These low-carb and keto air-fryer chicken wings check all the boxes for us: they're crispy, spicy but not too spicy, easy-to-make, just a little saucy, and require minimal ingredients. Plus, they're done after just 20 minutes in the air fryer!
We love air-fryer chicken wings, but THIS recipe, adapted from Melissa Clark at New York Times Cooking, is one of our favorite recipes! We're big Melissa Clark fans, and our changes to her recipe are minimal. We simply got rid of the honey, slightly increased the butter (for more yummy sauce) and upped the hot sauce for a little more heat.
To make these wings nice and crispy, you first toss them with a little baking powder (and salt and pepper) and place them in the fridge, uncovered, for an hour or more, which helps dry out the skin. We usually set them in the fridge for an hour, but you could do the morning of or the night before eating. When we've placed in the fridge for less time (about a half hour or so), we thought they turned out a little less crispy, but they we're still pretty darn good.
After sitting the fridge, then they go into the air fryer and cook for about 20 to 25 minutes, depending on how crispy you like them. Once they're done, you'll toss them with the spicy sauce (made with butter, hot sauce, sambal oelek, and lemon juice and zest) and then they're ready to be devoured. I say devoured since that is truly what happens. You'll likely want to make two batches of these air-fryer wings since they're so lip-smacking good. BUT, remember that you need to give the wings space in the air fryer (we never put more than a pound and a half in the air fryer at once) or else they won't crisp up!
You can enjoy these air-fryer wings as a snack, appetizer, game-day treat, or even as a meal, which is what we usually do!
As always, just 8 simple ingredients in this recipe! Here are notes on key ingredients.
- 1 ¼ pound chicken wings — You'll need to cut the wings in half through the joint that connects them, so the wingettes and drumettes are two separate pieces. If needed, see our section below on how to cut chicken wings.
- 1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder — Tossing the wings with baking powder prior to cooking helps crisp up the skin in the air fryer! Just 1 teaspoon per pound is all that's needed.
- 1 ½ tablespoons melted unsalted butter — Butter is for the sauce, which goes on after the wings are done air frying.
- ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest and 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice — Lemon brightens up the sauce and is a key component!
- 1 teaspoon of hot sauce (we use Frank's) — The original recipe calls for ½ teaspoon, but we find that even a full teaspoon makes it just a little spicy.
- ½ teaspoon sambal oelek — The original recipes calls for just ¼ teaspoon of Asian chili sauce. We increased it to ½ teaspoon to make it slightly more spicy. If you want to make it more spicy, then you can increase this by ¼ or ½ teaspoon. We use sambal as opposed to sriracha or other chili sauces since it has not sugar added.
How to Cut Chicken Wings
Here are the basic steps to cutting a part chicken wings. Here can also watch this helpful how-to video.
- Place the chicken skin-side down on a cutting board and locate a large ridge between the drumette and wingette (see picture of where my knife is placed). With a large cutting knife, cut just to the side of ridge. The bone should cut rather easily when pressed down upon with the knife. You're knife will also slice through the skin. After cutting, you should have one wingette and one drumette.
- Next, you'll cut off the wing tip, which you can discard or keep for stock (as there is little to no meat on it). To do so, you'll find the ridge between the wingette and tip. Then, you'll simply cut along the side of the ridge, applying pressure until it slices in half. You'll keep the wingette portion for the recipe.
STEP 1: Cut wingettes from drumettes as indicated above. In a small bowl, combine baking powder, salt and pepper.
STEP 2: Pour baking powder mixture into a large, gallon-size plastic bag and add wings. Close bag and vigorously shake to thoroughly combine mixture with wings.
STEP 3: Spread the wings on a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate, uncovered, for an hour or more (you can even do the night before).
STEP 4: Place the wings in the air fryer so they are standing up against the edges of the basket with a little space between each. Do not overlap. Heat the air fryer to 400 degrees and cook for 20 to 25 minutes (depending how crispy you like).
STEP 5: While wings are cooking, you'll combine the melted butter, lemon juice and zest, hot sauce and sambal.
STEP 6: Stir sauce and toss with fried chicken wings when done. Serve immediately.
Expert Tips For Making The Best Air-Fryer Wings
Here are expert tips for making the crispiest air-fryer wings:
- Pat wings dry: Before tossing the wings with baking soda, be sure to dab them with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture. You want the skin to be as dry as possible!
- Toss wings with baking powder: Tossing the wings with baking powder prior to cooking helps crisp the skin in the air fryer.
- Let sit in the fridge: Letting them sit them in the fridge, uncovered, for an hour or more, helps dry out the skin even more. We usually set them in the fridge for an hour, but you could also do the morning of or the night before eating.
- Space out the wings: The wings need space in the air fryer and shouldn't overlap, so they can evenly crisp and cook. To do so, place the wings standing up against the edges of the air-fryer basket, ensuring a little space between each.
- Cook until crispy: We cook for about 20 minutes to get the skin just crispy while keeping the meat moist. If you want crispier skin, you can cook for 5 minutes more.
MORE CHICKEN RECIPES
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Crispy, Spicy Air-Fryer Chicken Wings
- 1 ¼ pound chicken wings cut in half at joint into wingettes and drumettes
- 1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon each of salt and ground black pepper
- 1 ½ tablespoon melted unsalted butter
- ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce (we use Frank's hot sauce)
- ½ teaspoon sambal oelek
- Prepare the wings: Cut wingettes from drumettes as indicated. In a small bowl, combine baking powder, salt and pepper. Pour baking powder mixture into a large, gallon-size plastic bag and add wings. Close bag and vigorously shake to thoroughly combine mixture with wings. Spread the wings on a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate, uncovered, for an hour or more (you can even do the night before).
- Cook: Place the wings in the air fryer so they are standing up against the edges of the basket with a little space between each. Do not overlap. Heat the air fryer to 400 degrees and cook for 20 to 25 minutes (depending how crispy you like).
- Make sauce and serve: While wings are cooking, combine the melted butter, lemon juice and zest, hot sauce and sambal. Stir sauce and toss with fried chicken wings when done. Serve immediately.