Have a hankering for some wings? Typically, Buffalo wings are deep-fried into crispy goodness and then bathed in a vinegar-based hot sauce with melted butter. Instead, cook your frozen chicken wings in an air fryer to get Buffalo wings that are delightfully crispy without deep-frying. Enjoy this lighter, lower-calorie version of one of the best chicken wing flavors around. Just don’t forget the creamy dressing and the carrot and celery sticks!
If I have not made it clear in previous posts, I am mildly obsessed with my 10-Quart Kalorik Digital Air Fryer Oven. I continue to be amazed at the versatility of dishes that I can create with this nifty kitchen appliance. It is a dream for those of us that love the crispiness of fried food but want to cut back on added oils.
Playing around with new kitchen gadgets is one of the ways I remain motivated to cook more at home. If one of your goals is to cook more at home, don’t miss this SparkPeople article. In this piece, some of my nutrition colleagues and I gave our top tips for staying motivated to cook at home.
Actually, I was not the person in the article who suggested investing in fun new kitchen gadgets. However, it is definitely a strategy I use.
Another thing I love to do that was not mentioned in the article is to experiment with new ingredients. (And no, I do not mean new flavors of breakfast cereal or chips. Haha)
A lot of grocery stores have an exotic produce section. I’ve found this an invaluable resource for finding new-to-me fruits and vegetables to cook with. Sometimes the experiments are not successful (remember the Buddha’s hand stir fry?), but the occasional failures don’t stop me from trying new things.
Ingredients You’ll Need for this Frozen Chicken Wings in Air Fryer Recipe
I am a big fan of the frozen chicken wings at Trader Joe’s. They are a perfect contender to put in your air fryer! The wings come in a 2-pound package, with the calories listed at 210 per 4 ounces.
The label lists 4.5 servings per bag. Thus, they do not appear to be including the bones in their calculations.
I’ve noticed that the wings I’ve purchased from other stores tend to be fattier and include more skin. If you do not have a Trader Joe’s, I recommend trimming some of the fat and skin from your wings. This will reduce the calories of the recipe and help you get delicious results that are similar to mine.
Another thing you must have for Buffalo wings is a vinegar-based cayenne pepper sauce. There are a lot of choices, many listed as “0” calories. On the left is the label for Frank’s RedHot Original, while Frank’s RedHot Buffalo Wing sauce is on the right:
Neither sauce actually has zero calories, but they are allowed to round down if they contain under five calories per serving. I often see sauces and seasonings with sugar and added oils that are listed as zero calories. (Another example is oil spray, as we’re using in the recipe below.)
Of the two sauces listed above, I’d consider Frank’s RedHot Original the “better” choice. It has no added oil, unlike the wing sauce, and no additives that push it into ultra-processed food territory.
Canola oil is a whopping 120 calories per tablespoon. I’m thinking the “zero-calorie” wing sauce with the oil must come extremely close to the <5 calorie cut off. Indeed, Frank’s Hot Buffalo Wings sauce has an identical ingredients list and is labeled as five calories per serving.
Why bother making Air Fried Buffalo wings at home?
My family loves to work some food tourism into our travels. So, the last time we passed through Buffalo, NY, we made a point of stopping at the Anchor Bar. They are the home of the original Buffalo wing.
We thought they were fabulous and well worth the stop. I think it’s fine to work some indulgences like that in when I’m on vacation.
The issue is when the large indulgences become part of what I am doing day-to-day. I don’t have the Anchor Bar close to my home. But we do have some great local restaurants with terrific deals on all-you-can-eat chicken wings.
If you are trying to maintain a healthy weight, I highly recommend staying out of buffet and all-you-can-eat situations as much as possible. I know I find it very difficult to eat reasonable portions in those situations.
I think it may be especially tricky for those of us who are budget conscious. All of that additional food is free, right?!? Woohoo, free!
Unfortunately, the “savings” may not be worth it. I’ve found that visiting buffets makes it far more challenging to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Though I’ve saved on food in the short-term, it may end up costing me more (wellness-wise) in the long run.
These air fryer Buffalo wings are pretty high in sodium, similar to what you’d get in a restaurant. However, they are not deep-fried, and there is not an endless amount of them!
You can still catch me at a buffet once in a great while on holiday or vacation. Most days, however, you’ll find me making my own meals. Even if it’s not “all-you-can-eat,” the portion sizes served in U.S. restaurants are excessively large for most.
And now for the disclaimer…
All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
The calorie information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don’t sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to this post. Let’s get cooking!
Frozen Chicken Wings in Air Fryer (Buffalo Wings Recipe)
- 2 lbs. chicken wings, thawed if frozen (Trader Joe's brand, or trim some of the fat and skin)
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 6 medium carrots, cut into sticks
- 6 stalks celery, cut into sticks
- 6 tablespoons ranch dressing with no added sugar (I used Primal Kitchen brand)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- ¾ cup Frank's RedHot sauce
- cooking oil spray of choice
- Stir the baking powder together with the chili powder and the garlic powder. Sprinkle the mixture over the chicken wings, and stir to combine well.
- Lightly mist your air fryer baking racks with the cooking spray. Spread the wings in a single layer on the racks. Mist the wings with the cooking spray.
- Bake the wings in your air fryer oven at 250°F for 15 minutes.
- Switch the position of the trays in your oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes at 400°F.
- Flip all of the chicken wings over and switch the position of the trays in the oven again. Bake an additional 10 minutes at 400°F. Admire those beautiful crispy wings.
- While the chicken is in the air fryer, melt the butter in a small saucepan on the stovetop. Add the Frank's RedHot and stir it well until thoroughly combined.
- Using tongs, dip each crispy chicken piece in the hot sauce mixture.
- To serve: Plate up ⅓ of the chicken, ⅓ of the carrots, ⅓ of the celery, and 2 T of the ranch dressing for dipping. Get out some napkins and enjoy that Buffalo chicken goodness.
This is a level 2 recipe (transition or weight maintenance). Hot sauce (and condiments in general) tend to be very high in sodium. As such, this recipe is not a good choice for those on low-sodium diets. For those without a sodium restriction, this meal is likely far lower in calories than Buffalo wings from a restaurant.
What’s your favorite type of chicken wing? If you make my frozen chicken wings air fryer recipe, snap a pic and tag me on your social media @SummerYuleRDN. I’d love to hear how they turned out!