How to make chicken lollipops

Chicken lollipops

It’s now the height of summer (at least here in the Northern hemisphere), which means outdoor bentos and picnics! Chicken wings are great finger food, but you can make them even more convenient, not to mention cute, by turning them into chicken lollipops, also known as cherrystone chicken or chicken cherries. Back in the day I used to hang around a chef (rather, he tolerated me while I pestered him with questions) who used to work in a hotel restaurant in the ’80s, where he had to turn out hundreds of these little things for banquets. He could whip them out by the dozens in mere minutes, but I take a little longer. They are a bit fiddly, but not hard to do.

How to cut up a chicken wing

First let’s examine a chicken wing, as it usually comes from the supermarket.

chickenwing-1.jpg

You see that it has three sections. The tapering part is the wing tip, and doesn’t have much edible meat on it, so I usually freeze it and use it for making chicken stock. The middle part has two bones in it; experienced chicken-wing-dissecters can remove the smaller second bone and make a lollipop out of the remainder, but that’s rather fiddly to do, so I usually use the middle part for something else, such as buffalo chicken wings. The part that we want is the third, thickest part.

So let’s cut apart the wing. We need a sharp, small knife. This is a boning knife, with a tapered shape that is quite handy for various boning tasks, but you could use a straight blade knife too. It just has to be sharp. A dull blade may slip, which is dangerous!

chickenwing-2-knife.jpg

Grab hold of the tapered wing tip and find the first joint. Cut through or to the side of the soft cartilage, rather than the bone. Your knife should go through easily.

chickenwing-3.jpg

Here’s a closeup of that joint. As you see i’m cutting through the white cartilage. You might get little bits of loose cartilage here, which you should just cut off and discard.

chickenwing-4.jpg

Now cut through the second joint, in the same way, aiming for the cartilage again.

chickenwing-5.jpg

Cut apart cleanly.

chickenwing-6.jpg

And here are the 3 wing pieces. As I mentioned above, I usually freeze the wing tips to to make chicken stock with (they are wonderfuly gelationous, so are perfect for this). The other two sections can be used in any recipe that calls for wings just as-is.

Incidentally, many butchers (or rather mechanical chicken cutters or whatever that do this for supermarkets) really do this sloppily leaving bits of cartilage hanging, not to mention bone splinters. If you can do this yourself the results will be a lot neater. chickenwing-7.jpg

How to make a chicken lollipop

Chicken lollipops

Let’s turn the thick piece of chicken wing into a lollipop. You’ll see that it looks like a little drumstick. Grab the thin end firmly, then carefully cut through the skin surrounding the bone, using a sawing motion and turning the thing around. Don’t try to force it, let the knife do the work.

chickenwing-8.jpg

Once the skin is cut all around, use your knife to scrape down the meat from the bone. You may need to cut through a couple of sinews. Push the meat down to the other end.

chickenwing-9.jpg

Using your fingers, pull the meat over the fat end of the bone so that it’s inside out.

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Here’s a completed lollipop.

chickenwing-10.jpg

I timed myself, and I can crank these out at a rate of about 3 per minute. If you are just starting it will probably take longer, but don’t rush it or you might cut yourself! (I actualy have a scar from many years ago on my thumb from where I cut it making these.)

cherrychicken-cutfinished.jpg

You can cook them in any way you like - fried, roasted, with barbeque sauce, etc. I usually use my basic chicken karaage recipe (though I used canola oil/rapeseed oil rather than peanut oil for the ones in the photos here) and turn them into lollipop karaage, which is great hot or at room temperature in a bento box.

Here’s a recent roadside picnic we had, with some chicken lollipop karaage and brown rice onigiri. In the background are some stewed green beans that my mother made (I’ll post the recipe soon). It was really delicious, way better than bought sandwiches for sure.

A road side picnic with onigiri and chicken lollipops

And as you can see, they are very easy to grab with your fingers and nibble.

chickenwing-single.jpg

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24 comments

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Re: How to make chicken lollipops

It looks so good!!!! I have to try it!~!!

Re: How to make chicken lollipops

YUM! These look fun.

Re: How to make chicken lollipops

I don't know if I would be patient enough to do these but I found this post very instructive and may be, I will try one day

Re: How to make chicken lollipops

i remember my mom would make these for me for lunch. she would also do the paper collar around the bone.

Re: How to make chicken lollipops

Son-of-a-gun, I never realized you turn the meat inside out on the bone! Thank you for the excellent tutorial. I just bought a mess of chicken drumsticks to make lollipops for my ever starving famly.

Re: How to make chicken lollipops

This is very awesome! I just need money for meat now!

Re: How to make chicken lollipops

that is pretty cute! I don't eat meat, but I would like to try making this anyway...

Re: How to make chicken lollipops

Hi Maki,

Those look unbearably yummy!

I do have a question though: how long would you say it takes to cook the drumsticks through? I find the bite-sized thigh pieces for normal karaage don't take much time at all, but these seem like they might take longer because they are still bone-in.

Thanks!

Re: How to make chicken lollipops

Lollipop karaage only take a couple minutes more if that than boneless chicken nuggets, since the bone is mostly outside of the meat. HTH!

Re: How to make chicken lollipops

Thanks Maki,

That was beautifully illustrated. These might go great in a mixed grill type presentation with some "frenched" lamb riblets. As a "recovering vegetarian" I find that I now admire some of the artful meat presentations even though I don't often prepare meats.

Others may notice that in your illustrations you are using a Sigg Box - I mentioned these a short time back on the topic of Manly Bentos, they are my current favorite.

Best,
jfox

Re: How to make chicken lollipops

Avenna

Hi Maki! I have a question about this recipe. Could I make this without the skin? And if so, how would I pull the meat to the edge of the bone? Sorry for being health crazed...

Re: How to make chicken lollipops

You can pull the skin off, then just ease the meat up and over by grabbing it at the bone and pulling. Hard to explain but once you have done a few of them you'll get the hang of it! You may also want to cut off the little bits of fat too if you're concerned about calories etc.

Re: How to make chicken lollipops

Avenna

Arigato!

Re: How to make chicken lollipops

You have made it look so easy with the great photos. Chicken lollipops are not something I have tried to make but now that I have seen how to do it I will certainly give it a go. I wont be removing the skin though, healthy or not I love crispy chicken skin. Thanks so much for the easy to follow steps.

Re: How to make chicken lollipops

Thanks so much for the pictures! I've seen chicken lollipops before, and thought they'd be too hard to make, but this post made it look feasible. I tried them a few days ago and they turned out great. I don't like to fry things - although I love to EAT fried things - so I used a Tyler Florence recipe with mustard, honey and bread crumbs.

I really appreciate you taking the time to make this tutorial, and so do my kids. Thanks again.

Re: How to make chicken lollipops

I could be mistaken, but I believe the part of the chicken you used is called the drumette.

Re: How to make chicken lollipops

Gorgeous. I always wanted to know how to make these.

Re: How to make chicken lollipops

Hi..
Could you please show the step by step pictures on how to make lollipops with the 2nd piece of each wing (the piece which has 2 bones)?

Thanks

Re: How to make chicken lollipops

do you have to use wings? would regular sized drum sticks work?

Re: How to make chicken lollipops

Thanks!!!! This is really very helpful!

Re: How to make chicken lollipops

Aww.. poor lil chicken... this looks absolutely delicious and mouth watering! I'll have to give it a shot this weekend... uess my lil boy will love it too :-)

Re: How to make chicken lollipops

Hi is there a reason you cut of the other parts twice is it just because you use one part as a stock and if you pull it down inside out wont this stop the skin from crispin up as its underneath the flesh...sorry one more thing how long can i do these in advance as i need to serve them cold at a wedding buffet and how long to bake in oven...i think thats it lol

Re: How to make chicken lollipops

Dear Maki,
Thank you so very much for your well-explained tutorial and extremely helpful photos re chicken wing preparation! Now I plan to make chicken lollipops (LOTS!) for my three teenage sons as a Super Bowl treat!

Re: How to make chicken lollipops

Hey your technique of making chicken lollypops is just awesome.. i just tried to do it.. and it was very easy... i managed to do 12 lollypops in 30mins.. :) thanks for the pictorial representation.

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