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I Tested 5 Famous Chicken Wing Recipes To Find The One You Should Use

Just in time for The Super Bowl.

Hannah Wong/BuzzFeed

Hello everyone! I'm Jesse and I love to test famous recipes to find out which ones are actually worth making.

Taylor Miller/BuzzFeed

And with the Super Bowl coming up, I figured it was the perfect time to test out some chicken wing recipes to find one that'll score a touchdown.

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So, in an attempt to find the absolute best, I decided to test five popular chicken wing recipes:

Hannah Wong/BuzzFeed

This was my lineup:

1. Gordon Ramsay: Because his recipe somehow makes plain ol' chicken wings fancy. He "lollipops" his chicken wings (aka he pushes the meat up to the top of the wing to create a little handle) and serves them with a cilantro-lime dipping sauce.

2. John Legend: Because he brines his chicken wings overnight, then fries them and drenches them in a spicy honey butter — so I knew they would be good.

3. Emeril Lagasse: Because his wing recipe looked super classic. They're fried, tossed in Buffalo sauce, and served with all the classic garnishes. I figured Emeril's wings would be the perfect standard to judge the other recipes off of.

4. Martha Stewart: Because her maple-dijon chicken wings looked like a fancy version of honey mustard sauce tossed over wings, so I was curious to try it out.

5. Joe Montana: Because this is a Super Bowl recipe test, so a recipe from a football legend seemed like a must. He dry-rubs his wings in a simple DIY seasoning blend and bakes them — which almost seems too simple, but I had faith.

Here are their methods and how they stacked up:

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First up was Gordon Ramsay. He starts by making a quick sauce with olive oil, lime zest and juice, and harissa — a type of hot chili paste.

Ethan Miller / Getty Images, Pierce Albernathy / BuzzFeed

Combine all of that in a saucepan, bring to a simmer, and set aside.

Then season chicken wings that have been lollipopped* with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and bake until the chicken is cooked through.

Pierce Albernathy / BuzzFeed

Brush the chicken with the prepared sauce, then return to the oven until they're nice and golden. Serve with a homemade cilantro-lime yogurt dipping sauce and these wings are done.

*Lollipopping chicken wings just means that the bone has been cleaned off to make eating them less of a mess. You just push the meat up towards the top of the wing and away from the bone.

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So, are Ramsay's fancy chicken wings any good?

Pierce Albernathy / BuzzFeed

They are! I liked the fact that you could grab the bone without getting your fingers dirty, and the sticky glaze was the perfect combination of sweet and savory. The sesame seeds were a bit excessive — and they didn't really add anything — but they looked nice. The flavors were good, and the gently pop of heat from the harissa paste was the perfect contrast to the cooling yogurt dip. They weren't your typical chicken wings, and maybe a bit too fancy for the average Super Bowl party, but delicious nonetheless.

Rating: 🏈🏈🏈🏈

Get Gordon Ramsay's recipe.

Next up was John Legend. He starts by combining cold water, seasoning salt, garlic powder, and cayenne in a large container and brining chicken wings in it.

Ian Gavan / Getty Images, Pierce Albernathy / BuzzFeed

Let 'em brine for four to 24 hours. (This technique helps the wings retain moisture when you fry them.)

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Once they're brined, combine flour, seasoning salt, and cayenne in a large bowl and toss the chicken wings in it. Fry them in canola oil, then transfer them onto a plate lined with paper towels.

Pierce Albernathy / BuzzFeed

Combine melted butter, hot sauce, honey, and salt in a large bowl and toss the fried wings in it to evenly coat them. Season with more salt if needed.

The wings looked beautiful, but did they taste any good?

Pierce Albernathy / BuzzFeed

YES. SOO GOOD. They were crispy, sweet, savory, and hot — everything I want in a chicken wing. The honey gave them a shiny glaze and subtle sweetness that balanced out the hot sauce, and the meat itself was juicy and full of flavor. I'll admit that brining the wings was a bit of work, but it really did keep the meat moist. Overall I was very, very happy with these wings and would 100% make them again.

Rating: 🏈🏈🏈🏈🏈 (TOUCHDOWN!)

Get John Legend's recipe.

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Then came Emeril Lagasse. He starts by combining flour, salt, pepper, and cayenne in a Ziploc baggie, and tossing wings in it to coat them.

Monica Schipper / Getty Images, Pierce Albernathy / BuzzFeed

Transfer the dredged chicken wings onto a baking sheet and let them sit for one hour to dry out a bit.

Once dried, fry the chicken wings in hot oil until crispy and transfer them into a large bowl.

Pierce Albernathy / BuzzFeed

Drizzle the wings with a homemade Buffalo sauce made with hot sauce, apple cider vinegar, sugar, and butter, and toss to coat them. Serve the wings with celery, carrots, and a homemade blue cheese dip.

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So, are classic chicken wings the best?

Pierce Albernathy / BuzzFeed

Eh, they were fine. There was nothing wrong with these wings, but there was nothing special about them, either. They tasted like something you would get at a dive bar, complete with a dipping sauce that probably came out of a jug. (Which, in this case, didn't.) If you're someone who loves classic hot wings and doesn't want to try something new, this recipe is for you. For people looking to make something a bit more exciting, don't bother.

Rating: 🏈🏈🏈

Get Emeril Lagasse's recipe.

Then came Martha Stewart. She starts by seasoning chicken wings with salt and arranging them on a sheet tray.

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Bake them until crispy and set 'em aside.

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Combine maple syrup and whole grain mustard in a large bowl and toss the cooked wings in it.

Pierce Albernathy / BuzzFeed

Transfer the coated wings onto a baking sheet and bake until the glaze thickens up. Serve with lemon wedges.

So, is mustard and maple syrup the ultimate wing sauce?

Pierce Albernathy / BuzzFeed

Nah, but it's good! The wings were super simple, and the ingredients all worked together, but it was a bit boring. The sauce pretty much just tasted like honey mustard dip — which is delicious, but not something I want my wings tossed in. Baking them directly on the sheet pan without oil made them surprisingly crispy, and the meat wasn't dry or overcooked. The lemon wedges made the wings taste fresh and bright, which really elevated the whole thing. They were good, just not that good. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Rating: 🏈🏈🏈

Get Martha Stewart's recipe.

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And last but not least came football legend Joe Montana. He starts by combining seasoning salt, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper in a small bowl.

Mike Coppola / Getty Images, Pierce Albernathy / BuzzFeed

In another bowl, toss chicken wings with olive oil, then season with the prepared spice mixture.

Place the wings on a baker's rack on top of a sheet tray and pop 'em in the oven.

Pierce Albernathy / BuzzFeed

Ten minutes before they're done, turn on the broiler to crisp them up. That's it!

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So, is dry rubbing your wings the way to go?

Pierce Albernathy / BuzzFeed

NOPE. These wings were so unbelievably boring that it tasted like frozen diet food. It was literally just a piece of cooked chicken. That's it. There was no glaze, no dipping sauce, nothing. If you're looking for a piece of chicken to serve with your meal prep, this is it — but they're 100% NOT the kind of chicken wings you serve at a party. Sorry Joe, but this recipe is far from a touchdown.

Rating: 🏈 (FUMBLE!)

Get Joe Montana's recipe.

SO WHO WON?

Hannah Wong/BuzzFeed

THE WINNER: John Legend

These wings were legit life changing. They were a beautiful shade of red, super crisp, and had the perfect balance of sweet and spicy. Sure, they're a bit of work to make, but the result is totally worth it. I can honestly say these were the best chicken wings I have ever had — and I'm not exaggerating. Get the recipe.

SECOND PLACE: Gordon Ramsay

These wings were definitely not what I think of when I imagine hot wings, but delicious nonetheless. Lollipopping the wings made eating 'em mess-free, and the harissa added a nice pop of heat that went perfectly with the cooling yogurt sauce. If you're looking for something a bit fancy, this is your recipe. Get the recipe.

THIRD PLACE: Emeril Lagasse

These wings were good, but nothing special. If you're looking for a standard, run-of-the-mill chicken wing recipe, this is it. Get the recipe.

FOURTH PLACE: Martha Stewart

These wings were absolutely fine. Would I be disappointed if I ordered them at a restaurant? No. Would I order them again? No. They're just your typical baked chicken wings tossed in honey mustard. That's it. Get the recipe.

LAST PLACE: Joe Montana

These were bad — really, really bad. It was literally just bland roasted chicken and definitely NOT what I imagine when I think of chicken wings. Get the recipe.

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TL;DR: If you're looking for the ultimate chicken wings recipe that's hot, sweet, and crispy, John Legend has you covered – but if you want to try something a bit different (and slightly fancy), Gordon Ramsay's harissa-glazed hot wings are the perfect alternative.

Previous recipe showdowns:

The Ultimate Mashed Potatoes Recipe

The Ultimate Scrambled Egg Recipe

The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

The Ultimate Stuffing Recipe

The Ultimate Pancake Recipe

The Ultimate Guacamole Recipe

The Ultimate Omelet Recipe

The Ultimate Mac 'N' Cheese Recipe

The Ultimate Turkey Showdown

The Ultimate Apple Pie Showdown

What ultimate recipes should we test next? Let us know in the comments below!

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