Cumin and Black Pepper Baked Chicken Wings


I learned this awesome baking powder trick a few years ago (thank you, internet) for making baked chicken wings that you would swear were fried. The results are amazing—crispy skin with way less fuss and much easier cleanup. I’ve used this method at home for basic wings, plus these glazed wings I developed for a story I did for Southern Living. And last weekend, I tried making them with lots of toasty cumin flavor, borne from my love of cumin lamb. The results were, I must say, outstanding. The kids, the hubs, and I all went nuts for these wings. Scroll down below the recipe for tips and pointers. Oh, and I did not run nutrition analysis on these. Sorry, but when I’m having wings, I know I’m indulging. :-)

Yield: Serves 6 (serving size: about 6 wings)

Cumin and Black Pepper Baked Chicken Wings

prep time: 12 Mcook time: 40 Mtotal time: 52 M
This recipe is inspired by my love of cumin lamb—the Chinese restaurant dish that highlights the toasty goodness of that amazing spice. I use it here to season baked chicken wings, along with freshly ground black pepper. Both spices are toasted whole and then ground in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Believe me: It is beyond worth it to do this because the flavor is incomparable. This recipe also highlights a cool trick that produces baked wings that are crispy and taste as good as fried (but with far less mess)—tossing them with a little baking powder. It’s a trick I learned a few years ago and one that you won’t believe once you try it! This recipe comfortably serves six. Or, if your household is like mine, two reasonable adults and two hungry teenagers.


  • 2 Tbsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 Tbsp. black peppercorns
  • 1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. baking powder (do not mistakenly use baking soda)
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 3 lb. chicken wings, separated into drumettes and flats (about 30-32 pieces)


How to cook Cumin and Black Pepper Baked Chicken Wings

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper (or with foil and then parchment paper if you don’t want to wash the pan).
  2. Heat a small, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add cumin seeds and peppercorns. Cook, shaking pan frequently, until very fragrant and toasted, about 1 minute. Immediately pour onto a plate or into a bowl (leaving them in the pan might burn them). Cool slightly. Place in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle and grind. Pour into a small bowl. Stir in baking powder, salt, and garlic powder.
  3. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and place in a large bowl. Sprinkle spice mixture over chicken and toss well to coat. Arrange chicken on prepared pan with fatty side down. Bake at 450°F for 25 minutes. Turn chicken over; bake until well browned and crispy, 15 to 20 minutes.
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First things first: You need to prepare your pan. These wings do best when baked on parchment paper (I tried them on foil, and they weren’t as good). I don’t know why, but I’m sure some smart folks out there will understand the reason. Anyway, when they bake on parchment paper, you don’t need to fuss with arranging them on a wire rack or anything like that (one fewer dish to wash). But parchment paper is a little permeable, so some of the chicken drippings will seep through. I am lazy and don’t want this to happen, so I line my pan with foil first and then parchment—so I don’t have to wash anything!


Next, you need to toast and grind the cumin and peppercorns. I’m telling you—the flavor is so much better than if you start with pre-ground. Please trust me on this! Toast them in a hot skillet till they’re really fragrant. I wish you could smell these:


Once they’re toasted, let them cool off a bit and then grind them in a spice grinder (I use an ancient coffee grinder) or with a mortar and pestle if you like to go unplugged. Here’s the ground mixture:


Now, let’s talk about the chicken. I like to buy air-chilled chicken wings. One of the main benefits of air chilling is that the chicken does not take on excess water (as it would if it were brined), which means crispier skin. I found lots of big packs of air-chilled wings (maybe for football season?) at my local Whole Foods. The three-pound pack I bought cost $12.48. Seemed like a good price to me!

Anyway, even though the chicken is air-chilled, I still pat it dry with paper towels before tossing with spices. I just want the skin as dry as possible. I place it in a humongous bowl so that I can just shake the bowl to toss the chicken with the spices to coat.


Once the chicken is coated with the spice (and baking powder) mix, you need to arrange it on the prepared baking sheet with the fattier side down. Like this:


And this is what they look like when they’re done—super crispy with that incredible cumin flavor!


They’re so good that you might just eat them right off the pan! If you can control your urges, though, they work beautifully on a Snack Dinner tray, which is perfect for game day.