Whether it’s time to cuddle up indoors for the wintry game season or warm weather patio meals time, air fryer chicken wings are always popular.
I grew up in Erie, PA, just a little more than an hour from Buffalo, New York, home of the world-famous Buffalo wing. In my region, chicken wings are more than only a food item. They’re a culture.
My wing of choice isn’t the “Buffalo” wing, as they are a little too hot for my taste. I prefer a nice savory barbecue sauce. But that’s the fun part of wings. You can make them in tons of flavors. You just need to get the cooking basics down and let your imagination run wild.
Regardless of what flavor you prefer, chicken wing lovers agree on a few basic rules.
Chicken wings must have a nice crunch to the skin, pack a ton of flavor into a few small bites, and be fully cooked but not overcooked–a balance that’s sometimes challenging to achieve.
There’s a downside to chicken wings–the calories from the fryer. That’s where my air fryer comes in. With this innovative kitchen appliance, I can enjoy my favorite game day snack food without the guilt.
Once you give them a try, you’ll agree that air fryer chicken wings are delicious. You cook so much fat out of the wings and also won’t need more than a few pumps of olive oil spray to make the wings brown and crispy.
Before we begin, let’s talk for just a moment about safe chicken handling. It’s an important topic to discuss. If you’re an old pro in the kitchen, feel free to skip ahead. But for new cooks, this is must-read information.
Raw Chicken Safety Rules
Chicken frequently carries salmonella, a dangerous bacteria that sends thousands of people fleeing to the emergency room with food poisoning every year.
Safe chicken handling is no joke. Here are some guidelines you must always follow.
Storing fresh chicken:
Fresh chicken must be kept refrigerated at 40 degrees or less. As soon as you get home from the store, put it in the fridge right away. If you live in a warm climate, invest in a cooler bag to ensure that you are transporting it home safely.
Remember that fresh chicken is most likely sitting in open display cases in the grocery store. They are barely at 40 degrees, so time is of the essence.
Make purchasing your meats and chicken your final destination on shopping days, checkout, and take your meats home right away.
Also, ensure that you place the chicken in a glass container. This will collect and drips so that you don’t cross contaminate any other food. I like using a Pyrex roasting pan for this purpose.
If you’re uncertain of your refrigerator’s temperature, purchase an inexpensive refrigerator thermometer and check it out.
Defrosting frozen chicken:
When you are defrosting frozen chicken wings, don’t leave them on the counter or in the sink or in a pot of cold water to defrost at room temperature.
Do you think it’s safe to defrost chicken in the microwave? Here’s food for thought. The USDA “danger zones” for chicken–the temps at which salmonella flourish–are from 41 degrees to 140 degrees.
Because your microwave is heating the chicken to less than 140 to defrost it, you are simply jumpstarting a bacteria colony. Yuck!
Instead, remove it from the freezer and set it into a deep pie dish, cover the dish with plastic wrap, and place it in the fridge to defrost. It takes longer to defrost this way, but it is literally the only safe way to defrost the chicken.
Wash Hands Before and After Handling Chicken
Of course, you wash your hands when you’re cooking. However, handwashing becomes more imperative for raw chicken safety.
Wash your hands with hot water and antibacterial soap before you begin seasoning your chicken. It’s also helpful to have a few paper towels unrolled and handy before your begin.
After you handle raw chicken, use one of those paper towels to serve as a barrier when you turn on the hot water faucet and to pump your soap dispenser. Then, wash your hands once again so you do not transfer any bacteria to anything else in the kitchen.
Wood is not Good
When you break down or trim chicken parts, use a cutting mat rather than an old school wooden cutting board.
Wood is porous and retains the bacteria. If you spray it with antibacterial spray, it holds in those chemicals.
They just cannot be sanitized like more modern cutting mats. Invest in a good set. I have a set of three and I use one only for chicken, one for all other meats, and one for veggies only.
Sanitize Your Prep Areas
Once you’ve prepped raw chicken or poultry, always clean your prep areas with a kitchen-safe antibacterial cleanser.
For the easiest cleanup, use a paper towel to clean up any drips of blood. Spray the surface with the cleanser using your “clean” hand (free of chicken bacteria), and use the other hand to wipe away the mess.
Remember to wipe down your cutting mat, countertop, sink, and faucets.
Dispose of the paper towel, and use your “clean hand” to turn on the hot water and wash your hands again.
Yes, I love paper towels and washing my hands. 😄 Better safe than sorry!
Safe Cooking Temperatures for Chicken
Never serve chicken that you haven’t cooked to a minimum of 165℉.
Don’t “eyeball” the chicken, press on it to see if it feels firm, or cut it open to look for blood. There’s only one accurate way to check the internal temperature of chicken.
Insert one into the meatiest part of the chicken and take its temperature. If it comes out from 140 to 164 degrees, you have rare chicken. And, rare chicken is not safe. While most of the bacteria will be killed off at 140 degrees, you cannot ensure safety until 165. End of story.
Rare chicken is not safe. Make sure your cooking temp is 165 or over to kill off all bacteria.
The Sections of the Chicken Wing
When you purchase your chicken wings, you can purchase them whole, or in pre-cut packs labelled “drumettes” or “flats.”
The drumette takes its name from the fact that it looks like a drumstick. Anatomically, it’s the part that’s connected the chicken to the breast. It’s meatier than the flats, so many people prefer this portion.
The “flat” is the section that has two bones. It’s flat-shaped and has less meat; however, the little bite meat from between the two bones is moist and succulent.
I like to have my cake (or chicken wings) and eat it too. I purchase the whole wing portions, then I tuck the wing tip under the drumette to form a triangle shape. They look really pretty and impressive on a platter this way.
Unfortunately, I did not take photos of how I do this. I did not want to handle my camera while I was touching the chicken. Sorry, Y’all!
Here’s how you can get air fryer chicken wings on the table in about 30 minutes.
Air Fryer Chicken Wings
- 6 whole chicken wings
- Olive oil in a pump spray bottle
- Black pepper
- Garlic powder
- Prepare your chicken wings. Wash them, pat them dry. Tuck the wing tips under the drumette and place in the air fryer basket. Do not add seasoning at this point as it will burn.
- Spray each wing with one pump of olive oil spray
- Set your air fryer for 15 minutes at 400 degrees.
- After 7 minutes, pull out your air fryer basket and use tongs to flip over the wings.
- Once the 15 minute cooking time elapses, use a meat thermometer and ensure the chicken. If they are cooked through to 165, remove them using tongs. If they are not cooked thoroughly, cook for an additional 5 minutes until they reach that correct temperature.
- Let rest for two or three minutes, sprinkle with fresh cracked black pepper and garlic powder, then toss the wings in your favorite sauce or rub.
- This recipe serves two people, depending on how "big an eater" you are, you can make fewer or more wings following this same recipe.
- If you need to make additional wings, don't overload the air fryer basket. Keep the wings in a single layer to ensure even heating.
- Every air cooker will vary in terms of cooking times. Always check your food with a thermometer.
Chicken Wing Sauces
There are as many chicken wing sauces as you can imagine. Once you perfect cooking wings, you can pick and choose your favorites.
In our home, I eat the barbecue wings I mentioned and keep Buffalo-style wing sauce on hand for my husband.
As with all air fryer recipes, there’s a little preparation that comes before cooking.
I prep my wing sauces while my air fryer wings are cooking. Although they normally come from a bottle in the fridge, I like to take them out and heat them up.
After all, you don’t want to toss your hot, crispy wings fresh from the air cooker into cold sauce!
Here are some amazing chicken wing sauces that make incredible chicken wing flavors:
- Korean Barbecue Chicken Wings
- Dry Rib Rub Wings
- Dry Ranch Wings
- Garlic Butter and Parmesan Wings
- Bleu Cheese Chicken Wings
- Ranch Dressing Wings
- Honey Barbecue Wings
- Spicy Jerk Chicken Wings
- Cajun Seasoning Wings
- Honey Glazed Wings
- Cilantro Lime Butter Wings
- Sriracha Glazed Chicken Wings
- Orange Juice and Chipotle Wings
- General Tso Sauce Wings
If you notice, not all of those are wet, sloppy wings. Some are finished with dry seasoning packets for those who prefer a less messy dining experience.
You will not cook the air fryer wings in these spices and sauces. Rather, you will finish them with the sauces after you’ve air cooked the wings.
If you try to cook your Air Fryer Chicken Wings in garlic parmesan seasoning, for example, those flavors will burn and become bitter tasting. It will be almost inedible.
Hand-cut Air Fryer Potato Chips Seasoned with Black Peppercorn and Garlic
I paired these delicious wings with delicious hand-cut air fryer potato chips. Every home cook should have several air fryer recipes for potatoes on hand.
Everyone knows that air fryer potatoes are delish. But, cut them into nice thin chips with a mandoline, and you can handcraft chips that rival any restaurant.
Because I enjoy a low-sodium diet, I nix the salt and season with black pepper and salt-free garlic seasoning blend. My entire family has become accustomed to the salt-free lifestyle, and we no longer miss the salt.
Play with the spices you love and make this recipe a signature dish in your household.
Hand-cut Potato Chips with Black Pepper Seasoning
- 3 potatoes
- Black pepper
- Sodium free garlic seasoning blend
- Olive oil in a pump dispenser
- Scrub the potatoes and pat them dry. Carefully cut them on a mandoline slicer. Pat the potatoes slices dry.
- Place the potatoes in the air fryer in a single layer. Spray 3 pumps of olive oil spray onto the potatoes.
- Set your air fryer for 12 minutes at 400 degrees. Halfway through, pull the air fryer basket out, and give the chips a toss to flip them. Continue to air fry.
- After 12 minutes, remove the chips and season them with freshly cracked black pepper and the salt-free garlic seasoning.
- Place them on a cookie sheet lined with paper towels. Place them in a 200 degree oven to hold warm as you cook the next batch. This recipe required two batches in my size of air fryer.
Air fryer chicken wings paired with potato chips are a guilt-free way to enjoy game day. Have fun to explore different seasonings, sauces, and glazes for the wings to play up your favorite flavors.
Want more air fryer recipes? Check out the scrumptious Airfryer Eggplant Parmesan Fries right here on Recipes and Me.