Crispy Air Fryer Chicken Wings with Sticky Honey Hibiscus Chili Sauce. Crispy and juicy wings with a tart, sweet and a little bit spicy sauce. So good.
Chicken wings aren't something I made at home too often because I am not a fan of deep frying all the time and lets be honest, while oven baked chicken wings are good, they're not quite the same as fried.
Enter the air fryer. Crazy crispy and juicy wings cooked in a fraction of the oil.
I finally got an air fryer last year, a foodie friend of mine on instagram (Shannon of FitSlowCookerQueen - go check out her blog amazing recipes) had posted about the one she uses so I asked her about it and got one for myself. There are a gazillion to choose from and since she uses hers all the time I figured she was the right person to ask.
I bought a Cosori, it is fantastic and has a huge basket for holding a lot of food that fries up really nicely. First thing we made was of course chicken wings.
I have a few tricks for making great chicken wings, either in the air fryer or oven if you choose not to deep fry.
How to make awesome crispy chicken wings:
- You can either fry whole wings or separate into flats and drumettes. I have made them both ways. If separating into pieces. I use kitchen scissors or a sharp knife to remove the wing tips, save those in a bag in my freezer to make broth later, then cut the flats and drumettes carefully down the middle between the bones to separate.
- Don't rinse and dry the chicken wings. You want them a little wet for the seasonings to stick to them. You also want them at room temperature. Don't fry cold or frozen wings.
- Add dry seasonings to the wings before coating in starch.
- I have played around with different flours, starches and baking powder to see which makes for the crispiest skin when baking or air frying and I have found that tapioca starch is the winner. It creates a very thin coat on the chicken and makes for the best crispy skin, theres no traces of it left after frying like I sometimes get with flour, and no weird taste like there can be with baking powder sometimes. Potato starch is a close second so if you can't find tapioca starch (also called tapioca flour) then go ahead and use potato starch. Both can be easily found online or in stores in the gluten free baking sections.
- Set a bowl out for the starch and roll the seasoned chicken wings in the starch, tap off excess. Once all your wings are starched, you are ready to fry.
- I preheat my fryer at 400 Deg F for 5 minutes.
- Cook the wings at 380 Deg for 25 minutes, tossing by shaking the basked or flipping each one with tongs every 10 min.
- After 25 min is up, increase heat to 40o Deg F and fry for 5 more min. I have found this method makes for the crispiest wings. That extra 5 min really helps crisp up the skin.
- You can also use these same temps and times for baking in the oven.
I love to make my own sauces from scratch such as bbq sauce, or a non-tomato based sauce like this hibiscus chili sauce. This sauce is sweet, tart, spicy, sticky and tangy. It's perfect for wings.
I wanted to make a sauce with hibiscus flowers, since I am still on a hibiscus recipe kick. And I bought a 2 pound bag of dried hibiscus flowers.
My original inspiration for this sauce, and these wings, were from these raspberry chipotle wings I had at a bar my husband and I would frequent went we lived in Vail, Co of all places, as well as the hibiscus bbq sauce from Esteban's aka Chicano Eats cookbook. His sauce is ridiculously good. I also used techniques from an ancho sauce I made years ago from a Bobby Flay cookbook.
And lastly this sauce was inspired by Trader Joe's Honey Aleppo pepper sauce. Its a non-tomato based sauce that's thinner than traditional bbq sauce. My sauce is a little thicker but not quite as thick as bbq sauce. I love that its a non-tomato based option since sometimes bbq sauces can be overwhelmingly tomatoey.
A few notes about this crispy air fryer chicken wing recipe first:
- Yes there are a gazillion chicken wing recipes online. I am probably the last food blogger to post a recipe for them, mine is probably similar to many others.
- You can make these chicken wings either in an air fryer or an oven. I have tested the recipe in both, they do come out crispier in an air fryer. If you are to make them in an oven I would make them on a wire rack set over a baking sheet and bake on convection to get the air moving around the wings.
- Spray the basket of the air fryer with oil ( I like to use avocado oil spray) and spray the wings before frying. You don't need much oil
- You can use your own sauce or make my hibiscus sauce to go with the wings. If you go with my sauce, the recipe will take longer to make, I suggest making the sauce a day ahead of time.
- I add salt and pepper to the wings before coating in starch. Feel free to add any additional seasonings you like.
- If you want to reheat these you can do so for 5 min at 400 Deg in the fryer. Even if they are covered in sauce they will reheat nicely. Prep Time 20 minutesCook Time 30 minutesAdditional Time 1 hourTotal Time 1 hour 50 minutes
- Times are approximate depending on how long it takes to prep and if you cook one or two batches of wings. Also add in additional time if making the sauce as well.
For the chicken wings
- 2-4 lbs chicken wings
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt ( I use Diamond salt)
- 1 teaspoon Ground black pepper
- ½ cup Tapioca starch
- Oil spray ( I use avocado oil spray
- 1-2 cups Spicy Hibiscus Chili sauce or your favorite wing sauce or bbq sauce
- **See recipe notes for the hibiscus chili sauce recipe**
For the Chicken Wings:
Preheat your air fryer to 400 Deg F for 5 minutes
Prep the chicken wings if separating into flats and drumettes. Cut off the wing tips, then separate the flats and drumettes with a sharp knife between the bones. Season the chicken wings with salt and pepper or any other dry seasonings you like.
Set the tapioca starch in a small bowl and roll each wing in the starch to cover. Set each wing on a parchment lined tray after rolling in the starch.
Set the preheated air fryer to 380 Deg F and 25 minutes.
Spray the basket of the fryer with oil spray ( I use avocado oil) and spray the chicken as well, covering up most of the starch. Add in one and a half to two pounds of the chicken wings. Fry one and a half to two pounds of chicken wings at a time any more than that they won’t get crispy.
Toss, stir or flip the wings every 10 minutes. At the 25 minute mark stir again and set the air fryer temperature to 400 Deg F. Fry for 5 more minutes.
Transfer wings to a bowl and immediately toss in sauce. If you are making more than 2 pounds of wings, set the first batch on a wire rack set on a baking sheet in your oven set to 200 Deg F. Once all the wings are fried, toss in plenty of sauce and serve while hot. Serve with veggie sticks or fries and additional dipping sauces of choice.
Spicy Sticky Honey Hibiscus Chili Sauce:
Makes about 3 cups of sauce
2 oz dried hibiscus flowers
2 dried guajillo peppers
2 dried ancho peppers
1 tablespoon chipotle pepper in adobo OR 1 teaspoon chipotle powder
2 ½ cups water, boiling
4 tablespoon oil, divided
½ cup white onion, peeled and sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 cup honey
½ cup red wine vinegar
1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
Remove the stem and seeds from the dried chiles and place in a medium sized bowl along with the hibiscus flowers. Once the water is boiling add all two and a half cups to the bowl submerging the chiles and hibiscus. Stir a little to make sure everything is submerged. Let soak for 20 minutes.
While the chilis and hibiscus are soaking sauté the onion and garlic in two tablespoons of oil in a deep sided sauce pan. Sauté for about 10-15 minutes until starting to caramelize. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
In a blender combine the water with the flowers and chilis along with the sautéed onions and garlic and add in the chipotles in adobo or the chipotle chili powder. Blend well.
Heat the remaining oil in the sauce pan used for the onions and garlic. Strain the hibiscus chili puree in to the pan, scraping as much of the liquid out that you can, there will be some solids left. Discard that.
Stir the puree well and then add in there remaining ingredients to the pan: the honey, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper and mustard powder.
Stir until the sauce reaches a low boil then lower to a simmer, stirring constantly until thickened and is darker in color. This takes about another 20 minutes.
Let cool and then transfer to a resealable jar or container. You can use the same day you made it or let chill overnight for the flavors to develop further.
Some commonly asked questions about making air fryer chicken wings:
How do you cook chicken wings?
Can you freeze chicken wings?
Technically you can freeze anything, I personally wouldn't freeze them after frying. Reheating and refrying wouldn't be good. They would probably be a weird texture. But you can freeze the raw chicken before making the wings. Fully thaw before frying. Do not fry frozen chicken wings.
What do you serve with chicken wings?
Anything you want. Typically chicken wings are served with carrot and celery sticks and a secondary sauce such as ranch or blue cheese dressing. I don't dip these in a secondary sauce since the hibiscus chili sauce is amazing on its own.
How long does it take to cook chicken wings?
30 minutes for my recipe. That is the cooking time. Prep and making the sauce takes longer. But the actual cooking minutes is 30.
Any other questions feel free to leave a comment or email me!