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.

bellaproseries53qt

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.

cosori5-8

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.

toolstofry

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!

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One thought on “Air Frying Chicken Wings Part I – Tools and Tips

  1. Pingback: Air Fryer Chicken Wings – Crispy BBQ Glazed – The BigBearButt

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