When we first entered the kitchen to develop a recipe for chicken wings cooked in the microwave, there were some doubts. The microwave?! Will they be any good? Yet we were shocked and delighted at how these microwaved wings turned out, including the BBQ sauce we glazed the wings with, which was also made in the microwave. This is a BBQ chicken wings recipe that’s easy to pull together, and there’s no need to dirty too many bowls nor turn on the oven, broiler, or grill. And though you won’t get crispy skin as you typically would when the wings are cooked in the oven or grill, they are delicious.
How to Make BBQ Sauce in the Microwave
The microwave works really well for making BBQ sauce—it thickens, bubbles along the edges of the bowl, caramelizes (yum!), and turns a few shades darker, just like we’d expect to see in stovetop preparations. Depending on the power level of your microwave, it will take 6 to 7 minutes to cook the BBQ sauce. It will thicken enough to glaze the wings beautifully. The flavors of this BBQ sauce are pretty classic: sweet, a little smoky, and sharp from the vinegar. Yellow mustard would be welcome instead of spicy brown mustard for tartness.
Use Chicken Flats, Not Drumsticks
We do not recommend using chicken drumsticks (aka drumettes) for this recipe because the excess skin won’t get a chance to render its fat and won’t be pleasant to eat when microwaved. If you only have drumsticks, we recommend removing the skin (cut the skin with kitchen scissors first, then pull them off with your hands), or cooking them under the broiler for a few minutes before serving.
For this recipe, go for chicken flats (aka wingettes). You can ask the butcher at the grocery store to direct you to them. The skin around the flats is taught and thinner, so even though the fat does not render from the skin or crisp up, we did not find it to be too chewy.
Got whole wings? Here’s a great guide for how to break down whole chicken wings.
Tips for Making Microwave BBQ Wings
- Make sure you stir the BBQ sauce halfway through cooking because it can caramelize and burn around the edges if you aren’t careful.
- Patting the wings dry with paper towels after cooking and before tossing them in the BBQ sauce will help the sauce stick to the wings better.
Wings For Days
- Air Fryer Chicken Wings
- Grilled Buffalo Wings
- Miso Glazed Chicken Wings
- Cacio e Pepe Wings
- Slow Cooker Honey Buffalo Chicken Wings
Make the BBQ sauce:
Stir together the ketchup, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, smoked paprika, brown mustard, garlic powder, cumin, and salt in a small microwave-safe bowl. Cover the bowl with a wet paper towel and microwave on high until thickened, 7 to 8 minutes, stirring halfway through and re-covering. Set the BBQ sauce aside. You can reuse the paper towel to cook the wings.
Cook the wings:
Place the chicken wings in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Cover the bowl with the same paper towel and microwave on high until the wings are almost cooked through, about 6 minutes.
Discard paper towel. Drain the wings in a colander set in the sink. Then pat the wings dry with paper towels, and return them into the bowl.
Coat the wings and finish cooking:
Add about 1/2 cup BBQ sauce to the wings and toss to evenly coat. Microwave on high, uncovered, until sauce glazes the wings, about 4 minutes, stirring halfway through.
We developed and tested the recipe in a 1,250-watt microwave. You may need to cook the wings for longer, in 1-minute intervals, depending on the power of your microwave. The best way to check to make sure the chicken is cooked through is to measure its temperature with an instant read thermometer—you’re looking for at least 165°F.
Serve with the remaining 1/4 cup BBQ sauce on the side for dipping.
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