The easiest chicken wings with the best taste! Use your favorite hot sauce to make this your own!
Chicken wings are a classic appetizer turned meal that no one is ever sad about! Enjoy these delicious Whole30 and paleo wings with your favorite hot sauce, or whatever sauce you prefer. Bonus: they are also keto! These quick and simple wings are perfect for any football games on TV, your family BBQ, or a crowd pleaser at holiday events. When chicken wings are on sale, they are definitely worth bringing home or bringing to an event (always thinking about how to make things cheaper)!
I love making this as an appetizer when I’m doing a Whole30 reset, or whenever I’m headed to someone else’s for an event. It guarantees that I’ll have something paleo that I can eat, and that I won’t leave the party feeling sick, and usually there’s more than one person who is super excited about wings!
As the name implies, you can make these wings in the air fryer. If you don’t have an air fryer, I’m sorry, but I’m about to spend a bit of time pointing out the pros of owning one, especially since I’m a budget-conscious person. Air fryers, especially an Air Fryer Oven, are complete game changers. Here are just a few ways an Air fryer has made my life easier and/or better in the kitchen:
- An Air Fryer takes no time to pre-heat. While this isn’t a huge deal if you’re planning on cooking a large meal, there are times when I want to make a side dish, say, asparagus, and making it on the stove does not sound appealing. Instead of waiting 20 minutes for the oven to get to the right temperature, I can simply put the veggies in the Air Fryer, and then hit “start.” They are done before the oven would even be at the correct temperature!
- The Air Fryer also can save you time in terms of actual cooking — you can set the air fryer and walk away. It will automatically turn off once it has reached its designated time limit, so if you need to jump in the shower, get in a few more reps of your at-home workout, or even if you need to run out of the house for a few minutes, you can be sure that your food will not burn or over cook. I especially love making bacon in the Air Fryer for this reason; bacon is so easy to burn even when you’re paying close attention to cooking it, but the Air Fryer makes it easy to make perfect bacon.
- Stove-top cooking of veggies usually means more oil, and even baking sometimes means that veggies (or other things) are sitting in a small pool of oil the entire time they are cooking. The Air Fryer either has a basket with holes or a wire mesh that allows extra oils and fats to fall to the bottom away from your food. Think of it as a Mean Lean Grilling Machine, but an oven instead of a grill. You’ll have a better idea of just how much grease has come off your food when you clean out your Air Fryer – it’s a lot!
- Clean up is easy-peasy, whether you have an Air Fryer with a basket or an Air Fryer Oven. When I think about scrubbing a pan that I’ve baked chicken wings on, or think about scrubbing a skillet that I’ve cooked bacon in, I shudder. You all know what they look like – there are tiny bits of burnt on pieces that you just can’t get off, so you have to leave the pan in the sink for a few hours to “soak,” and then you’re right back at it scrubbing. The Air Fryer is easy to clean and is dishwasher safe. It comes apart easily so that each individual piece is easy to clean. For those of you who love to cook but hate to clean, the Air Fryer is completely ideal in this case. How could it get any better?!
- It does get better, because food cooked in an Air Fryer tastes better. I’m not being overly dramatic here- the convection oven makes sure that hot air is moving around each piece of food so that the underside is just as crispy as the exposed sides. Whatever it is that you like crispy and delicious, it’s easier, potentially healthier, and tastier if you cook it in the Air Fryer. French fries, Brussel sprouts, asparagus, chicken fingers, egg rolls… everything. It all tastes better if it’s cooked in the Air Fryer. If you’re on the Whole30, you know that food fatigue is a real thing. The Air Fryer can bring foods back to life with juiciness and crispiness that will get you through the rest of the program (and maybe even change the way you eat certain foods for forever).
- An Air Fryer Oven with a dehydrator is so so so worth it. If you don’t go backpacking or camping, you might not care so much about dehydrating foods, but it is a great way to save money and not waste food. You can make a variety of snacks (dehydrated fruits, for example) that are healthy, made out of what you already have on hand, and last for a long time. If you are someone who goes backpacking or camping, pre-made dehydrated meals are expensive and often not gut-healthy. I’ve seen a number of paleo-friendly dehydrated meals going for $12 or more. The worst part? The meals usually are only around 400 calories, which, after a long day backpacking is not going to be enough calories to get you to your next campsite. I plan on doing a post on food that is great for dehydrating, so stay tuned for that!
If you don’t have an Air Fryer… I’m sorry.
But I also know that people don’t always have money for appliances and/or are in situations where they physically cannot spare the room. For that reason, the instructions for making these wings in the oven are for you. I want you to enjoy the deliciousness of these wings even if you don’t have an Air Fryer. However, in one last defense of this beloved kitchen appliance, I have to say that the Air Fryer is one of the few kitchen appliances that we make room for in our very tiny kitchen. Everyone I know who has purchased an Air Fryer (no matter what form they get- there are so many out there) have loved it! As I mentioned, we have an Air Fryer oven, which has so many features that a normal Air Fryer does not have and takes up slightly more space than most traditional Air Fryers. But again – it’s easy to keep going on about the Air Fryer and it’s amazing wonders – it can add a lot to your kitchen as an appliance.
We all know that forming the habit of healthy eating is difficult, especially since our culture is centered around spending money and eating food. Playing in an after work softball league? Let’s all go out for drinks and food afterwards. Trying out a new board game with friends? Let’s all bring a few appetizers to munch on while we play. Want to watch that new Netflix series that just came out? Let’s make a frozen pizza or order some from the pizza place down the street.
When starting this blog, I knew that affordability was something that had to be at the center of every recipe. That being said, there are certain trade-offs that happen when you start eating healthier. For example, you might not go out to eat as frequently as you used to, saving money and also limiting the amount of unhealthy restaurant or bar food you might have binged on before. Cooking at home doubles as a healthy lifestyle that also saves you money. But we all know those cravings just don’t go away, and if you are truly going to maintain a healthy eating lifestyle, balance is key. No matter if you’re eating paleo, Whole30, vegan, keto, or whatever combination of foods, there has to be a way for you to eat the things you love, in some form or another.
That is where these chicken wings are a total life saver. They are tasty, crispy, and satisfying, offering that hot sauce taste and juiciness even without the deep frying and the breading. I honestly don’t even crave breaded wings any more since making these Air Fryer wings, mostly because they are so much more satisfying and don’t make me sick after eating them.
A note on Carrageenan
If you’ve read up on the Whole30 program, you know that there are a number of additives that they ask you to avoid. They of course ask you to avoid different types of sweeteners, big preservatives, and the super long word carrageenan.
I didn’t know what carrageenan was until the Whole30, and I certainly didn’t realize how common it was in foods. In nutshell, carrageenan is an extraction from seaweed, and is used as a thickener for many vegan products. There have been many controversies over the years about whether or not carrageenan is safe for consumption, as many studies have claimed that it causes inflammation in the digestive tract , and may be responsible for a number of intestinal disorders. The Whole30 specifically does not allow carrageenan in your diet, so if you’re okay with that just being the rules, then feel free to skip ahead.
The jury is still out for me about carrageenan. If you do a quick Google search, you’ll find plenty of articles stating that it can be harmful, and others arguing that the data is being misinterpreted. Maybe someday I’ll be interested enough in the topic to dig deeper and really develop an opinion on carrageenan, but for now, I’m very happy to just stick to the same rule of thumb I do with other ingredients: what is its purpose for being in my food?
When you look at the ingredient list on something like almond milk, carrageenan seemingly makes sense when it appears on the box. Non-dairy milk products might need a little bit of a thickening agent to make it a more desirable consistency. Whether or not carrageenan is harmful to the digestive tract is still something that I’m currently trying to get to the bottom of (feel free to send me any articles – I love reading and learning more), I was completely shocked to find that carrageenan was listed as part of the brine ingredients for chicken. What is the purpose for carrageenan being on chicken?
In any case, I haven’t figured out that answer and therefore have avoided companies that have put their chicken in a brine with carrageenan. Regardless of the healthiness of this seaweed thickener, it’s weird that some companies are putting it in chicken. Sorry not sorry, I’ll choose the chicken without the seaweed thickener. Our course, I’m always open to articles that might open my eyes to the benefits or the harms of things, so please feel free to send me any evidence for either side! Like I said, the jury is still out for this microbiome!
How to make Easy Air Fryer Chicken Wings
Okay, enough about my love of the Air Fryer, it’s many wonders, and the weirdness around carrageenan. How do we make these delicious things?!
The instructions for these wings are incredibly simple, and it only takes a few minutes to throw together. It’s a great recipe for when you’ve forgotten about that after work party tomorrow or so-and-so’s birthday BBQ in a few hours.
These wings also heat up nicely — that is, if you have any left overs at all!
- Melt 1/4 cup ghee butter in a medium bowl.
- Once the ghee is melted, add in 1/2 cup hot sauce and stir well with a fork or spoon.
- Coat your wings, one at a time, in the ghee and hot sauce mixture. Be sure to get into all the little cracks and folds.
- Place chicken wings in the Air Fryer and cook for 15 minutes at 350° F. You might want to peek at them and put them back in if you like your wings extra crispy, but usually they don’t more than about 20 minutes.
- If you don’t have an Air Fryer, and you’re not convinced that you want to own one or just need to make your chicken wings RIGHT NOW and don’t have an Air Fryer, you can instead place them in your oven for 40 minutes at 350°F. Then, flip the wings and put them back in for another 15 minutes or until they are at your preferred level of crispiness.
- Once your wings are cooked, remove them from the Air Fryer and top with some more hot sauce.
I have to say that I’m sort of a hot sauce snob. I absolutely love spicy sauces, salsas, dips, and literally any dish that you can make spicy. In our house, we make our salsa with habaneros, throw jalapeños on our pizza and in our mac and cheese, and are always adding red pepper flakes to any Italian dish. We regularly buy hot sauces on vacation as a souvenir, and tell the store owners that we want a hot sauce that is going to “make our eyes water” and that we want to “start sweating” a few bites in. They usually are more than happy to bring us bottles with flames across them, usually some reference to hell or at least to fire if not the devil himself, and probably are amused by our excitement.
Hot sauces, however, are not created equal. When considering what type of hot sauce to use, the spiciness factor is only part of the equation. There are actually really spicy hot sauces that lack any real flavor. Those tend to sit in our fridge for months until we eventually throw them out. The real key is not only finding a sauce that is to our level of spiciness, but also has a rich taste that complements whatever you’re cooking. In this case, chicken wings.
You can certainly substitute whatever sauce you’d like for this recipe, but I’ve found that Cholula and Frank’s Red Hot sauce are both easy options that you can find in any grocery store. Double check your labels if you’re on the Whole30, as there are many hot sauces that add sugar to their sauces. While most hot sauces are paleo friendly, again, double check your ingredient lists to make sure there is no corn syrup or other additives that are not compatible with your diet.
If you want to mix things up a bit, try buying some hot sauce on your next trip to the Farmer’s Market or to another city. It’ll make your wings more unique, and it will even give them a story to tell when you serve them.
If you are not doing the Whole30 and tolerate dairy, you can totally use butter instead of ghee. It’s definitely cheaper, but for anyone avoiding dairy, ghee is a great option to still get that buttery taste.
Easy Air Fryer Chicken Wings (Whole30, Paleo, Keto)
- Air Fryer
- 1/4 cup ghee butter
- 1/2 cup hot sauce (Franks Hot Sauce and Cholula are two of my favorites!)
- 12 chicken wings
- Melt 1/4 cup ghee or butter in a bowl.
- Add in 1/2 cup of your favorite hot sauce to the ghee mixture
- Coat wings in ghee mixture and place in Airfryer for 15 minutes at 350°F or until desired crispiness. If you do not have an Airfryer, place in oven at 350°F for 40 minutes. Flip and then cook for another 15 minutes or until desired crispiness.
- Top with more hot sauce and enjoy!
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