How To Cook Chicken Wings: Easy, Fast, And Delicious

There is always a party when there are chicken wings. Whether grilled, fried, baked, or drenched in sauce, chicken wings are designed to be enjoyed by a crowd and never disappoint.

Want to know a little secret? The best chicken wings can be made at home with a few simple steps. And, with endless options for marinades and flavors, you can ditch the take-out plan and make crowd-pleasing wings in your own kitchen.



Choosing the Right Type of Wings

A browse through the meat department will unveil a few options – whole wings, wing sections, and boneless wings.

When processed, wings are typically broken down into three parts: wing tip, winglet, and wing drumette. Already broken down by the butcher, wing sections offer the most convenient bone-in option. Whole wings are still a great option, allowing for a slightly more elevated presentation and a better choice if serving as more of a meal. You can also separate yourself before cooking by cutting at the joint with a sharp knife.

As an appetizer at a party, many people prefer boneless chicken wings. While these avoid added mess and trash, we do prefer the taste and flavor that comes with the bones left in the wings.

Pro Tip: If you are friendly with your local butcher, ask for chicken lollipops – a frenched winglet, where the meat is cut loose from the bone end and pushed down. You won’t regret it!


how-to-cook-chicken-wings-d16c524f9dfff529b308af97Prepping and Marinating

Before we talk flavor options, let’s cover the basics. Start by rinsing your wings and use a paper towel to pat dry. It sounds simple, but skipping this step is the first cause of soggy chicken skin. Next, season the wings with salt and black pepper and set aside on a baking tray. (And, yes, salt and pepper those wings even if they are going into a marinade!)

What you do next will depend on how you plan to cook. We’re going to focus on marinades and simple ways to cook without a deep fryer. But, if you are frying, this is the part where you dredge through egg or cream and toss in seasoned flour (we like to throw a little garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, and smoked paprika).

Marinading chicken wings is our preferred method. A bit like jazz, it’s freeform and almost anything goes. You can add a kick with spices and peppers, or you can opt for something on the sweet side. This recipe for Air Fryer Caribbean Jerk Chicken Wings blends the best of both worlds.

Whatever you choose, mix your ingredients in a large bowl and add your chicken wings, tossing to coat. We like to poke a few holes in our wings with a fork and allow them to rest in the marinade for at least two hours (or, preferably, overnight) in the refrigerator to soak up more flavor.


Cooking Methods: Frying, Grilling, Baking, Air Frying

There are many ways to cook your chicken wings and even more opinions on which method works best. How you choose to cook will depend on whether you opt for breading or marinade, and the equipment you have available in your kitchen. Here are some of the most popular methods:


Deep Fried – Most of the popular restaurant chicken wings are fried and then doused with sauce. This includes the iconic buffalo chicken wings. When done right, deep frying yields perfectly crispy wings with lots of moisture in the center. This can be the most challenging method to perfect in the home kitchen and creates quite a mess!


Grilled – If you have unlimited time, grilling is a great option, especially for dry-rubbed or smoked chicken wings. While you won’t get a super crispy skin on the grill, a nice, deep char on both sides of the wing will add a crisp and seal in the flavor. For best results, heat the grill to medium heat, add the wings once hot, and cook with the lid closed for 18-25 minutes total, flipping frequently to gain an even char on both sides.


Oven Baked – One of our favorite hacks is oven-baked chicken wings. It’s a simple method with minimal equipment, and clean-up is a cinch. A few easy tricks will yield a better wing in the oven. First, grease or line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a wire rack (or cooling rack) on top of the foil. This allows the wings to cook evenly on both sides and helps crisp the skin. Cook at a high temperature (400 degrees F) and remove once the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F).

how-to-cook-chicken-wings-e9f62940294a63c00ed050f7Air Fried – Our favorite trick by far is the humble air fryer. While this does require extra equipment, the results are so worth it. You can use an air fryer for almost any type of wing (breaded, dry rub, or marinade) to achieve crispy, golden-brown skin, and a tender, moist interior. Follow the directions for your air fryer, making sure to flip halfway through the cook. You might also want to line the tray with aluminum foil (and poke with small holes) to make cleanup easier.


Serving Options

Your wings are done, so let’s talk about how to serve them before they are all gone! If you’re making buffalo wings (hello – extra buffalo sauce, blue cheese, and celery sticks), you can skip past this part and get straight into eating.

Let’s start with the dips. Like marinades, almost anything goes. You can use simple everyday condiments from the refrigerator – like ranch, BBQ sauce, or honey – or you can make your own. You can also set out a variety to cover all tastes and flavors.

Many marinades also serve up perfectly as a dip or added drizzle after the wings are done. Just be sure to set aside a portion of the marinade before adding the chicken. Heating the marinade in a small pot over the stove may also bring out more flavor for dipping.

If you’re looking to try something new, a few of our favorite (less traditional) dips and sauces include hot sauce, melted butter with garlic parmesan, hot honey mustard, and Korean BBQ sauce.

Put those new chicken wing skills to the test with our Air Fryer Caribbean Jerk Chicken Wings recipe