Sous vide chicken wings are moist and tender and a great way to make these sweet, spicy, umami Korean style wings.
Is the extra time for sous vide cooking worth it? Check out the pros and cons.
Ultimately, this is a recipe for sous vide chicken wings. We finished them with a delicious Korean-style sauce of gochujang, maple syrup, garlic, ginger, apple cider vinegar, sesame oil and soy sauce.
You can, of course, choose many other sauces instead. Go ahead, miss out on this one! 🤣
What is sous vide?
Sous vide cooks food (placed in a plastic bag) in a precisely controlled water bath to the exact temperature you choose, edge to edge.
Are chicken wings sous vide worth it?
You will have to decide this for yourself. In a well controlled environment, there is not a lot of difference between sous vide wings and conventional wings. But, as we all know, wings are easy to overcook (dry) or undercook (raw). So here’s my take.
- Zero stress – my favorite part – plunge the chicken wings into a water bath and walk away. No worries about over cooking or under cooking.
- Prep is super easy – salt and pepper the wings and throw them into a ziploc bag.
- Great for make ahead – you can sous vide the wings, chill and refrigerate them for a couple of days, then finish them off with a sauce in 10 minutes when you need them. A big advantage if you are serving a larger group.
- Cook from frozen – sous vide is a perfect method for this. Just add an extra 45 minutes or so.
- Time: Sous vide wings take much longer than wings cooked with other methods e.g. 2 hours vs 30-45 minutes.
- Steps: The sous vide method for most things has an extra step. First, the sous vide cook. Then the finish – typically by grill, broil, pan sear etc.
Time and Temperature
Most sous vide recipes show a wide range of times and temperatures which will all have an effect on the doneness, how well fat renders (melts) and texture of the food. So you will have to do some experimenting to find your sweet spot.
Range: If you google different sous vide wing recipes, you will see there are fewer ranges for chicken wings. Temps range from 156F/69C to 176F/80C. Times from 1-3 hours.
I like 156F/69C for 1 1/2 hours. Or 165F/74C for 1 hour.
How to make Korean chicken wings
Tailor to Your Taste
Here are a few variations and substitutes you can try.
- Gochujang paste is a spicy savory paste used in Korean cooking, made from red chili peppers, fermented soybeans, rice, and salt -Oxford dictionary). Here are several substitutes for gochujang. I use garlic chili paste or Thai red curry paste if I don’t have any on hand.
- Fresh garlic and ginger can be substituted with powder or frozen cubes (I love those)
- Maple syrup can be substituted with apricot or peach preserves, brown sugar or honey.
- Apple cider vinegar can be substituted with lemon or rice vinegar
- Broiling -my preference for these wings
- Grilling – usually my favorite method, but you have to make sure your grill is well greased for no sticking.
- Deep frying – great if you want crispy wings. The downsides are smelly oil, an extra step of drying out the wings overnight in the fridge and a longer finish time as you have to fry in batches.
- instructions are in the recipe notes for all methods.
- Buy a jarred sauce at the grocery store e.g. teriyaki, Korean kalbi marinade (thickened with cornstarch), sweet chili sauce, etc.
- A few days ahead: chill sous vide wings in bag, place in fridge for up to 3 days. Finish them off when before serving.
- To freeze: chill wings in ice bath or at room temperature. Place in freezer. Thaw wings when ready to use, then finish them on grill or broiler.
- How to reheat chicken wings: To store, place leftover finished wings in the fridge in an airtight container. To reheat, warm the wings in a 350F/177C oven for 5 -7 minutes or in the microwave for a minute or two.
Best sides for chicken wings
So hard to choose – almost anything goes. Here are a few recommendations. These wings can be served as a main course or appetizer.
How many chicken wings in a serving: Figure about 1 pound/450 grams per person – give or take for smaller and bigger eaters.
- Grilled peaches
- Herb potato salad (no mayo)
- BBQ sweet potatoes and apples
- Healthy vegetable quinoa salad
- Sautéed peppers with caper vinaigrette
Love Sous Vide cooking?
Chicken wing lovers might also love…
Sous Vide Chicken Wings (Korean-style)
- Sous Vide equipment (sous vide machine or immersion circulator plus water bath container)
- 2 pounds chicken wings (split or whole wings, tips cut off)
- seasoning: kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder
- garnish: sesame seeds, chopped green onion optional
Korean-style sauce, Note 1
- 2 tablespoons gochujang paste, Note 2
- 3 cloves garlic or 3 teaspoons minced (or 3/8 teaspoon garlic powder)
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce light is fine
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger (or 1/4 teaspoon ginger powder)
- 1/4 cup maple syrup, Note 3
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar, or more to taste (or lemon, lime or rice wine vinegar)
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- PREPARE SOUS VIDE WATER BATH: Fill water in the sous vide container as per manufacturers instructions. Set the temperature to 156F/69C for 1 1/2 hours (or 165F/74C for 1 hour) and allow water to heat to that temperature.
- PREPARE AND BAG CHICKEN WINGS: Season both sides of chicken wings with salt, pepper and garlic powder. To bag wings with vacuum sealer method. fold back top of vacuum seal bag about an inch to create a flap (this ensures no food touches the top of the bag where it gets sealed). Insert the wings in a sous vide bag in a single layer. Unfold the flap and vacuum seal the bag. Note 4 for displacement method with ziploc bag.
- SOUS VIDE CHICKEN WINGS: When water temperature has been reached, submerge sealed bag with wings into water bath. Cook for 1 1/2 hours or a maximum of 3 hours. If using 165F/74C, cook 1-2 hours.
- MAKE KOREAN SAUCE: Mix all sauce ingredients together in microwavable measuring cup or small bowl. Microwave 1 minute. Sauce will be slightly thickened. Taste and adjust to your liking by adding more of the ingredients you think it needs e.g. sweet, tart, salt, etc.
- FINISH CHICKEN WINGS UNDER BROILER:Heat oven to BROIL setting and place oven rack a few inches from heat source (top of oven). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a wire rack on top. Spray it with oil to prevent sticking. Remove chicken wings from hot water bath and place bag in a bowl of ice water for 8-10 minutes. This will cool down chicken and allow more time to broil and glaze it without affecting texture and doneness. Then dry wings well with paper towels. Place half the sauce and cooked wings in a bowl and toss to coat well. DON'T do this if you are deep frying wings. Place wings on wire rack in single layer. Broil for 3 minutes until starting to char. Turn over wings, brush on more sauce and broil another 2 minutes. Transfer wings to a serving plate, brush with more sauce, add sesame seed and chopped green onion if you like and serve with extra sauce if you have any left. Note 5 for other finishing methods
- Shortcut for Korean-style sauce: Buy a glaze or sauce such as teriyaki, Korean kalbi marinade, sweet chili Thai sauce. Even your favorite BBQ sauce.
- Gochujang paste substitute: use garlic chili paste or Thai red curry paste. Or try one of these substitutes for gochujang.
- Maple syrup substitute: brown sugar, white sugar, honey or apricot/peach preserves (use sugar free for lower calories)
- Water displacement method with ziploc bag: Place wings in ziplock bag in single layer. Lower bag into water (which will push as much air out as possible) just until seal is above water line. Seal bag.
- Alternative finishing method for wings:
- Grill: Heat grill to high for 10-15 minutes. Scrape grill to clean, spray oil on grill or dip paper towel in oil and wipe over entire grill. Make sure grill is very hot. Grill wings for 2 minutes per side to get grill marks, brushing with sauce as you flip them. Remove to plate and brush with more sauce.
- Deep fry (for crispy skin): You will get better results if you dry wings on rack in fridge uncovered overnight. Heat a few inches vegetable oil in skillet to 400F/204C. Quick fry small batches of wings at a time for 2-3 minutes total until chicken skin is crispy and golden brown. Don’t overcrowd pan. Transfer with spider strainer to plate lined with paper towels. Repeat with more wings (you might have to lower temperature a bit). When finished, toss wings in large bowl with sauce and serve.
- Make ahead or freeze:
- A few days ahead: cool sous vide wings in bag, place in fridge for up to 3 days. Finish them off when before serving.
- To freeze: chill wings in ice bath or at room temperature. Place in freezer for up to 6 months. Thaw wings when ready to use, then finish them on grill or broiler.
- To store and reheat: Place leftover finished wings in airtight container. Warm the wings in a 350F/177C oven for 5 -7 minutes or in the microwave for a minute or two.