How to Make the Crispiest Air Fryer Chicken Wings
Discover firsthand how the air fryer can produce perfect chicken wings. We’ve got tips for seasoning, saucing, reheating, and more. Plus 10 delicious recipes to get you started.
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Classic chicken wings can be a bit of a labor of love. While the list of ingredients is short, the method can be tedious. Deep frying is a commitment. My favorite oven-baked recipe requires me to start prepping the day before I want to eat. But I have no problem committing to a kitchen project if it means chowing down on something absolutely delicious. If it means a platter full of crispy-skinned wings, full bellies, and happy, sauce-smeared faces, I’m in. A bubbling pot of oil isn’t going to stop me!
That said, I'm guilty of getting caught up in romanticizing the idea of dinner. I love a theme, a multi-course menu, a laundry list of ingredients, and a full roster of different techniques. It’s taken me a long time to realize it, but I don’t always have the capacity to labor over my love of food. And that’s just fine. Every meal does not need to be an event, and every dinner prep does not need to be a production.
I am grateful to my air fryer for enabling me to step back and embrace a bit of ease, while still producing a delicious dinner. I am happy to report that air frying chicken wings is an easy alternative to other cooking methods. It’s much less messy than deep frying. The skin crisps up more quickly than the time it would take in the oven. And the ingredient list is still short, made up of stuff I typically keep on hand.
Wings traditionally have been party food at our house. They’re such a fun appetizer for game day or pizza night. Pro tip: if you want to be the “fun house” for your teenaged son and his friends, make them wings. Just keep in mind the countertop appliance does not typically have the large capacity a full-sized oven does, so serving a crowd with an air fryer could require making multiple batches. In general though, I consider the smaller capacity to be a positive: It’ makes it a whole lot simpler to air-fry up a handful of wings for myself. Sure, sharing food with others is one of my very favorite things, but sometimes it’s even better when I don’t have to share at all.
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Tips and tricks for the best air fryer chicken wings
Read up on these wise words before you get started air frying chicken wings
What’s the best air fryer to use for chicken wings?
Any air fryer will work for chicken wings. All air fryers have a fan inside the unit that circulates the hot air. This creates that delectable crispy skin wings are known for. The only thing to consider is the smaller size of many air fryers. If using a more compactly sized air fryer, it may be tricky cooking more than 1.5 pounds of wings at a time.
How do I get the crispiest chicken wings in the air fryer?
The best wings out of the air fryer means working against the enemy of crispy skin: moisture. A few tips and tricks:
Preheat the air fryer. Turn on the air fryer and preheat to 400°F per the manufacturer’s instructions. The sooner the hot air starts circulating around the chicken, the better.
Dry the wings. Wet wings will take longer to cook and get crispy. Pat the chicken wings dry with paper towels before seasoning them. It may be an extra step, but it will end up saving on cook time and produces better results. With the excess water removed before hitting the heat, the fat in the skin will immediately start cooking and crisping.
Toss with baking powder. Baking powder allows for better browning by lowering the pH of the chicken skin. Add it when seasoning with salt before cooking. Sprinkle it over the wings and toss to coat.
Spray with high-heat oil. Misting a high-heat non-stick cooking spray (such as avocado oil) over the seasoned chicken further aids browning. It also helps keep the chicken skin from sticking to the fryer. Crispy skin is better when it stays on the wing and doesn't get stuck to the fryer basket.
Don’t crowd things. It’s important to keep the chicken from touching. Overcrowd the air fryer basket, and there won’t be enough space for the hot air to evenly move around the wings. If the model of air fryer allows multiple layers to be stacked, that should be fine. But try and keep the wings in each layer from touching each other.
Cook in batches. Some air fryers are too small to cook wings without them touching. In this case, divide them into batches. Keep the first batch warm in a 200°F oven while the second batch cooks.
Have everyone ready to eat. Think about the difference between a fresh platter of wings at a restaurant versus a styrofoam box of wings that’s been sitting and steaming in a delivery driver’s car for 30 minutes. Call everyone to the table the last few minutes of cooking. Sauce the cooked and crispy chicken wings only once everyone is ready to eat.
How do I season chicken wings for the air fryer?
Chicken wings play well with a number of different seasonings. Salt is a must, but that’s the only real parameter. Go wild!
Dry rub. Rub a mix of dry spices and herbs on chicken wings before cooking in the air fryer. Reach for everything from garam masala to a Cajun mix. Or keep it simple and go big with the sauce!
Sauce it up. A combo of Buffalo sauce and butter is classic, but the sky’s the limit. Honey mustard, bbq sauce, sweet-and-spicy Korean style, and garlic butter with Parmesan are just the beginning.
Can I make air fryer chicken wings from frozen?
Yes, chicken wings can definitely be cooked in the air fryer straight from the freezer. It will take longer than cooking fresh or thawed chicken, and the skin will be a bit less crispy. But despite the extra time, air frying frozen chicken wings is much faster than waiting for the chicken to thaw.
Frozen chicken wings; photograph by Meleyna Nomura
How to air fry frozen chicken wings
Add the frozen wings to the air fryer. (It’s ok if they’re frozen into a solid block.) Cook until no longer frozen, about ten minutes.
If the wings are in a solid block, pull them apart. Cook an additional few minutes to thaw as needed.
Once the wings are thawed, remove them from the air fryer. Pat them dry, and season as desired. Pour out any liquid that accumulated at the bottom of the air fryer.
Arrange the seasoned chicken wings in a single layer and return to the air fryer. Cook until the skin is crisp and the meat cooked through.
Frozen chicken wings in air fryer basket; photograph by Meleyna Nomura
How to make air fryer chicken wings
Follow these 7 easy steps to perfectly crispy air fryer chicken wings
Step 1: Preheat the air fryer
Turn the air fryer on to 400°F to preheat while prepping the chicken.
Step 2: Pat dry
Pat the chicken wings dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture.
Step 3: Season the wings
Season the dried chicken with salt, plus baking powder if desired (1/4 teaspoon salt plus 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder for every pound of chicken wings). Add additional dried herbs and spices. Spray the seasoned wings with a high-heat non-stick cooking spray, like avocado oil.
Raw chicken wings seasoned with spices and placed in air fryer basket; photograph by Meleyna Nomura
Step 4: Cook the chicken
Arrange the seasoned chicken in the air fryer tray so they do not touch. Air fry for about 20 minutes, pausing to flip the chicken halfway through. The skin should be crisp and the chicken cooked through to 165°F.
Air fryer chicken wings done cooking; photograph by Meleyna Nomura
Step 5: Repeat if necessary
If the chicken did not fit in one batch, place the cooked wings on a baking sheet lined with a wire rack and keep it warm in a preheated 200°F oven. Repeat, cooking the remaining wings.
Step 6: Make the sauce
While the chicken cooks, stir together any sauces or dips.
Step 7: Serve and enjoy!
Add the sauce to a large bowl. Add the cooked wings and toss until they’re well coated. Plate up and eat immediately with your dipping sauce of choice.
Air fryer chicken wing recipes
Here's a fun variety of chicken wing recipes to try out in your air fryer
A classic updated for busy, modern kitchens. A Yummly original recipe, these wings are absolute fire. Don’t forget the blue cheese dressing!
Simple and delicious, this classic flavor duo sings on chicken wings. Honey mustard on the side complements the sweet and tangy flavors of the citrus and black pepper.
A combo of soy sauce, honey, ginger, and garlic gives a deeply savory and sweet flavor to these wings.
There are few flavor combos better than garlic butter and Parmesan cheese. Skip the pasta and pour it over air fryer wings instead! With fresh garlic and garlic powder, these wings are potently delicious.
A 50/50 mixture of flour and cornstarch coats these wings. The result is a crispy and juicy wing that is akin to mini fried chicken drumsticks.
Cooked from frozen, these chicken wings feature a spicy brown sugar glaze. Best of all, they go from freezer to plate in a total time of just 30 minutes.
Skip the ranch dip and add the seasoning directly to the chicken. (Heck, just double it up and dip the ranch-seasoned wings in ranch dressing.)
Everything bagel seasoning truly does go with everything, and chicken wings are no exception. The crunchy, savory seasoning mix coats the wings for flavor and crunch.
Old Bay isn’t just for seafood. When paired with honey and hot sauce, it makes for deliciously flavored air fryer chicken wings.
Maple syrup plus lots of herbs and spices makes for a deliciously sweet and simple flavor.
More related recipes
Check out these additional ideas for your air fryer, plus chicken wings cooked up in a variety of ways (even if you don't have an air fryer!).