The only recipe you need for air-fried wings, just in time for the Super Bowl
I freaking love chicken wings. If you know me at all, you know that about me. They are the perfect bar food, and bar food is my favorite food.
Naturally, with Super Bowl Sunday approaching, I needed to make wings for AirFryDay. It was simply essential.
Enter this viral recipe on TikTok from @ProHomeCooks that has racked up 7.5 million views. So many people like it that it had to be the recipe I tested. The TL;DR: It’s a great recipe and I cannot imagine making better wings in the air fryer. With just one or two extra steps and a little bit of time, you can make fantastic wings.
Here’s what you need to know.
1 pound chicken wings, trimmed
1 tablespoon flour
A wing sauce of your choosing
Cayenne or seasoning mix of your choosing (optional)
Nonstick spray or oil
Dipping sauce of your choosing
Using a paper towel, dry the chicken wings.
In a large bowl, evenly coat the wings with flour, seasoning mix, and a heavy pinch of salt.
Spray the inside of the air fryer with nonstick spray or oil.
Air fry the wings at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes.
Remove the air fryer basket and let the wings rest for about 15 minutes.
Air fry the wings at 400 degrees for 8 minutes.
Drop the wings in a bowl and toss thoroughly with the wing sauce of your choosing.
First, we need to define what makes a good wing. There a few characteristics it has to have: crispy skin, tender meat, good spice. This recipe delivers on all three, assuming you choose a good sauce.
The start of this recipe was the part I questioned the most. You see, I hold strong opinions on hot wings, and I believe a good wing should not be breaded. The aim is achieve crispy skin, not to make fried chicken. Fried chicken is fantastic but it is not a Buffalo wing. So when I saw this recipe called for flour, I was skeptical. But one tablespoon per pound of wings ended up being perfect. It’s a little cheat to make the skin crispier while not making a thick breading. In fact, on the final product, the flour wasn’t noticeable at all.
This recipe from @ProHomeCooks, in general, is geared toward crispy chicken. That’s why it calls for drying excess moisture. That’s why you add a tiny bit of flour. It’s why it uses low-and-slow cooking before high heat. It’s a smart choice because the air fryer does a decent job of creating high, even heat, but it’s still not really a match for deep frying. But with these sorts of hacks, you’re going to get pretty dang close to the real deal.
A note on seasoning: I recommend adding some heat to the chicken. I chose to season simply with kosher salt, the flour, and a hefty dose of cayenne pepper. There is a risk of doing too much with your seasoning. You want the first bite of a wing to be crispy skin and not a thick coating of seasoning. Just salt and flour isn’t adding much to the chicken by itself. I think the cayenne did a nice job of increasing heat while not affecting the flavor or texture of the chicken, but if you want something less spicy, then smoked paprika or a touch of garlic powder would be great alternatives.
Here is my chicken after it was dried, seasoned, and loaded into the air fryer basket.
That’s salt, flour, and cayenne pepper on the left side.
The next step was to air fry at 250 degrees for 20 minutes. To be clear, you could cook wings much faster and at a higher temperature. But the idea with this low temp business is to render out some of the fat. The low temperature cook should render the fat out of the skin evenly, which ultimately results in crispy, brown skin and not a charred, fatty exterior. When you remove the basket of wings after 20 minutes, you should see rendered fat beneath the grate. That means you’re on the right path. The skin won’t be crispy yet, though, but don’t worry about that. Here’s how mine looked at that point.
Half-cooked wings aren’t exactly appetizing.
Notice how the skin is white and kind of flaccid in spots. Again, that’s fine. So here comes the hard part: You’ve got to wait. The recipe from @ProHomeCooks calls for a rest period of about 15 minutes. As sciencey-chef Alton Brown explains in his Buffalo wing recipe — he steams his, then crisps in the oven — the low-temp cook plus rest period is all for crisping skin. The rest period allows the exterior skin that hasn’t rendered off to tighten, which will result in crispy skin when you blast it with high heat.
So after that wait period comes the easy part. Preheat your air fryer to 400 degrees and get that crispy, crunchy skin. Just 8 minutes and you’re set. From there, you dump them in a bowl and toss with a wing sauce of your choosing. Now the classic Buffalo sauce is impossibly simple: butter melted with Frank’s hot sauce. In general, I like a classic-style Buffalo sauce. I think other sauces are fine, but I want wings and not a chicken dish. To me, if you’re tossing your wings in BBQ sauce or whatever, it’s a fine chicken dish but it’s not the wing I crave.
The only problem with the classic wing sauce is that it’s not very spicy. I adore spicy food and I need something with kick. Which brings me to my absolute favorite wing sauce: Buffalo Wild Wings Wild sauce. It tastes like a classic Buffalo sauce but it’s, you know, actually hot. It’s their second hottest sauce on their menu, after the Blazin’, which is quite hot but not very tasty. The Wild sauce tastes great but will definitely give you some burn.
Anyway, here are wings doused in a hefty pour of Wild sauce. You’ll want to drench these suckers right after they exit the air fryer. The sauce will cling better while hot and, again, don’t be shy, it’s the big game, so dump the hot stuff on.
And here they are up close and personal, plated up all nice and pretty.
Damn, I’m hungry now.
The verdict? Delicious. Really freaking delicious. The skin was crispy with no hint of a flour coating. In fact, it was so crispy that I could hardly tell the difference from wings I’d actually deep fried. They were definitely better than nearly every wing I’d ever gotten from a sports bar rushing out mediocre plates.
The meat, meanwhile, was juicy and slipped right off the bone. The sauce was fantastic because, did I mention, Wild sauce is amazing. I crushed like ten wings for lunch without even noticing it.
So if you’re making wings for the Super Bowl, I cant recommend this recipe enough. Sure it takes a bit more effort than just oven-roasting wings, but it’s definitely still less effort than deep frying. And the results will give you everything you could possible want in a good hot wing. And a good hot wing is impossible to beat.