Air Fryer Brown Sugar Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Wings

Air Fryer Brown Sugar Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Wings

Dry Rubbed Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Wings done in the air fryer

This recipe has you make a basic (but delicious) brown sugar based dry rub, coat the bacon strips in it, wrap the bacon on the wing sections, pin it in place with water soaked wooden toothpicks and cook in the air fryer to perfection.

This recipe is optimized for a 5.8 qt air fryer.

Happy International Bacon Day!

Ingredients

  • 12 wing sections (thawed)
  • 12 pieces thin cut bacon
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • wooden toothpicks (briefly soaked in water)

Instructions

Place fresh (thawed) wing sections on a plate, pat dry if you’d like.

Set bacon on a plate and peel apart the strips so they’re all separate.

Take the dry ingredients and whisk together in a bowl.

Put at least 12 toothpicks in a small bowl and soak in water while you’re doing this next bit. I used more because I have flat toothpicks, and they’re not as strong as round so some of them would bend when inserting through bacon. Soak them in water so they don’t char or burn in the air fryer.

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Put the dry rub in a gallon sized ziplock bag, dump in the loose bacon and shake vigorously, working that brown sugar and seasonings into the bacon. Pull bacon out of the bag and dump onto a plate.

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Now, one at a time, grab a wing section, start a piece of bacon at one end, and wrap around to the other end overlapping by however much you need to get the bacon to the end. Try to overlap if you can to help the bacon placed at the start stay in place.

Pin the bacon in place at the end with a wet toothpick and place on a baking sheet (or other convenient easy-to-clean flat surface).

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Set your air fryer to preheat at 400 F for 5 minutes. I preheated this because you want that bacon on the bottom of the basket to start sizzling right away. You want to waste NO time getting that bacon going.

Once the air fryer is done preheating, place your wings carefully in the basket, trying very hard not to overcrowd. With this recipe, air flow is extremely important top and bottom. I’ve only got 12 wing sections in this batch because there just wasn’t quite enough room for the usual 14 once the bacon was on them.

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Cook the wings for 25 minutes at 380 F.

In this batch I did NOT flip them at all. Usually I would flip wings halfway through.

My concern was, I’ve noticed that flipping over wings done with a dry rub can take a crispy top and, by flipping it to the bottom, cause juices to soak into and soften it. I wanted the bacon good and tight on top so I left it unflipped.

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Once cooked, I did notice the top was perfectly well done and crispy. The color might be darker than you first expect because of the caramelization of the brown sugar dry rub.

The very bottoms were a little softer/wetter, but were NOT underdone, rubbery or at all bad. Just a touch softer and juicier. In the end, you can try flipping but if you do, I’d go a quarter turn instead of all the way over. Give the juices a chance to drain straight down without wetting the crispy side.

Pull out the toothpicks and plate.

Done!

Important Notice

My wife would like to make it clear that she thinks this whole recipe is just ridiculous for one person to eat for lunch.

I would like to make it clear that this was freaking delicious.

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Air Fryer Sweet Hot Chili Wings

Air Fryer Sweet Hot Chili Wings

Sweet Hot Chili Wings (Air Fryer)

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Ingredients

  • 14 wing sections
  • 6 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp corn starch
  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp sambal oelek (run in a blender until smooth)
  • 2 tbsp garlic paste
  • 2 tbsp ginger paste
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

Place fresh (thawed) wing sections directly in the air fryer basket. No seasoning, no oil.

Set air fryer to cook wings for 20 minutes at 370 F.

While waiting for the ten minute mark to flip the wings, gather your sauce ingredients and prepare a small skillet, a whisk, a mixing spoon and a medium sized bowl for use.

In the cold skillet, whisk the corn starch and soy sauce together until completely smooth.

With the skillet still cold, add the other ingredients to the soy sauce and whisk until well blended.

At ten minutes, flip the wings over and resume cooking. With about three minutes left to go, set the skillet on a medium heat burner and whisk continuously while the sauce comes up to a simmer.

When the wings reach 20 minutes, give the basket a good shake, spread the wings out evenly, and set the air fryer to 400 F, cook time 4 minutes.

Continue to simmer the sauce (bubbling and thick) whisking constantly for the four minutes until the wings are done.

Dump wings in a bowl, pour sauce on top, stir with a spoon until completely coated.

Done!

More Detailed Instructions (but not much)

Place a half flat of thawed wing sections in the basket of the air fryer. You don’t need any oil as long as your basket is non-stick, because we’re not trying to protect a flour or seasoning coating from coming off. The natural juices of the cooking wings will keep them from sticking.

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Set the air fryer to cook for 20 minutes at 370 F. This will get them cooked almost all the way through while not burning the outsides. We’ll crank it up to 400 F for another 4 minutes at the end, just to get the skin good and crispy to hold up to the sauce.

While the wings are cooking, assemble your sauce ingredients.

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Now, I use sambal oelek for the chili part of the sweet chili sauce. You could use sriracha if you’d like, sriracha is already at a smooth consistency and has much of the same flavors. You could use it instead of sambal oelek right out of the bottle. The reason I don’t is that sriracha already has it’s own sweetness from sugar and has a few underlying flavors I’m not a big fan of. Personal preference only.  I prefer the richness of sambal oelek… but it’s a more chunky chili paste, and I don’t like the consistency in a sauce. So when I open a new jar of sambal oelek, I run it through the blender for a few minutes to blend it smooth, then it’s already smooth when I need to grab a few tablespoons later.

I also buy ginger and garlic paste to keep in the refrigerator. And jars of minced garlic, too. I make, damn, a lot of wings and many of my sauces call for ginger and garlic. After a while, I just got tired of always mincing or smoothing ginger root or garlic cloves into a paste when I could just grab a tube and squeeze out what I need in two seconds without cleaning a garlic press later. Do I recommend you do this? Depends on how lazy you are, and how long yours would sit in the refrigerator. I don’t know how long tubes or jars of garlic or ginger last, because it’s not around long enough for me to find out. I haven’t had any issues with the flavors or cooking with it, so I honestly can’t see why not to use them. I kinda suspect using all fresh everything is slightly pretentious when there are some alternatives, but I’m not a chef OR a cook, so what the heck do I know. Maybe I’m committing some horrible cooking sin. Wings still taste great though.

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Once the wings are a few minutes out, get your sauce simmering, good slow thick bubbles while you whisk constantly over medium heat.  Overall, you’ll just be cooking the sauce about 6 or 7 minutes, simmering all the while. Should end up pretty thick and sticky.

Now, this sauce is pretty darn tasty on other things, like chicken nuggets, or even tonkatsu or chicken katsu instead of Bulldog katsu sauce, even on top of tacos. If you want to make more sauce and save some of it for later, just DO NOT ADD CORN STARCH and when it’s done cooking, pour and save the extra sauce in a jar and keep in the fridge. Should stay good for at least a week if you keep it refrigerated until you’re ready to use it. I’d advise warming it up instead of using it cold, though.

If you do that, AFTER you pour off your extra sauce, put the two teaspoons of corn starch in a small bowl by itself with some cold water, enough to whisk it until blended, and then add that to the sauce in the pan and simmer until thickened. That way you get your sticky sauce now and have your normal sauce to save in the fridge for later.

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After 4 minutes at 400 F, the wings will be reasonably crispy. Just right for spinning in this sauce.

Place the wings in a bowl, dump your sauce on top, and swirl them around with a mixing spoon until well coated.

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Any mixing spoon will do, even the burned wooden one I left on the stove top a little too long.

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That’s it, ready to eat.

These are sweet but have a pretty solid kick to them. It’s only two tablespoons of sambal oelek, but don’t underestimate the power of that plus ginger. The best part is, the heat doesn’t linger. It’s sweet and hot right up front, then tapers off very quick with almost NO residual, lingering burn at all. It’s just right if you want to chow down on wings and feel the burn but don’t want to still have a burning mouth 15 minutes later.

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I really like this one, I don’t make it them as often because it’s more involved than my dry rub wings.

I’ll be gone next weekend, so it’ll be two weeks until my next wing recipe, either sweet and sour wings or my dry rub. Or both, lol.

If you make these, let me know what you think, and if you have any suggestions for tweaks, okay?

Air Fryer Chicken Wings – Crispy BBQ Glazed

Air Fryer Chicken Wings – Crispy BBQ Glazed

Crispy BBQ Glazed Chicken Wings (Air Fryer)

BBQ10

Ingredients

  • 14 wing sections
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp paprika
  • vegetable oil spray
  • BBQ sauce of your choice

Instructions

Place fresh (thawed) wing sections in ziplock bag.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, salt, pepper and paprika.

Dump seasoned flour in ziplock. Close ziplock and shake well, getting all the chicken coated.

Spray light coat of vegetable oil in bottom of air fryer basket.

Using tongs, pick wing sections out of bag, shake off excess flour, and lay in basket, doing your best to keep them to one layer and touching as little as possible.

Spray a light coat of vegetable oil on the top of the wings in the basket. You do NOT have to flip them or spray the other side right now. You just want the flour moistened on top a bit before cooking.

Cook the wings for 20 minutes at 370 F, flipping them over at the halfway point and spraying vegetable oil VERY lightly on any dry spots.

Once the wings have cooked for 20 minutes, using a basting brush, LIGHTLY baste your choice of BBQ sauce on the top side of the wings. This moistens any flour that remains a little dry. The thicker the sauce is, the less likely it will be a beautiful caramelized glaze, so go light.

Cook wings BBQ sauce side up for 2 minutes at 400 F.

Flip wings over, baste with BBQ sauce, again going lightly and making sure any dry patches of flour are moistened. Cook at 400 F for 2 minutes.

Done!

More detailed instructions

First, if you’re wondering about tools, air fryer I’m using, etc, please check out this blog post.

Place the wing sections in a ziplock bag. Mine are already in one, because that is how I store them after breaking down a flat from the supermarket. I do not pat them dry, having them be slightly damp helps the flour adhere AND cook.

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In a small bowl, dump the flour, salt, pepper and paprika, and whisk so it’s very well blended. I use a lot of paprika, because I like that heat underlying whatever sauce I use, which to be honest is whatever I have a partial of lying around. From the cheap generic BBQ sauce from Aldi’s to something nicer like a Sweet Baby Ray’s, any glaze can go over the base wings. If you don’t care for it being too spicy, you can reduce or leave out the paprika entirely. I do not season this chicken directly because the seasoned flour does a very nice job of staying on the chicken.

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Dump the seasoned flour right in your chicken bag, seal up with an air pocket trapped inside, and shake the heck out of it, moving the chicken pieces around so everything gets nicely coated.

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Now spray vegetable oil in the bottom of your air fryer basket to give it a nice light coating. This prevents sticking, helps prevent losing flour coating off the chicken bottoms, and also helps moisten the chicken bottoms as it cooks the first 10 minutes.

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Pick out chicken wing sections from the bag with tongs, shaking all the excess flour off of them. The thicker your flour is, the gummier it will likely be. A nice thin coating will crisp up well.

Lay the wings as carefully as you can in the basket, keeping it to one layer and trying not to crowd it. The whole point is to have that hot air blasting every bit of surface area it can reach. That is why I don’t use paper liners or second level trays or anything else in the basket. You want as much air flow as you can get.

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I’m actually not too happy with this. It’s crowding a lot, but that’s because this half flat of wings was very fresh and plump, lot more meat than usual. I know, terrible problem, too much yummy chicken, how horrible. It’s okay, it turned out fine. The chicken does firm up and shrink a little while cooking.

Spray the TOP of the floured wings with more vegetable spray. A very light spray, if you have a mister that works with vegetable oil that’s even better. You just want the flour to be slightly moist, not soaked. Remember, as the chicken cooks, natural fat and juices will be released that self-moistens the flour, more on the bottom than the top.

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This is what mine looked like after spraying the top. You can see there are still dry patches of flour, because I’d rather go light on oil. Later on, you will be lightly basting BBQ sauce on the wings and that will moisten any dry patches.

Okay. Time to cook. Put the basket in and cook the wings for 20 minutes at 370 F. At the ten minute point, you’ll flip the wings over. Spray any super dry patches very, very lightly with oil.

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You can see, even here at the halfway point they’re looking like they’re getting nice and golden brown.

Finish cooking the remaining 20 minutes.

Get your BBQ sauce of choice and a basting brush ready.

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After the 20 minutes of cooking are over, it’s time to get the glaze on and caramelized. Baste the tops of the chicken lightly with your BBQ sauce. You shouldn’t need that much, because you want a thin coating. It’ll caramelize under high heat without losing the crispiness you just built up with the flour. If you use too much sauce, it’s not a bad thing, but the wings will be more towards the sticky side.

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There, that is the top side sauced prior to cooking.

Cook that top side at 400 F for 2 minutes. You’re looking for high heat to caramelize the glaze.

At the end of two minutes, pull the basket out, flip the wings over and baste the bottoms, and cook for another 2 minutes at 400 F.

Done! Overall cooking time 24 minutes at no less than 370 F. Even with these super thick and juicy wing sections, they were cooked thoroughly all the way to the bones.

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Last thoughts. This time (as shown in this picture) I did NOT cook them at 400 F for the last four minutes. I cooked them at 370 F because, as I mentioned in the previous Tips blog post, my air fryer does not like cooking at 400 F. The control panel goes wonky. So this time I tried it staying at 370 F just to see how they would turn out. As you can see from the picture, they are NOT all beautifully caramelized. They’re more on the crispy/sticky side. Still darn yummy, but not quite how they usually turn out.

I do this all the time, every batch of wings I make I’m trying something different, just to see what happens. The only hard and fast rule is to always make sure you cook the wings through. Never risk eating under-cooked chicken. But if you want to try more or less salt or pepper in the flour, add some cayenne pepper, use Heinz 57 sauce for your glaze instead of BBQ or maybe even some tikka masala, go for it. Worse that happens is that you’re eating wings that aren’t quite what you were expecting, and that’s never that bad a thing.

Air Frying Chicken Wings Part I – Tools and Tips

A few friends suggested I write some blog posts sharing my recipes for Air Fryer Chicken Wings. Since I’ve been making them several times a week (many different flavors and styles), I figured that might be fun.

Before I do recipe posts, I wanted to do one quick tips and tools post, so I’m not repeating myself in the recipes. That’s what I’m going to cover here.

Air Fryers

I strongly suggest the minimum size of Air Fryer you get be a 5.3 quart. When cooking wings, you want an air fryer basket where you can lay out your wing sections with a little room for the air to flow evenly around them.

A ‘flat’ of wings, at least here in Minnesota, is 14 full wings which comes out to 28 wing sections when cut up and the tips thrown away. A 5.3/5.8 quart air fryer basket can comfortably fit one half of a flat, or 7 wings/14 wing sections.

Why do I mention 5.3 and 5.8 quarts side by side? Because choosing what exact size of air fryer you’re getting can be a bit tricky. Different air fryer manufacturers in the 5 quart plus range, can actually have the same size baskets, but the manufacturer measured from different points corner to corner to get the volume.

Example. I have a Bella Pro Series “5.3 qt” air fryer. I have seven friends that all bought the Cosori 5.8 qt air fryer. Both of these air fryers have the EXACT SAME SIZE BASKET when placed size by side. Identical and interchangeable. So, don’t get too hung up on dimensions when shopping. Once you’re looking in the 5-ish qt range of air fryer, they’re pretty close to each other in size.

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Now, like I said I have a Bella Pro Series 5.3 quart air fryer I bought from Best Buy. I DO NOT RECOMMEND IT. It gets the job done well enough that I haven’t replaced it, but it has a recurring fault in the control panel. If I set it to cook at 400 F, after five or ten minutes the control panel begins going nuts, changing the temperature or cook time on it’s own from minimum to maximum levels, sometimes even shutting itself off. Best I can figure the control panel isn’t well enough insulated from the heating coil at that temperature. I haven’t had any issues cooking at 360 to 370 F, so I just deal with it because my results at those temperatures are fine.

As I said earlier, ALL of my local friends went with the Cosori 5.8 qt air fryer. Here is a link to it on Amazon.

The way it worked out, we have that one guy in our shop, you know the type. Before he buys anything, he researches them for about a month. He finally decided on the Cosori, bought it, and raved about it enough that everyone else in the shop and out in the manufacturing plant started buying them. Now we have wing cook-off days at the shop where we all bring in our air fryers and cook a flat of wings with our own recipes, and share to see who likes what the most. That’s how I know that my Bella basket is in ALL ways interchangeable with the Cosori… but the controls and features on the Cosori are better, and the control panel design is different, and most important of all, none of them have had any issues with their units. So, hey, when I get a new one I’ll be getting a Cosori as well.

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Wings

When buying wings, only you can decide what importance you place on quality, convenience or price. Organic? Free range? Your choice.

I personally do not worry too much about anything except getting the best quality wing I can for the most reasonable price. That is why instead of going to a butcher (good but expensive) I go to the local supermarket and buy fresh whole wings instead of frozen, and break them down myself. I do recommend breaking whole wings down, because the wings are easier to eat, they cook more evenly, and you get rid of the wing tips which can be a pain to work around when arranges wings in the air fryer basket.

In Minnesota, the supermarkets carry flats of fresh wings, 14 whole wings with tips. Once you break them down you’re left with 28 wing sections and discarded tips.

You can also sometimes find smaller packages of fresh wings, usually 8 or 10 to a package, again whole.

If shopping for convenience, then you can find packages of frozen wings, already cut up and sectioned without wing tips, ‘ready to cook’ in 4 lb, 8 lb or larger packs.

In my experience, the fresh wings will be larger, meatier than the frozen, often just a better quality wing, and yet at the same time being less expensive than frozen.

With frozen sectioned wings you are paying more for the convenience of having the wings already cut up for you and frozen for long term storage.

Here is an example of the price breakdown I found for wings just this weekend;

  • Walmart frozen 8 lb Tyson frozen wing sections – $3.14/lb on sale.
  • Walmart frozen 8 lb generic frozen wing sections – $2.48/lb.
  • Walmart fresh Purdue whole wings  – $2.27/lb.
  • Aldi’s fresh whole wings – $1.79/lb on sale, normally $1.99/lb.

That’s a pretty big swing in price. The price for a 4 lb pack of frozen wing sections is even higher, because they charge you more for getting a smaller package. I don’t know why, but there you go.

Now, of these different options, I looked very carefully at all the wings. Of them all, the fresh Aldi’s wings were by far the best in size and apparent freshness. For a flat of 14 wings, they were a full pound more meat than the flat of fresh Purdue wings. The Purdue wings I got were 3.9 lbs, the Alsi’d were 4.9 lbs. Same number of wings, a pound more meat.

Even then, both the frozen wing packages I checked had smaller wing sections compared to the Purdue.

That’s why I recommend buying a flat of fresh whole wings and breaking them down yourself. You’ll get the best price while at the same time getting better quality.

I typically buy one flat of fresh wings a week, break them down and split them up into two freezer bags, 14 wing sections per bag. 14 wing sections fits perfectly in a basket for a 5.3 quart air fryer in one go, so I’ll make wings Saturday and Sunday, trying different recipes each time.

If you’ve never broken wings down before, it’s extremely easy once you’ve tried. Here is a good video that you may find helpful if you haven’t done it before.

Tools

Make sure you have a nice sharp knife, it makes breaking down the wings a snap. The one I use we’ve had for decades, but sharpening it makes the job easy. Doesn’t have to be fancy, just strong and sharp and a good weight to get the job done.

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I’ve also found a good set of spring loaded tongs is perfect for handling the wings in the basket when it comes time to flip them over. I got the pair in this picture for about $12 at Kohl’s, nothing super special, but perfect for the task at hand.

Tips

I don’t pre-heat my air fryer. My model (and the Cosori) both come up to temp fast enough that pre-heating doesn’t seem to add anything to the party.

When I use oil, I buy cans of vegetable oil cooking spray. It seems that these days you can purchase the cooking sprays with actual vegetable oil, olive oil, or many other types of oil which is really nice. It’s not just the old scary generic ‘butter cooking spray’ that used to make me wonder what the hell you were getting in that can.

I would prefer to have a spray bottle / mister of peanut oil to use when spraying the wings in the basket, but so far I’ve tested a few misting bottles, and none of them handle the peanut oil well. Instead of misting, it comes out as a stream. So I’ll keep trying different bottles until I find one that can mist a slippery peanut oil type fluid.

When buying spices, paprika in particular, there are different kinds and where you buy them, how fresh they are, and what kind play a big role in your flavors.

When I say paprika in my recipes, I’ll always mean the standard generic paprika you can get in a little McCormicks bottle.

If you’d like to try something special, find some smoked paprika, or for a sweeter flavor some Hungarian paprika. They have the same underlying flavor profiles as standard paprika, but are very different in the smoky or sweet notes they add to the dish.

Also, when recipes call for black pepper, if you’d like to see what a hit of citrus would do to the seasoning try some lemon pepper. If you’re not used to it, you might be amazed at how the lemon essence brightens up the other spices.

These recipes are ones I have personally used, tweaked, tested, changed, tested again, changed, back and forth. I’m not copying and pasting. There is no monetization here. I’m only sharing recipes I love with friends who also love wings and are thinking about getting air fryers. If you’re stumbling in here, don’t worry. Yes I actually make these all the time, and I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I do.

When using the recipes, my only concern would be if your particular air fryer comes up to temp slower than mine, or has a smaller basket with less air flow. I’d hate for you to have different results because the cook times I’m using aren’t the same as what you’ll need.

I will promise you one thing; I never, ever get anything remotely close to an under-cooked wing with my times and temperatures. The nice thing about bone-in chicken wings is the bone itself acts as a heat sink. It’s difficult to overcook a chicken wing because of the bones helping absorb excess heat. I cook wings at no less than 360 F for 22 minutes or more in the air fryer and they’re perfect, but I can go up to 28 minutes, and they’re still not overdone. I’ve sometimes gone for super crispy at 400 F for 24 minutes, fighting the control panel shenanigans the whole time, and still not overcooked the wings.

I guess the point to the story is, don’t be too concerned over exact temperatures and times, as long as you’re getting fully cooked wings. If you’re in doubt, add a minute or two.

Generic blog stuff feel free to skip

I personally hate recipe blog posts where the writer shares a personal story for three pages before getting to the recipe. If I want the story, that’s great and I will read it, but sometimes I’m in a rush, looking for a recipe that sounds good with the ingredients I have on hand, and I want to scan the details (or ingredients) to see if it’s one I want to try. So in the following recipe blog posts, I’m going to give you the recipe and ingredients up front, and then if you want more details on how I prep and cook them, you can read further.

On the subject of monetization, I intentionally do not write blog posts for cash. I avoid any possible way of making money off this. I do this for fun, the love of the game if you like, whatever. It’s not a job. I have no problem with anyone that does write blog posts, recipes, or make videos as a source of income. But that ain’t me. The downside to this is, if I don’t feel inspired to write a post, then there isn’t regular content for readers. No real reason for you to come back. But hey, that’s okay if something on the blog is interesting to someone, somewhere. The reason I mention that is, I do NOT get paid to advertise or recommend anything. Ever. Nothing is recommended because I hope to get paid. It’s because it’s what I use or what I’ve seen to work.

Finally, when you see ads on this site, it’s because WordPress put them there. Sorry about that, I went with a free host years ago because I write so seldom now. I know the ads are annoying, but it’s what the host requires to keep the lights on.

Now with all that out of the way, the next posts can be all about making the wings! I think the first one will be… crispy BBQ wings. A couple different techniques that result in a damn tasty wing.

See you then!