Popeyes Ghost Pepper Wings copycat recipe by Todd Wilbur
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Popeyes Ghost Pepper Wings

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The Scoville heat rating of bhut jolokia, more commonly known as ghost pepper, is just over 1 million units, making it 200 times hotter than a jalapeno. But that didn’t stop Popeyes from creating an eye-watering breading for their scorching new crispy wings. Yes, these are seriously spicy wings, but they’re not so extreme as to be inedible, and the awesome flavor is guaranteed to tempt you back for more. Don't be scared.  

The hack for these breaded blazers starts by brining the wing segments in a buttermilk and pepper sauce marinade. Salt, MSG, and cayenne pepper sauce will fill the wings with flavor, and the breading, with a decent amount of ground ghost pepper in it, will bring on the sting. Ghost pepper has been quickly growing in popularity over the last several years, and you should have no trouble finding ground ghost pepper online. Even brick-and-mortar grocery stores are stocking it.

Still, ghost pepper is crazy hot, so be careful with it. You may even want to use gloves when breading these wings. Especially if you’ll need clean fingers later for putting in a contact lens, holding a baby, or any other activity not favorable to ferociously spicy digits.    

Get my secret recipes for all your favorite Popeye's food here.

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  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup cayenne pepper sauce (Louisiana or Frank's RedHot)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon MSG (monosodium glutamate)
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 20 chicken wings (drumettes and flats)
  • 10 ounces (2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ghost pepper (bhut jolokia)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons MSG
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • Vegetable oil for frying
On the side (optional)
  • Blue cheese or ranch dressing
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    • Instructions
      1. Combine the brine ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Add the wings and chill for 4 to 5 hours.


      Rinse the wings when they are done brining and blot them dry.

      2. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

      3. Pour the buttermilk into a medium bowl.

      4. Working with a couple of wings at a time, coat the wings with the flour blend, then gently lower each of them into the buttermilk until completely moistened.


      Remove the wings from the buttermilk and toss them in the flour until a nice coating builds up on each one. Set the wings aside on a tray until they are all breaded. A short rest will ensure that the flour stick to the wings.


      5. Preheat enough oil for frying the wings in a deep fryer or a large saucepan with a thermometer attached to 300 degrees F.

      6. Fry the wings in batches of 4 or 5 for 4 minutes, then take them out of the oil and let them rest for 5 minutes. Lower them back into the oil for another 7 to 9 more minutes or until browned. Keep the finished wings warm on a sheet pan in a 250-degree-F oven until they are all done frying. The wings are good on their own, but you can also serve them with blue cheese or ranch dressing on the side for dipping.

      Serves 4 (20 wings).
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I'm Todd Wilbur,
Chronic Food Hacker

For 30 years I've been deconstructing America's most iconic brand-name foods to make the best original clone recipes for you to use at home. Welcome to my lab.

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