What Are the Best Tips for Cooking Turkey Wings?

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  • Written By: Megan Shoop
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 24 October 2019
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Turkey wings are a relatively lean, protein-packed ingredient for many kinds of entrees. They’re also usually less expensive than purchasing a whole turkey. The wings themselves are larger than chicken wings, making them appropriate as a main dish. They aren’t typically difficult to cook, but a few tips may help cooks prepare them more easily. Cooks should almost always coat the turkey wings with some kind of fat, add water to the pan to ensure moisture, and leave plenty of time for the wings to bake all the way through.

The first step to preparing the wings usually involves rinsing them in cold water. This helps remove loose connective tissue from the outside of the wings and usually helps them taste fresher, as well. Coating the turkey wings in fat typically comes next. Rubbing them with butter, margarine, or some kind of cooking oil not only helps the skin get crispy and brown, it also helps keep the meat moist and flavorful.


The hands are usually the best tool for adding fat to the wings because the cook can massage all the nooks and crannies of each piece. After adding the fat, the cook may roll the wings in the spices of his or her choice. Garlic and onion powder, parsley, basil, tarragon, and even citrus zest are all common choices. Some cooks prefer to stick to only salt and pepper, while others love to add even more flavor with infused olive oil. These oils come flavored with garlic, lemon, spicy peppers, and a wide variety of herb mixtures.

Baking is typically the method of choice when cooking turkey wings because it is often the most reliable way to ensure they’re cooked through to the bone. Thorough cooking is important to avoid salmonella and other food-borne illnesses. Preheating the oven to about 350°F (about 176°C) should be adequate to fully bake the wings in just under an hour. This baking time is often crucial. Higher temperatures and shorter cooking times could yield wings that are scorched on the outside and raw on the inside. Conversely, low, slow baking generally ensures the wings are golden brown, crisp and juicy.

Many cooks like to add about .5 inch (about 1 cm) of water to the bottom of the baking dish before adding the turkey wings. Once in the oven, the water becomes steam and gently warms the wings, adding moisture and helping the meat to heat evenly. To use this method, cooks often cover the wings with aluminum foil for about half the baking time, then uncover them to allow the water to evaporate and encourage the wings to get crispy.


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Post 3

@croydon - It's nice to have deep fried wings occasionally, but I would only have them as an appetizer or side dish. They don't have much subtlety, since you can't exactly use multiple seasonings with them in the oil.

At most, you can coat them with breading or something like that, but it's a bit too fiddly to do that with wings, I find.

Post 2

@KoiwiGal - Honestly, if I'm going for crisp I just go all the way and deep fry the wings. It's faster and they taste better at the end of it, even if it's a bit more fattening. Saturated fat isn't all that bad for you anyway, it's the trans-fats that are the real hazard, so as long as you don't re-use your frying oil multiple times, or eat your way through 500 wings it should be fine.

I also like frying because I find it easier to cook different sizes of turkey pieces, rather than over- or under-cooking the ones that are smaller, bigger or oddly shaped.

Post 1

It's important to dry the wings thoroughly before you put oil or seasonings on them, or they might take longer to crisp. If you're cooking them long and slow with water in the pan this isn't so crucial, but they generally won't get crispy in that case. They really need an opportunity to sit in a dry heat in order to get that crispy texture to the skin.

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