Why Your Air Fryer Chicken Wings Didn't Turn Out Crispy

Crispy chicken wings are a game day staple and the ultimate football snack food. If you want to make restaurant-style wings at home, but don't want the mess and hassle of deep frying, this is the time to turn to your air fryer.

The goal when it comes to wings is perfectly cooked pieces of chicken that are crispy on the outside, while tender and juicy on the inside. However, there can be pitfalls when cooking chicken wings in the air fryer that can result in unpleasant, soggy wings, or even setting off the smoke detector if you aren't careful.

No matter what recipe you are working from, there are two essential tips when it comes to preparing crispy wings in an air fryer. First, make sure you don't crowd the wings in the air fryer basket. Also, if you plan on using any sort of sauce with your wings, be sure to add it after the wings are out of the air fryer.

Don't crowd the chicken wings in the air fryer

A crowd is good for game day but not your air fryer. As much as everyone loves the ease of preparation when it comes to air frying, it's not possible to simply dump chicken wings in the basket and go back to the game. For crispy wings, take a little extra time to place the wings in the basket one at a time. It is important that the wings don't overlap and aren't too close together. Air fryers work by circulating hot air all around the surface of the food as it cooks, so you need to be conscious of allowing space for that air flow.

Since the chicken pieces will take up a little more space in the air fryer basket, you will likely need to cook the wings in batches. This can actually work in your favor on game day because it means wings will come out fresh from the air fryer, and by the time they are gobbled up, a new batch will be ready. Also, don't forget that chicken wings come in two types of pieces, flat "wingettes" and the drumettes. Since these are different sizes and weights, try to cook similar pieces together in the same batch. This will result in equal timing and even, crisp cooking for all the pieces in each batch.

Sauce your chicken wings after air frying

It is important to remember that air fryers function differently than deep fryers. Traditional deep frying methods are open and expel moisture from wet foods as they cook, while air fryers are enclosed appliances, so excess moisture leads to soggy results. This means that any sort of wet batter is not suitable for an air fryer. If you want to achieve the effect of a crisp coating on the outside, opt for a dry breading instead.

Also, if you are craving sticky or saucy wings, be sure to brush the fully cooked wings with the sauce after they come out of the air fryer. Moisture from a sauce or even a marinade can drip down from the food onto the metal components of the appliance below. This can cause your air fryer to start to smoke and result in unpleasant aromas in the kitchen. Therefore, if you plan on making buffalo wings, be sure to add the melted butter and hot sauce after the chicken is cooked and crisped in the air fryer.