It’s full-on sports season this week. Football is starting, baseball is getting close to playoffs, and MLS is finishing out its season as well (yes we are soccer fans here at House Macheesmo). No matter what sport you follow, chicken wings are always an excellent idea. While buffalo wings are the standard, it can be nice to change it up. These Pesto Chicken Wings are not spicy (kid-friendly), but savory, cheesy, and delicious!
I specifically like to make these chicken wings this time of year because if you happen to have your own garden, you might also have an abundance of fresh basil so the pesto is a no-brainer!
Read on and learn how to make my version of these wonderful, savory wings!
How to bake chicken wings
There are many ways to prepare wings, but I chose to bake these. Add both the chicken wing flats and drumettes to a bowl and toss with salt, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, and baking soda.
The baking soda on the wings dries up the skin of the chicken wing and helps them get crispy in the oven. Will they be as crispy as fried wings? No. But they will have some crisp to them and be very good.
For these pesto chicken wings, I kept it simple and baked them at 350˚F for about an hour, but you could also apply my slow roasted chicken wing method to these wings. If you have the time, that method makes the best, pull-apart wings.
You can either bake the chicken wings on a wire rack or a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. The foil makes for slightly easier clean-up but the wire rack will leave you with slightly crispier wings since they are elevated.
Other options for cooking chicken wings
There are so many ways to make delicious wings. You could, of course, grill the wings if you happen to have the grill going.
Of course, you could traditionally fry the wings. Heat up some neutral oil in a deep fryer or a large pot and fry them in for about 10 minutes. If you do traditionally fry them, be sure to let them drain from the oil for a minute before tossing them in the pesto or they will be too oily.
One method I wouldn’t try for these wings is my sous vide wings. While it makes for very tender and juicy wings, it’s best for a wet sauce wing while these pesto chicken wings are almost closer to a dry rub wing.
Making fresh pesto
There are many jarred pestos in the grocery stores these days and I’ll use them occasionally for fast meals. If you can though, try to make your own pesto for these wings. There just aren’t any other ingredients to cover up the flavor so the fresh pesto flavor is very important.
I made mine in a food processor, but you could also use a mortar and pestle if that’s your style!
Start with the clove of garlic and pulse it up a few times. Then add the pistachios (yes I know pine nuts are standard, but I like pistachios). Pulse that until the mixture is a rough paste. Then add the parmesan cheese, fresh basil, and drizzle in the oil.
I added a dash of hot sauce to mine for a tiny kick, but it’s optional.
Pesto is done! Transfer it to a large bowl so it’s easy to toss with the wings.
Finishing the pesto chicken wings
When the wings are done baking in the oven, they should be crispy on the edges and be at least 180˚F. It’s very hard to over-cook chicken wings, in my opinion as they have plenty of fat to keep them juicy.
When your wings are done, remove them from the oven and place wings right in the pesto mixture while they are still warm so the pesto sticks to them.
Serve the pesto chicken wings with blue cheese dressing or ranch dressing and dig in!
What to serve with chicken wings
I can make a meal out of a big pile of these wings with some carrots and celery on the side.
Storing leftover wings and reheating them
Leftover chicken wings store very well in the fridge for 4-5 days although they will lose some of the crispiness and fresh basil flavor.
No worries though. They are still plenty delicious!
Reheat the chicken wings in a 350˚F oven for about 10 minutes until they are just warmed through. You can microwave them on high for a minute also, but be sure to cover the wings as they will splatter from the oil in the basil pesto.
Pesto Chicken Wings
- 3 pounds chicken wings, cut into flats and drums
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
Easy Fresh Pesto:
- 1 clove garlic
- ¼ cup shelled pistachio nuts
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese
- 1 cup packed fresh basil
- ½ cup olive oil
- Dash of hot sauce
- Blue cheese dressing, for serving
- Preheat oven to 400˚F. In a medium bowl toss wings with baking soda, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper. Lay out on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Arrange the chicken wings so the fattiest side of each wing is facing up. Bake for an hour, turning the pan once halfway through to ensure even cooking.
- Meanwhile, in a food processor, make pesto by adding garlic, nuts, and parmesan and pulse until it forms a rough paste. Add basil and then drizzle in olive oil while machine is running. Add hot sauce optionally. Taste and adjust to your liking.
- When wings are done baking, transfer them to a bowl and add pesto. Toss well to coat and serve wings immediately with ranch or blue cheese dressing.