Why they’re so good!
Unbelievable flavour and crispy texture awaits with these Chinese fried chicken wings. On a quest to rediscover wings I used to eat from a hawker stall years ago, I came across many versions – this is my take on this Chinese takeout classic!
While I don’t love deep frying, some things are just worth it and these Chinese wings are most definitely worth it. This crispy fried chicken particularly has some great little tweaks that make these wings even more phenomenal than your local Chinese restaurant.
The marinade flavour permeates the whole wing. Every bite is flavour packed and while the outside gets incredibly crispy, the meat inside stays tender and juicy.
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As a starting point for these Chinese fried chicken wings, I referenced recipes from The Woks of Life and The Omnivores Cookbook. From there, I played around with the flavours to make them taste like the ones I remember, and I nailed it. I added oyster sauce for more umami, baking powder for extra crisp and fresh ginger paste which adds tang, sweetness and richness. And, while many recipes call for both plain flour and cornflour for the coating, I stick with just cornflour which gives the perfect light and crispy chicken wing coating.
Jump to the recipe for full ingredients and instructions.
Chicken wings: Well, you can’t have Chinese chicken wings without chicken wings though this recipe will work for other small pieces of chicken as well. I use medium-sized wings here. Whether you joint them or not is completely up to you. I chose to separate mine for a number of reasons, the first being that’s how the ones I remember were served up but also they’re easier to cook and easier to eat in single pieces. I discard the wing tips but by all means, leave those in too – they do get extra crunchy. Yum.
Seasonings: A little sugar for balance, garlic powder and white pepper are classic, then I add just a little salt as the soy sauce and oyster sauce provide enough of that. I stick to real ginger for this recipe, though a teaspoon of ground ginger would be ok, I love the flavour and moisture fresh ginger adds. It actually helps to tenderise the meat too.
Baking powder: While optional, if you have it on hand, add it. I add it in all my wings recipes as it adds extra crispness to the outside.
Soy sauce and oyster sauce: The combination of these two sauces is powerful here. Both add umami and salt but the oyster sauce adds a little something more in sweetness and flavour.
Shaoxing rice wine: Shaoxing wine is Chinese cooking wine and a great one to have on hand. You don’t need to add much to recipes for it to work it’s magic. It’s great for tenderising meat and for enhancing other flavours so it’s great in marinades and in stir fries too.
Sesame oil: I have a hard time not putting this in every Asian dish I create. Just a little adds so much nuttiness and umami (there’s that word again – its essentially a rich savoury flavour).
Cornflour/cornstarch: Cornflour, where I live, is pretty much cornstarch everywhere else I think. It’s that fine white starch that is often used for thickening sauces. You can also use potato starch. While many recipes call for equal parts plain flour (all-purpose flour) and cornstarch, I stick just to the latter to keep things simple and keep the coating light.
Oil: Finally you need a good vegetable oil for deep frying. Canola oil is ideal as it has a neutral flavour, pale colour and high smoke point (meaning it won’t burn and make your wings coating taste acrid).
How to make Chinese fried chicken wings
With just a thin, flavourful batter, these deep fried chicken wings fry up exceedingly crispy. The secret to this texture is three-fold:
- Cornstarch is light and crisps beautifully
- Baking powder draws moisture from the skin to the surface where it can evaporate
- Twice frying (just like with this karaage chicken) assists the evaporation process allowing the skin to get crispy without overcooking the meat.
Jump to the recipe for full ingredients and instructions.
1. Marinate the chicken wings
The chicken wings are first marinated for 1-2 hours, no longer. This will get a great amount of flavour into the skin and meat and tenderise the meat. Just give it all a good mix and chill, removing it from the fridge ½ an hour before cooking.
2. Add the cornflour
Add the cornflour/cornstarch and baking powder and give it another good mix-up. Let it sit while you start heating the oil.
3. Get frying!
Once your oil has heated to 180C/350F, place 4-6 wing pieces into the oil. The quantity will depend on the size of your pan; as the wings will immediately begin lowering the temperature of the oil, you don’t want to overcrowd the pan or they’ll end up boiling, not frying (boiling = soggy).
You’ll give the wings a 5-minute fry first, then transfer them to a wire rack over a tray covered with paper towels so they can drain off. Once all the wing pieces have had their first fry, you’ll add them back to the hot oil again and fry for another 2-3 minutes.
4. Remove from oil, drain and serve
Carefully remove the wings from the hot oil with a wire basket or wire skimmer and let them drain for a minute or two then serve while hot and crunchy!
What to serve with Chinese wings
I generally serve these with simple sides; just some steamed rice and cucumber spears with a good drizzle of kecap manis over the top. If you want to go all out and have a homemade Chinese takeout night, add this prawn fried rice to the side.
Many recipes serve these Chinese takeout style wings with a chilli sauce so a store bought chilli sauce will work or try my Thai ajaad (yes different cuisine but it does go beautifully with these wings). You could also try this sweet and sour sauce.
Did you try this Chinese fried chicken wings recipe? Show it some love in the comments below.
- 1 kg chicken wings segmented
- ½ tsp sugar
- ¼ tsp white pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine
- 3 teaspoons ginger paste
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- ⅓ cup cornflour US cornstarch or potato starch
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder optional
- Kecap manis for drizzling
For best results, always weigh ingredients where a weight is provided
- Large, deep saucepan
- Tongs or mesh strainer
- Segment the wings into 3 pieces, discard the tips and place the flats and drummettes into a large bowl. You can leave them whole, I just find the cooking and eating process easier when they’re segmented.
- Add the pepper, sugar, salt, garlic powder, soy sauce, oyster sauce, shaoxing rice wine, ginger paste and sesame oil to a large bowl with the wings. Toss to coat well and marinate for 1-2 hours. Best chilled for food safety reasons but take them out of the fridge ½ hour before you want to start cooking.
- Add the cornflour and baking powder. Mix well.
- Heat oil in a deep saucepan or pot to 180C/350F on an oil thermometer. Make sure your wings are out of the fridge ½ an hour before you begin or they'll drop the temperature of the oil too much.
- Gently lower in 4-5 chicken pieces (don’t remove the coating mixture and don't overcrowd the pan) and fry for 5 minutes until light golden brown. Set aside on a rack over a baking tray covered with paper towel to allow excess oil to drain off.
- Fry in batches, a second time for 2-3 minutes until deep golden and crunchy.
- Please take a moment to leave a comment & rating. It's appreciated and so helpful.
- Tablespoons: I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon (equal to 4 teaspoons). Check yours before measuring.
- Nutrition details are approximate only – scroll below the recipe to find the full nutritional information.
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