Limoncello-Marinated Chicken Wings with Pepperoni Sauce


Tart limoncello flavors and tenderizes the these standout wings from chef Jeffery Russell at the Louis M. Martini Winery in St. Helena, California. Try the irresistible pepperoni sauce on pizzas, sandwiches, or as a dip.

Limoncello Marinated Chicken Wings with Pepperoni Sauce Recipe
Photo: Victor Protasio
Active Time:
1 hrs
Total Time:
1 hrs 35 mins



  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 lemon, quartered and seeded

  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) limoncello

  • 1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves, plus more for garnish

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

  • 2 1/2 pounds chicken wings, cut at joints, wing tips discarded (about 24 pieces)


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

  • 5 ounces pepperoni, sliced (about 1 cup)

  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds

  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

  • 3 canned whole peeled plum tomatoes

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons chicken broth or vegetable broth, divided


  • Cooking spray

  • Lemon wedges, for serving


Make the wings

  1. Combine oil, lemon quarters, limoncello, thyme leaves, salt, and crushed red pepper in a blender; process until smooth, about 1 minute and 30 seconds. Place chicken wing pieces in a large bowl; add oil-limoncello mixture, and toss to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 8 hours or up to 12 hours.

Make the sauce

  1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. Add pepperoni slices; cook, stirring often, until fat from pepperoni is released, about 5 minutes. Add fennel seeds and crushed red pepper; cook, stirring often, until mixture is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Crush plum tomatoes by hand, and add crushed tomatoes and 1/2 cup broth to pan. Bring to a simmer over medium. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until flavors have melded, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat. Transfer mixture to blender. Secure lid on blender, and remove center piece of blender lid to allow steam to escape. Place a clean towel over opening. Process until mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes, adding up to remaining 2 tablespoons broth as needed until pepperoni sauce is the texture of hummus. Set aside.

  2. Preheat oven to 500°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, and place a wire rack over foil. Generously coat wire rack with cooking spray. Arrange wings in a single layer on prepared rack.

  3. Bake in preheated oven until wings are golden brown and a meat thermometer inserted in thickest portion of chicken registers 165°F, about 40 minutes, flipping once halfway through baking time. Spread a thin layer of pepperoni sauce on a platter; top with warm wings. (Reserve any remaining pepperoni sauce for another use.) Garnish with thyme, and serve with lemon wedges.

Make Ahead

Pepperoni sauce can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored in an airtight container in refrigerator. Reheat before serving.

Suggested Pairing

Crisp, cherry-inflected rosé.

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