These sticky and tangy chicken wings are juicy, spicy and delicious - a true showstopper. I often make wings at home and this recipe always hits the right spots. If you ask me, you can never go wrong with chicken wings- even when done with minimal ingredients they turn out so yummy.
Back in the day, I always shied away from deep frying wings so I hardly made them at home. We used to eat them once in a while and that used to be at restaurants or take outs. Ever since I started using an air fryer, my outlook towards homemade chicken wings has changed. They can be super easy to make and turn out quite delicious if you keep a few things in mind.
You can use regular tamarind in this recipe and adjust the sugar & vinegar to your liking. I just used sweet tamarind pods because I had a ton to finish and I thought that it would help me cut down sugar in the sauce which it did. Just soak and squeeze the pulp of the pods like regular tamarind. I used chopped Fresno chillies for heat because I happened to have a few on hand but you can use red chilli flakes easily.
Last week I saw this post on Food52 Instagram page by amazing Sohlae who talks about always dry brining the chicken wings before baking them. I was itching to try it and used the same method for brining as she mentioned and viola!, such a revelation. These turned out so crispy outside and juicy inside. I changed her measurements a bit because I was making a lesser quantity of wings. However stick to her recipe if you are making 2 to 2.5 pounds of wings.
- Always make sure to marinate/dry brine the chicken wings overnight. I have tried it the quick way it for 2-3 hours myself and truly a longer marination makes a huge difference.
- Pat the chicken dry before baking/air frying it. The drier the chicken skin is, the crispier they turn out.
- Take the marinated wings out of the fridge for an hour before you plan to bake them, avoid putting cold wings right in a hot oven, it can make them tough.
- I also feel that making the sauce a few hours ahead makes a difference- the flavors have time to mingle and it tastes better.
Air Fried Sweet Tamarind- Chilli Chicken Wings
- Oven/Air fryer, Bowls, Tongs, Sauce Pan
For Dry Brining the Chicken Wings
- 1.5 pounds party chicken wings
- ½ tablespoon salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- ¼ tsp baking powder
For the Sweet Tamarind - Chilli Sauce
- ⅓ cup thick tamarind pulp, see notes
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tbsp ginger minced
- 2 fresno chillies finely chopped (adjust to taste, substitute with red chilli flakes)
- 2 tsp dark soy sauce
- 2-4 tbsp brown sugar adjust to taste
- ¼ cup malt vinegar,
- ½ tablespoon fresh cracked black pepper
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- salt to taste
- 2-4 tablespoon water if needed
For Baking/Air Frying
- Cooking Spray/Oil
Dry Brine the Wings
- In a large bowl, add the wings and all the ingredients listed under the dry brining.
- Toss very well using clean hands, cover the bowl with a cling film and refrigerate overnight.
Make the Tamarind Sauce
- In a medium bowl, mix the tamarind pulp, sugar, soy sauce, cumin, salt, black pepper and vinegar.
- Heat up oil in a sauce pan. Once warm, add the garlic, ginger and chopped chillies(or chilli flakes) to the hot oil and saute for 30 seconds, dont let burn.
- Add the tamarind pulp mix all at once to the pan. Add 2-3 tablespoon water and mix well. Cook down on low medium heat for 10-12 minutes till its thickish. The sauce wil be runny in the beginning but slowly thicken.
- Once the sauce is ready, cool down and set aside.
Prepare the Wings for Baking/Air Frying
- Take the marinated chicken out of the fridge atleast one hour ahead of starting to cook. Using paper towel, pat the chicken dry. Discard the liquid at the bottom of the bowl. Dry the chicken very well.
- Place the chicken in another bowl and add 2-3 tablespoon of the tamrind sauce that we prepared before. Using clean hands, toss and mix to coat all the wings properly.
- To Air Fry -Preheat your air fryer at 360F. Layer the wings in a single layer in the basket.If needed you can place the drumettes standing up if they are not fitting all at once. Make sure that the wings are not touching each other.
- Air fry for a total of 20 minutes, flipping using tongs half way at 10 minutes.
- Bump the temperature to 390 F at the end of 20 minutes let air fry for additional 5-7 minutes until you see that the skins are crispy.
- To Bake - Preheat oven to 400F. Line a sheet pan with foil and place a oven proof rack on top of the foil. Spray the rack liberally wiuth cooking spray.
- Arrange the wings in a single layer on the rack.
- Bake for 40 minutes, flipping using tongs at half the time until the wings are crispy and slightly charred on the edges.
- Serve the wings warm with rest of the tamarind sauce.
- Just soak and squeeze the pulp of the sweet tamarind pods like regular tamarind.