Your Ultimate Guide to Making Chicken Wings

Everything you need to know about buying, cooking, and serving chicken wings.

baked buffalo wings with celery and dip
Photo: psychedilemma

Don't just wing it! Find out how many wings to make, how to cut up chicken wings, and get all different ways to cook chicken wings.

How Many Chicken Wings to Buy

The amount of wings you need depends on what else is on the menu and what kinds of eaters you're feeding. Got big eaters? Make more wings.

  • If you're chowing down on chicken wings and nothing else, you'll need about a pound of bone-in chicken wings per person on average.
  • If other hefty eats are served, you might be able to cut it down to a half pound of bone-in chicken wings per person.
  • Don't sweat the math; this genius wing calculator figures it all out for you.

The Best Time to Buy Chicken Wings

Your best move is to stock up a week or so before a major event like the Super Bowl, because stores have been known to run low on the day of. (NOOOoooo!!!) This could happen whether you're buying fresh or frozen wings. If you buy fresh ahead of time, you can freeze the wings whole, or cut them up and freeze the pieces. Defrost in the fridge overnight before cooking.

What to Buy: Whole Wings or Pre-Cut

The answer comes down to time and money. You'll usually save big bucks by buying whole wings and cutting them up yourself, but you'll save time by buying pre-cut wings. Which savings is more important to you?

Got your wings? Time to reward yourself with a chicken dance, then we'll move on to the cutting and the cooking.

How to Cut Up Chicken Wings

Like we said before, you'll save money by buying whole chicken wings instead of cut up wings, so it's a good thing it's easy to cut up whole chicken wings: Just cut through the two joints it where the wing naturally bends, and you're done! You'll end up with drumettes, wingette (also called a "flat"), and wing tip — you can cook the drummettes and flats, and freeze the wing tips to make broth. this video for Awesome Crispy Baked Chicken Wings shows you how to cut a whole wing into three pieces.

How to Cook Chicken Wings

1. Air-Fryer Chicken Wings

You can use your air fryer to get crispy wings without excess oil. Spray the inside of your air fryer basket with cooking spray and arrange wings with space between them so they can crisp up. Don't try to rush things by cooking the entire batch at once or else your wings won't get crispy. Give this Air Fryer Buffalo Chicken Wings recipe a try.

2. Baked Chicken Wings

The secret to getting crispy baked wings is to use baking powder or baking soda in the coating. Because the two are NOT interchangeable, be sure to follow a recipe for exact amounts. Chef John's 5-star recipe for Crispy Honey Sriracha Chicken Wings uses baking powder in the coating. If you want to try baking soda, this guide to making Crispy Oven-Baked Chicken Wings shows you the way.

3. Grilled Chicken Wings

Yep, wings are awesome on the grill. Typically, grilled wings get a milder sauce, since the smoky, caramelized taste from the flames is the star. If you're in love with your BBQ, Grill Master Chicken Wings are for you.

4. Instant Pot Chicken Wings

With this method, there's no need to thaw frozen chicken wings before you cook them in a 2-step process that starts in your Instant Pot and ends with a quick crisp under the broiler. This recipe for Instant Pot Crispy Barbecue Chicken Wings gives you step-by-step directions.

5. Fried Chicken Wings

When you just have to have classic chicken wings, coated and fried to a shattering crusty goodness, give these Restaurant-Style Buffalo Chicken Wings a try.

6. Slow Cooker Chicken Wings

It's easy and hands off, and it's all cooked in one pot. Got a big party planned? Start lining up extra slow cookers for Awesome Slow Cooker Buffalo Wings.

How to Make Classic Buffalo Sauce

If you're gonna go with tradition, you need to meet Frank's Red Hot. It's not a fire-breathing hot sauce, per se, but it is the true OG hot sauce, as used by the Anchor Bar in Buffalo. It's a simple sauce, and you can't go wrong with this recipe for Scott's Coast-to-Coast Famous Chicken Wings.

Wing Sauce Favorites

Here are just a few of the flavor variations you can find in our wide-ranging collection of chicken wing recipes.

More: Discover our Top 25 Chicken Wing Recipes

How to Pair Wings with Drinks

Let's not overthink this thing. Beer's a classic match for wings. And it's the semi-official beverage of football-watching. Why mess with a sure thing?

Remember, though, you're in this for at least four quarters. So go with a refreshing, easy drinking lager or a dry pilsner. Or try a hoppy pale ale or wheat beer. Each of these would work across a broad spectrum of wings, from tame to in flames.

On the wine side, we should think along the same lines…light and refreshing. That means bubbles. You can't lose with French, Italian, or Spanish sparkling wine, but this is America's biggest sporting event of the year! So let's stick to home. Try a sparkling wine from Washington State--or maybe California or New York.

Beyond bubbles, there's Riesling. It's lowish in alcohol and pairs well with spicy foods and teriyaki flavors. Or go with Gewürztramer or Chenin Blanc.

Reds? I admire your courage. Try something young and fruity without too much alcohol or tannins, which don't play well with spicy foods. Merlot or Zinfandel, for example. They should also pair nicely with blue cheese dressing. But if you go Zin, check the label first; they can be surprise alcohol bombs. Lighter reds, like Beaujolais will work. Also, Pinot Noir. And don't turn your nose up at boxed wine. It's typically fruity, easy drinking, inexpensive, and probably low in tannin. Kind of perfect.

What about non-alcohol? Easy. Something refreshing. Fruit punches and sweet lemon and/or lime drinks are great. A little carbonation doesn't hurt anything. And sweet tea with a slice of lemon is a winner.

How to Eat Chicken Wings Like a Champ

This is pure genius. A simple technique to slip the bones free from "flat" wings, leaving the meat in one solid, totally dunkable piece. It's only for the flat parts, of course. Eating the drumettes should be fairly self-explanatory. Hint: hold handle part, eat meaty part, repeat.


Compiled by Noel Christmas, Vanessa Greaves, and Carl Hanson.

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