We Americans LOVE our chicken wings. Collectively, we’ll eat 1.33 BILLION wings during this year’s Big Game weekend alone, according to a report from the National Chicken Council. That’s a LOT of finger lickin’! According to History Daily, our love affair with wings began in 1964, when Teressa Bellissimo, owner of the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY, accidentally ordered a case of chicken wings instead of chicken necks. Desperate to find a use for them, she deep fried them and covered them in hot sauce, then served them to her son and his friends. The boys gobbled them up, and hot wings were born.

There are numerous chicken wing eating contests around the country, including the U.S. Chicken Wing Eating Championship in Buffalo, NY, the World Championship Hot Wing Eating Contest in Memphis, TN, and the OTG Hot Wing Eating Contest held in conjunction with the World Chicken Festival in London, England. According to majorleagueeating.com, the “official” current record holder for most wings eaten in 30 minutes is Joey Chestnut, with 182.

Thinking of serving wings at your next get-together? There are typically four to five chicken wings in a pound, and experts say to plan for 6-10 wings per person.

Whether you soar high as a wing expert or are just getting off the ground in the wing making game, here is your Wing Prep Playbook for the Big Game or anytime:

It all starts with da FLAVA, baby!

First stop, flavortown (thanks Guy Fieri). Add some oomph with seasonings and marinades.

Try these Bloody Mary Chicken Wings
Bloody Mary Chicken Wings

Marinades are acidic liquids that meats are soaked in to tenderize them and infuse flavors. Typically, chicken wings are marinated a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator.

Tip: Many of Tastefully Simple’s sauces, like Bold Berry Sauce, Mango Grill Sauce, Honey Teriyaki Sauce and even Bloody Mary Mixer make flavorful marinades for chicken wings and other meats and poultry.

Dry rubs are a combination of savory seasonings rubbed on the exterior of the wings to add flavor and help create a crispy crust.

Tip: Making Magic Chicken™ Seasoning is an expert blend of Tastefully Simple’s most popular seasonings: Use it, along with Seasoned Pepper, Cha Cha! Chile Lime Seasoning, Sí Sí Cilantro Seasoning, Garlic Pepper Seasoning, Citrus Herb Seasoning (a flavorful step up from lemon pepper) or any of our clean-label, expertly blended seasonings, to add flavor, not fat or calories, to your wings.

Try these Garlic Parmesan Wings
Garlic Parmesan Wings

Wing sauces are mild to blazing heat, usually getting their heat from cayenne and black pepper. Sauces flavored with parmesan cheese and garlic are also popular. Most wing aficionados recommend saucing just prior to serving by tossing the wings in a bowl with the sauce. In addition to Garlic Parmesan Wing Sauce, which has a spicy garlic flavor, you might want to shake things up a bit with Mango Grill Sauce or Bayou Bourbon™ Glaze.

Tip: Whisk together ¼ cup melted butter, 2-2½ tablespoons Nashville Hot Seasoning and 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar for the easiest-ever Nashville-style wing sauce. Or use Garlic Parmesan Wing Sauce straight from bottle to bowl.

Now we’re COOKIN’!

Chicken wings can be cooked in a variety of ways, and every method has its passionate supporters. Here are several options:

Fast and Fabulous: Air Frying

Air fryer fans say that forced-air superheating crisps up the wings in a way that a standard oven just can’t match, and they cook up to three times faster, in about 20 minutes.

Tip: All Tastefully Simple’s delicious wing recipes can be adapted for air frying. Simply place wings in a single layer on air fryer rack in lowest position. Turn air fryer to 400°F (do not preheat). Set to 20 minutes, turning over halfway through.

Best for Big Batches: Oven Baking

Try these Honey Teriyaki Chicken Wings
Honey Teriyaki Chicken Wings

Oven baking offers the advantage of big batches – you can generally prepare more wings in a single batch in the oven than any home air fryers. You can expect. A batch of oven-cooked wings takes 50-60 minutes at 400° F or 90 minutes at 375°F. Use a meat thermometer to ensure the meat reaches a minimum of 165°F.

Tip: Let wings rest a bit before baking to dry the skin. This will produce a crisper wing. Coating wings in a dry rub, baking soda or cornstarch can also help promote crispiness.

Fuss-Free: Slow Cooking

Try these Slow Cooked Garlic Parmesan Wings
Slow Cooked Garlic Parmesan Wings

If you have a bit of time, cooking wings in a slow cooker is a smart solution. Just season your wings as desired, add them to the slow cooker and pour enough sauce over them to fully coat. Cook on LOW 4-5 hours or HIGH 2½– 3 hours, then baste with more sauce and crisp up under the broiler 6-10 minutes.

Sensationally Smoky: Grilling

Try these Grilled Garlic Parmesan Chicken Wings
Grilled Garlic Parmesan Chicken Wings

For some, nothing beats the smoky flavor and char of food cooked on a grill. Grill as a finishing touch after wings are baked in the oven to avoid dry wings. Slather cooked wings in sauce (try our Smoky Bacon BBQ Sauce) and grill over medium heat 4-5 minutes.)

Dippin’ and Dunkin’

True wing fans are as passionate about the dipping sauces as they are the wings themselves! The best sauces are often cool and creamy to counteract the heat of the wing sauce. Some to try:

Try this Classic Ranch Dressing
Classic Ranch Dressing

Everyone’s favorite dip is super-simple to make at home with Classic Ranch Mix, milk and mayo.

Try this Dill Pickle Dip
Dill Pickle Dip

Mix this popular dip mix with mayo and sour cream.

Try this TS House Sauce
TS House Sauce

All the flavor of the best “secret sauces,” including mayo, Worcestershire sauce, tomato, mustard, vinegar, onion and garlic, make this a great choice for wings.

BONUS: What goes with wings?

In keeping with its “bar food” origins, hot wings are often served with traditional pub fare. Here are some great choices:

Try these Seasoned Pepper Fries
Seasoned Pepper Fries

Seasoned Pepper Fries. Seasoned Pepper gives this easy air-fried snack its flavorful bite.

Try these Baked Buffalo Chicken Nachos
Baked Buffalo Chicken Nachos

Baked Buffalo Chicken Nachos. Garlic Parmesan Wing Sauce is delicious on more than wings! This classic starts in the slow cooker and finishes in the oven.

Try this Totcho Pizza
Totcho Pizza

Totcho Pizza. Two great snacks – tater tots and pizza – come together in a crowd-pleasing dish that’s nacho usual snack.

Looking for even more delicious recipes? Find thousands here!

– kgm