This is our family’s go-to hot wing recipe—in an air fryer! These air fryer buffalo wings are crazy fast and super easy, and they’re some of the best hot wings you’ll ever try. My dad / Bill says so—and he’s eaten a lot of wings…
The seasoning includes smoked paprika and a few other spice cabinet basics, plus the classic Frank’s hot sauce. This isn’t a sponsored post, but if it ain’t broke…!
Air Fryer Buffalo Wings That Taste Like a Classic Hot Wing
I’ve made these wings for family and friends, and the consensus is that they’re absolutely fantastic—astoundingly so for homemade wings. They’re on par with hot wings that were cooked in the deep-fryer, but they’re absurdly easy to make using an air fryer.
I don’t know about you, but I feel it’s harder and harder to find a great buffalo wing out there. Everyone seems to want to put their special spin on hot wings with different sauces, additions, or dips. I say, keep it classic!
That being said, you may be itching to shout hypocrisy at the suspicious amount of smoked paprika in the recipe, but trust me it’s not a gimmick, just a flavor enhancer. Sarah is not a big fan of smoked paprika (“It’s overpowering!” she says), and even she was surprised that it only made the wings tastier rather than overtly smoky!
This recipe is inspired by this one from Good Food Baddie, but I omitted the herbs de provence in favor of just thyme which I think adds a nice complexity that’s not just spice and onion and garlic, left out the salt (I think these are plenty salty with the buffalo wing sauce!) and added onion powder. If you don’t have thyme, simply omit it! I also air fry these at 400°F per the guidance of Frank’s RedHot himself!
So whether you’re making these for the Super Bowl, staging your own Hot Ones at home, or just having a night in, these are the classic buffalo wings you want.
Notes on Making Buffalo Wings in An Air Fryer
This is one of very few recipes where we cut straight to the air fryer. While we generally avoid specialty equipment in our recipes, sometimes that piece of equipment is the best tool for the job. (That said, we do have oven instructions below!)
A quality buffalo wing is a crispy buffalo wing. These air-fryer hot wings have that crisp texture without the traditional deep fat fryer method. I know I don’t need to convince anyone that hot wings are worth their time, so I’ll cut right to the chase:
In the air fryer:
- If you prioritize juicy, cook them for 22 minutes.
- If you prioritize crispy, cook them for 25 minutes.
The above cooking times should work in whatever air fryer you have! Some say baking soda helps get them crispy, but I find these are plenty crispy and also don’t have any baking soda aftertaste.
Working with Different Air Fryers
We air-fried the wings in three different brands of air-fryers. The drawer style ones don’t seem to run quite as hot, while the bigger multi-purpose toaster oven variety ran quite hot.
The wings should be placed on the bottom level of any toaster-oven-type air fryer.
Putting them too close to the heating element at the top of the air fryer caused a little bit of burnt onion powder, but the consensus was that a bit of char on the wings was actually delicious!
(The onion powder we use is granulated and coarse rather than true powder. I suspect if you have finer onion powder, you may not run into this.)
To Make Oven-Baked Buffalo Wings:
You can certainly use this recipe to make wings in your oven. Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C, and position a rack in the center of the oven.
After marinating, transfer the wings to a sheet pan lined with non-stick foil or parchment paper. Bake on the center rack for 25-35 minutes until golden brown, rotating the pan once at the halfway point.
In the OVEN:
25-35 minutes at 400°F/200°C, baked in the center of the oven.
Towards the end of the baking time, just make sure the edges aren’t burning! Serve. This is the same method we use for some of our other popular baked wing recipes (oyster sauce wings, anyone?).
The Best Blue Cheese Dressing
Is it obnoxious to say “bleu cheese” in a hot wing context? Potentially.
Luckily, I don’t have to worry about that, because I’ll readily admit that we reach for another grocery store basic: Ken’s chunky blue cheese dressing, because sometimes ya just don’t want to make it from scratch! Especially if you’re cooking for a crowd.
We have some instructions for augmenting it with extra blue cheese or gorgonzola. (The latter is best for folks who prefer a milder blue cheese dip.)
I initially made these wings for a “Hot Takes” party I had with friends. (Shoutout to my friend Miranda who is one of our biggest fans and cheerleaders for coming up with the idea!) Everyone made a short slide presentation about a “hot take” that they have.
They ranged from obscure and mundane to elaborate theories: Is that celebrity good looking or just tall? Did Game of Thrones need a prequel? Are villains from movies and books really without any virtue? What is the definitive ranking of Disney princesses? Are bidets indeed worth it?
To be on theme, we had spicy foods on hand. These air fryer buffalo wings were the star of the show, along with my milder white pepper baked chicken wings! I made a big old bowl of marinated wings, batching them out over the course of the night in my little air fryer, and they were all happily enjoyed throughout the evening!
And let me just say, for anyone planning a Super Bowl party, if you believe anyone will even think about touching a salad when these wings are around you are sadly mistaken. A side of crudité veggies was all that was needed!
Air Fryer Buffalo Wing Recipe Instructions
If desired, rinse your chicken wings under cold water. Pat them dry with paper towels. Be sure to disinfect your sink and countertops afterwards!
(Let’s not have an argument about the virtues and foibles of chicken rinsing and FDA recommendations. We like to rinse our chicken to remove bone spurs and rinse away any residue from processing. If you don’t want to rinse your chicken wings, don’t!)
If you’re wings are whole, you’ll need to separate them into drumettes and flats. Find the joint that connects the two, and slice through firmly with your knife. Also remove the wing tips and discard (or save for stock!).
Transfer the wings to a large mixing bowl.
Season with the smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, dried thyme, and black pepper. There’s no added salt, because the Frank’s is plenty salty. Marinate for at least 30 minutes, or as long as overnight.
Air fry the wings in batches at 400°F (200°C) for 22-25 minutes. 25 minutes will get them crispy, while 22 minutes yields a juicier but slightly less crisp wing. I was able to fit 16-18 wings in my air fryer. Keep the finished wings warm on a sheet pan in a warming drawer or oven set to 170°F while you air-fry the remaining wings.
Don’t let them sit around in a big heap, as they’ll steam up and get soggy and eventually cold. You can also just cook and toss the wings in batches, and serve them up as they are ready!
While the wings cook, whisk together the melted butter and hot sauce until you have an emulsified sauce.
If you’re doctoring your blue cheese dipping sauce, combine the blue cheese dressing with a few tablespoons of crumbled blue cheese or gorgonzola cheese.
When the wings are ready, transfer them to a big mixing bowl (we use a large stainless steel bowl).
Pour over the sauce, tossing them with a wooden spoon or tongs. Wear an apron, as they can splatter a bit as you toss them! If needed, you can do this in batches so they are easier to toss.
Serve the air fryer buffalo wings with the blue cheese sauce, and dig in!
Air Fryer Buffalo Wings
- 4 pounds chicken wings (about 16 whole wings, yielding 32 flats and drumettes)
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 stick butter (melted)
- 1/2 cup Frank's hot sauce
- 1/2 cup Ken's chunky blue cheese dressing
- 3 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese or gorgonzola (optional)
- If desired, rinse your chicken wings under cold water. Pat them dry with paper towels, and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Be sure to disinfect your sink and countertops afterwards!
- Season with the smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, dried thyme, and black pepper. There’s no added salt, because the Frank’s is plenty salty. Marinate for at least 30 minutes, or as long as overnight.
- Air fry the wings in batches at 400°F (200°C) for 22-25 minutes. 25 minutes will get them crispy, while 22 minutes yields a juicier but slightly less crisp wing. I was able to fit 16-18 wings in my air fryer. Keep the finished wings warm on a sheet pan in a warming drawer or oven set to 170°F while you air-fry the remaining wings. You can also just cook and toss the wings in batches, and serve them up as they are ready!
- While the wings cook, whisk together the melted butter and Frank’s hot sauce until you have an emulsified sauce.
- If you’re doctoring your blue cheese dipping sauce, combine the Ken’s blue cheese dressing with the crumbled blue cheese or gorgonzola cheese.
- When the wings are ready, transfer them to a big mixing bowl (we use a large stainless steel bowl), and pour over the sauce, tossing them with a wooden spoon or tongs. Wear an apron, as they can splatter a bit as you toss them! If needed, you can do this in batches so they are easier to toss. Serve with the blue cheese sauce.