Wild Wings: Everything You Need to Know About Deep Frying Chicken Wings

Photo 1571162437205 8889ff2fee26 Alexander Kovacs/Unsplash

Safety first: deep fry chicken wings for approximately eight to 10 minutes in oil that's heated to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Once done, the internal temperature should be 165 F, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). 

The typical meat-eating American eats hundreds of chicken wings per year. The chicken wing frenzy hits an all-time high right around the National Football League's annual Super Bowl, when Americans eat more than one billion wings, according to the National Chicken Council. To enjoy wings fully, they need to be cooked safely and properly.

How Long Chicken Wings Should Be Deep Fried

No matter if you're using a deep frying appliance or frying without a deep fryer, heating the oil to the right temperature is the first step in achieving perfectly cooked wings. Preheat the oil to 375 F, using a candy thermometer or a deep frying thermometer to make sure the oil is at the right temperature. Avoid adding too many wings at once for even cooking. After eight to 10 minutes, the wings should be golden and tender. 

Making Sure Wings Are Fully Cooked

Undercooked chicken wings can be harmful to your health. Make sure they're fully cooked for optimal food safety. Remove them from the oil, transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate, and use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. The USDA recommends cooking chicken wings to an internal temperature of 165 F. If the wings register a lower temperature, add them back to the hot oil or finish them in the oven.

Not All Oils Are Created Equally

Timing is everything, but oil is important too. The best oils to use for frying have a smoking point that's higher than your cooking temperature. When the oil starts smoking, you can't use it. That's why butter, shortening, and extra virgin olive oil aren't used for deep frying. 

High Smoke Point Oils for Deep Frying

Some oils add a little flavor to the mix. For example, peanut oil adds a hint of nuttiness when you fry with it. Others, like vegetable, canola, and avocado oil are neutral. Curious about each oil's approximate smoke point? 

  • Peanut oil: 450 F
  • Palm oil: 450 F
  • Corn oil: 450 F
  • Vegetable oil: 400 F
  • Canola oil: 400 F
  • Grapeseed oil: 420 F
  • Avocado oil: 520 F
  • Sunflower seed oil: 440 to 450 F
  • Sesame oil: 410 F

How Much Oil Should You Use?

The type of oil isn't the only important factor. The amount matters too. You don't want to skimp on it, and you don't want to overdo the oil. Without enough oil, the wings won't get fully submerged, which is necessary for efficient cooking. Too much oil and you can end up with messy splatters that could pose a safety concern. Allow several inches between the top of the fryer or pot and the oil to minimize bubbles and splatters. 

Deep Frying Without a Deep Fryer

Having a deep fryer is convenient, but it's not the only way to deep fry chicken wings and other foods. All you need is a large pot or pan with high sides. To prevent hot oil spills, the sides of the pan should be at least 4 inches higher than the level of oil. Use just enough to give wings and other items room to submerge in the oil, as recommended by Modernist Cuisine.  

Patting food dry before you fry is another way to minimize spatters. To deep fry, preheat the oil to the desired temperature and cook in batches for optimal consistency. Watch the time and use a spider or wire basket to lift food out of the oil and onto paper towels to drain it.