I have a thing for chicken wings, especially baked chicken wings. Yes, I might be a French-trained chef and I have the ability to make complicate sauces and all that. But I love chicken wings. Hot wings, savory wings, spicy wings, you name it. They’re a great vehicle for virtually any flavor profile.
So when I was going to sit down with food journalist Robyn Eckhardt for the remarkable book Instanbul and Beyond: Exploring the Diverse Cuisines of Turkey and I saw she had a recipe for baked chicken wings, I thought, “Done. That’s the first recipe I’m going to try.” We ate them as part of the conversation we had for my podcast, Hungry for Words. You can listen here.
About Turkish-style Baked Chicken Wings
This is her version of the not-too-spicy savory chicken wings found on huge rotisseries throughout Istanbul’s famed Tahtakale Market, Istanbul’s famed spice bazaar. Even a modest stalls may sell hundreds of pounds of wings a day. She notes the wings are generally accompanied by a few traditional sides: grilled green chiles, sliced onions and tomatoes along with a bulgur pilaf and dimpled flatbreads. The wings are first tenderized in a bath of vinegar and onion, then coated in a seasoned olive oil. Having made these several times now, there are two keys: the vinegar/onion marinade and the accompanying salt.
Click the cover to listen to my chat with Robyn
The recipe calls for Aleppo chili pepper which can be tricky to find. I get mine from World Spice in Seattle. You can substitute red pepper flakes. I prefer using oregano to thyme or a blend of the two in this recipe.
Why Baked Chicken Wings instead of Grilled?
She recommends against barbecuing these and I agree; a nice, hot oven will best mimic the rotisserie flavor. These are best cooked on a large cooking sheet fitted with a cooling rack. If you don’t have one, a broiler pan works fine. Neither? A plain cookie sheet works, just turn them regularly while cooking. I admit, we usually just eat the wings alone, but you can make a meal of them if you serve with some flatbread, a savory grain and sliced onions, tomatoes and cucumber. They reheat fabulously.
Can I use an Air Fryer?
Definitely. If you have a large air fryer, it works best since this makes quite a few wings. See the recipe for specifics. I’ve made them with both cooking methods and they’re fabulous both ways, but I found the timing varied from model and brand of air fryer, so just watch them carefully.
Turkish Market Baked Chicken Wings with Herb-Chili Salt
- Baking sheet
- Cooling rack
- 16 chicken wings (about 2 lbs/1 kilo)
- 1 medium onion
- 1 cup apple cider
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or dried red pepper flakes
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme or oregano
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme or oregano
- 1 tablespoon Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon coarse salt
- Grate the onion or pulse in a food processor. In a large bowl, combine with the vinegar and salt and stir to combine. Add the wings and toss to coat. Cover the bowl and marinate overnight or for at least four hours, jostling the wings from time to time. To save space in your fridge, you can transfer to a well-sealed plastic bag.
- Combine the olive oil, chili flakes, cumin, thyme or oregano and sea salt in a large bowl. Remove the wings from the tenderizing marinade, pat dry with paper towels and add to the bowl. Stir or toss with tongs until the wings are coated with the new marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes or up to four hours.
- In a small bowl, mix the red pepper and the thyme or oregano. Stir in the salt. Set aside.
Roast the wings
- Preheat the oven to 450*F/230*C. Line a baking sheet with foiland top with a oiled cooling rack, or line a broiler pan with foil. Remove the wings from the marinade and roast for about 10 minutes. Using tongs, turn and cook an additional 10 to 12 minutes until well browned and cook through. Serve warm with the Herb-Chili salt.
If using an air fryer
- Heat the air fryer to 400*F/200*C. When hot, add the wings and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes. Shake or turn and cook an additional 8 to 12 minutes until crispy and cooked through. The amount of air frying time will vary depending on the meatiness of the wings and the type and model of air fryer, so watch them closely.