There’s something inherently special about eating foods that don’t call for the interference of utensils. I mean, sure, forks, knives, and spoons are pretty amazing tools in the history of human inventiveness, but devouring a delicious meal with the use of only your hands (and, subsequently, a dispenser’s-worth of napkins) is, in some strange way, uniquely liberating. Some might say it even makes the dish in question taste better.
That’s why people across the planet love to get their soon-to-be-sticky fingers on chicken wings (and sometimes even duck wings). These delectable morsels epitomize the primal way of consumption, where you simply hold on by the bottom of the exposed bone and bring each sauce-slathered drumette or wingette, aka “flat,” directly into your anticipating taste-bud lair. Plus, you’d surely get some shocked, cross-eyed glances from your hungry companions if you started slicing off meat from your wings, on a plate, mimicking the daintiest of 18th-century etiquette school students.
The beauty of these heavenly bites of protein is that there are different interpretations of cooking them in nearly every corner of the globe. We’ve discovered some of the best ways people prepare poultry wings on their home turf, from the usual spicy suspects, such as Buffalo wings, to exotic takes, such as the sweet-and-savory, soy-and-sugar-based ones you find in street stalls in Malaysia. Some may surprise you; others will inspire you. And, when it comes to making them yourself at home, you don’t have to wing it. Instead, click on any of the recipe links in each description, and use the easy-to-follow instructions to create your own versions of some of the best appetizers ever. Take a look at the meaty contenders.