Braised Coca-Cola Chicken Wings

5 from 8 votes
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Braised Coca-Cola Chicken

Braised Coca-Cola Chicken wings is one of the most popular dishes in China. It combines Chinese style braising and Coca-Cola to create juicy and savory BBQ style wings.

This recipe uses the standard Chinese braising process, which involves (1) stir frying the meat over high heat; (2) adding spices and sauce, then simmering until the meat is tender; and (3) adjusting the flavor and thickening the sauce at the end.

There are tons of ways to cook Coca-Cola chicken.  The easiest way is to dump chicken, soy sauce and cola into a skillet, then boil it all the way through. However, if you want the chicken to have a juicier texture, a charred surface (instead of sloppy skin), and a savory flavor that isn’t just sweet, you’ll need to spend a bit more effort.

This recipe may look a bit long, but it will walk you through every step with pictures. You’ll find this dish very easy and quick to prepare.

Braised Coca-Cola Chicken

How to Cook Perfect Coca-Cola Chicken

  • Brown the chicken first

Some recipes suggest you simply boil the chicken or do nothing before braising, but doing one of those might result in sloppy skin with a dry texture. On the other hand, frying the chicken with hot oil will tighten the texture of chicken and lock in the moisture. After braising, the wings will still hold tight together well, and the skin will be moist and waxy.

This recipe uses a nonstick skillet to grill the chicken instead of frying it in a wok. The chicken skin itself contains enough fat. Grilling with the natural chicken fat generates satisfying results and reduces the overall amount of oil.

  • Don’t be stingy with the spices

Fresh herbs and pungent spices make a delicious dish taste better.

Ginger and scallions (or green onions) are two of the most basic and important spices in Chinese cuisine. These spices help eliminate the bad smell of the raw meat and add a subtle and fruity aroma to the dish.

You can add chili pepper without adding heat. Chili pepper has a similar effect to ginger and scallion. It also adds savory flavor to balance the sweetness, similar to adding mild pepper to a chocolate dessert. Coca-Cola itself is extremely sweet and can overpower other spices. The chicken will end up with plain, sweet, and dull flavor.

The finished sauce will be a bit spicy, but not overwhelming. Reduce the amount to 1 chili pepper if you’re not a fan of spicy food.

  • You don’t need to marinate the chicken wings

It takes time and doesn’t make big difference. Unlike with baking chicken in the oven, which requires marinating first to let the flavor of the spices get into the meat, braising allows enough time for the chicken to absorb the sauce. Plus, the last step of braising will thicken the sauce so that it coats the wings nicely. It brings out the flavor of the chicken without tasting too heavy.

Have any questions? Please do not hesitate to drop me a message below and I will try my best to answer. Have fun cooking! 🙂

Braised Coca-Cola Chicken

Braised Coca-Cola Chicken

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Braised Coca-Cola Chicken Wings

Braised Coca-Cola Chicken Wings

5 from 8 votes
Braised Coca-Cola Chicken wings is one of the most popular dishes in China. It combines Chinese style braising and Coca-Cola to create juicy and savory BBQ style wings.
Author: Maggie Zhu
Course: Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 16 chicken wings , dried by kitchen towel
  • 2 pepper , dried
  • 1/2 scallion about 10 centimeter / 4 inches long, chopped (or green onion)
  • 3 slices ginger (size about 50 cent)
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (or Chinese cooking wine)
  • 1 can (350 milliliters / 12 ounces) coca-cola
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • chopped cilantro or green onion for garnish (Optional)

Instructions

  • Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. When oil is warm, add chicken wings, skin side down. Grill until the bottom side turns golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip wings and fry the other side until golden. Stop heat and transfer chicken wings to a plate. Set aside. Save the oil.
  • Heat a wok over medium high heat. When wok is hot, add the remaining oil from the skillet (about 2 tablespoons, add more if needed). Carefully lift the wok and swirl, to coat the lower third of the wok with oil. Turn to medium heat. Add chili pepper and let it cook for a few seconds, until dark. Add scallions and ginger and stir several times until fragrant. Add light soy sauce, Shaoxing wine and Coca-Cola and gently stir a few times. Carefully add chicken wings. Stir a few times to coat with sauce.
  • When the sauce starts to boil, turn to low heat and simmer for 20 minutes. During the first 15 minutes, use a spatula to stir 2 to 3 times, to avoid burning on the bottom, taking care to keep the wings evenly coated with sauce. When the sauce starts to thicken, add salt. Stay near the wok and stir frequently once the sauce has reduced to a third original amount. When the sauce has become very thick and coats the wings well, stop heat. If sauce is still thin after 20 minutes, turn to medium high heat to thicken the sauce. Be careful, as you can easily burn the chicken toward the end of braising. Transfer wings to a plate and garnish with cilantro or green onion.
  • Serve warm or cold.
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Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Maya says:

    Greeting to you! I love your blog , just found it by chance , so glad I did. Your cola wings look super yummy! I can’t wait to try them out . I would like to know can I leave out the Chinese wine? Or what non alcholoic ingredient can I substitute it for? Thanks .

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Maya, thank you for stopping by and I’m glad you like my recipe. 🙂
      Yes, you can leave out the Chinese wine. Just make sure you don’t skip the scallion (or replace with green onion) and ginger, then it will be ok.
      Feel free to drop a message if you have further questions and happy cooking! 🙂

    • Lucy says:

      I usually eat out but I recently moved to a new city and couldn’t find a restaurant that serves Coca Cola chicken wings. I found your recipe and decided to give it a try and I love it! Thank you for such an easy and delicious recipe 🙂

  2. Zuri says:

    5 stars
    After reading many authentic recipes I have found yours the most flavorful and appealing
    I am elated that you have shared your recipe with us
    Thankyou

  3. Luke says:

    5 stars
    I cooked this with boneless chicken breast last night and it turned out very delicious! I used a bunch of garlic and no ginger and I completely forgot to add cilantro even though I had some. Next time I’ll buy some ginger and I won’t forget the cilantro. I hope to cook this dish for my girlfriend’s family for Spring Festival.

    Thank you for such an amazing website! I live in China (in Xiamen) and my cooking skills are horrible, so it’s very nice to learn Chinese cooking from such a wonderul chef/website.

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Luke, thanks so much for the kind words and I’m so glad you like the recipe! 🙂
      I used the cilantro for garnish and to add some green, but I’m pretty sure you can do without them. I always use chicken wings to cook this, but it’s great to hear the chicken breast worked out as well!
      Have a great time in China and hope your Spring Festival plan goes well! Happy cooking 🙂

  4. Michelle @ Healthy Recipe Ecstasy says:

    It’s funny that coca-cola chicken wings are one of the most popular dishes in China! Though I can see why – they look amazing!!

  5. The Paltry Chef says:

    5 stars
    When I first heard about this from my partner I really had to chuckle. It just sounds so ridiculous when you hear about it for the first time. Nowadays my partner keeps asking me to make it and at the same time I have this itch to just try it. After seeing your recipe I think I just might do so. Though I might alter the ingredients slightly to suit our tastes.

    • Maggie says:

      It’s funny that I felt the same way when I first heard about this dish. Many years ago, a friend told me, I learnt to make coca-cola chicken today and it turned out great! I was thinking, whaaaa? But once I tried it, I found it tastes really similar to traditional Chinese braised chicken, with a better texture that is caused by the caramelization. Basically you use the drink as what it is – caramelized sugar after dehydration. I believe it will work out great with different ingredients too.
      Happy cooking and do tell me how your dish turns out 🙂

      • The Paltry Chef says:

        Today was the day I tried making the Coca-cola Chicken. I followed your recipe, though I changed the recipe. Instead 2 dried chili’s with 2 tbsp crushed Cayenne pepper and 1/2 Korean red chili peppers hoping to get a little extra hotness to the chicken. Also I used sesame oil instead of peanut oil merely because that was the oil that was nearest to my hand. I think it worked out great in the end.

        The end result was better than expected. I have to admit I was a bit apprehensive even while making it. Meat and cola together? Sounded to weird, but the cola does give it that lovely caramel flavor that is ever so enjoyable.

        I want to thank you for this wonderful recipe its clear wording made it easy to understand.

      • Maggie says:

        Thanks for reporting back and I’m glad to hear you enjoyed the dish! It makes perfect sense to use sesame oil and spicier chili. I believe it will give the chicken a nice flavor. I haven’t tried this recipe with other cuts of meat yet, but I believe it should go well with pork and beef too. Yep, sounds weird, but yields nice result!
        Happy Friday, and hope you have a great weekend 🙂

  6. Charlotte says:

    My father used to make this a lot when I was a child, but after moving overseas I’ve not had the chance to eat it. The recipe looks easy to follow (I can cook to feed myself, that’s all) and I’m definitely trying it out tomorrow! A quick question though I don’t have any ginger, scallion, or wok – would it affect too much?

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Charlotte, I’m glad to hear you’re interested in trying out this recipe!
      You can definitely cook this one with any skillet and you don’t need a wok. By any chance, you have garlic or even garlic powder? Just a little aromatic will make the sauce more fragrant. But it will be alright if you don’t have any.
      Happy cooking and hope your dish turns out great!

  7. May says:

    5 stars
    Just curious, is it okay if I use other carbonated drinks like Pepsi, Sarsaparilla or A&W Rootbeer besides Coca Cola? Do you think it will change the flavors?
    I’m thinking of trying this recipe with any carbonated drinks that I have in my kitchen ^^

    • Jaclyn says:

      Hi Maggie

      I tried coca cola chicken wings but even after 17-20 mins, the coke was still watery and it didn’t thicken into a sauce. In the end, the wings were simmering in the coke and it didn’t have much taste. Do you know why? Thanks.

      Jaclyn

      • Maggie says:

        Hi Jacklyn, I’m sorry to hear the recipe didn’t turn out well for you.
        I think the problem is probably the heat and the cooking utensil. I made this dish long time ago when I was still living in China. We use cast iron wok on very powerful gas stove, which reduce the liquid very fast. I’ve changed my cooking a lot after moving to the US, due to the change of kitchen setup.
        I will be updating this post soon to reflect a more accurate liquid ratio + cooking time.

  8. Carla Ho says:

    Hi, is it possible to cook it with Coke Light instead of Coca cola? Hope to hear from you. Carla

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Carla, I’ve never tried making the dish with Coke Light. The dish uses the sugar in the Coca cola to thicken the sauce and create a caramelized result. I’m not sure if the sauce will react the same way if using Coke light, since it only contains artificial sweetener.

  9. Annlee says:

    I tried the recipe today but my wings didn’t seems browned and caramelized nicely and as dark as yours. I was tempted to add in dark sauce towards the end but worried it might change its taste. It turned out really light brown. Where would i have had gone wrong?

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Annlee, I created this recipe long time ago back in China when I was still using a cast iron wok on a powerful gas stove. I think the high heat makes the liquid evaporate faster. At the end of cooking the sugar in the Coke caramelized and turned to the darker color and thickened enough to coat the wings. I’m sorry your dish didn’t turn out as well as expected. I will be re-testing this recipe soon with my current kitchen setup and update the recipe.

  10. clementina Caroline Sachsen says:

    5 stars
    You’re so great! I haven’t cooked yet .I hope I can as well as you.

  11. CLEMENTINA CAROLINE SACHSEN says:

    If the cola is cold what’s the different?

    • Maggie says:

      I think cold cola won’t make a big difference.

    • CLEMENTINA CAROLINE SACHSEN says:

      5 stars
      Greatest recipe

  12. MLL says:

    5 stars
    This is a terrific version of a terrific dish. I lived in China for awhile, and this was a favorite of my Chinese and International friends alike. Thanks for sharing your adaptation.

  13. Edward de Bruin says:

    5 stars
    Fantastic recipe, we just love this chicken wings, it just came out the way we want it! Thank you.

  14. cocko says:

    really love it! my cooking partner is dying but i think that she will love the wings! redbull verleiht flügel

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