Zesty Firecracker Duck Wings Recipe

Geek Eats: Zesty Firecracker Duck Wings Recipe From Carthay Circle Restaurant and Lounge

For many years, a fan-favorite dish at Carthay Circle Restaurant at Disney California Adventure was the Zesty Firecracker Duck Wings. These duck wings were spicy along with the vinegar and lemon zest that contrast the spice a little bit. They were on the higher end of my spice limit. They also were probably one of the best bites I’ve ever eaten at the Disneyland Resort.

In July of 2012, I made my first visit to the Carthay Circle Restaurant and Lounge with my friend DC Sarah (who went on to start a food block appropriately enough!). She introduced me to the Zesty Firecracker Duck Wings and my life was changed! We had a blast over lunch on a lovely afternoon at Disney California Adventure. It is one of my favorite days and Disney memories still over a decade later!

To this day, I regularly think about their deliciousness and would love to taste them again. While this might not happen at the Carthay Circle Restaurant as they are no longer on the menu, Disney did share the recipe for them several years ago. Below is the recipe that Disney shared for the Zesty Firecracker Duck Wings. Check it out, give it a try, and then share how it turned out in the comments below!

Geek Eats: Zesty Firecracker Duck Wings Recipe From Carthay Circle Restaurant & Lounge

Zesty Firecracker Duck Wings from Carthay Circle Restaurant and Lounge at Disney California Adventure Park


This recipe works well with chicken wings if you don’t have access to duck wings.



  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 orange, zested (no white pith) and chopped
  • 1 cup yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, tops and root-end trimmed and crushed with back of knife to release flavor
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 2 red jalapeño peppers, cut in half lengthwise
  • 4-5 kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 cups soy sauce
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Coarse salt and pepper to taste
  • 25 duck wings, tips removed and cut in half at joint

Tempura Batter

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 cups cold seltzer water
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch, more if needed

Wing Sauce

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup Sriracha hot chili sauce


For wings:

  1. Preheat oven to 350?F.
  2. Place oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add orange zest toast for 3 to 4 minutes. Add onion, carrots, and celery, stirring until slightly caramelized. Add brown sugar and vinegar and reduce by half, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add lemongrass, ginger, garlic, jalapeños, lime leaves, and soy sauce. Reduce by half, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add chicken stock and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer and add cilantro. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
  4. Place duck wings in a single layer in large roasting pan. (Two pans might be needed depending on number of wings and size.) Pour liquid over wings, making sure meat is completely covered.
  5. Cover pan with foil. Braise for 1 1/2 hours; check for tenderness and cook longer if necessary.
  6. Remove wings from braising liquid and place in separate pan. Strain braising liquid, then pour over wings. Refrigerate until cooled.

For tempura batter:

  1. Mix together flour, seltzer water, and coarse salt. Refrigerate until tread to use.
  2. Reserve cornstarch for dredging wings.

For wing sauce:

  1. Melt butter in small saucepan over low heat.
  2. Add soy sauce and Sriracha, mixing thoroughly. Set aside and keep warm.

To serve:

  1. Pat wings dry. Dredge in tempura batter, then roll in small amount of cornstarch. Add more cornstarch if necessary.
  2. Prepare deep fryer, including oil amount, according to machine instructions. Place coated wings one by one directly into fryer, with basket submerged in oil. Lift basket and shake occasionally to make sure wings don’t stick together. Fry until crispy, watching closely so as not to overcook. Remove from fryer and toss wings with warm sauce. Squeeze fresh lime over wings and keep warm until all wings are cooked.
  3. Serve immediately.

What do you think of this recipe? Have you had the Zesty Firecracker Duck Wings when they were at the Carthay Circle Restaurant and Lounge? What did you think? Have you made this recipe? How did it turn out? Share your thoughts, opinions, and experiences in the comments below!