Air fryer buffalo chicken wings are our new favorite appetizer, especially since we’ve discovered the great results we get from an air fryer – crispy exteriors with juicy, tender interiors! We’ve been reluctant to try the fryer (it’s been sitting in the corner of our laundry room) and we’re so glad we finally did! These buffalo wings taste better than any restaurant served wings we’ve had, and because they’re eaten right out of the fryer, they’re served hot and crispy.
Deep-fried chicken wings are a staple in Southern cuisine, but the concept of cooking wings in hot sauce originated in 1964 at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York, hence the name. A co-owner of the bar cooked leftover wings in hot sauce as a snack for her son and his friends. It was love at first bite, and the restaurant put them on the menu the very next day. Restaurants soon realized that their beer sales rose dramatically when people ate these spicy morsels – a perfect pairing with a pitcher of beer.
In a 3.5 quart capacity air fryer, our 2 pounds of chicken wings fit in snugly, but we were able to stack the drumettes standing upright on the sides. All wings cooked and browned evenly.
We start with a basic hot sauce recipe. Ours was given to us by our youngest grandson, Thomas, who at 14, is a wing aficionado. It’s a simple recipe that’s truly finger-licking great. In a saucepan, add Frank’s Red Hot sauce, unsalted butter, white vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, a little cayenne pepper and garlic powder and whisk over medium heat until it starts to simmer. Pour into a mixing bowl for later coating of the air-fried wings. That’s it. Create your own version with your favorite spices and adjust the heat to your liking.
Start with 2 pounds of chicken wings. We purchase wings that are split into flats and drumettes – big time-saver. Make sure you pat the wings dry with paper towels to remove moisture that may result in soggy wings. Next, sprinkle generously with coarse salt or a dry rub of your choice. We tried a packaged lemon pepper seasoning from Lawry’s for a less spicy, yet flavorful option. BBQ rubs are also a great choice.
After a quick pre-heat of the air fryer, place wings in the basket sprayed with nonstick cooking spray for easy clean-up. Avoid overlapping the wings. Bake at 360 degrees F for 12 minutes, then flip the wings and cook for an additional 12 minutes. Flip the wings once more, and turn up the heat to 400 degrees F. In 5-7 minutes, the wings will crisp up and turn golden brown. Toss the wings into the bowl of hot sauce until well-coated.
Serve immediately with a side of our Ultimate Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing or low carb bottled ranch dressing (like Marie’s) for a great pairing with the spicy-hot sauce. Celery sticks add a nice crunch and a cooling and colorful after-bite. If you don’t have an air fryer, no problem. Directions for oven-baking found in the notes section below.
Air Fryer Buffalo Chicken Wings
- Air Fryer
- ⅔ cup hot pepper sauce we use Frank's RedHot
- ½ cup butter unsalted
- 2 tbsp white vinegar
- ¼ tsp Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper optional
- ⅛ tsp garlic powder optional
- 2 lbs chicken wings split into flats and drumettes
- coarse salt
- For the sauce: Combine first 6 ingredients in small saucepan.
- Cook over medium heat, whisking until butter is melted and sauce comes to a simmer. Remove from heat and place in mixing bowl.
- For the wings: Pat dry wings with paper towels. Sprinkle salt generously on both sides of wings. Spray the fryer basket with cooking spray and set aside. Preheat air fryer to 360 degrees F for 3 minutes.
- Place wings in fryer basket in single layer without overlapping. If space is tight, place the drumettes standing upright along the sides. Cook 12 minutes at 360 F. Using tongs, flip the wings and cook an additional 12 minutes.
- Flip the wings again, and increase the temperature to 400 degrees F. Cook until outsides are crisp and golden brown, about 5-7 minutes. Remove wings from fryer and add to buffalo sauce. Toss until all pieces are coated. Serve immediately.