If you're a fan of chicken wings and Indian cuisine, you'll love butter chicken wings. This tasty appetizer combines the best of both worlds, featuring crispy chicken wings coated in a creamy, tangy sauce that is savory, spicy and totally irresistible!. Whether you're hosting a game day party, enjoying a movie night with friends, or just looking for a delicious snack, this wings recipe is going to be your new go-to favorite. With their crispy exterior and rich, creamy sauce, they are sure to be a hit with your friends and family. Try this recipe today and enjoy the explosion of flavors!
What are butter chicken wings?
Butter chicken wings are an Indian-inspired appetizer or snack that features chicken wings coated in a creamy, tangy sauce made with butter, cream, tomatoes, and a blend of aromatic spices. The wings are marinated in a mix of spices before being baked, fried or air fried until crispy and then tossed in the butter chicken sauce. They offer a tasty twist on classic chicken wing recipes and you will love them if you enjoy bold, spicy flavors!
These wings originated from the popular Indian dish, butter chicken. Butter chicken is a classic dish in Indian cuisine that originated in the 1950s in Delhi. The dish was created by a chef named Kundan Lal Gujral, who owned a restaurant called Moti Mahal. Gujral had the idea to marinate chicken in yogurt and spices, cook it in a tandoor oven, and then simmer it in a sauce made with butter, cream, tomatoes, and spices. The result was a creamy, flavorful dish that quickly became popular in Delhi and beyond. Today, butter chicken is a staple in Indian restaurants around the world and has inspired many variations. These butter chicken wings are a twist on this classic Indian dish.
This recipe is so good, and so highly addictive! The wings themselves are incredibly crispy on the outside yet very juicy and flavorful on the inside. (Keep reading to discover the best way to cook chicken wings for maximum crunch without deep frying.) The sauce is perfectly balanced - creamy, spicy, savory, a little sweet, and full of umami. When you put them together, you get pure magic 😍 You've got to try this recipe to see for yourself!
I've divided the ingredients into 2 sections below, 1st is all the ingredients to make the crispy chicken wings and 2nd is all the ingredients for the butter chicken sauce.
Ingredients for crispy wings
- Chicken wings: I like using organic chicken wings, separated into halves
- Baking powder - It might sound crazy to use baking powder on chicken wings, but trust me it works! The baking powder is the secret ingredient that makes the chicken skin super crispy. Make sure that you use aluminum free baking powder in this recipe, otherwise you might end up with a bitter aftertaste.
- Spices: Garlic powder, Kashmiri red chili powder, Garam masala powder
Ingredients for the butter chicken sauce
- Oil: Use any neutral flavored oil. Avocado oil is my favorite to use for Indian cooking.
- Butter is what gives the sauce a rich texture and buttery flavor that we associate with a good butter chicken.
- Aromatics: Onion and Ginger-garlic paste
- Tomato paste & fresh tomato: using tomato paste adds depth of flavor and fresh tomatoes make the sauce delicious without any added acidity.
- Spices: Kashmiri red chili powder Garam masala powder and dried fenugreek leaves
- Honey (or any other sweetener of your choice) amplifies the sweetness of the sauce and helps balance all the flavors.
- Heavy cream to make the sauce rich and creamy
- Cilantro leaves (for garnish)
Step by step instructions
1. Mix together all the spices for the chicken wings.
2. Dry the chicken wings with paper towels thoroughly.
3. Sprinkle the spice mix evenly over the chicken wings.
4. Toss to coat.
Air fryer instructions
5. Preheat the air fryer at 375F/190C for 3 minutes and then place the chicken wings in a single layer. Air fry it for 10 minutes on one side, then flip over and cook for another 10 minutes.
6. Increase the heat to 400F/205C (or as high as it will go), flip and cook for another 2-5 minutes or until the skin is crispy and brown.
7. Preheat your oven to 425F/220C. Place the chicken wings in a single layer on a baking rack over a foil lined baking sheet and cook it in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, flip all the wings and bake an additional 20 minutes.
8. Finally, remove from oven and flip once more and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes or until the skin is crispy and brown.
9. Heat avocado oil in a pan.
10. When it gets hot, add in the onions and season with salt.
11. Cook them until they turn translucent. Then add in the ginger garlic paste and tomato paste.
12. Cook for 2-3 minutes (or until lightly browned) and add in the tomatoes.
13. Cook this mixture for about 10 minutes or until the tomatoes are super soft and jammy and most of the liquid has evaporated. Take it off the heat and let this mixture cool down.
14. Transfer the cooled mixture into a blender or food processor along with ¼ cup water.
15. Blend it into a fine paste.
16. Heat the butter in the same pan.
17. When it gets hot, add in the dried fenugreek leaves and Kashmiri chili powder.
18. Toast the spices for about a minute.
19. Add in the puree from the blender. Rinse out the blender with ¼ cup of water and add it into the pan.
20. Simmer this curry mixture for about 5 minutes on medium low heat.
21. Now add in the honey, garam masala and heavy cream.
22. Mix everything together and taste and adjust seasoning if needed and cook for 1-2 more minutes before turning off the heat.
23. Toss the wings as soon as they come out of the oven with the curry sauce.
24. Garnish the wings with cilantro and serve while still hot.
Tips and tricks
- Use free range organic chicken for the best flavor and texture.
- Pat dry the chicken really well. Moisture is the enemy of all things crispy and will cause the chicken to steam leading to soggy chicken. Make sure your chicken is patted dry really well.
- It is important that you don't overlap the chicken otherwise it will lead to steaming instead of crisping. Place the chicken in a single layer with a gap between them.
- We need to keep the air circulating around the chicken wings for maximum crispiness. If you're baking the chicken, use a perforated baking rack or wire rack to allow for maximum air circulation.
- Don't overcook the chicken wings: While it's important to ensure the chicken wings are cooked through, be careful not to overcook them or they will dry out. Aim for a golden brown color and crispy skin.
- Make a large batch of the butter chicken sauce and freeze it in small containers. This makes it super quick and convenient to whip up this dish in a jiffy. You could also use the sauce to make butter chicken/paneer or add in your favorite veggies/protein.
- Vegetarian - 1 inch cubes of paneer would make an excellent replacement for chicken in this recipe. To use paneer, cut it into 1" cubes and replace baking powder with the same amount of cornstarch. Reduce the cooking time to only a third of the time below. Everything else will remain the same!
- Vegan - Tofu, mushrooms, potatoes and cauliflower are all delicious in this preparation. Cut them into 1" cubes and replace baking powder with the same amount of cornstarch. Change the air frying/baking time accordingly. Also, replace the butter, cream and honey with vegan butter, cashew cream and sugar/agave to keep it completely vegan yet super flavorful!
- Gluten free - This recipe is already gluten free as long as you make sure that your baking powder doesn't contain any gluten!
Check out this Gochujang chicken wing recipe, if you like bold flavors! This recipe turns out so addictingly good - you will keep making it over and over again, I promise!
Here are some variations you can make to change up this recipe:
- Spicy - This recipe is at a medium spice level. Add more or less Kashmiri chili powder, depending on how spicy you like it! You could also add in spicy chili powder to make it extra spicy.
- Deluxe - replace some of the chicken wings with potatoes, cauliflower or mushrooms to make it even more interesting and delicious.
- Kid friendly - The original recipe below is not too spicy. If your kids can't tolerate any spice, reduce the Kashmiri chili powder to a minimum. You could also add more heavy cream to reduce the spice.
Butter chicken wings are best served hot and fresh out of the oven. They're great as an appetizer or snack, and can also be served as a main dish with rice and naan.
To add a cooling contrast to the bold, spicy flavors of the wings, you can serve them with a raita dip made with yogurt, cucumber, and mint.
A good blender makes it very easy and quick to whip up the butter chicken sauce for this recipe. I swear by my Vitamix blender. The small jars make it very easy to blend up a small batches of ingredients.
I love using my air fryer to make these wings extra crispy. When I'm baking these wings instead, I like using a large baking tray with a wire rack on top. This ensures air circulation around the wings and allows all the fat to drain while making them super crispy.
Butter chicken wings store well in air tight glass containers in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. When ready to eat, pop it back in the air fryer/oven for a few minutes and toss with a little more sauce before serving.
If you want to make these wings for a party/large crowd, cook the crispy wings for a few minutes lesser than the instructions below. Then cool them and store in the refrigerator. Also, make the sauce ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator. When you are ready to serve, crisp up the wings in the air fryer/oven for a few minutes and then toss them in the reheated up sauce right before serving.
I also love to make a large batch of the sauce and freeze it in small containers. This makes it super quick and convenient to thaw the sauce and whip up these wings in a jiffy.
Frequently asked questions
Can I use boneless chicken for this recipe?
Yes, you can use boneless chicken (preferable chicken thighs) for this recipe if you prefer. Simply cut the chicken into large chunks and follow the same cooking instructions. I would also replace the baking powder with corn starch in this recipe below. This will ensure maximum crispiness with the same delicious flavor!
I hope you love this recipe as much as I do! If you try this recipe, please leave a star rating on the recipe card and leave a comment below to let me know what you think. Subscribe to my newsletter for more easy and delicious recipes!
Butter chicken wings
For the sauce:
- 1 teaspoon avocado oil
- ⅓ onion roughly chopped
- 1.5 teaspoons ginger-garlic paste
- 1.5 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 large tomato roughly chopped
- ½ cup water
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 teaspoons Kashmiri red chili powder
- ½ teaspoon garam masala powder
- 1 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves
- 1 teaspoon honey (or any other sweetener of your choice)
- kosher salt
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves (for garnish)
- Mix together all the spices for the chicken wings.
- Dry the chicken wings with paper towels thoroughly. Sprinkle the spice mix evenly over the chicken wings and toss to coat.
Air fryer instructions
- Preheat the air fryer at 375F/190C for 3 minutes and then place the chicken wings in a single layer. Air fry it for 10 minutes on one side, then flip over and cook for another 10 minutes.
- Increase the heat to 400F/205C (or as high as it will go), flip and cook for another 2-5 minutes or until the skin is crispy and brown.
- Preheat your oven to 425F/220C. Place the chicken wings in a single layer on a baking rack over a foil lined baking sheet and cook it in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, flip all the wings and bake an additional 20 minutes.
- Finally, remove from oven and flip once more and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes or until the skin is crispy and brown.
- Heat avocado oil in a pan. When it gets hot, add in the onions and season with salt. Cook them until they turn translucent. When the onions are soft and lightly browned, add in the ginger garlic paste and tomato paste and cook for 2-3 minutes (or until lightly browned).
- Next, add in the tomatoes and cook this mixture for about 10 minutes or until the tomatoes are super soft and jammy and most of the liquid has evaporated. Take it off the heat and let this mixture cool down.
- Puree the cooled mixture along with ¼ cup water into a fine paste using a blender or food processor.
- Heat the butter in the same pan. When it gets hot, add in the dried fenugreek leaves and Kashmiri chili powder and toast the spices for about a minute before adding in the puree from the blender. Rinse out the blender with ¼ cup of water and add it into the pan.
- Simmer this curry mixture for about 5 minutes on medium low heat before adding in the honey, garam masala and heavy cream. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed and cook for 1-2 more minutes before turning off the heat.
- Pour some of the curry sauce over the wings and toss them to coat. Add more sauce if needed and toss again so the wings are well coated in the sauce. Garnish the wings with cilantro and serve with remaining sauce on the side, for dipping.
- Always cook chicken to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds. My favorite oil for all high heat cooking is avocado oil.
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove