You Shouldn't Bother With Frozen Pre-Made Chicken Wings

There are few pleasures in life as simple and satisfying as a steaming, perfectly crispy plate of chicken wings. Whether you like them plain (unusual, but fine), with Buffalo sauce (a classic choice), or with variations like BBQ sauce, Sriracha, or harissa honey, the quality of the dish all boils down to the chicken wings themselves. These little bad boys, usually split between drumettes and wingettes, are hard to mess up. Their small size makes them far easier to cook than a whole roast chicken, or even chicken breast or thighs.

Yet, despite the ease of whipping up a hot plate of chicken wings, some people still turn, in desperation, to frozen pre-made chicken wings as a substitute. We implore you — don't make this mistake. It might seem like a harmless bit of convenience, but relying on frozen pre-made chicken wings is a more expensive, less delicious cop-out that you will only come to regret.

Why frozen pre-made chicken wings are the worst

Frozen, pre-made chicken wings can never compare to the real thing, because they will never achieve the crispiness of a fresh batch of baked or fried chicken wings. When chicken is frozen, its texture can change, and it might not regain its original tenderness, even after reheating. This results in a product with an inconsistent, rubbery, and stringy texture, devoid of the juiciness found in wings just out of the oven. They lack the crucial contrast between crispy skin and tender meat that makes chicken wings so irresistible.

You're also probably paying more for this so-called "convenience." Raw chicken wings generally cost around $3 per pound (though prices may vary depending on season, inflation, and location), while frozen pre-made wings can cost twice as much.

And let's not overlook the customization that comes with making wings on your own. Pre-made wings might come out over- or under-salted, minimally seasoned, and you will almost certainly need to supplement with your own sauce, as the sauce on pre-made wings tends to get reabsorbed once the wings are frozen.

Make your own chicken wings instead

Many people are under the impression that you need to make a big mess frying up your chicken wings to achieve restaurant-quality taste, but that simply isn't true. Baked chicken wings are not only delicious, but also lower in calories than their fried counterparts. They also tend to keep better, as the fried coating on fried chicken wings can become soggy and separate from the skin if left out too long or refrigerated.

Baked chicken wings will naturally crisp up as the fat renders, creating a crackly skin while keeping the meat nice and juicy. To make them, simply coat your wings in a mixture of flour, salt, corn starch or baking powder, garlic powder, and paprika. Then bake them on a rack over a sheet pan for about 40 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Take them out and roll them in your sauce of choice, and then stick them back in the oven for another 10 minutes.

You can also use an air fryer to get crispy wings. They can be cooked in as little as 18 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and you can even skip the flour and corn starch if you like.