings bake, strain the braising liquid and skim off any excess fat. Boil the sauce over high heat until the mixture is as thick as maple syrup.
- When the teriyaki wings are done, remove them from the oven and use a pastry brush or spoon to glaze them with the reduced sauce.