There’s something unglamorous about a toaster oven, unlike those newfangled gizmos such as air fryers or immersion circulators.
But in the last year, my relationship with the toaster oven has blossomed from casual acquaintance to forever life partner. Where other appliances overwhelm me with smart technology and touchscreens, a toaster oven’s low fidelity is a soothing balm in my kitchen.
The more I use the toaster oven beyond breakfast foods, the more I push the envelope with what I cook. I once recreated chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s legendary miso black cod in a toaster oven—not only was it delicious, it didn’t stink up my kitchen.
My toaster oven white whale, however, is chicken wings. Try as I might, each time I attempt wings in a toaster oven I never get the crackly crisp skin I seek. The fat doesn’t render out fully, leaving an unappetizing squishy texture when you bite in.
Breville Smart OvenOur previous winner once again aced all our tests, producing evenly baked cookies, golden brown pizza and tuna melts, tender-crisp asparagus spears, and a bronzed, crisp-skinned chicken.
You might ask: Why even attempt chicken wings in a toaster oven? First, I love a challenge. I also don’t like the rigamarole of preheating an oven and involving a massive baking sheet—it feels like a big to-do. It's unnecessarily labor intensive for just six wings.
I sought out our in-house test cooks for toaster oven wings guidance. Not only is it possible, they told me, but the results are surprisingly great. And now I share their secrets with you.
- The secret ingredient is baking powder. If you want ultracrunchy skin, you need to dry out the exterior as much as possible. Baking powder (with salt) helps break down the proteins in chicken skin that achieve that.
- Start at a low temperature—250 degrees Fahrenheit—which helps begin rendering the fat. During the last half of cooking, crank it up to 450 degrees to get it golden brown.
- Elevate the wings on a wire rack for better air circulation, ensuring uniform crispness.
Here, we offer a base recipe for toaster oven chicken wings. From there, you can slather on barbecue sauce, or as we prefer, buffalo sauce (whisk ¼ cup Frank's RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce + 2 tablespoons melted butter + 1 teaspoon molasses).
Sign up for the Notes from the Test Kitchen newsletter
Our favorite tips and recipes, enjoyed by 2 million+ subscribers!
Toaster Oven “Fried” Chicken Wings
What you'll need:
1¾ pounds chicken wings, halved at joints, wingtips discarded
1½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon table salt
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 250 degrees. Set small wire rack in small aluminum foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and spray rack with vegetable oil spray. Pat wings dry with paper towels. Combine baking powder and salt in large bowl, add wings, and toss to coat evenly.
Arrange wings skin side up in single layer on prepared wire rack. Bake wings in toaster oven for 30 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees, rotate sheet, and continue to bake wings until golden brown and crisp, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove sheet from oven and let sit for 5 minutes.
Prepare sauce of your choice in clean large bowl. Add wings and toss to coat. Serve immediately.