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This Labor Day, use your grill to make crunchy fried chicken without the frying

By America’s Test Kitchen, Tribune Content Agency on

Fried chicken is a year-round treat, but heating quarts of oil on your stovetop on a hot, late-summer day isn’t the most appealing proposition. For the crunch of fried chicken without the frying, we suggest taking it outside.

We focused on wings for this recipe because their small size makes it easy to get flavor all the way through to the meat, and the high coating-to-meat ratio means more crunch per bite. And we weren’t willing to sacrifice either of those things on the grill. We found a few existing recipes for grill-frying wings and were disappointed by each one. We wanted deeply seasoned flavor and a thin, crispy coating.

The path to perfection started with brining the wings so they would stay moist on the grill, then putting together a heavily seasoned flour coating. We firmly pressed the coating onto the chicken and then put the wings in the fridge to rest before firing up the grill.

We knew that the wing pieces, although small, would take some time on the grill in order to render the excess fat in the skin. So we banked our coals on one side of the grill (or, for a gas grill, left the primary burner on high and turned the others burners off) and used a two-step cooking process: We put the chicken on the cooler side of the grill to cook until the coating was dry and set, about 30 minutes. Then, to get the fried texture we were looking for, we brushed the wings with a mere 3 tablespoons of oil and let them continue to cook until they were golden brown, which took another 30 minutes.

Grill-fried chicken sounds like an oxymoron, but with this recipe, it’s possible to make great fried chicken without deep frying. Try it his holiday weekend.

Grill-Fried Chicken Wings


Serves 4 to 6

Salt and pepper

1/4 cup sugar

3 pounds chicken wings, cut at joints, wingtips discarded


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Christopher Weyant Brian Duffy Candorville Adam Zyglis Reply All Peter Kuper