Featured, Theory & Essay

The Most Important Parts Of A Good Chicken Wing, Ranked

8. The type of wing

(Flats today, flats tomorrow, flats forever.)

7. An appropriate amount of liquid-based white substances to dip them in

(For the record, blue cheese and ranch are the only appropriate liquid-based white substances. If you’re eating wings with me and you try to dip a wing in some mayo or some fucking milk, I’m going to assume you’re a Fed or an Armitage.)

6. The amount of meat on the wing

(The chicken wing is one of the few meat-eating times — perhaps the only meat-eating time — when less meat is optimal. Eating a chicken wing with too much chicken meat on it makes you think you might as well just inject the hormones into your own body.)

5. The actual taste of the actual chicken meat

(The fact that the actual taste of the actual meat is fifth on this list actually helps prove my theory that chicken, while amazing and tasty and sexy, is slightly overrated as a meat.)

4. The Breading/Covering

(An underrated part of the chicken wing experience, because while breading can be heavenly, too much breading will make you think you’re eating a deep fried bat.)

3. Rubs/Flavors

(For the record, the best chicken rub/sauce/flavor is garlic parm. I know lemon pepper gets all the pop culture co-signs, but garlic parm kicks lemon pepper’s ass.)

2. How they’re cooked

(Anything other than fried or roasting is really pushing things. Like this party I went to a few years ago where the host had the audacity to serve a group of Black people a batch of wings cooked on a Foreman grill. We almost burned her house down.)

1. How long they’re cooked

(As important as the rest of the list is, none of it matters if the wings aren’t fried hard enough, and you’re left with a batch of bitch-ass soggy, slippery, soft, and flaccid fucking wings.)

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com and EBONY Magazine. And a founding editor for 1839. And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't. Whatever.

  • I know this is going to get nuts, but I wanna put in an entry for the wing-broiling movement. I tried it for the Super Bowl, and I never wanna go back. Man, they were perfectly crisp without being greasy. And is it just me, or are things like blue cheese dressing or ranch for when you get the Official Hot Wings.

    Also, I wonder if your wing obsession is a byproduct of your Buffalo college experience. It seems like once you go north of I-84 in New York State, the wing spots proliferate, and they’re all FIYAH.

    • Damon Young

      “I know this is going to get nuts, but I wanna put in an entry for the wing-broiling movement”

      i dont know what this means, but i’m gonna take it as disrespect.

      • Cheech

        *steps up for Todd*
        Think of broiling as just high-heat roasting. I’ve heard people say what Todd said, but haven’t tried it.

        Also, though, there’s smoking. Backyard wood-smoked wings are awesome.

        • i see @disqus_ytfDYTj8lX:disqus and @disqus_jaQFOkPNbv:disqus rep the same Smart Tech

          • Tam

            Shouldn’t you be planning a wedding or something

            • whatever would you be talking about ma’am?

              i got dropped like a NFL veteran at 4PM today

              • Tam

                So it is back to Malik? @disqus_QGKOTi1oX5:disqus you seeing this?

                • Val

                  None of them can give a str8 answer. I’m thinking AP is playing them both.

            • SoonToBeMrs

              He should be on his way to Ruby’s for bday celebrations.

              • Tam

                He was actually planning to be winning on a bumpsie. Somehow I am not sure if the nuptials are still on

                • SoonToBeMrs

                  He cheating? Hope Ruby soon the same. Evening out the playing field.

                  • Tam

                    Some wild mustangs can never be tamed.

                    • SoonToBeMrs

                      I hear you.

          • Cheech
            • i saw @disqus_YeG1FUyAV7:disqus s repsonse, it’s a line from the 2nd greatest black comedy scene of all time

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DmYkt2RkhsI

              • Cheech

                Ah. Thank you.

                • Kas loves Jamaican Breakfast

                  Sorry going to have to take your white card back for that. Consider yourself translucent until you earn some points back.

                  • Cheech

                    Did you just revoke my non-black card?

                    • Kas loves Jamaican Breakfast

                      Yes

              • Alessandro De Medici

                Gotta know what number one is…

                Is it Tropic Thunder?

                • gotta save that for a future post lolol

              • TheUnsungStoryteller

                LMAO. MY MOVIE.

          • miss t-lee

            LMFAO

      • orchid921

        Bwahahahahahaha!!!!!

    • Michelle is my First Lady

      *daps Todd*

      Nando’s Peri Peri makes perfectly grilled wings. I tried them while visiting Silver Spring once, and nearly slapped my mama!

      • Jennifer

        That’s my hood.

        • Michelle is my First Lady

          Nice! I love SS. All of the Nando’s are based out of that area. I wish there was a restaurant closer to Bmore, or maybe not cause I’m sure I’d eat there every night… the wings are just that good.

          • Jennifer

            I think there is one out in Laurel. Is that closer for you?

          • Ess Tee

            There’s one in Towson. I know this only because my sister worked there during her fall semester last year.

      • SoonToBeMrs

        Yoooooooo!!!! NANDOS!!

        • Val

          Nandos is in the U.S. now?

          • Michelle is my First Lady

            Yes, however, I’ve only seen it in the DC metro area.

            • Janelle Doe

              Me too, but I heard there is one in Chicago also, maybe

          • SoonToBeMrs

            I didn’t know. All I know is that it’s the sheeed.

          • Janelle Doe

            In some select markets yes, i had some in DC actually

          • Brooklyn_Bruin

            DC!

          • GenevaGirl

            Good to know! It’s one of our first stops in the UK. The kid loves it.

            Nando’s Chicago, IL, United States
            +1 312-488-3062

            Nando’s Washington, DC, USA
            +1 202-554-1920

            Nando’s Towne Centre at Laurel
            Laurel, MD, USA · +1 301-497-0720

      • I love Nando’s I used to eat there all the time when I lived in England; had no idea there were Nandos’ in the states! *goes to google locations*

    • AshAlly08

      Broiling makes all chicken better.

    • Jennifer

      I broiled wings for the first time for my Oscar party this year. We had one batch that was broiled from the jump while the other was slow cooked and then broiled at the end. Friends ate all of the food (especially the shrimp), but the broiled wings were a definite hit. I really liked the texture.

    • miss t-lee

      You keep talking this yang, but deep fried or naythin.

    • T3 Nickel

      I was waiting for someone to mention this city. There are wings in Buffalo like there are guns in Texas. At the rate that wings are being consumed (in this city alone) there is no way the chicken population is keeping up…I don’t know what everyone is eating but it can’t be good….that being said I’m too deep in the game and I can’t stop now. As long as the wings aren’t from like Domino’s or the freezer section i’m good.

      There is a franchise here called Just Pizza and they serve wings from the char pit in over 25 different sauces……..(wipes tear) best thing ever.

      • I remember going upstate a bunch for HS sports events, and you couldn’t miss the wings if your life depended on it. It was like some Welcome To The Next Level ish.

      • TheUnsungStoryteller

        That sounds like heaven.

        • T3 Nickel

          Gift and a curse. The EL B’s stick like glue.

      • cdj

        I grew up in Syracuse, and it was pretty much the same there – wings and pizza, pizza and wings. I haven’t had a decent buffalo wing since I left home (moved to NJ after college, then moved south after that). They are flabby, or have weird sauce, are served with ranch dressing (this is wrong) and are just off in some way. I have found a place that serves a good dry, seasoned whole wing though, which is a fair substitute.

        Also, I hate Wingstop.

        • orchid921

          I went to SU for grad school and I agree with all of this. :)

  • Ille Jay

    Jerk Flavoring wins it for me…followed by some forms of Asian Spice…Buffalo Wild Wings has Thai Curry…that’s my favorite at that establishment…I’m not hearing Garlic Parm nephew!

    • Lex

      that thai curry is the deal!!!

    • miss t-lee

      I’m not a fan of Buffalo Wild Wings. :(
      It’s gotta be wingstop or pluckers, or the mom and pop fry shop…lol

      • Ille Jay

        Me either Miss…in the grand scheme…but they have a good setup to watch sports, decent specials…they win with details! Plukkers is the best IMO, but they’re SO Expensive and crowded at all times now! I like plain old Wingstop too…on most days.

        They just opened this spot literally down the street from me…Wing Daddys Sauce House, slightly creative name I guess…most folks say it’s trash though. Also just opened a Brewingz nearby…trash as well!

        What’s your go-to?

      • Cheech

        BWW blows.

        • miss t-lee

          Basura.

    • Jerk Wings are good…but only from Jamaican establishments. There’s this one bar in Baldwin, LI on Grand Ave that has these delicious jerk wings!

      • Ille Jay

        There’s a spot out here in Texas..Plukkers (sp?)…they are nothing close to Jamaican…but they had me hooked on the Jamaican Jerk wings for years before they took them off the menu! I bet a Jamaican place would be phenomenal!

  • cakes_and_pies

    Lemon pepper is gross. Fight me.

  • Cheech

    Breading is an abomination. Naked and sauced forever.

    Also, Hooters wings are the worst.

    • Jae Starz

      Thought I was the only one who felt that way about Hooters. Had their wings once and that was 3 times too many. I don’t know what the hype is all about.

    • miss t-lee

      Only thing good at hooters are those fried pickles…lol

      • Cheech

        And the … cold, watery beer.

        • miss t-lee

          Is it good? I’ve never been much of a beer drinker.

          • Cheech

            I was joking. The beer is good on a hot summer day, or for washing down halfazz wings. That’s about it.
            The other good thing was …

            • miss t-lee

              Bwahaha….the scenery?

              • Cheech

                The company.

  • Val

    Listen, if you need anything other than basic seasoning on your wings then those wings aren’t done right. All these sauces and dips are just to hide the flavor of badly seasoned wings.

    Regarding too much meat: Church’s wings are scary. It’s like they come from Eastern European Olympic chickens or something.

    • Jennifer

      Church’s serves those ‘roid wings. I don’t trust them.

      • miss t-lee

        As my Uncle calls them, “that Barry Bonds chicken”…lol

    • SoonToBeMrs

      Disagreeeeeeee!!!! You need bleu cheese!!!!! All the downvotes.

      • Val

        Okay, that’s the second time you’ve actually downvoted me. We can’t be friends any more. Bye.

        • SoonToBeMrs

          We are friends my darling, we’ve come from far. I’ll continue to downvotes, tell you so and love you at the same damn time, cause….multitasking.

          • Val

            *blocked*

            • SoonToBeMrs

              ?!!!!!

    • miss t-lee

      Church’s has always been suspect. When you can get 72 pcs of chix for $10 there’s an issue somewhere.

    • miss t-lee

      “Listen, if you need anything other than basic seasoning on your wings then those wings aren’t done right.”

      All this truth!

    • Hey, I don’t mind the steroid enhanced wings. They’re yummy, and I figure so long as they exist, the Animal Science program at my alma mater is doing alright. Now if they’re only fry up some wings for Ag Field Day. They already have the chemically enhanced ice cream…

      • Val

        Okay, you can have mine. Lol

  • Jennifer

    DC people know about Stan’s. It’s an underground (literally) spot with these amazing wings – baked or fried. The baked ones are so well-seasoned and juicy, I don’t even need to dip them in mumbo sauce. I eat those suckers plain…and pair it with a strong cocktail. Because Stan’s.

    • Brooklyn_Bruin

      Stan’s? Really?
      I would have never guessed

      • Jennifer

        I don’t appreciate your sarcasm, sir.

        • Brooklyn_Bruin

          No, i pass that place on the regular. It’s next to Ida’s idea.
          They have wings?

          • Jennifer

            Oh! I figured everyone knew. They’re really good.

    • NomadaNare

      Have you been to Hill Country on 7th

      Best Wings in the history of Happiness

      I ish you not

      • Cheech
      • Jennifer

        I hate their prices. TX BBQ shouldn’t cost me that much — especially when I have to carry my own tray to the table.

        I haven’t tried the wings though. I usually stick to the beef. Maybe it’s worth a trip on someone else’s dime, lol

        • Cheech

          True on the price and the tray. Haven’t ever tried the wings. But if they’re smoked it makes sense.

        • NomadaNare

          Theyre expensive but so good

          • Jennifer

            Dang. You right! Let me see if I can get some friends together for a trip this weekend. Gotta plan accordingly. You can’t do anything after leaving Hill Country cuz you smell like smoked meat the minute you walk out, lol

        • miss t-lee

          “TX BBQ shouldn’t cost me that much”
          *snickering*

  • Mean&Robotic

    I also agree on the flats preference. The garlic parmesan wings from Wing Heaven are #1. But Wing Stops are fine also.

    • Lex

      I cannot stomach the smell of Wing Stop’s garlic parm

  • Lex
    • Helga G.Pataki

      Spicy garlic is a good runner up! Try that

  • Alessandro De Medici

    Good wings don’t need no BS sauce to go with them.

    • Cosmic_

      But sauce makes it fun…

      • Tam

        I am quoting Val

        Listen, if you need anything other than basic seasoning on your wings then those wings aren’t done right. All these sauces and dips are just to hide the flavor of badly seasoned wings.

        • Cosmic_

          No! Sauces and dip enhances the eating experience.
          Thus making it … fun!

          • Tam

            Nope. Heathen be gone. A lot of times if you blot off the sauce you got bland tasteless nuffen

            • Cosmic_

              Dang Tam…. I got to be a heathen?
              What if I’m just hungry?

              • Tam

                Then i understand why you think sauces are fun

            • NonyaB?

              A lot of times, when the chicken isn’t the more flavourful “home type” found in African and Carribbean countries/stores, you’re starting out with bland tasteless nuffen.

              • Tam

                I guess seasoning and marinades aint for everyone

                • NonyaB?

                  Seasoning and marinades rock but can only do so much with less than optimal raw material

                  • Tam

                    So so so true

              • Roz

                Old layers!

                • Tam

                  Good old yard fowl. It is amazing that ” free range” is our old yard fowl hehehehe

                  • NonyaB?

                    I often cackle when I see that labeling. Speaking of fowl, Guinea fowl is also good eating.

                  • In partial defense of free range chicken, at least the quality is consistent. There are some…less than scrupulous purveyors in the NY Tri-State Area. Trust me.

                    • orchid921

                      I wonder if that chicken processing plant in the South Bronx is still around. That place used to freak me out!

                • NonyaB?

                  Let ’em know!

              • Alessandro De Medici

                Madam, no need to be passing out government secrets!

                • NonyaB?

                  Bhet how can I watch my people suffer through such misconceptions? You know good food is next to world peace on the chosen’s Maslow hierarchy!

          • truthseeker2436577@yahoo.com

            Sauces does make the experience more exciting.

        • SoonToBeMrs

          Bs.

        • Mary Burrell

          I must respectfully disagree

          • Tam

            And I disrespectfully disagree

            • Mary Burrell

              Okay ?

    • SoonToBeMrs

      Yes they do. Blue cheese. Stop the madness.

    • BatmansExWife

      I don’t like Blue Cheese nor Ranch so I’m right with ya.

      • orchid921

        I DESPISE blue cheese in all of its forms. Ranch is okay, though.

    • Catfish Jenkins

      I read that like you typed that mad.

      • Alessandro De Medici

        It came out harder than I thought lol.

    • TheUnsungStoryteller

      I concur. Just like good fries.

  • blueevey

    I’m here for the garlic parm love!

    Also, wings and things and dirty birds are legit. But are only in san diego.

    • Val

      Upvote for Dirty Birds. The name sounds like they have good chicken.

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