Bonnie's Recipes

Firecracker Hot Wings with Red Pepper Jelly

I love a holiday or occasion that gives us permission to eat sticky, delicious food like chicken wings and ribs.  The Fourth of July fits that description for me.  Here in New England, after a long winter this holiday is one of the first opportunities to take a small grill or a hamper of already prepared foods —like these make-ahead Firecracker Hot Wings— and stake out a spot on a beach or in the park with family or friends and enjoy the feast.

Though often recalled as a Southern staple, my Red Pepper Jelly is what I call “New England-style” … which is to say, not too hot. Habañero peppers are tempered by the natural sweetness of red bell peppers, cider vinegar and sugar. The result is a jelly that’s perfectly piquant.


Photo: Sally Pasley Vargas

Makes 1 dozen chicken wings.

If you’re grilling on the Fourth of July, these chicken wings are a must-have on your menu. Preparation couldn’t be simpler: first roast the wings in the oven (you can even do this a day ahead), brush with Bonnie’s Red Pepper Jelly, and finish on the grill. No grill? No problem. A few minutes under the broiler will do the trick.


Oil for the baking sheet

12 chicken wings (approximately 3 pounds)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 jars Bonnie’s Red Pepper Jelly



1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly oil it.

2. On the baking sheet, spread the chicken wings, skin side up. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Roast for 25 minutes. Cool slightly.

3. In a bowl, toss warm wings with 1/2 jar of pepper jelly to coat. Refrigerate until needed.


1. Prepare a medium-hot charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to medium-high.

2. On the grill, spread the chicken wings in a single layer. With tongs, turn the wings often for 10 to 12 minutes, or until brown, brushing often with more pepper jelly during grilling. Serve with extra jelly for dipping.


1. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly oil it. Set an oven rack 4 inches from the broiler element and turn on the broiler.

2. On the baking sheet, spread the chicken wings, skin side up. Brush generously with pepper jelly. Broil for 4 to 6 minutes on a side, coating the second side with more jelly, until brown and sizzling. (Total cooking time is about 10 minutes.) Serve with extra pepper jelly for dipping.


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