Once you have a craving for chicken wings, there isn’t much you can do to stop it. From the messy spicy sauce to the juicy tender wings, you can’t stop thinking about them. So off you go to your favorite wing place. Now, I hate to bring this up, but a majority of the wings you get at a wing place are not the best for your waistline. The good news is that wings are simple to make at home, and with very little effort they can be made healthier than you might think.
Make Your Own Seasonings
One of the main ingredients in your favorite buffalo wing sauce is butter. The butter helps the sauce to thicken and gives it that velvety smooth consistency. If you want to keep your recipe healthier, you can always opt for something a little less fatty than butter. Reach for the canola oil, safflower oil, olive oil, or coconut oil instead of the butter.
You can skip the sauce entirely if you use a spicy dry rub instead. This lets you control the amount of sugar and sodium you put on the wings and you don’t need any fats at all to create the flavor you love. A dry rub is a concoction of spices that give the chicken wings flavor without adding a lot of added calories in the form of fat. Once you have figured out how you want to coat your wings, it is time to think about cooking them.
A great way to keep your wings healthier and tasty at the same time is to pay close attention to how you cook them. If you want a tender and juicy wing, try steaming them before you bake them. Steaming your wings allows a lot of the natural chicken fats to drip off, allows the skin to get crisp and keeps the meat inside tender. You can also add a small pan of water inside your oven when baking the wings in order to keep some of the moisture in while they are cooking. Set them on a grate while baking and the wings won’t be sitting in the fat that drips off.
If you want to give your wings the most flavor while keeping them low fat and easy to cook, instead of deep frying them, try going with a dry heat. You can do this several ways; smoking, grilling, or baking. Smoking will give the wings the flavor of whatever type of wood you choose, like mesquite or apple. Grilling will give you that deep charred flavor from the charcoal. Baking in the oven will gives you an easy option you can do year round. These dry methods are healthier alternatives to submerging your wings in oil to cook them.
Three Pronged Approach for Healthiest Wings
If you want the healthiest, spicy chicken wings, make them at home with a dry rub or a carefully mixed sauce, then steam them, and finally use dry heat to cook them. This will give you a nice cross between healthy, spicy wings and juicy dine-out wings. Your healthiest spicy chicken wings are in your own hands – and in your own kitchen!
One other option we use a lot is to cut up chicken breast and coat them in the wing sauce. The meat is much leaner but we are getting that spicy wing sauce flavor we are craving.
Finally the Dip
No discussion of wings is complete without mentioning the dip. Typically, wings are served with a side of bleu cheese dip, celery sticks, and carrot sticks. Most pre-packaged bleu cheese dip is loaded with sugar. You can avoid this by making your own. Choose a recipe that includes only a few basic ingredients like crumbled bleu cheese, sour cream or yogurt, and maybe some mayonnaise. Make it a day ahead and the flavors will have melded perfectly. Try the simplest first; you can always adjust it. The idea is you are in control of the sugar, fat, and salt. Double the amount of celery and carrots and enjoy a much healthier treat!
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