Which of Domino’s “new and improved” chicken wings are truly awesome sauce?

Which of Domino’s “new and improved” chicken wings are truly awesome sauce?

Domino’s buffalo wings
Domino’s buffalo wings
Photo: Domino’s (Other)

As I’ve grown older I’ve developed a collection of personal philosophical tenets, which I hope to capitalize on once I figure out how to break into the cult business. While I am not willing to change all your lives for the better without some sort of payment (preferably cash), for the sake of this very important restaurant review, I am willing to share one of my most sacred discoveries: The Domino’s Theorem.

Humans have the tendency to set unrealistic standards for many of the things that inhabit the world around us (our neighbors, ourselves, our pizzas). I have lived a very fortunate life, and I have tasted some of the finest pizzas ever crafted. But should that be allowed to ruin all lesser slices for me? Consider Domino’s, which, according to my Italian-American palate, makes a terrible pizza. Yet I have enjoyed many Domino’s pizzas, because I do not consider them “bad pizzas” but rather “good Domino’s pizzas.” It’s rare that things are exactly what we want them to be, but you cannot let that stop you from appreciating them for what they are.

Domino’s new and improved wings, in six flavors
Domino’s new and improved wings, in six flavors
Photo: Allison Robicelli

All that being said, Domino’s has decided to overhaul its entire chicken wing menu by adding a few new sauces and ostensibly improving the wings’ overall quality. The chain didn’t make a big fuss about them, and I probably wouldn’t have even noticed there were exciting chicken wing developments afoot had I not read the company’s Q2 earnings call transcript, which is the sort of thing I do for fun. I have never paid much attention to Domino’s wing game, but my interest was piqued by the lack of pomp and circumstance around a product meant to compete in one of the restaurant industry’s fastest growing categories, as well as the CEO’s admission on the call that, historically, Domino’s wings have kinda sucked.

And so, on a warm early August evening, I ordered every single new-and-improved wing on the Domino’s menu. I ate them on their own, I ate them drenched with dipping sauce, I ate them in the silence I require to commune with whatever food I am evaluating. I take my responsibilities seriously, and in the grand scheme of wings, I did not stray from my core values. I knew this chicken would not come close to the best wings I’ve ever tasted, and I didn’t expect it to try. Just like Domino’s pizza, Domino’s wings are Domino’s wings, and should be appraised as such. Here’s how they rank, from worst to best.

Allison Robicelli is The Takeout staff writer, a former professional chef, author of three books, and The People's Hot Pocket Princess. Questions about recipes/need cooking advice? Tweet @Robicellis.

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2 / 9

Sixth Place: Sweet Mango Habanero

Sixth Place: Sweet Mango Habanero

Domino’s Sweet Mango Habanero wings
Domino’s Sweet Mango Habanero wings
Photo: Allison Robicelli

These wings don’t register on the aforementioned “Good for Domino’s” scale. They’re drenched in a viscous gel that evokes fruit-flavored lube, plus a faint kick of something a lot milder than habanero. Is the fruit flavor actually mango, as advertised? I have no idea. The chicken tasted like perfume and sugar, and left me covered in goo. Normally that sounds like a good time, but it wasn’t, which makes these wings disappointing.

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3 / 9

Fifth Place: Mild Buffalo

Fifth Place: Mild Buffalo

Domino’s Mild Buffalo wings
Domino’s Mild Buffalo wings
Photo: Allison Robicelli

A confusing flavor. The chicken is orange, like you’d expect, and yet there was nary a spark of cayenne or a pop of acidity to be found. I tried to remedy the pointlessness of these wings by bathing them in blue cheese, but that somehow made the situation worse. (Even more confusing!) Domino’s blue cheese dipping sauce doesn’t seem to be very stable when kept in a warm environment—like, for example, a box full of hot chicken wings. I had anticipated a substance thick enough to coat a feeble wing, but the sauce was more akin to a separated mayonnaise dotted with gravel-sized pieces of chalky blue cheese. I doused the remainder of the chicken in Domino’s creamy buttermilk ranch, a far superior sauce selection that greatly improved these mostly mediocre wings.

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4 / 9

Fourth Place: Honey BBQ

Fourth Place: Honey BBQ

Domino’s Honey BBQ wings
Domino’s Honey BBQ wings
Photo: Allison Robicelli

A serviceable menu item, but if we’re being honest, I doubt I’ll ever think of these wings again once I’m done writing this paragraph. The human brain simply refuses to encode the memory of these lackluster wings. Honey BBQ wings in general are very rarely extraordinary, though, so in this case, Domino’s has nothing to apologize for. If you like the store-brand honey barbecue sauce at the supermarket, you’ll have no quarrel with this chicken. Would I order these again? No. Would I eat them if they were given to me as a gift? Sure, why not!

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5 / 9

Third Place: Hot Buffalo

Third Place: Hot Buffalo

Domino’s Hot Buffalo wings
Domino’s Hot Buffalo wings
Photo: Allison Robicelli

Domino’s hot buffalo sauce tastes exactly like the rest of the world’s mild buffalo sauce. If you’re hoping for something to light your face on fire you’ll be disappointed, but if you enjoy a basic buffalo wing, they aren’t half bad! To its credit, Domino’s uses rationally sized chicken wings, rather than those steroid-jacked monster wings that taste great until you realize they must have come from a toddler-sized chicken. What these hot buffalo wings lack in flavor and crispness they make up for with an excellent skin-to-meat ratio, and their pliability makes it easy to strip the meat straight off the flats for big, satisfying mouthfuls. Order your wings with extra buffalo sauce; that infernal blue cheese dipping sauce can stay in hell where it belongs.

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6 / 9

Second Place: Plain

Second Place: Plain

Domino’s Plain wings
Domino’s Plain wings
Photo: Allison Robicelli

I ordered the plain wings as a formality, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed them. They’re seasoned well, and though their coating is not particularly crisp, it is the sort of greasy-soggy-awesome that you might encounter in a bowling alley snack bar, or some other place where food should not be served and yet somehow is. You would never go to a bowling alley exclusively to eat chicken wings, but if you just so happen to be bowling, nothing can stop you from demolishing a few dozen. Domino’s is now bringing that particular chicken wing experience into your very own home, which is something to be celebrated.

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7 / 9

First Place: Garlic Parmesan

First Place: Garlic Parmesan

Domino’s Garlic Parmesan wings
Domino’s Garlic Parmesan wings
Photo: Allison Robicelli

The sauce tastes like jarred Alfredo and Caesar salad dressing had a baby, and that baby is gorgeous. (Not supermodel gorgeous, catalog gorgeous.) These wings are the sort messy, oh-so-tasty junk food you want to dive into at the end of a no-good very bad day. I would be down to order a dozen of these wings the next time all I want to do is watch Dirty Dancing while crying, and that’s high praise in the world of delivery fast food.

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8 / 9

Bonus First Place: My “Secret Menu” Wings

Bonus First Place: My “Secret Menu” Wings

Order the plain wings with a few cups of classic garlic dipping sauce, then toss them together yourself. If Domino’s decides to put this on the permanent menu, I am entitled to $1 million, which should be enough seed money to get my cult up and running.

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9 / 9

Allison Robicelli is The Takeout staff writer, a former professional chef, author of three books, and The People's Hot Pocket Princess. Questions about recipes/need cooking advice? Tweet @Robicellis.

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