Bypass the sports bar, you have everything you need to cook mouthwatering chicken wings right in your own kitchen. 

By Tiffany Stevens
January 28, 2020

Whether you’re a fan of drums, flats, or boneless, there’s nothing like chicken wings. Even if you’re vegetarian, there’s something comforting about meatless versions of the spicy, saucy, salty snack food, especially when paired with a cold beer and the chance to relax in front of your favorite game. Of course, you can always buy pre-made wings, either from a local restaurant or at the grocery store. But if you haven’t made your own wings at home before, it may be worth skipping the frozen aisle at least once and making your own delicious, dippable appetizer. 

If you already have a preferred sauce or spice rub, then think of this guide as a chance to offer another flavor alongside the family favorite. And if you’re not sure how to get the best crisp out of your chicken skin, or what to serve to your vegan friends on game day, this tutorial can serve as a starting point for further experimentation. Chicken wings are basically a culinary blank canvas, so use this chance to find the flavor, cooking method, and wing-type that best speaks to your appetizer aesthetic.

Photo: Antonis Achilles, Food Styling: Mary Claire Britton and Sarah Epperson; Prop Styling: Prissy Lee

Step One: Choose Your Wing Style

Get the Recipes: Buffalo Turkey Wings With Blue Cheese Dip, Boneless Stuffed Buffalo Wings

At this stage, you’ll want to decide what kind of wings you want to serve. Do you like flats? Drumsticks? Boneless? Would you rather serve cauliflower that’s been baked or fried like wings, or seitan bites? Maybe you want to use turkey wings instead of chicken? Most styles of wings can be adapted to fit with the recipes included in this guide, so feel free to customize your wings to fit the palates at your table. 

Photo: Daniel Agee; Food Styling: Blakesee Giles; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

Step Two: Decide Whether You Want Your Wings Dry or Wet

Get the Recipes: Red Pepper Miso Wings, Salt and Pepper Chicken Wings, Honey-Sriracha Wings, Sweet Orange-Chili Wings

Wings come in two basic styles. There’s dry wings, which means the meat has been rubbed down with spices and herbs before being cooked, resulting in a crisper exterior. There’s also wet wings, which are coated or tossed in a sauce either before or after cooking. If you want to serve both wet and dry wings, consider cooking your wings uncoated and then glazing half after the wings are done. If desired, put the coated wings back in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes to make sure the sauce clings to the wings. You can also serve the glaze as an optional dipping sauce. Make sure to rub complementary spices on the dry and wet wings, so that your guests can get a mouthful of flavor in every bite. In some cases, it may be best to rub down the meat, place in a casserole dish or tupperware container, and then allow to rest in the fridge overnight. That way, the spice rub will have even more time to work its magic on the chicken. 

Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Mindi Shapiro Levine; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Step Three: Choose Your Dipping Sauce + Garnishes

Get the Recipes: How to Make Ranch Sauce, The Unexpected Secret Ingredient in Our New Favorite Wing Sauce, How to Make Spicy Buffalo Sauce

Once you’ve decided whether you want wet or dry wings, it’s time to pick out your dipping sauces and prepare any accouterments or garnishes you might want to include to round out the wing experience. Of course, you can always simply provide a few classic stalks of celery, but feel free to include other bite-sized snacks like baby carrots, fries, broccoli or tater tots. If you haven’t before, it can also be fun to experiment with making your own ranch or Buffalo sauce at home. But if you just want to pick up your favorite dip (like blue cheese) at the store, we won’t judge. 

Step Four: Cook Your Wings

Photo: Caitlin Bensel; Prop Styling: Christina Daley; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall  

How to Cook Wings In the Oven

Get the Recipes: Crispy Oven-Roasted Buffalo Wings, Garlic Parmesan Wings

You might think you can’t get crispy wings in the oven, but you’d be wrong. The trick is to cook the wings at a high temperature, and to coat them with baking powder after patting them dry and seasoning them. A wire rack placed within a lined baking sheet is also a handy combination for those who prefer-oven baked wings. This allows the hot air to circulate fully around your wings. At 425°F, the wings will be ready in 40 to 45 minutes. 

Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez

How to Cook Wings In the Broiler

Get the Recipes: Honey-Chile Chicken Wings, Sticky Asian Chicken Wings

If you’re not willing to wait more than a half hour for wings, then try using your oven’s broiler instead. By coating the chicken with oil and sticking your pan under the broiler, you can cook wings in less than 20 minutes, including the time taken to flip the drums and flats so that they can crisp on each side. If you prefer really crispy wings, take a look at the Honey-Chile Chicken Wings listed about, which calls for the meat to be broiled for between 45 and 50 minutes for a truly crunch-tastic finish.

Meredith Food Studios

How to Cook Wings In an Instant Pot

Get the Recipes: Instant Pot Chicken Wings

This recipe also speeds the process of cooking wings by starting with the Instant Pot and then using the oven broiler to finish the job. Arrange your wings on the rack insert in the Instant Pot after pouring at least a cup of water in the bottom of the pan. Preheat your oven’s broiler, and then pressure cook the wings on high in the Instant Pot for three minutes. After safely releasing the steam, transfer the wings to a greased baking sheet and broil for six minutes, turning once. The Instant Pot and broiler combined will create the perfect chicken wing.

Photo: Jennifer Causey; Styling: Claire Spollen

How to Cook Wings On the Grill

Get the Recipes: Crispy Grilled Buffalo Wings, Jamaican Jerk Chicken Wings with Cilantro-Lime Ranch, Grilled Chicken Wings with Tamarind Chipotle Barbecue Sauce

Grilling is a delicious way to impart some backyard flavors into your wings. To make grilled wings, heat the grill to between 300°F to 500°F. Some recipes call for cooks to start at a lower temperature before turning up the heat, but 400°F serves as a good medium temperature if you don’t want to fidget with the dial while you’re cooking. Cook the wings for 25 to 30 minutes, flipping occasionally, or until cooked through. If you’d like, feel free to coat your wings with sauce before placing on the grill, so that the coating can really sink into the meat.

Photo: Aaron Kirk; Prop Styling: Christina Daley; Food Styling: Julia Levy

How to Deep-Fry Wings

Get the Recipes: Angela’s Spicy Buffalo Wings, Twice-Fried Chicken Wings, Hot-and-Sticky Lemon-Pepper Chicken Wings

Deep-frying may seem intimidating, but it’s pretty simple if you take a few precautions. To start, make sure your wings are patted dry first (you don’t want the excess water to make the hot oil pop out of the pan). Then, in a deep pan or pot, add at least two inches of vegetable oil and heat to 350°F. (An instant read thermometer really comes in handy here.) Once you get your oil heated, add your chicken to the oil and turn occasionally, until the wings are golden-brown. Feel free to coat your wings in flour first, or to fry them twice, if you really love a crisp exterior. 

Gina DeSimone

How to Cook Wings In an Air Fryer

Get the Recipes: Air-Fried Chicken Wings

Rather avoid all that oil in deep frying? Use an air fryer to do the job. Heat the air fryer to 400°F, and then put up to 10 flats or drums into your air fryer’s basket. After cooking for at least 25 minutes, your air fried wings will be ready to serve. Feel free to leave this in a little longer than the recommended cooking time; the longer they cook, the crispier the skin will be. 

Jennifer Causey

How to Cook Wings In a Smoker

Get the Recipes: Dry-Rubbed Smoked Chicken Wings

If you happen to be lucky enough to have a smoker, then you should definitely use it to make some wings. Coat your wings in whichever rub you like best, heat your smoker to an internal temperature of 215°F and then set your chicken over low heat. After an hour or two, your smoked wings will be ready to serve. 

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