These apple cider brined chicken wings are going to be your new fall favorite! Fresh chicken wings are brined in an apple cider brine mixture and seasoned with a sweet and smoky dry rub before grilling until crispy. Whether you are tailgating, hosting friends, or craving a mouthwatering appetizer, this will become your favorite chicken wings recipe!
Really, what better appetizer is there for game day than tasty wings!? I love hosting football Sundays at my house. My fiance is so obsessed with football that Sundays are an all day event! Morning games with bloody Mary's and tons of appetizers throughout the day. With fall season around the corner, I wanted to make my favorite brined chicken wings have a little fall flair.
These chicken wings are brined to have a perfectly moist meat inside with a crispy skin. They are sweet, smoky, and full of flavor! Next time you're looking for a recipe for football Sunday, try these apple cider brined chicken wings!
Chicken wings: You will need 4 pounds of wings. You can purchase them frozen or already thawed, but they will need to be completely thawed prior to brining. See below tips and tricks for defrosting methods.
apple cider brine
Apple cider: You will need 3 cups of unfiltered apple cider. The sugar in the apple cider promotes better browning of the skin.
Onion: This recipe calls for 1 medium white onion. White onions add the strongest flavor to the brine.
Lemon: 1 lemon adds a bright flavor to the brine.
Herbs: The herbs used in the brine are fresh rosemary and fresh sage. This adds an earthy and pine flavor.
Salt: It is crucial that for the brine, you use kosher salt. Kosher salt sticks to meat better and dissolves more evenly in liquid than table salt. Salt breaks down the muscle fiber of the meat allowing for it to absorb more moisture, creating an end result of more tender meat. You will need ⅓ cup.
Brown sugar: Light brown sugar counteracts the saltiness. It also gives the skin of the wings that caramelization when cooking. You will need ½ cup of brown sugar.
Garlic: You will need 4 cloves of smashed garlic. Can't have flavorful chicken without fresh garlic!
Seasonings: For extra flavor, you will need 1 bay leaf and 1 teaspoon whole pink peppercorns. These add such a great depth of flavor.
Water: The base of every wet brine solution is water. You will need 2 cups of water. Make sure it is filtered water.
dry rub blend
The dry rub is smoky and sweet! It consists of brown sugar, smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, sea salt, ground black pepper, dried oregano, ground mustard.
Find the full ingredient measurements and instructions in the recipe card below!
variations & substitutions 📖
Make this simple brine your own! If you like thyme more than rosemary, swap it! If you only have limes on hand and not lemon, switch it! The flavor components of the chicken wing brine recipe can be customized to what ingredients you like best!
If you are unable to get your hands on unfiltered apple cider, you can substitute for apple juice. Apple juice will make the brine a bit sweeter, so lessen the brown sugar in the brine to ¼ cup if you substitute for apple juice.
tips & tricks 👩🏻🍳
If your chicken wings are still frozen, try these minimal effort defrosting methods. One of the easiest ways to thaw chicken wings is by placing them in a large ziploc bag and storing in the fridge overnight. You can also place the ziploc bag of wings in a large bowl of cold water to defrost for about an hour and a half.
Use paper towels to blot out any excess moisture. The less moisture left in the skin, the more crispy the wings will be!
If you are grilling the wings, rub the grill grates with vegetable oil. This ensures the chicken wings don't stick and get extra crispy.
If you love this chicken wing recipe, you will go crazy for my hot honey lemon pepper chicken wings! They are full of flavor with a little spice and a lot of zing.
step by step instructions 🔪
Step #1 - Prepare the brine. In a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat, combine the apple cider, water, onion, lemon, rosemary, sage, salt, brown sugar, garlic, bay leaf, and peppercorns. Cook until the sugar dissolves. Then bring to a simmer for 5-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool completely. Do not place the wings in the brine mixture until it is completely cooled!
Step #2 - Brine the wings. Add the thawed chicken wings into the brine. Let brine in the fridge for 2-8 hours. You can brine the chicken wings directly in the pot with the lid on or in a brining bag. After brining, place wings in a single layer on a sheet pan rack over a cookie sheet.
Step #3 - Dry the wings. After brining, place wings in a single layer on a sheet pan rack over a cookie sheet. Pat the wings dry on both sides. Then place in the fridge covered with a paper towel for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. This dries the skin and makes it extra crispy during the cooking process. Discard brine.
Step #4 - Mix together the dry rub seasonings. In a small bowl combine the brown sugar, smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, sea salt, ground black pepper, dried oregano, ground mustard.
Step #5 - Apple the dry rub. After the wings have dried out, place into a large mixing bowl. Add the dry rub seasoning mixture. Toss until all wings are throughly coated.
Step #6 - Cook the wings! You can either bake or grill the wings.To grill the wings, oil the grates with vegetable oil. Heat the grill to high heat & grill the wings for 15-20 minutes, flipping once in between. To bake, preheat your oven to 400F. Place the chicken wings on a sheet pan rack over a cookie sheet. Bake the wings for 40-45 minutes. The chicken wings are done when 165F.
serving suggestions 🍽️
Serve these crispy wings with all the fixin's... ranch, blue cheese, celery, and carrots!
storage & reheating ⏲️
Store leftover chicken wings an air tight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
You can also freeze leftover chicken wings in a ziploc bag for up to 4 months.
My preferred method to reheat chicken wings is in a frying pan. You can simply add a couple tablespoons of oil in your pan and cook the chicken wings for 5-7 minutes. I have found this is the best method to keep you chicken wings flavorful yet crispy.
You can also reheat them in the air fryer or oven. This is a great way to get them crispy without drying them out. For the air fryer, preheat your air fryer to 350F and cook for 2-3 minutes. For the oven, place chicken wings on a lined baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes at 350F.
Brining chicken makes the world of difference! It adds so much flavor and tenderness to the chicken. Even an easy brine can make ordinary chicken extraordinary!
The minimum amount of time to brine chicken wings is 2 hours and the most is 8 hours. If you brine for too long, your chicken will be very salty.
There is no need to rinse the chicken after brining. If you over brined your chicken for longer 8 hours, you will need to rinse the chicken wings to try to eliminate some of the saltiness.
other fall appetizers
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