This tender, fall off the bone, braised garlic soy chicken wings recipe is a flavourful and comforting dish to be enjoyed any night of the week. It’s prepared all in one pot and ready in 20 mins from start to finish! Enjoy over rice or on its own!! It’s honestly finger lickin’ good!
(Side note: my daughter loved eating these wings so much she accidently bit her finger!)
What makes this dish irresistible is the sweet savoury sauce made from the natural flavours of the chicken. Because chicken wings have skin, fat and bones, it’s a very “chickeny” dish that produces an awesome sauce to mix in with rice. Balanced with the sweetness of honey and umami oyster sauce – this might be your new family favourite!
Garlic Soy Chicken Wings
Soy sauce chicken is a Cantonese classic and staple that every Chinese family has for dinner. These soy sauce chicken wings are probably the Gen X of OG soy sauce chicken. So if you love soy sauce chicken, you’re gonna LOVE these wings.
Back when I was a student, my housemate Justin and I decided to cook in our shared kitchen one night instead of our good ol’ cup noodles. I have no idea how we had chicken wings and half a garlic bulb in the fridge (usually there was only beer and over ripen fruit in there) but we set out to make a Chinese meal our parents would be
surprised proud of. Oh yeah, and the only seasoning we had in the cupboard was all purpose soy sauce. Next thing I know, we throw the wings in a pot, added salt, minced garlic and soy sauce. Braised it for 15 mins and added a bit a of honey at the end. Lemme tell you – it was the best tasting thing we ever had! (must have been all that cup noodle eating) Looking back now, it was so good because the wings didn’t need a whole lot. The natural flavours of the chicken wings themselves is the essential ingredient.
I’ve been making these wings since those university days and I’ve adapted so many versions of it over the years. I’ve seriously got it down to a T. Although this recipe has more ingredients than all those years ago, it’s derived from the same flavour profile – soy sauce, garlic and honey (with an extra kick of umami!)
What goes in the Soy Garlic Chicken Marinade
These wings are marinated overnight for optimum flavour and tenderness. On the day of cooking, these wings are literally placed in a pot to braise for 15-18 minutes. Once cooked, finish with a bit of honey and oyster sauce and they are ready to be served.
The recipe below also includes an onion, but if you’re really pressed for time you can leave it out. The onions are mainly there to go with the remaining sauce and the 2nd helping of rice you get once all the wings are gone. Trust me on this – the wings will go fast!
There are five main flavour heavy hitters in the marinade:
Ginger and Garlic Powder
The bite of ginger and tasty garlic really compliments chicken. I used minced ginger and garlic before but I didn’t find they shined well enough with the other flavours. I opted for powder since the flavours are a little more concentrated (plus it saves time!). You are more than welcome to use fresh as well!
This recipe uses both light soy sauce (which is saltier) and dark soy sauce for color and an earthier dimension. The natural umami notes of soy sauce works sooo well with chicken!
Chou Hou Paste
This is a fermented soy bean paste used in a lot of Cantonese braising dishes. It adds a level of depth to dishes and rich umami flavours. It’s similar to hoisin sauce but it’s not as sweet and includes a more rich briny type of flavour. You can find a jar of this in most Asian supermarkets. An alternative is hoisin sauce but I would reduce the sugar by half in the marinade.
Red Fermented Bean Curd (a.k.a Nam Yu)
Known as the Chinese version of “blue cheese”, nam yu is great for braised dishes and seasoning meat. It’s unique and salty flavour lends well to ribs, pork and chicken. Like blue cheese, there’s a strong flavour and smell but it really makes any braised dish stand out. You don’t need a lot cuz a little goes a long way! If you can’t find this in your local grocery store, don’t fret, you can leave this out and the wings will still be super delish!
How to Make Honey Garlic Soy Chicken Wings
To be honest, there really isn’t much to it aside from putting it in a heated pot! I would pay attention to your level of heat when you first place the wings in the pot and making sure the liquid isn’t burning at the bottom.
I usually like to sauté the wings a little before adding the broth/water for braising. If you find the wings are sticking too much (in the case if you’re using a stainless steel pot) I would lower the heat to medium and see if they release. You don’t want to tear the wings due to sticking.
Add the broth/water, lower the heat to low/med, cover the pot with a lid and let the wings cook. If the wings did stick to the bottom, the wings will be released as they cook. You also want to make sure the liquid is simmering gently and not violently splashing everywhere – if so, lower the heat a little more. I would also stir the wings around occasionally to make sure they cook evenly.
To check for doneness, you should be able to pierce through the meat easily with a fork. If you’re not sure, the best way is to cut one open and check. Juices should run clear and the joints shouldn’t be red. Put the sample wing back in the pot if you need to cook a little longer. (Then eat that wing for yourself before dinner time – none would be the wiser)
The Chicken Sauce
As the chicken wings cook, they will release their natural juices along with rendered fat from the chicken skin. Don’t be alarmed if you find quite a bit of liquid in the pot after cooking. I usually remove the wings onto a serving plate first and then spoon some of the sauce over it. You can also choose to remove the wings and reduce the liquid down further for a thicker sauce.
These wings are a GREAT time saving meal. Once you have marinated the wings, put the whole thing in a freezer bag and place it in your freezer for up to 2 months. Defrost the night before and have it ready to go!
One Pot Garlic Soy Chicken Wings
- 8-9 inch stainless steel pot
- 26 chicken wings wingettes or drumsticks or both (or 12-14 full wings)
Chicken Wing Marinade
- 1 tsp ginger powder
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp rice wine (or Shaoxing wine)
- 2 tsp light soy sauce
- 2 tsp dark soy sauce
- 1 tsp chou hou paste
- 2 cubes red fermented bean curd a.k.a nam yu in Chinese
- 2 tsp brown sugar
For Rest of the Dish
- 1 tbsp grapeseed oil (or other neutral oil)
- 1 medium white onion sliced
- 1/3 cup unsalted chicken broth (or water)
- 2 tsp oyster sauce
- 1/4 cup honey
- chopped scallion for garnishing
Marinate Chicken Wings
- Combine chicken wings, ginger powder, garlic powder, salt, rice wine, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, chou hou sauce, brown sugar and mix well in a bowl or ziploc bag
- Mash up the red fermented bean curd and add it to the marinated chicken wings. Mix it up as best you can (its ok if small chunks of the fermented bean curd remain)
- Cover or seal and let marinate overnight
Cook Chicken Wings
- Heat a 8-9 inch pot in medium/high heat. Add oil
- Once oil is hot, add sliced onion and cook until slightly translucent. Add a pinch of salt. Remove and put aside
- Add marinated chicken wings along with accompanying juices
- Stir and fry wings for about 2 mins. If wings start to stick to the pot (that's ok!) or the juices start to brown too quickly, lower heat to medium immediately
- Deglaze pot with chicken broth and cover. Lower heat to low/medium
- Let simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. The chicken wings will start to release its natural juices as it cooks, so more liquid will appear in the pot during cooking
- Add back sliced onion to the pot. Cook for an additional 3 – 6 minutes checking for doneness (please see note 1)
- Add salt to taste. Add oyster sauce and honey. Mix well
- Transfer wings on serving plate and spoon over with juices. Garnish with green onions (optional)
- Serve immediately over steamed rice
- CHECK for DONENESS – Once cooked, the chicken wings should pierce easily with a fork and the flesh will be opaque and white. To ensure doneness, cut through a sample piece or check internal temperature is 160 F. The joints of the wings should also be thoroughly cooked and no longer bloody
- As the wings cook, they will begin to release their natural juices. There should be a fair amount of liquid left in the pot after cooking. These flavorful juices can be spooned over the wings while serving as well as mixed with rice
- FREEZER FRIENDLY – after marinating the chicken wings, they can be placed in a freezer bag and into the freezer for up to 2 months. Remove from freezer and defrost overnight. Place defrosted chicken wings in the pot for a quick weeknight meal!
I tried this recipe and it was great! Quick question: Can the marinade in this recipe be used for fried chicken as well? Thanks!
Hi Brendon – thanks for the feedback! I think this recipe would work for pan fried chicken pieces but I wouldn’t use super high heat due to the sugar and soy content. Hope that helps!