This recipe for air fryer chicken wings is such a quick and easy way to enjoy CRISP and juicy wings, all without deep frying. This post contains a variety of flavor options for you to make them your own.
After getting an Instant Pot I thought I was all set as far as smaller kitchen appliances go. But when our old two-slot toaster bit the dust, I saw an opportunity to replace it...and then some.
I bought a countertop toaster oven/air fryer combination and soon fell in love with air frying, well, everything. It cracks the code to making crispy, faux-fried foods with very little to no oil whatsoever. Plus it's a fairly speedy way to cook!
So those aren't exactly two recipes you might think of first to take a spin in the air fryer, but that changes today with these traditionally fried but now made in the air fryer chicken wings. Crisp on the outside yet super juicy on the inside, these wings are versatile with both seasoning and coating for a Game Day ready spread. All done in eighteen minutes of cook time!
Preparing the chicken wings
It all starts with the chicken, which for this recipe comes in the form of 1 ½ pounds of chicken wings (with wiggle room). We want to air fry these chicken wings in a single layer to promote even browning and crisping, so that limits the amount that can be cooked at one time.
My Cuisinart toaster oven/air fryer (affiliate link) basket has a 9 ½" x 11" surface area, which can hold the full amount at once, which ends up being around 12 wing sections. Depending upon your air fryer model and basket size you may be able to cook more at once, or have to break up the amount into separate batches.
There are usually two options available when buying wings: already-cut or whole. Party wings are chicken wings that have already been cut into drumettes and wingettes. While more convenient they are usually a bit more expensive. Even so I'll usually go for these if available but lately I've only had luck finding whole wings.
Either way - not a problem! To break down whole wings, cut through the main joint to separate out the drumette and wingette. You'll have to make one more slice, which will be to remove the tip (or the 'flapper') from the end of the drumette section. The tip has very little meat on it so it can either be discarded or reserved to make chicken stock.
If you buy or have frozen wings, be sure they are thawed completely before beginning this recipe.
Now that we have the chicken situated, let's talk about the rest of the ingredients. You technically don't need much else besides salt and pepper and cooking spray for your air fryer basket, but additional seasonings and an optional coating can flavor these wings right to your liking.
(Optional) beer batter
One way to take these chicken wings up a notch is to coat them in a beer batter before air frying. While totally optional (there are non-coated instructions in the recipe card below), it's a simple way to add a fun and tasty element to wings.
A beer batter is incredibly easy to make. For one 1-½ pound batch of wings, you'll need one-half cup of all-purpose flour and one-half cup (4 fluid ounces) of beer. Whisked together they form a thick beer batter coating that really clings to each wing and crisps up in the air fryer.
Look for a beer that's on the lighter side, such as a pale lager or pilsner. Those provide carbonation (which helps produce a crisp coating!) and just a touch of flavor. While I love darker beers and IPAs for drinking purposes, their heavier flavors might not mesh well with your seasonings and sauces.
My choice is usually a Yuengling lager. Then you can enjoy one of my favorite college food and drink pairing: Yuengs and wings. 🙂
I use the same seasonings, in the same quantities, no matter if I'm adding a beer batter coating or not. They're just incorporated into the recipe at different times which we'll get into in the next section. For one batch of air fryer wings, you'll need:
- Kosher salt
- Ground black pepper
- Garlic powder
- Ground mustard
This combo provides a nice, all-purpose seasoning blend that won't get in the way of any hot sauces or dipping sauces you like to serve with wings.
The good news is that you can take this as a heavy suggestion. There are plenty of different ways you can season your wings, from pre-made spice blends (mango habanero and lemon pepper are delish!) to a little of this and a little of that from your spice rack. It's hard to go wrong.
How to make this recipe
The first step is to prep your chicken wings by separating them into drumettes and wingettes (if not already purchased cut). Then spray your air fryer basket generously with cooking spray so these wings don't stick as they cook.
If you're using a beer batter, whisk the flour and beer together in a medium mixing bowl, then whisk in the seasonings. Dip each wing section into the batter, submerging it so that all of the surface area is covered. Tongs makes this process a lot less messy! Be sure to lift up each wing and let the excess batter drip back into the bowl. Place each wing onto the basket, arranging them in a single layer with a tiny bit of space between each other.
If making the wings straight-up, pat each wing section dry with a paper towel and then sprinkle all sides with the seasoning blend. Arrange the seasoned wings on the basket in a single layer with a little bit of space between each other. You can give them a spritz of olive oil spray at this time if you like, but I usually forget to do this and they still come out great! I haven't found it necessary.
No matter which way you prep these air fryer chicken wings, you'll cook them on 375°F (I never pre-heat) for 9 minutes, then carefully remove the basket and flip each wing over to allow for the most even browning. Air fry again for another 9 minutes, or until the center of the thickest part of meat reaches 165°F.
At this point the wings will be well-browned and crisp but super juicy inside.
There are lots of different ways to enjoy these wings, the easiest of which is plain. The wings in the top half of the photo above are beer-battered but not tossed in any sauce once cooked. The other half of the bowl are tossed in traditional buffalo wing sauce cut with a small amount of honey.
Since the dry seasonings here are fairly basic, you can use pretty much any sauce or glaze flavor you like.
- This recipe can be scaled up to make a larger quantity of wings, though unless you have a very large air fryer will likely have to cook them in multiple batches.
Air Fryer Chicken Wings
- 1 ½ lbs (681g) chicken wings (about 12 pieces) skin-on
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground mustard
Beer Batter (optional):
- ½ cup (119 ml) beer such as a lager
- ½ cup (63g) all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup (80 ml) Wing sauce optional
- If your chicken wings aren't already cut into sections, place each whole wing on a cutting board and cut through the main joint, separating it into a drumette segment and a wingette segment. Remove the tip (attached to the wingette) and discard. Repeat for all wings.
- Spray air fryer basket generously with cooking spray.
If you're using a beer batter:
- Add beer and flour to a medium mixing bowl and whisk to combine. The mixture will froth up and take on a thick consistency. Add the kosher salt, ground pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and ground mustard and whisk in evenly.
- Using tongs, dip each wing section into the seasoned beer batter to coat, holding each coated wing above the bowl for a few seconds after so the excess batter drips back in.
- Place wings on the sprayed air fryer basket in a single layer, leaving a little bit of space between each one just so they're not touching. Repeat until the basket is full. Depending on the size of your basket you may need to cook in multiple batches.
If you're not using a beer batter:
- In a small bowl, stir together kosher salt, ground pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and ground mustard.
- Pat each wing section dry with a paper towel then season all sides of the wings with the spice blend. Arrange wings in a single layer on the sprayed air fryer basket, leaving a little bit of space between each wing just so they're not touching. Depending on the size of your basket you may need to cook in multiple batches.
- Set air fryer to 375°F (191°C) and cook for 9 minutes, then carefully flip. Cook for another 9 minutes (18 minutes total.) The wings are fully cooked when the temperature in the center of the thickest part of meat reaches 165°F (74°C)
- Serve immediately plain or tossed in your favorite sauce or glaze.
Nutritional information is provided as an estimate. As it can vary due to many factors (brands used, quantities, etc.), we cannot guarantee its accuracy.Food Safety and Nutrition Disclaimer