From the store to the stove to your sauce-covered fingertips, here's our ultimate guide to making the best possible chicken wings. We'll coach you on how many wings to make to feed your crowd, how to cut up chicken wings, and give you tips for different ways to cook chicken wings. You're going to need more napkins.
How Many Chicken Wings to Buy
That depends on what else is on the menu and what kinds of eaters you’ve got. If you’re chowing down on chicken wings and nothing else, you’ll need about 4 pounds for every 10 people. If other meaty eats are served, you can cut it down to 2 pounds. Don’t sweat the math; this genius wing calculator figures it all out for you.
When to Buy
Your best move is to stock up a few days 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.
What to Buy
The question is whether to buy whole wings or pre-cut. The answer is to compare prices where you shop. 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?
How to Cut Up Chicken Wings
A whole chicken wing can be cut into three pieces: the drumette, the flat, and the tip. If you’ve never cut up a wing or need a refresher, this shows you how it’s done. Just cut it where it bends.
Got it down? Time to reward yourself with a chicken dance, then we'll move on to the cooking.
The Best Way to Make Chicken Wings
For the ultimate wing experience, some say you should take no shortcuts. Check out this baking and deep-frying method. It's the classic restaurant technique that ensures crispy skin and tender, juicy chicken.
Does a baking and frying seem like just a little too much? Don’t worry: where there’s a wing, there’s a way.
How to Make Wings in the Oven
If you're not going the deep-fried route, Chef John shows how one extra ingredient (baking powder!) gets you the crispiest possible oven-only wings.
How to Make Wings in a Slow Cooker
It’s easy and hands off, and it’s all cooked in one pot, so it’s easy from start to finish. Got a bigger party planned? Start lining up extra slow cookers for Awesome Slow Cooker Buffalo Wings.
How to Make Wings on the Grill
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.
How to Make Wings in Your Instant Pot
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.
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 Alternatives
- Teriyaki Wing Sauce cooks up sweet and sticky.
- Detroit Hot Honey Wings mixes up the sweet heat.
- Ritz Spicy Asian Chicken Wings turn out salty and spicy from Asian-style spices.
- Sweet Hot Mustard Chicken Wings provide an out-of-left-field taste for everyone at the game.
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.
Get ALL the chicken wing recipes.
Dig into our top 10 Super Bowl recipes.
Guide by Noel Christmas, Vanessa Greaves, and Carl Hanson.