Coffee and beer are the secret ingredients to these juicy – but not spicy! – chicken wings

As a game day alternative, this crowd-pleasing party food brings all the flavor with a heat level you control

By Ashlie D. Stevens

Food Editor

Published January 26, 2020 5:30PM (EST)

Chicken Wings (Getty Images)
Chicken Wings (Getty Images)

Let's be real, the true appeal of a Super Bowl party is in the snacks. Chips, dips, sliders, and, of course, the obvious mainstay — chicken wings. And while I love the slick, hot-sauce soaked standard that is the Buffalo wing, sometimes you (or your guests) want something that is spiced, but not spicy. That's where these coffee porter-brined wings come in. 

Why coffee porter? That particular brew is known for its rich smoothness with a roatsed malt base. Then the layers of nuttiness, chocolate, and spices are topped by a coffee aroma, and all of these elements are imparted into the bird.

The salt and beer in this brine denature the proteins in the raw chicken wings, giving them a natural juiciness and a new flavor once cooked. Then we double down on the coffee flavor with an espresso-based dry rub. Typically I'm a fan of grilled wings, but for ease of preparation, oven-baked works well for parties. 

Coffee Porter-Brined Wings 

18 chicken wings
Nonstick cooking spray


12 ounces of coffee porter
3 ½ cups of water
¼ cup of Kosher salt 
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon of minced garlic 
1 tablespoon of finely minced red onion
½ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes (optional)
1 bay leaf


1 tablespoon ground espresso coffee
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon dry oregano
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon dried mustard
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (depending on your desire for spice, you can up this measurement)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1. In a large bowl, combine the brine ingredients. Whisk until the sugar and salt dissolves. Place the chicken wings into a gallon-sized freezer bag, and pour the brine in. Seal the bag and refrigerate for 4 to 8 hours. 

2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil, spray with nonstick cooking spray, and set aside. 

3. Remove wings from the brine and pat dry with a paper towel. In a small bowl, combine all the rub ingredients and thoroughly apply to the wings. (I find using a brush or — gasp — your hands works best.) 

4. Place wings in the prepared sheet pan and bake for about 35 minutes, flipping halfway through. Plate, serving with preferred dipping sauce, carrots, and celery. 


By Ashlie D. Stevens

Ashlie D. Stevens is Salon's food editor. She is also an award-winning radio producer, editor and features writer — with a special emphasis on food, culture and subculture. Her writing has appeared in and on The Atlantic, National Geographic’s “The Plate,” Eater, VICE, Slate, Salon, The Bitter Southerner and Chicago Magazine, while her audio work has appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered and Here & Now, as well as APM’s Marketplace. She is based in Chicago.

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