Cacio e Pepe Chicken Wings

These Cacio e Pepe Fried Chicken Wings are made with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and LOTS of pepper. Eat ’em on their own or with your favorite dipping sauce!

Photography Credit: Aaron Hutcherson

Cacio e pepe … chicken wings? Oh yes. I fried chicken wings to crispy perfection, tossed them with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, then added an extra shake of black pepper. You might already be familiar with regular Parmesan wings, but this recipe kicks it up a notch (or two!) to provide a serious peppery kick that’ll have you reaching for more.

A baking sheet full of Cacio e Pepe Fried Chicken Wings with blue cheese dipping sauce

A baking sheet full of Cacio e Pepe Fried Chicken Wings with blue cheese dipping sauce

What is Cacio e Pepe?

If you’re as food-obsessed as I am, then I’m sure you’ve seen the words “cacio e pepe” all over recently, but what exactly is it? If you don’t speak Italian, it translates to “cheese and pepper.” As you might expect, this means that anything with this label will feature these two ingredients prominently, with Parmesan cheese and black pepper being the standards.

Chicken Wings in the Pressure Cooker

Chicken Wings in the Pressure Cooker

Photo by Irvin Lin

How To Clip Chicken Wings

When shopping for chicken wings, the easiest thing to do is to buy them already cut into sections. However, you can also buy whole chicken wings (which are usually cheaper) and cut them into parts yourself.

To clip the chicken wings, find the joint between the drumette and the flat and cut it with a sharp knife. It’s up to you if you want to separate the tip or not—feel free to leave it on for this recipe or save it for chicken stock.

Platter of fried chicken wings with parmesan

Platter of fried chicken wings with parmesan

Best Tips for Frying Chicken Wings

  1. Use a heavy skillet. When it comes time to make chicken wings, I like to start by heating the oil in a skillet so that it will be ready when I am. As far as skillets go, cast iron is classic for frying chicken, but any heavy-bottomed skillet will do.
  2. Use a neutral oil. I like to use canola, vegetable, or peanut oil as they all have a relatively neutral taste. You may think that you’re going to need a lot, but the oil should only be half an inch deep. (We’re not deep frying.) You want the oil to be right around 350˚F to fry—too hot and you might burn the chicken (or start a fire); too cold and you’ll end up with beige, greasy chicken (and no one wants that).
  3. Pat your chicken dry. One important step in frying chicken wings is to pat them dry to remove any excess moisture, which is the enemy of frying. The whole point of frying is to remove moisture on the outside of the food so that it gets nice and crispy, so you might as well give it a good head start by getting the chicken as dry as you can before it hits the hot oil. From there it’s time to season and fry until nice and golden all over.
  4. Use freshly grated Parmesan. A key to this recipe’s success is that you grate the Parmesan cheese yourself (I like to use a microplane) and not use the pre-shredded stuff you buy in a plastic pint container. The pre-shredded stuff is a little tough and doesn’t really melt. (Trust me, I tried.)

After all the chicken has been fried, toss it with some melted butter, the freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and more black pepper. The butter helps everything stick to the wings and the cheese should melt a bit from the heat of the wings and the butter.

Transfer the wings to a platter with your dipping sauce of choice and you’re ready to eat. (I go back and forth between ranch and blue cheese with my wings, but in this instance, I think I’d go with ranch as blue cheese might overpower the Parmesan in this recipe.)These wings are best enjoyed fresh while they’re still nice and crispy.

Fried cacio e pepe chicken wings with blue cheese dipping sauce

Fried cacio e pepe chicken wings with blue cheese dipping sauce

More Great Chicken Wings Recipes!

Cacio e Pepe Chicken Wings Recipe

Ingredients

  • Canola, vegetable, or peanut oil, for frying
  • 3 pounds chicken wing sections, drumettes and flats
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Chopped fresh parsley, for serving (optional)
  • Ranch or blue cheese dressing, for serving

Method

1 Heat the oil: Fill a cast iron or other heavy-bottomed skillet with 1/2 inch of oil, place over medium heat, and heat the oil to 350°F.

2 Fry the chicken wings: Meanwhile, pat the chicken dry with paper towels, season with the salt, garlic powder, and 1 teaspoon black pepper.

Working in batches so as not to overcrowd the skillet, gently add the wings and fry, flipping about halfway through, until golden all over, about 15 minutes. Transfer the wings to a wire rack set inside a baking sheet; fry the remaining wings.

Fry the chicken wings in oil for crispy cacio e pepe chicken wingsDeep fry the chicken wings in a skillet of oilCrispy chicken wings on a baking rack

3 Season the wings: Place the butter in a large, microwave-safe bowl; microwave in 30 second increments until the butter has melted. Add the fried chicken wings to the bowl along with 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and the remaining 2 teaspoons black pepper; toss until the wings are evenly coated.

Tossing chicken wings with parmesan salt and pepper

4 Garnish and serve: Transfer the wings to a platter, top with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (or more if you want it extra cheesy), sprinkle with some chopped parsley (if using), and serve with the dipping sauce of your choice.

Fried chicken wings with freshly grated parmesan on a large baking sheet

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Aaron Hutcherson

Aaron or “Hutch” is the blogger behind The Hungry Hutch, which features a delicious variety of savory and sweet recipes. He grew up in the Midwest, but has called New York City home for nearly a decade.

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