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The Best Hot Wings

The 2024 World Championship Hot Wing Contest & Festival will take place Saturday, April 20 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the River Garden Park overlooking the Mighty Mississippi River.

This will mark the 22nd year of the festival, previously known as the Southern Hotwing Festival. The event is expected to have approximately 70 teams competing this year for the coveted title of Hot Wing World Champion.

I asked contest founder Paul Gagliano to tell us what makes an award-winning hot wing, and how we can all make killer hot wings at home.

First and foremost, Paul says a good hot wing should be crispy on the outside and retain the juice and flavor inside.

Next, you need a tasty sauce with a nice balance of heat and flavor. Paul says a good sauce will include ingredients like hot sauce, butter, lemon juice, honey, cayenne and finely chopped herbs like rosemary.

Here are three cooking tips to remember.

For fried wings: Don’t just fry once – but fry your wings twice.

Paul says for best results, first fry your wings at 375 degrees for 12 minutes, remove from the oil and then refry for 3 minutes.

For smoked wings: Paul says to first smoke the wings with your sauce. Then let them cool before the final step of frying at 375 degrees until crispy.

For grilled wings: Paul said if grilling, make sure to keep the wings away from direct heat, baste with your sauce and turn often until meat pulls from bone.

This is Jennifer Chandler with The Weekly Dish. Bon Appetit!


2024 World Championship Hot Wing Contest & Festival

When: 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. April 20

Where: River Garden Park, 51 Riverside Dr.

Cost: $15 for general admission. $150 for a VIP experience that includes access to a VIP tent (that offers catered food and a full open bar) and 10 Wing Bucks.

Tickets: worldwingfest.com


Jennifer Chandler graduated at the top of her class from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. She is a full-time mom to two daughters in Memphis, Tennessee, and is a freelance food writer, restaurant consultant, and author of four cookbooks The Southern Pantry Cookbook, Simply Salads, Simply Suppers, and Simply Grilling.