Chicken Wings, Lightened Up

by in Meal Makeovers, February 2, 2010

Teriyaki Chicken Wings
A game-day gathering just wouldn’t be complete without a plate of hot wings. This finger food can quickly max you out on calories and fat. Slim this party nibbler with these tips and recipes.

Wing It
The classic chicken wing recipe calls for a whole lot of unhealthy steps: flouring and deep-frying the wings and then tossing them in a sauce, which is often a mixture of hot sauce and butter. A single, average-sized fried wing has 100 calories and 7 grams of fat (including 2 grams of saturated fat) and that’s before it’s tossed in any sauce or dipped in blue cheese! Once you dunk that wing in a creamy dressing, you add another 76 calories and 8 grams of fat per tablespoon!

Think a boneless wing is the way to go? Think again! We checked out the menus of some
popular chain restaurants and found orders of boneless wings (with blue cheese dressing) contain more than 1,100 calories, 80 grams of fat and 4,000 milligrams of sodium (that’s almost double the sodium recommendation for an entire day!)

A smarter choice is a roasted, grilled or broiled chicken wing, which only has 35 to 40 calories and 1 gram of fat each — that’s definitely a step in the right direction. Keep portions modest — about five or six wings per person.

Take a (Light) Dip
For your wings’ sauce, replace butter with heart-healthy olive oil or forget the extra fat all together by just brushing your wings with a flavorful hot sauce or other low-fat condiment such as teriyaki, BBQ or sweet and sour.

For dipping, pass on the bottled blue cheese and make a lighter version of your own with plain non-fat Greek yogurt and some crumbled blue cheese (this will save you 45 calories per tablespoon). Salsa and honey mustard are other lower-fat choices.

Finger-Licking Good
Here is how I cut back the calories without losing flavor: pat the wings dry, season with salt, pepper and any other favorite spices, and then a drizzle of oil. Roast them on a parchment-lined baking sheet in a 400-degree oven until golden and crisp or toss them on the grill. Towards the end of cooking, baste with your sauce of choice. Avoid adding the sauce before cooking; this will often cause the outside of the wings to burn before the inside is cooked.

My husbands likes to combine two methods. First, he bakes the wings in a 375-degree oven for 30 minutes and then he moves them to the grill to finish cooking, lightly basting them with a spicy barbecue or hot sauce.

    I’ve been scouting out all kinds of wing recipes; here are a few flavor combos I plan to try:

  • Hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce
  • Soy with honey and ginger
  • Curry powder with mango chutney and chopped pistachios
  • Smoked paprika and hot pepper jelly

TELL US: What’s your secret to perfect wings?

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How to Build a Better Chicken Pot Pie

Order this classic dish at a restaurant and you’re in for a 900-calorie meal (that’s without appetizers or dessert!). Opt for frozen and you won’t do much better at around 700 calories a pop. For both options, fat ranges from 40 to 60 grams and sodium can double the recommended daily amount. Instead, cozy up to a homemade version Healthy Eats style.

Comments (18)

  1. beverly --Dallas, TX says:

    This sounds great !
    But sometimes for people who may have possible health problems……..
    Sugar is in BarbQ sauce and in catsup–unless indicated as Low Sodium R Low Sugar
    .. other healthy options R possible items that might add up to become problems—
    Salt and sugar also needs to be managed.
    Sugar is hidden in many products>>causing weight gain.

  2. lisa milone says:

    i love grilled wings that are coated with a little bit of bbq sauce. so tasty!

  3. wildjan says:

    I always trim the heavier areas of chicken skin off of the wings as well. There is enough skin remaining to keep the wings crisp and flavorful.

  4. Michelle says:

    I make mine with chicken legs rather than the wings…more meat, less "skin" and more filling. I grill or broil, baste with the sauce during the last 20 minutes or so of cooking, and they are so much better than wings. And chicken legs are about half the cost of wings, or less if they go on sale.

  5. Joy in Ca. says:

    my salsa wing reciept: Bake wings 400 til crispy.
    Mix together 1 jar medium salsa
    1 jar Franks hot sauce
    1/2 c melted smart balance marg. or 50/50 mix of marg and butter
    Toss crispy wings in sauce and serve in a warm cast iron skillet. Yummy!

  6. I love wings and good wings are hard to find–some great ideas here!! Just in time for the Big Game!!!

  7. Beth says:

    Here's the trick; dredge wings in a mixture of flour seasoned with adobo and chile powder. Place wings on a lightly greased cookie sheet in single layer and bake at 425 degrees for 1/2 hr. Flip wings and bake for another 1/2 hr. Remove from oven and toss them in a large bowl with Frank's Red Hot and Chipotle flavored tabasco. TASTY!……Everyone loves my wings :) Serve with carrots and celery and Maries jalapeno ranch dressing (go easy on the dressing if you're watching the fat!)

  8. Rachel says:

    My boy friend was just asking me what I was going to make for the upcoming superbowl party we are having. This sounds like a great idea!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. Rachel says:

    That sounds not only delicious, but so easy to make in a hurry! Thanks

  10. Jeremiah says:

    I've never posted a comment to any blog, but saw the wing topic and had to chime in; they're my specialty.
    1. Put the wings on a broiler-pan (sprayed with Pam), so the fat drips out and away from the wings.
    2. Bake at 375 on the bottom rack for 14 minutes, flip, and return to the oven for another 14 minutes.
    3. Move the pan to the second to top rack, and broil on high for 7 minutes, flip, and return.
    4. Melt about 1.5 Tablespoons of smartbalance. Add 2-3 cups of Frank's Red Hot. Add 1/4 cup of white vinegar.
    5. Mix the sauce and add the wings.
    6. The secret here is to let the wings sit in the sauce in a covered bowl for about 5 minutes. The hot sauce is good on it's own, but letting the chicken juices mix with the hot sauce really makes the sauce incredible.

    I personally don't use any dipping sauce. Also, if you want something a bit different, add 2 minced cloves of garlic and some grated parmesean & reggiano cheese.

    Make sure to serve with some kind of bread, as people seen to love sopping up the leftover hot sauce.

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