How to Make Healthier Pan-Fried Chicken Wings

These pan-fried chicken wings are tender and full of flavor, but lighter in calories than the deep-fried version.

Who doesn’t love Buffalo wings? The tangy, spicy wings are a must for any party spread—but not everyone wants to eat deep-fried wings.

This lighter recipe for pan-fried chicken wings uses party wings or wing drumettes and ingredients you probably have on hand. To make this healthier version of the classic, we remove some of the skin and decrease the amount of cooking oil.

We skip the butter-laden Buffalo sauce, too. Before these wings are pan-fried, we coat them with a spicy rub made of Buffalo-style seasonings to give them their signature flavor. This recipe may become one of your go-to game-day appetizers!

How to Pan-Fry Buffalo Chicken Wings

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons seasoned salt (like Lawry’s)
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unbleached flour
  • 2 pounds party wings or wing drumettes
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/2 cup beer of choice (light beer or non-alcoholic beer can also be used) or chicken broth

What kind of oil can you use for pan-frying chicken wings? Our recipe calls for canola oil because it has a neutral flavor, contributes omega-3 fatty acids and handles high heat well. You could substitute another frying oil if desired—I recommend any vegetable oil.

Directions

Step 1: Season the chicken wings

In a small bowl, whisk together the seasoned salt, chili powder, garlic powder, black pepper and flour. Remove any skin that’s easy to take off the wings.

Lay a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Dip each wing into the seasoning mixture, pressing the mixture onto the chicken on both sides to coat well. Then, place on the parchment paper.

Can you pan-fry chicken wings without flour? Yes, but I don’t suggest it. The flour helps distribute the seasoning evenly on the surface of the chicken wings. It also helps with the browning that takes place in the frying pan.

Step 2: Brown the wings

Begin heating a large nonstick skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat. (If your stove runs hot, you might need to turn it down to medium.) Add the canola oil to the skillet. Using tongs or a clean fork, add the chicken wings to the skillet and cook for about 4 minutes or until the bottoms are browned. Using clean tongs or a fork, flip the wings over and cook for about 4 minutes more.

Step 3: Simmer the chicken wings

After browning the wings, I add beer (or broth) to the frying pan to add moisture. Reduce heat to low and drizzle the beer or broth over the top of the wings. Cover the skillet immediately and cook for about 10 minutes. (You can add a few more tablespoons of beer or broth if needed.)

With a clean fork and knife, cut into the largest party wing or drumette to make sure it’s cooked throughout. (For a fail-safe test, use an instant-read meat thermometer to make sure the wings have reached 165ºF.)

Remove the wings from the skillet and serve hot with the dip or dressing of your choice. We recommend this chunky blue cheese dip.

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Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, nationally known as The Recipe Doctor, is the author of 25 books on nutrition and healthy cooking. She believes healthy food isn't going to do any one any good if no one is eating it...it has to taste great and be easy to make. Her top selling book is, TELL ME WHAT TO EAT IF I HAVE DIABETES, and her most revolutionary book is, FOOD SYNERGY.