Pan-fried chicken wings are a quick and easy way to prepare crispy, restaurant-style wings at home. Enjoy them as a main dish or appetizer, complemented by your favorite wing sauce, alongside a side of homemade blue cheese dip and crisp veggies.
Why is it a good idea to pan-fry chicken wings?
I cook wings at home at least 2 times a week and we enjoy them not only on a game day; besides, it quickly became my favorite American food after living in New York city. So I had to learn how to perfect them at home.
In addition to baking the wings in the oven, pan-frying has emerged as another preferred method I often choose for several good reasons:
Speedy: it takes about 25 minutes of cooking time and about 5 minutes of preparation to make a batch ready. Perfect for a party snack or a last-minute dinner idea.
Crispy and flavorful: pan allows better absorption of marinades and seasonings, creating a crispy golden brown skin without using too much oil (compared to deep frying)
Served hot: you can serve them straight directly from the pan, which will keep them warm for a longer time. We enjoy homemade chicken wings at least 2 times a week on average. Besides baking them in the oven, I often pan-fry the wings in a large cast iron skillet.
Perfect for smaller batches: A 12-inch cast iron skillet will cook about 10-12 chicken drumettes and wingettes at a time. Perfect when you cook for a few people or as an appetizer.
Minimal equipment and easy clean up: you will need only one large skillet. And I recommend a cast iron one. There is also very little to no oil splashes because I cover the wings to finish cooking.
What is the best pan to use?
I have tried a few different pans and skillets at home to prepare the wings on the stove-top. And for sure, I can tell you which ones have the best results. My favorite one to use is my well-seasoned cast iron skillet. It has high sides to prevent the splatters, cooks the chicken evenly without burning it and it is great for making the skin crispy. To make it easier, I will list them below from the most recommended to the least recommended.
- Cast-iron: the most recommended. Distributes heat evenly, great for frying at higher temperatures. Can be placed in the oven. The chicken skin always comes out crispy without burning.
- Dutch oven: high sides are great for preventing the splatters, cook evenly. But the wings turned out not as crispy.
- Stainless steel: can be tricky to use if you do not have experience using it because the meat can easily stick to it and break the crispy skin. It is also not recommended for cooking at higher temperatures.
You can find the quantities needed for one batch of wings in the recipe card at the end of this post.
- Chicken wings: I used fresh chicken wings. If you have whole wings, I explain below how to easily cut them into desired parts. If you have frozen wings, you will need to defrost them in the fridge overnight or use the air fryer to cook them from frozen if you forgot to take them out the night before.
- Salt and seasoning: you can use store-bought dry rub, or salt with your favorite spices. I always mix salt, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, black pepper, and some cayenne pepper to season the wings before cooking. Simple, easy, and flavorful.
- Oil: The best oil for pan-frying any food has a high smoke point such as canola oil or soybean soil. But If you have only olive oil, you can use it as well. I tried it with olive oil and it works great because pan-frying does not require too much of it.
How to make it
If you have whole chicken wings, I recommend cutting them into pieces. You can cook them whole too, but it is easier to serve and enjoy them cut into smaller pieces. it is very easy to do if you have a sharp knife and use the right technique.
First, place the whole chicken wing on a cutting board. Pat it dry with some paper towels. Find the joint that connects the drummete (upper part) and the wingette (the middle section). With your sharp knife, cut through the joint between the drumette and the wingette. You will not need a lot of pressure and the knife should glide easily. Make sure not to cut the bone to maintain the shape of the pieces.
I also like to remove the tip (the bony thin part at the end of the wingette). Simply, cut through the joint where the tip is attached to the wingette. You can discard the wing tips or use them to make chicken stock. Repeat the process with the rest of the wings and place them in a large bowl.
Now, prepare a simple dry rub by mixing salt, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, black pepper, and cayenne pepper in a small bowl. Pour the seasonings and salt over the wings and use your hands or spatula to mix them until the wings are evenly coated. If you are using a buffalo sauce, save it for later.
Heat the cast iron well over medium heat for about 4-5 minutes, rotating it a few times. Add enough oil to create a thin layer. 2-3 tablespoons of oil is usually enough for a 12-inch skillet. Let the oil heat up for another minute.
Carefully, place seasoned wing pieces in the skillet one by one, leaving some space between each piece. You can fit up to 12 wing parts in a 12-inch cast iron skillet. Let them fry undisturbed (otherwise, they will stick and skin will break) for about 4-5 minutes.
Use tongs or a fork to flip them on the other side. They should flip easily. If not, let them cook longer on that side until easy to flip. Once flipped, fry them for another 5 minutes or until golden brown. After they are seared, cover the pan with a lid, and cook them covered over low-medium heat for 10-15 minutes flipping them every 5 minutes.
The internal temperature of cooked wings should be at least 165°F and the juices will run clear near the bone. Once, the wings are fully cooked, remove the lid and let them crisp up more over high heat on both sides for about one minute.
You can serve them now or toss them in your favorite sauce while they are still hot.
Fun serving ideas
Most of the time we enjoy the wings with french fries, blue cheese or ranch, and of course some raw crunchy veggies. If you want to make it a more filling meal, serve them with white rice, macaroni and cheese, some steamed vegetables, or a salad.
You can also de-bone and shred the leftover wings and repurpose them into a new dish, such as quesadillas, tacos, dip, wraps, and more
- Although you can pan-fry the wings whole, it is better to cut them into smaller pieces.
- Cast iron skillet is the best pan to use because it distributes the heat evenly and creates a crispy skin.
- You have to finish cooking wings covered or in the oven, otherwise, they will take a long time to cook through because of the bones.
- Store and leftovers in an air-tight container for up to 3 days. It is better to reheat the wings in the oven or air fryer.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, you can pan-fry whole chicken wings. You may need to cook them longer.
No, the pan-frying cooking method requires a thin layer of oil, between 2-3 Tablespoons.
The high-smoke point, neutral vegetable oil (such as canola, or soybean) is the best one to use for pan-frying the wings.
More chicken recipes
- Boiled chicken legs
- Chicken breast in a cast iron skillet
- Air fryer boneless chicken tights
- Oven-baked chicken drumsticks with Greek yogurt marinade
- Panko-crusted baked chicken cutlets
Quick Crispy Pan-Fried Chicken Wings
- 1 12 inch cast iron skillet with lid
- 2 bowls, one large and one small
- meat thermometer
- 1.5 pounds chicken wings, cut into drummetes and wingettes about 10-12 pieces
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground paprika
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- 2-3 Tablespoon vegetable oil
- Pat dry the chicken wings with some paper towels and place them in a laarge bowl.
- In a small bowl mix ½ teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon ground paprika, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon onion powder, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional). Season the wings with the prepared seasoning mix.
- Heat cast iron skillet for about 4-5 minutes over medium heat. Add a thin layer of oil and heat it for another minute.
- Carefully, place chicken wings in a hot oil. Let fry undisturbed for about 4-5 minutes over high heat or until golden brow and easy to flip. Flip them on the other side and fry for another 4-5 minutes.
- Cover the skillet with the lid and turn the heat to medium-low. Cook covered for another 10-15 minutes, flipping them every 5 minutes or until the wings' internal temperature reaches 165°F and the juices near the bone run clear.
- Remove the lid and turn the heat back on high. Let the wings crisp back up for another minute or two on both sides. You can serve them as it is or toss in your preferred wings sauce, such as buffalo or honey BBQ.