The 1-Ingredient Upgrade for Better Chicken Wings

Step aside Frank’s RedHot—there's a new spicy fella in town.

<p>Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe</p>

Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

I am a sucker for good homemade chicken wings. Though I do buy Frank’s RedHot in bulk from Costco to flavor them, I recently started a very serious love affair with a new spicy condiment: Trader’s Joe’s Italian Bomba Hot Pepper Sauce.

I’ll tell anyone who'll listen how much I love this sauce. (Apologies if I bump into you at the TJ’s condiment aisle—I'm there a lot!) This Italian condiment made with Calabrian chiles is spicy but also complex in flavor. It carries some smoky and fruity notes, with a little funk thanks to the fermented chile peppers (yay, gut health!).

I simply swap Bomba sauce for traditional hot sauce by mixing it with honey (I use hot honey if I have it in the pantry) and butter to create a thick, caramel-like coating that you won’t be able to stop eating. When brushed onto crispy chicken wings, they're spicy in the best way possible without leaving your mouth numb.

Don't Live Near a Trader Joe's?

If you don't have access to a Trader Joe's or if they're out of the Bomba sauce, I would also recommend these two brands: Delizie di Calabria and TUTTOCALABRIA.

The Trick To Getting Crispy, Not Rubbery Chicken Wings

The key to great chicken wings is to render as much fat as possible from the skin so that it's crisp—no one wants flabby chicken wings. The most foolproof way to do this is to deep fry them, which although tasty, is messy, time-consuming, and far too fussy for me.

Instead, I like to bake my wings in a super hot oven. This works best if the wings are nice and dry before they hit the oven. A good blot with paper towels will do the trick, but if time allows, it’s even better to spread the wings out on a sheet pan and let them hang out uncovered overnight in the fridge.

Next, season the wings well. I do a mix of garlic powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, cayenne, and salt, and massage the seasoning in with my hands to ensure even coverage. Then, I spread the wings on a wire rack set on top of a rimmed sheet pan, making sure to leave space between each wing so that the oven air can circulate the entire surface of the wing. That's how I get my wings golden brown and crisp.

<p>Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe</p>

Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

My Bomba Sauce Chicken Wings Recipe

This recipe serves two to four and is easy to double or triple.


  • 1 pound chicken wings (drums and flats separated)

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano

  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 2 tablespoons Bomba sauce, like Trader Joe's

  • 2 tablespoons honey

Preheat the oven to 450˚F. Line a rimmed sheet pan with foil, then set a wire rack on top of it.

Add the wings to a large bowl and add the salt, garlic powder, oregano, red pepper flakes, and cayenne. Toss to evenly coat the wings in seasoning. Place the wings on the prepared wire rack set on a sheet pan, leaving a few inches of space between each wing.

Bake for 25 minutes, then flip and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp.

While the wings cook, make the sauce. In a small saucepan, combine the butter, Bomba sauce, and honey. Set it over medium heat and bring to a boil. Then, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the sauce is slightly thickened. Remove the saucepan from the heat and set it aside.

Once the wings are crisp, use a pastry brush (or a spoon) to brush both sides with the sauce. You won't be using all of the sauce. Return the wings to the oven for about 3 minutes.

Add the wings to a large bowl along with the remaining sauce and toss to evenly coat. If I’m feeling fancy I’ll garnish them with a little grated Parmesan cheese and a hit of fresh lemon juice to brighten everything up. These taste like the hot wings you know and love, just a little less dive bar and a little more fancy cocktail lounge.

<p>Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe</p>

Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

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