These air fryer BBQ chicken wings will be the best chicken wings you've ever had! These tasty barbecue wings take only 20 minutes from start to finish and are perfectly juicy, succulent, and mouth-watering delicious!
This post was originally published in December 2020. It has been updated with content.
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Chicken wings are easily a classic appetizer or snack idea for many. I know for me, they are my go-to on game day and pretty much any other time of year.
They are definitely best when deep-fried but I don't love all that oil! I figured it was time to try them out in my air fryer. Not only is it so much healthier, but it's also a lot easier too.
All I have to do is make a rub, fry them, and coat them in the sauce. Win win! And trust me when I say that the flavors of these air fryer wings are HEAVENLY. I pretty much never want to share these.
What is an Air Fryer?
If you're unfamiliar with air fryers, I'll give you a basic explanation as to how they work so you can decide if they're for you (scroll down below for a link to my favorite model!).
In short, it is much like a deep fryer, except that it uses hot air and a little bit of oil to cook your food. It winds up being a much healthier result too!
This is how it works:
- The top of the appliance holds the heating unit and fan where the hot air rushes down and around the food placed into a food basket.
- It constantly circulates at a fast pace, resulting in crispy appetizers, snacks, and other foods.
- Each part of the unit that needs cleaning is dishwasher safe so cleaning up is a breeze!
All you need are four simple ingredients to make air fryer chicken wings with bbq sauce.
- Chicken wings: It's the main star of this dish! I opted for bone-in whole chicken with the skin on. You can use boneless and skinless chicken, if desired.
- Paprika: Gives a great spice to the rub mix for your chicken!
- Garlic powder: Garlic mixed with the paprika is such a delicious flavor.
- Salt & pepper: Just a bit for the rub mix you'll be making for the chicken.
- BBQ sauce: Your favorite BBQ sauce will do, sweet baby ray's does great!
See the recipe card below for the exact quantities of each ingredient.
How to Cut Chicken Wings
A whole chicken wing is generally made up of a few parts - the wing tip, wingette, and drumette. The wing tip is nothing but bone and cartilage while the drumette has the most meat on it.
While you can purchase pre-cut wings ready for cooking, I opt to do this myself since it is much cheaper to do so and it's relatively easy.
Follow these simple steps to cut your chicken:
- Stretch out the wing on your cutting board and flip it over so the inside faces up and you can easily see the joint of the chicken wing.
- Cut at the joint between the wing tip and wingette and then set it aside. You can use the tips for a stock if you'd like, otherwise just toss them.
- Place your knife on the joint between the drumette and wingette and push your knife all the way through. You may need to wiggle your knife a bit if you feel resistance.
Note: If you washed your chicken prior to cutting it, make sure to pat it dry before preparing to fry for best results.
How to Make Air Fryer BBQ Chicken Wings
All it takes are a few steps to make the best air fryer bbq chicken wings.
Start preparing your chicken by separating the wing from the drumette; set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Rub into each wing coating all the sides.
Spray the basket of your air fryer and place the chicken into the air fryer basket.
Cook at 375F for 12-15 minutes, flipping them over halfway through cooking time.
Remove the chicken from the fryer and brush your BBQ sauce on all sides of each wing.
Serve immediately upon finishing. They are great served up alone or with extra bbq sauce or your favorite wing dipping sauce.
Air Fryer Chicken Wings Variations
While these BBQ chicken wings in the air fryer are quite delicious, it doesn't have to end there! You can try experimenting to come up with different flavors. I've listed out some ideas you can try below.
- Hot wings: Swap out the BBQ sauce for your favorite hot sauce such as Frank's Red Hot Buffalo Sauce.
- Honey BBQ: Try making some air fryer honey BBQ chicken wings by using a honey BBQ sauce or adding some honey yourself!
- Garlic parmesan: Switch out the rub for garlic powder and parmesan cheese! Leave off the BBQ sauce or opt for a more suitable store-bought wing sauce.
- Lemon pepper: Use lemon pepper seasoning for the rub and leave off the BBQ sauce.
Making bbq wings air fryer doesn't require much in the way of kitchen equipment.
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- Air Fryer: This is the air fryer that I personally use and love. Highly recommend it!
- Pastry Brush: You'll want a good brush for this recipe as you brush on the BBQ sauce.
- Cutting board
- Measuring cups and spoons
Storing Chicken BBQ Wings
BBQ chicken wings made in the air fryer are best eaten at the time of frying.
Leftovers: If you end up with leftovers, you can store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 1-2 days.
Reheat: Lay the chicken out on a baking tray and heat in the oven at 350 degrees F until heated through, about 10 minutes or reheat them in the air fryer at 375 degrees F for about 2-3 minutes, just long enough to crisp them back up.
What to Serve with Air Fryer BBQ Wings
While BBQ chicken wings are incredible as a game day appetizer or snack, you can also make them for a weeknight dinner idea!
Some ideas to serve with your bbq air fryer wings might be:
- Avocado fries
- Garlic breadsticks
- Garden salad
- Onion rings
- Rice, pasta or quinoa
Now if you're going for a bbq wings appetizer, you might consider these dipping sauces:
- Ranch or Avocado ranch
- More BBQ sauce
- Honey mustard
- Chili lime sauce
- Bleu cheese
Leave space around the pieces of chicken when placing them in the air fryer. Overcrowding them in the basket causes them to cook more slowly and not crisp completely.
Be sure the wing pieces are dry before applying the rub and cooking. I like to pat them dry with a paper towel just to be sure there is no extra moisture.
For best flavor, serve immediately!
This ultimately will depend on the size of the chicken wings you are using, but it should take about 15 minutes. If that isn't long enough cook in 2-3 intervals until they are fully cooked.
Yes, for best results you should cook thawed out chicken wings in the air fryer. Frozen chicken wings will cook too quickly on the outside and not be cooked enough on the inside.
You can cook 8-10 chicken wings at a time. I needed to cook them in two separate batches to cook the entire 2 pounds of chicken wings.
Try These Other Air Fryer Recipes
Air Fryer BBQ Chicken Wings
- 2 lbs bone-in skin on chicken wings
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon pepper
- ½ cup BBQ Sauce
- Prepare the wings by separating the chicken wing from the drumette. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine the paprika garlic powder, salt and pepper. Rub into each wing.
- Spray the basket of the air fryer and place the chicken wings inside the basket.
- Cook at 375 for 12-15 minutes, turning halfway through cooking time.
- Remove wings from the air fryer and brush with your favorite BBQ sauce. Serve immediately.