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Sous Vide Chicken Wings

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Sous vide chicken wings are tender and juicy with a delicious crunch. This recipe helps to break down the proteins in the chicken wings for a perfectly cooked wing without worrying about overcooking.

I know what you're thinking. This is one of those "smoked bacon wrapped Oreos, you've got it so you're doing it, even if it's weird" things.

It's not!! I swear!

Cooking chicken wings sous vide helps to break down the collagen to avoid chewiness while keeping them tender and moist. This cooking method solves the chicken wing conundrum, as I like to call it.

Many times, and with many recipes, by the time the collagen in the chicken wings is broken down to a desireable texture, the meat is overcooked and dry. Not this time! We've solved for x!

This sous vide chicken wings recipe is dedicated to solved conundrums!

Sous vide chicken wings finished three ways.
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Tips + Tricks

No. 1 --> New to sous vide cooking? Check out my Sous Vide 101 Guide!

No. 2 --> This recipe can be made with fresh or frozen chicken wings. If your wings are frozen, add an extra 45 minutes to the cook time.

No. 3 --> Many sous vide recipes call for seasoning the chicken wings before sealing in the bags. I don't. For a number of reasons - but mostly that we buy in bulk because we love chicken wings, and I never know what I'm going to do with them. Maybe they'll turn into smoked dill pickle chicken wings, or air-fried wings, or these sous vide wings.

No. 4 --> Make it easier on yourself and buy split chicken wings. This not only saves time, but also your knives (and maybe fingers!).

Dipping a sous vide chicken wing into a spicy ranch dressing.

Key Ingredients

Chicken wings: Use good quality chicken wings, either fresh or frozen. If cooking from frozen, add an extra 45 minutes to the water bath time.

Vacuum sealed chicken wings in a sous vide water bath.

What Temperature To Sous Vide Chicken Wings

There are generally two temperatures that people cook chicken wings.

  • 145f: This temperature will result in a chicken wing with more bite and texture. This temperature can also come with a more "undercooked" looking protein.
  • 160f: This temperature results in a super tender, nearly fall off the bone chicken wing, with a more familiar looking protein.

BUT!! Chicken isn't "cooked" until 165f, right?

This is a "yes" with a caveat. Chicken is considered cooked once it reaches 165f because pasteurization, or the elimination of pathogens, occurs immediately at 165f. This makes 165f a fool-proof temperature for cooks everywhere.

Here's the caveat: pasteurization is a function of temperature and time. This gives sous vide cooking the flexibility to play with temp and time more than a traditional cooking method. Basically, a vacuum-packed bag of chicken wings that's 1 inch thick will be pasteurized in 75 minutes once it reaches 145f and instantly once it reaches 165f

Personally, I think that perfect sous vide chicken wings are cooked to 165f. Only because the mind is a strong tool and I cannot overcome the appearance of chicken cooked to 145f. I'm working on it, but we aren't there yet! HA

Further reading: Baldwin's Pasteurization Chart gives more in-depth information into pasteurization.

Sous vide chicken wings on 3 plates.

How To Make Sous Vide Chicken Wings

  1. Prepare a sous vide water bath. Set the temperature to 145f or 165f, depending on the texture preference. See above for more information.
  2. Once the water bath reaches temperature, vacuum seal chicken wings, then lower into the water bath.
  3. Cook the chicken wings sous vide for 2 1/2 - 3 hours at the desired temperature.
  4. When done, remove the chicken from the water bath and plunge into an ice bath. This step is not strictly necessary, but gives you a bit more lenience in finishing the wings, especially if you like them extra crispy, without worrying about overcooking the perfectly cooked protein!
  5. Once cooled, remove the chicken wings from the sealed bag, place them on a baking sheet with a baking rack on top, and blot dry with paper towels.
  6. Finish with one of the methods below.

How To Finish Sous Vide Chicken Wings

There are a couple options when it comes to finishing your chicken wings. All of them require the chicken to be well dried before finishing, so don't skip that step!

  • Broil: Place a rack on the highest level in your oven and preheat oven to the highest broil setting (mine is 550f). Broil the chicken wings for 3 minutes, flip and broil again. This method is awesome if you've got a sugary sauce on the wings that you'd like to caramelize and thicken. It also works great if you love plain wings too.
  • Grill: Heat up your grill till it's ripping hot (around 550f), then toss the wings on the grates for 1-2 minutes, then rotate for another couple minutes until cooked to desired crispness.
  • Pan Fry: Add 2-3 inches of oil to a deep cast iron pot. Heat it until it reaches 375f, carefully add the wings to the oil, and fry on each side until golden brown.
  • Air Fry: Preheat your air fryer to 400f. Toss the wings in a small amount of oil, then add to air fryer and cook for 6 minutes, shake the basket, then cook for another 6-8 minutes.
  • Deep Fry: If you've got a dedicated deep fryer, this is a great method. Preheat the oil to 375 - 400f, then fry the wings in batches for 3 minutes per batch.
Sous vide chicken wings finished 3 different ways.

Our Preference:

I'm going to preface this with a couple of things; a) The Crave house LOVES crunchy food. Can't get enough. The crispier the better. b) We have a dedicated deep fryer that's always set up and aside from plugging in, takes no work to use.

After sitting down with the whole family and sampling one wing from each finishing method that we tried; deep-fried, air fried, and oven broiled, the resounding favorite in this house were the deep-fried ones.

We loved that they had incredibly crispy skin, but were so moist and tender on the inside. Kevy declared that I made the best chicken wings he'd ever had.

Now, if I didn't have a dedicated deep fryer, I don't know that I could be arsed to fry these in a pan with oil, based on the mess alone. That said, it would be the best way to duplicate that perfect skin.

My second choice was actually oven broiled. I broiled them for 3-4 minutes on each side on the highest rack in my oven as hot as the broiler would go. This was the next best skin, and for convenience, it's probably the easiest method.

The air fryer, while great, didn't really impress me for this recipe. I found it took longer and still didn't crisp the skin as much as I'd have liked. So for that reason, the air fryer finishes 3rd.

Make-Ahead Information

This is a really make ahead friendly recipe. You can make it days or weeks in advance.

Once sous vide, the chilled wings can be kept in their sealed bag in the fridge for up to 4 days before being finished as desired. They can also be frozen directly from the ice bath, then thawed and finished whenever you're ready for wings - this is massively convenient if you host a lot!

They can also be blotted dry, then placed on a rack and tossed in the fridge overnight to dry, even more, giving an even crispier skin. This is a great way to party prep! Hello game day 🙂

Sous vide chicken wings with dip.

Batch + Storage Information

Batch:

A batch of these chicken wings for us is about 24. We buy in bulk and vacuum seal 24 wings in a bag before they get tossed in the freezer for later use. That said, you can cook as many as you have room for, or as few as you like!

Storage:

After sous vide, the wings can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days before finishing. If the wings have been sous vide and finished, they can also be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days total.

After sous vide, the wings can also be frozen for up to 6 months for a quick and easy to prepare appetizer whenever you need it. I would not recommend freezing wings that have been finished, they'll get soggy and weird.

To use frozen wings, remove them from the freezer the night before and thaw in the fridge overnight, or thaw in a sink of cold water for 1 hour. Then finish as desired.

More Sous Vide Recipes To Love

Variations + Substitutions

There are a few great ways to make this recipe your own.

  • Sous vide buffalo chicken wings: Finish the wings as desired, then toss in buffalo sauce before serving with blue cheese dressing.
  • Sous vide honey garlic wings: Toss your cooked wings in honey garlic sauce before finishing in one of the methods mentioned above.
  • Sous vide dill pickle wings: brine the wings in dill pickle juice for 24 hours before draining and vacuum sealing. Sous vide and finish as per the recipe
Chicken wings cooked sous vide then finished different ways.

Sous vide:  My SOUS VIDE CIRCULATOR is an awesome little unit. They add the functionality of a whole new appliance to your kitchen while fitting in a drawer. I wasn't 100% sure I'd love sous vide, so I dipped my toe in with a reasonably priced Instant Pot Slim - and it's great! Check out my other SOUS VIDE RECIPES!

Container: When I started with sous vide, I didn't have a fancy container, I wasn't even sure if I'd like it, so I used whatever I had on hand with straight sides that would hold what I was cooking. A huge stockpot, my ceramic fermentation crock, the liner of my Instant Pot. Then I splurged on a Cambro (and then another one) and while it's really only used for sous vide, I really love them both. We modified a lid and it's easy and painless to set up and put away.

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📖 Printable Recipe

Sous vide chicken wings finished three ways.
Yield: 24

Sous Vide Chicken Wings

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Finishing Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 40 minutes

Sous vide chicken wings are the best way to deliver a perfectly cooked chicken wing. This recipe cooks the chicken in a water bath before cooling and then finishing as desired to avoid overcooked, dry wings!

Ingredients

  • 24 chicken wings
  • salt + pepper to taste
  • sauces, as desired

Instructions

Sous Vide Chicken Wings

  1. Preheat sous vide water bath to desired temperature. 145f will give chicken wings with more bite and chewiness, 165f will give tender, nearly fall off the bone wings.
  2. Once the water bath reaches temperature, vacuum seal the wings into a bag, and place the bag in the water bath for 2 1/2 - 3 hours. Longer cook time will increase tenderness. If cooking from frozen: add an extra 45 minutes of water bath time.
  3. When done, remove the chicken from the water bath and plunge into an ice bath. This step is not strictly necessary but gives more leniency when finishing the wings without overcooking.
  4. Once cooled, remove the chicken wings from the sealed bag, place them on a baking sheet with a baking rack on top, and pat dry with paper towels.
  5. Finish as desired.

finishing sous vide chicken wings

Broil: Preheat oven to the highest broil setting. Toss the wings in a small amount of oil or desired sauce. Broil the chicken wings for 3 minutes, flip and broil again.

Grill: Heat up your grill till it's around 550f, then toss the wings on the grates for 1-2 minutes, then rotate for another couple minutes until cooked to desired crispness.

Pan Fry: Add 2-3 inches of oil to a deep cast iron pot. Heat it until it reaches 375f, carefully add the wings to the oil, and fry on each side until golden brown.

Air Fry: Preheat your air fryer to 400f. Toss the wings in a small amount of oil, then add to air fryer and cook for 5 minutes, shake the basket, then cook for another 5 minutes.

Deep Fry: If you've got a dedicated deep fryer, this is a great method. Preheat the oil to 375 - 400f, then fry the wings in batches for 3-5 minutes per batch.

Notes

make-ahead information

Once sous vide, the chilled wings can be kept in their sealed bag in the fridge for up to 4 days before being finished as desired.

They can also be frozen directly from the ice bath, then thawed and finished whenever you're ready for wings.

They can also be blotted dry, then placed on a rack and tossed in the fridge overnight to dry, even more, giving an even crispier skin.

Batch:

A batch of these chicken wings for us is about 24. That said, you can cook as many as you have room for or as few as you like!

Storage:

After sous vide, the wings can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days before finishing. If the wings have been sous vide and finished, they can also be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days total.

After sous vide, the wings can also be frozen for up to 6 months for a quick and easy to prepare appetizer whenever you need it. I would not recommend freezing wings that have been finished, they'll get soggy and weird.

To use frozen wings, remove them from the freezer the night before and thaw in the fridge overnight, or thaw in a sink of cold water for 1 hour. Then finish as desired.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 544Total Fat: 40gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 22gCholesterol: 132mgSodium: 921mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 28g

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