Yes, chicken wings are a keto diet friendly food that can be baked, grilled, or air fried for next to zero total carbs. Learn how to keep crispy wings ketogenic diet compliant with this ultimate guide!
Chicken wings are a staple for me on a ketogenic diet. I’ve got ultimate guides to grilling crispy hot wings and even making Cajun style keto friendly chicken tenders.
They’re easy to make on a busy week day as a meal or as an easy keto appetizer. I also love that wings have many versatile flavor profiles (from traditional buffalo style, Thai curry wings, lemon pepper parmesan, even butter chicken hot wings).
Most importantly, wings make the perfect keto recipe because the nutritional macros make this the perfect higher protein meal you can always keep in your back pocket.
The best part is that wings are virtually zero carbs depending on what sauces and dry rub you pair with it (I’ll share lots of ideas below so keep reading).
Below, I’ve compiled everything you need to know about making killer chicken wings, outlining the best cooking methods, tips for getting extra crispy skin, how to make boneless keto wings, and more. Let’s dive in!
What are the macros in chicken wings?
If you’re tracking your nutritional information and macro nutrients (fats, proteins, and carbs), here is a general break down for chicken wings (with no added spices or hot sauce)-
Here is a breakdown. Four traditional buffalo wings, skin on, are roughly 238 calories. The macronutrients are approximately 13 grams of fat, 23 grams of protein, and 0 grams of carbs.
This can vary slightly depending on the size of your wings, but you can see how this is a great option if you’re searching for a higher protein ratio to moderate fat based food.
Boneless wings (un-breaded) made from regular chicken breast will contain less fat and therefore fewer calories. Calories do still count on a keto, low-carb diet so keep this in mind.
Keep in mind that not all chicken wings are created equal! For example, many restaurant style wings (like Buffalo Wild Wings for example) may bread their wings.
This will make eating store bought wings a little more challenging. The good news though, is I have everything you need to make the best keto chicken wing recipe right at home!
What are the best cooking methods for crispy keto chicken wings?
Believe it or not you can get super crispy hot wings with out a deep fryer!
Here are the best culinary tips for baking, grilling, and air frying your chicken wings:
- Work with higher heat. High heat helps render the fat in the chicken skin and creates a crispier outside and a juicier inside.
- A little oil goes a long way (for all methods). I avoid vegetable oils and stick with a small amount of avocado oil or olive oil if needed.
- Avoid moisture! Wet wings will steam and not brown, so always pat them dry with a paper towel.
- Use a little bit of baking powder. Baking powder added to your spice mix or dry rub helps absorb the excess moisture and create an even crispier outside skin.
- If you’re grilling or baking, place your wings on a wire rack over a baking sheet to encourage the heat to circulate both under and above the wings for even cooking.
- The best way to keep that perfect crunch too is to wait to sauce your wings (I usually serve mine dry and keep the sauce on the side). This also prevents the wings from burning too.
- Experiment with a delicious dry rub like this Keto All Purpose BBQ Rub
No matter what cooking process you’re using, as a general rule I follow these step by step instructions for traditional wings:
- Preheat your oven, grill, or air fryer to 400 F. Get my guide to grilling crispy chicken wings here for more info too.
- Pat the wings dry and remove the moisture.
- Add a little baking powder (a few teaspoons) and my all purpose keto friendly BBQ dry rub (you can also use other spices like black pepper, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes etc.). Let this hang out for a few hours if possible in an airtight container in your fridge.
- Line foil over a baking sheet (for easier clean up) and place a wire rack down over the top (if baking or smoking).
- Add your wings to the wire rack or your air fryer basket and cook until crispy and golden brown.
How do I know when my chicken wings are fully cooked?
For safety, chicken always should be cooked to a minimal internal temperature of 165 degrees F. However, because chicken wings are a darker meat, they actually have a much better texture when you cook them over 180 degrees F.
The overall cook time will vary on your wings based on the size and cooking method you choose. Using a high quality meat thermometer to accurately track the internal temperature of your wings is the more accurate way to know when they are fully cooked through.
You can also save the last 5 minutes of cooking to sauce your wings as well (wait to sauce to also prevent burning).
What wing sauces are keto friendly?
Traditional buffalo sauce is naturally keto friendly (be sure to double check your hot sauce labels though for additional additives) and is literally just made up of bottle hot sauce and melted butter. Combine these ingredients in a small bowl and add to your wings.
I consider homemade buffalo sauce to have a medium heat level, but this could vary depending on the hot sauce you use (and your tolerance level).
Here are some of my personal favorite sauces if your following a keto or low carb diet:
- KC style sugar free BBQ sauce recipe (the perfect sticky sauce)
- Keto Carolina Gold BBQ Sauce
- Keto Alabama White Sauce recipe
- Classic Buffalo Wing Sauce
What can dressings can I serve with low carb chicken wings?
Are you team ranch or blue cheese?
Don’t forget your sliced celery sticks (and carrots for those of you who are low carb) on the side as well. You can even try pairing your wings with a side salad and make it the perfect meal for a busy night.