No party is complete without a big tray of these crispy mango-habanero wings! Chicken wings are baked until they’re perfectly crispy and then tossed with a homemade mango-habanero hot sauce for that sweet and spicy kick everyone loves. Whether you’re hosting game day, a casual backyard barbecue or a holiday party, these spicy wings are always a hit.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
That sweet and spicy wing sauce: You’ll love how this homemade mango-habanero sauce has a kick of heat, but it’s not so overwhelming that you can’t taste the sweetness of the mango. Plus, you can make a double batch and use the leftovers as your own homemade hot sauce — it’s great on my salmon tacos and Jamaican jerk pork shoulder. Who doesn’t love two recipes in one?
Perfectly crispy skin without frying: Thanks to a tried and true technique from Cook’s Illustrated, we get super crispy chicken wings in the oven that rival the deep fryer.
A guaranteed party favorite for all occasions: Obviously, this is great for tailgating and your Super Bowl party, but don’t just save them for your next game day. This is the perfect appetizer to keep in your back pocket for those times you need a crowd-pleasing, reliable recipe. In fact, I just served these wings for our annual New Year’s Eve party, and they were met with rave reviews as they flew off the appetizer platter.
Make-ahead preparation: Since we’re making a homemade hot sauce, the vinegar acts as a preservative, so the sauce should hold up for a few weeks. We also dry brine the wings, so all we have to do is toss them with our coating and pop them in the oven before guests arrive.
Chicken wings: For best results, we want to get whole wings and trim them ourselves. Those pre-packaged party wings tend to be scrawny. For plump, meaty wings, it’s worth taking a few minutes to trim them, and we’ll walk through the process to show you how easy it is.
Baking powder: Sounds weird? I promise it’s not. This is the secret ingredient that gives us that crispy skin even in the oven. The baking powder helps bring out the moisture from the skin, resulting in more browning.
Habaneros: The exact amount will depend on your desired heat level, but this recipe calls for anywhere from one to five fresh habanero peppers.
Mango: You can use fresh or frozen mango chunks. Frozen fruit goes into the freezer at peak ripeness, so it’s an especially good option if only hard, unripe mangoes are available.
Ginger: This is for the mango-habanero wing sauce, and it adds another layer of warm spice. You’ll love how it complements the fruit and peppers.
White wine vinegar: We use this to give our hot sauce that delightful acidic kick. White wine vinegar is my favorite for hot sauce, but you could substitute apple cider vinegar if need be.
How to Make Mango-Habanero Wing Sauce
Step 1: We begin by adding the fresh mango, spicy habanero peppers, ginger, garlic, water, white wine vinegar and salt to a small saucepan. Over medium-high heat, we bring the mixture to a boil (photo 1), and then cover the pan and reduce the heat to keep it at a simmer.
Step 2: After simmering the sauce ingredients for 20 minutes, we pour the mixture into a blender and process until smooth (photo 2). A food processor also works. Our spicy sauce is now ready.
How to Make Chicken Wings
Step 1: The first step is to trim the chicken wings. For this, we trim off the wing tip (photo 3).
We then locate the knob-like bone at the bottom of the drumette (photo 4) and cut right under that bone to separate the wing into two pieces (photo 5).
Step 2: Now we sprinkle the chicken wing skin with salt (photo 6) and let them sit in the refrigerator uncovered for about eight hours to dry brine.
The dry brining process extracts the moisture from the skin and meat. As the chicken sits, the meat reabsorbs the salt. This makes the meat juicier and more flavorful while drying out the skin to give us a crispier texture.
You can skip this step if you don’t have time, but I recommend trying to plan ahead to ensure you can fit this process into your schedule. I like to take care of this first thing in the morning, and then the wings will be perfectly dry brined by dinner time.
Step 3: After dry brining, we remove the chicken from the refrigerator and coat the wings with the baking powder (photo 7). You can simply toss the wings with the baking powder in a large bowl, or you can add the ingredients to a sealable bag or storage container with a lid and shake well.
Step 4: Now we place the chicken wings in a single layer on a wire rack inside a baking sheet (photo 8). To keep the wings from sticking, I recommend greasing the rack with some cooking spray. You can even line the baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy clean-up if you'd like.
For the first baking phase, we cook the chicken in a 250-degree F oven for 30 minutes. This low heat helps render the fat to help us achieve that crispy texture. We then raise the heat to 425 degrees F and bake again for 40-50 minutes. This opposite blast of high heat also works to give us crispy skin. We’re all about texture here — no gummy skin for us.
Step 5: When the wings reach an internal temperature of 175 degrees F, we’re ready to pull them from the oven. Wings are safe to eat at 165 degrees F, but they benefit from a little extra cooking to help break down that collagen.
Now we toss those crispy wings in our sauce so that they’re well-coated (photo 9). Like the baking powder, you can toss them in a mixing bowl or shake them in a bag — your choice.
That’s everything! If you'd like, you can give them a quick squeeze of lime juice and sprinkling of fresh cilantro. Our mango habanero hot wings are ready to devour.
Of course, a side of blue cheese or ranch dressing as a dipping sauce is a must. Not only are these dressings delicious but the dairy also helps cut the heat. Celery sticks and carrots are also classic accompaniments.
But we don’t have to stop there. Here are some other snacks and side dishes to serve with these spicy chicken wings to complete your party spread.
- Smoked jalapeño poppers
- Bacon macaroni salad
- Whipped ricotta dip
- Smoked queso
- Dutch oven chili
- Green chile hummus
- Smoked baked beans
- Smoked mac and cheese
And don’t forget to have side plates for those bones as well as plenty of napkins or wet wipes on hand. Eating wings can get a bit sticky and messy quickly.
How to Store, Reheat and Freeze Leftover Wings
While I find wings are at their best and crispiest immediately after cooking, you can certainly reheat them for a snack. Hey, we don’t want those leftovers to go to waste. Here’s how we reheat those wings.
- Before storing, let them cool completely and keep them in an airtight container for up to three to four days.
- When you’re ready to reheat, let the chicken wings sit at room temperature for 15-30 minutes to take off the chill.
- Place the wings on that greased baking rack again.
- Spritz them with water — this helps the chicken stay moist while reheating.
- Bake them for about five minutes in a 350-degree F oven, flip and bake for another five minutes. They should be good to go, but you can give them another couple minutes if need be. The wings are done when they come to 165 degrees F.
For freezing, here’s how to do it.
- Like above, allow the wings to cool completely. Place the wings in a freezer bag and lay flat.
- Freeze for three to six months. After that, they won’t taste as fresh.
- Thaw by leaving the wings in the refrigerator for 24 hours. You can speed up the process by keeping the sealed bag in a bowl of cold water in the refrigerator.
- Cook as directed above.
Yes, habaneros pack a spicy punch. On the Scoville scale, which measures the heat of chile peppers, habaneros fall in the extra-hot zone with a rating of 100,000-350,000 Scoville heat units. In addition to their kick, these spicy little peppers have a fruity flavor that makes them great with mango, peach, pineapple and other tropical fruits.
As such, even the mild version of this sauce has noticeable heat and a subtle burn. If you can’t stand any spicy food, this may not be the sauce for you.
Absolutely, it’s especially great on grilled chicken. Just brush it on after cooking and you have a wonderful mango grilled chicken. This hot sauce goes the distance.
For best results, I recommend dry brining to get that extra crispy skin and more flavorful, juicy meat. That said, if you don’t have time, you can skip this step.
This depends on how you plan to serve them. Plan on four trimmed wings per person for an appetizer and eight trimmed wings per person as a main course. That’s the equivalent of two whole wings and four whole wings, respectively. This recipe calls for 4 to 5 pounds of chicken wings, which should give you about 16-20 whole wings.
Pat the wings well with a paper towel to remove extra moisture: We want the skin to be as dry as possible to get that crispy finish.
Let the wings sit at room temperature before cooking: This ensures a more even cooking process.
Use kitchen gloves when handling the habaneros: The pepper oils can burn your skin and eyes if you touch them, so use caution and keep them protected.
Don’t overcrowd the baking sheet: They need space to crisp up, so make sure the wings don’t touch while baking.
Double check that you use baking powder, not baking soda: The two are not interchangeable. Baking soda will give your chicken a metallic flavor.
If you want a great wine pairing, try a gewürztraminer. This wine offers a sweet touch to cool the heat. You’ll also love the tropical fruit backbone to complement the mango and ginger.
You’ll want to serve these mango-habanero chicken wings at every party. With that fruity mango, spicy peppers, crispy skin and juicy meat, it doesn’t get better than these wings.
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Crispy Mango-Habanero Wings
- Baking sheets with wire racks
Mango-Habanero Wing Sauce
- Habanero peppers seeds removed, see notes for recommendations on amount based on desired heat level
- 1-inch ginger root knob peeled
- 3 garlic cloves
- ½ cup mango chunks
- ½ cup white wine vinegar
- ½ cup water
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4-5 pounds whole chicken wings thawed
- 1 heaping tablespoon baking powder
- Ranch dressing or blue cheese dressing optional
- Celery and carrot sticks optional
Mango-Habanero Wing Sauce
- Add habanero peppers, ginger, garlic cloves, mango chunks, white wine vinegar, water and salt to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Continue simmering for 20 minutes.
- Remove the mixture from the heat. Pour the entire contents into a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Set aside. This should last in the refrigerator for several weeks.
- Trim off the wing tip. Locate the knob-like bone at the bottom of the drumette. Cut right underneath that bone to separate the drumette and flat into two pieces. Repeat for all wings.
- Pat the wings dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle the skin with salt. Place in the refrigerator uncovered for about eight hours to dry brine.
- Remove the wings from the refrigerator and toss with baking powder to coat evenly. Let the wings sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 250 degrees F and place one oven rack in the lower-middle position and the other oven rack in the upper-middle position.
- Place the wings on a greased wire rack in a baking sheet, ensuring that the wings don't touch to avoid overcrowding. Bake at 250 degrees F for 30 minutes on the lower-middle rack. Move the wings to the upper-middle rack, increase the heat to 425 degrees F and bake until they reach an internal temperature of 175 degrees F, about 40-50 minutes.
- Remove the wings from the oven. Toss with the mango-habanero wing sauce. If desired, serve with your favorite dressing and celery and carrot sticks. Enjoy!
- Use this number of habaneros for your desired heat level: one for mild, two to three for medium and five for hot. If you're unsure, start with mild, and you can go up in heat in future batches. Use kitchen gloves when handling the peppers.
- If you don't have time to dry brine, you can skip this step, but it's recommended to plan for this process to get the crispiest skin and juiciest, most flavorful meat. Dry brining first thing in the morning for dinner is perfect.
- Leftover wings can be stored in the refrigerator for three to four days. When you're ready to reheat, remove them from the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes. Spritz them with water and bake in a 350-degree oven for 5 minutes, flip and bake for another five minutes.
- To freeze leftover wings, place in a freezer-safe bag and freeze flat. Thaw them by placing them in the refrigerator overnight. Once thawed, you can reheat them as directed above.
- Don't mix up baking powder with baking soda. They are not interchangeable.
- This baking method was adapted from Cooks Illustrated.
- Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.