These are not your typical chicken wings. First off, they are not breaded or fried, or slathered with sauce or served with a mandatory side of blue cheese dip. (Not that we will hold it against you if you love blue cheese, we are pretty partial as well, it’s just not mandatory in this case.) These Tea Brined Chicken Wings are different in that they are made a little easier, are a little less messy, are a little bit healthier, and still pack in a lot of flavor.
What we love most about these wings is the effortlessness involved in cooking them. This particular recipe includes cooking the wings in the oven, but they can also be prepared on a standard grill in the summer (with similar cooking times), which makes cleanup even easier. It takes no more effort to cook a few wings versus a few dozen, so they are also a great dish to serve at your next summer soiree.
Brining the wings overnight helps the flavors and juices to really get deep inside the meat and stay there throughout the cooking process, so you’re less likely to get tough or dry wings. The addition of the cooking spray before adding heat not only keeps the chicken from sticking to the cooking surface, but it also allows the seasoning mix to adhere fully to the outside of the wing.
We kept the seasoning mixture in this recipe simple to allow the tea flavor to really shine through, but don’t be afraid to play with the seasonings and add more heat if that is what you like. We also encourage you to try out different types of teas in the brine. A black tea like our Heritage Blend works extremely well, though a nice fruity tea, such as the Peaches n' Cream oolong would be a great option, too. Serve the wings with a side of peach or bourbon barbecue sauce for complementary dipping.
Tea Brined Wings
- 2 cups strong-brewed tea
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1/2 tablespoon smoked salt plus 1/4 teaspoon more
- 2 pounds chicken wings cooking spray, as needed
- 2 teaspoons ground cayenne
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ground paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
In a medium-sized bowl, combine the tea, honey, salt, and 1/2 tablespoon of smoked salt, stirring until well blended. This may be easier if you warm the liquid up in the microwave, but then you will need to let it cool back to room temperature before adding the chicken. Add the chicken wings to the bowl, tossing to make sure all are covered. Cover and place in the refrigerator for about 8 hours.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Remove the wings from the brine to paper towels and pat dry. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place an oven-safe baking rack on top. Spray the rack with cooking spray and place the wings on the rack. Give the wings a generous spray as well.
In a small bowl, combine the cayenne, garlic, paprika, pepper, and the rest of the smoked salt. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the top of the wings until evenly coated and place in the oven.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until skin is browned and tips are crispy. Serve warm.