Spicy Middle Eastern Chicken Wings

Spicy Middle Eastern Chicken Wings - Healthy Appetizer Recipe

“Finger foods” or canapés rose to fame in the 1920’s, when American Prohibition gave rise to speakeasies and illegal basement drinking parties. At these parties, passed hors d’oeuvres were often provided in an effort to help people hold their liquor. If a patron left a speakeasy stumbling drunk, the illegal watering hole was more likely to be discovered. Finger foods helped to mitigate the potential damage. Over time, small-bite hors d’oeuvres became a mainstay at cocktail parties and events, home parties, potlucks, buffets, and of course game day celebrations! With Super Bowl Sunday on the horizon, how could I not give a nod to the crowned king of all finger foods- chicken wings?

Spicy Middle Eastern Chicken Wings - Healthy Appetizer Recipe

Buffalo wings are probably the most famous game day appetizer, with good reason– they’re spicy, salty, and addictive. According to The Oxford Companion to Food, Teressa Bellissimo first created buffalo wings on October 30, 1964 at Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York. It is not clear whether Belissimo cooked them up as a snack for her son and his friends, as a midnight meal for Catholic diners who had spent the day abstaining from meat, or as a clever way of using up the wings that were delivered instead of the backs and necks they needed for stock. Whatever the true story might be, in 1980, journalist Calvin Trillin of the New Yorker wrote a magazine story on buffalo wings, cementing their fame.

As an alternative to buffalo wings, I decided to create my own spin on the spicy chicken wing concept by marinating wings in a blend of Middle Eastern spices. Rather than frying them (like many buffalo wing recipes) I bake them in a hot oven. They are full of flavor and finger-licking good, perfectly spicy just the way I like them. I serve them with creamy, garlicky tahini sauce – recipe can be found here – which makes a perfect dipping sauce. Serve them at your own speakeasy, or on game day, or whenever you crave some spicy little bites of deliciousness.

Spicy Middle Eastern Chicken Wings - Healthy Appetizer Recipe

Spicy Middle Eastern Chicken Wings


  • 25 large chicken wings (about 2 lbs of wings)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (1/2 tsp for mild, 3/4 tsp for medium, 1 tsp for spicy, 1 1/4 tsp for fiery)
  • 3/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp salt (or more to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups tahini sauce - recipe can be found here

You will also need

  • plastic zipper bag or marinating dish, 1-2 baking sheets, kitchen scissors
Prep Time: 6 - 24 Hours
Cook Time: 45 Minutes
Servings: 25 chicken wings (50 pieces)
Kosher Key: Meat
  • Prepare your chicken wings by first trimming them and separating the drumstick from the wing with a pair of sharp kitchen scissors.
  • Spicy Middle Eastern Chicken Wings - Healthy Gameday RecipeBegin by removing the wing tip. Discard the tips or reserve them for later use in chicken stock.
  • Spicy Middle Eastern Chicken Wings - Healthy Gameday RecipeNext, separate the small drumstick from the wing by cutting through the connecting joint.
  • Spicy Middle Eastern Chicken Wings - Healthy Gameday RecipeWhen your drumsticks and wings have been separated, trim off any excess skin flaps or fat.
  • Spicy Middle Eastern Chicken Wings - Healthy Gameday RecipeNow you have a separate drumstick and wing, ready to be marinated.
  • Spicy Middle Eastern Chicken Wings - Healthy Gameday RecipeIn a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup olive oil, the spices, salt and pepper (if you're salt sensitive, use 3/4 tsp of salt).
  • Spicy Middle Eastern Chicken Wings - Healthy Gameday RecipePlace the prepared wings in a marinating dish or large plastic zipper bag. Pour the spice marinade over the wings and stir or massage the bag till all the chicken pieces are evenly coated in the marinade. Cover the chicken with plastic or seal the bag and let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours, up to 24 hours.
  • Spicy Middle Eastern Chicken Wings - Healthy Gameday RecipeTake the wings out of the fridge about 20 minutes before you plan to cook them so the marinade can soften up a bit. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray baking sheets with nonstick cooking oil (you may only need one sheet depending on how big your wings are; line with foil for easier cleanup if desired). Stir or massage the chicken after 20 minutes out of the fridge to make sure everything is coated evenly and there are no spice clumps. Place the chicken pieces on the sheet, evenly spaced. Place the chicken in the oven. Let the wings roast for about 45 minutes till cooked through, turning the wings once with tongs halfway through cooking.
  • Spicy Middle Eastern Chicken Wings - Healthy Gameday RecipeSeason with additional salt to taste, if desired. Serve hot baked wings with creamy tahini sauce - recipe can be found here.
  • Spicy Middle Eastern Chicken Wings - Healthy Appetizer Recipe

Comments (41)Post a Comment

  1. You can do this with chicken legs, too. Just increase the cooking time (and substantially decrease the fat). My son will devour a dozen wings before I’ve unfolded my napkin. Then I get the Jewish Mother’s Guilt!

    1. Hi Tammy– yes, though I would recommend thighs and legs rather than breasts, as the breasts tend to get dry when roasting this way. Increase the cooking temp to 425 and cook for at least 45 minutes; check for doneness. Enjoy!

  2. Tori, This was so good. I didn’t have any paprika so didn’t add it. I loved saving calories by baking them. I also didn’t have the makings for your sauce so I used ranch dressing because it was in the house. I had it with celery sticks. I hope they freeze will because I divided them into containers and froze them to take for quick lunches to work. Thanks!

    1. Tiffany I don’t recommend a crockpot for this recipe, they won’t brown properly that way. They really should be done in the oven for best results.

    1. Hi Burton, sadly I haven’t been to Israel in the past 2 years, so I’m not sure about new places. I do always recommend that people try Dr. Shakshuka. Uri Buri is my favorite place for fish (not kosher but delish). Last time I was there I ate at a Turkish restaurant called Pasha that was quite good. I’ve also heard good things about The Rothschild. Hope that helps!

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