With the right tools and instructions, you can make almost anything in an air fryer. Want a quick hard-boiled egg? Transfer to air fryer. Some delicious bacon in minutes? Yes, try the air fryer. Would you like to eat a plate of crispy chicken wings without having to add a ton of oil or bread? You guessed it – an air fryer is the perfect solution for you. Making chicken wings in the air fryer allows you to enjoy this satisfying protein without all the calories and other added fat that come from fried ones, while keeping all the flavor and juiciness intact.
If you have an air fryer, you can enjoy almost any cut of poultry. Besides chicken wings, you can cook chicken breasts, nuggets, thighs, or chops, but many chefs say it’s best not to cook the whole chicken at once if you’re using this kitchen appliance. If you want crispy chicken wings with a side of ranch and veggies tonight for dinner or for your next game day party, there are some simple steps you can take to make sure your loved ones come back for seconds.
We talked to Chef Chris Nerschel From New York Catering Service, a classically trained chef who has appeared on “Chopped” and “Food Network Star”, on the best and easiest way to make air fryer chicken wings. Read on, and for more helpful cooking tips, be sure to check out 35 Easy Chicken Recipes You Can Make in 15 Minutes or Less.
Buy the right chicken wings
A chicken wing can be divided into three parts: the drum, the wing (also known as the flat), and the wing tip. When you bring home some wings to cook, you can either buy them whole, with all three parts intact, or pre-cut, meaning the parts will already be separated.
If you’re looking for the best flavor, Nershil suggests buying them whole. “Try to use whole, uncut wings rather than pre-cut, as they tend to be fresher, allowing for a tastier result.”
However, sometimes this is not the option available to you. In fact, you can also use frozen wings if that’s what you have. “While many swear by fresh wings, a surprising twist can be had with frozen wings,” says Nershel. “Just make sure it’s completely thawed before adding any marinade or seasoning.”
Preparing the wings
According to Chef Nershil, the first thing you want to do with your chicken wings before anything else is wash and dry them. “Rinse the chicken wings under cold water and then pat them dry with a paper towel,” says Nershel. “This removes excess moisture, which helps with the air fryer’s crispy texture.”
Another thing to keep in mind when preparing your wings is that you may want to trim off any excess fat, and “separate the wings into barrels and flats if they’re not pre-cut,” Nerschel adds.
Finally, you’ll want to coat the wings with oil and seasoning, but not too heavy. “Lightly coat the wings with a thin layer of olive oil or use cooking spray, which helps the seasonings adhere and promotes crunch,” says Nershel. “You can season with your choice of any seasoning, and be generous, but not overly so.”
Although it may be tempting to drench your wings in delicious sauces, Nershil advises against doing so. “Avoid using overly complex sauces when cooking, and reserve complex flavors for dipping sauces.” “You can stick to simple seasonings like sea salt, white pepper, and a touch of cayenne pepper for an elegant and sophisticated taste,” he adds.
Cook chicken wings in the air fryer
Now that your chicken is prepared and you’re on your way to crispy chicken wings, it’s time to let them cook. “To achieve that perfect balance of crunch and juiciness, start by preheating your air fryer to 380 degrees,” says Nershel. Technically, you don’t have to preheat the air fryer before using it, but many people recommend doing so in order to achieve the most accurate cooking time.
Once heated, Nershel recommends placing the wings in the basket and cooking them for 12 minutes. Then, once it’s cooked for 12 minutes, “raise the temperature to 400 degrees and cook for an additional 8 minutes,” he adds. “This two-step approach gives the wings more crunch while locking in moisture.”
An extra step you can take is to “rotate the wings at the halfway point for even cooking, ensuring each wing is perfectly golden and crispy,” Nerschel says.