We love chicken wings any which way: baked in the oven, deep-fried, grilled, or crisped in the air fryer. But these Crock Pot wings are a thing of true beauty. They’re easy, of course, but also incredibly tender and suffused with smoky, spicy flavor. Plus, they get crisped up at the end so you don’t have to sacrifice that perfect texture.
They’re clearly ideal game-day food, but just as welcome at any party. Messy, true, but that’s what napkins are for. You could even serve them with a crisp green salad for a simple dinner. And while they’re not the traditional buffalo flavor, they’d still be good with creamy, cooling blue cheese dressing.
When it comes to the star ingredient, you can use wing parts—aka, flats and drumettes—for this recipe if you prefer, or even go with boneless wings, but we prefer whole, bone-in chicken wings for the best flavor and maximum crispy surface area once they’re bronzed in the oven. And honestly, there’s something deeply satisfying about gnawing every last shred of tender meat right from the bone.
Jolly Barnyard Chicken Wings, $14 on Porter Road
Starting with high quality wings is also a smart move.
There’s really not much to it—yet it turns out such spectacular results. You simply dump all the sauce ingredients into the slow cooker, then add the wings and toss to coat, and let it all cook for four hours. They’ll emerge totally tender and full of flavor.
Crock-Pot Cook & Carry 6-Quart Slow Cooker, $29.69 on Amazon
A basic slow cooker is all you need to get the job done.
To get a nice crisp exterior, you bake the wings in the oven for 30 minutes once they’re done, and in the meanwhile, simmer the sauce with a bit of sugar for a thicker mixture to pour back over the wings when you’re ready to eat.
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If you’re short on time, you can use the same trick to finish off a batch of Instant Pot wings; cook them in a flash and then crisp them in the oven—or even in the air fryer. (And taking a cue from the Instant Pot wings recipe, you can also cook chicken wings from frozen in the Crock-Pot.)
We love buffalo wings, but this is a nice change of pace, less tangy and more smoky, yet still just as easy to throw together. Choose your favorite hot sauce and pour it into your slow cooker along with a little umami-boosting soy sauce, liquid smoke, butter, tomato paste, and a few seasonings (oregano, onion powder, and garlic powder).
The teaspoon of sugar added at the very end, when you’re thickening the sauce to finish the wings, helps balance out the smoky, spicy savor without making it too sweet. But as always, adjust everything to your taste. And enjoy!