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Chicken Wings Internal Temp

Whether it’s game day or pizza night, chicken wings are iconic. Regardless of your preference for spice flavor, sauce or no sauce, and what type of wing, there’s a reason why chicken wings are so popular. The best part? You don’t even have to go to your local pizza joint …

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By Jeremy Pike


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Chicken Wings Internal Temp
Grilling Wings on the Weber Kettle = Delicious

Whether it’s game day or pizza night, chicken wings are iconic. Regardless of your preference for spice flavor, sauce or no sauce, and what type of wing, there’s a reason why chicken wings are so popular.

The best part? You don’t even have to go to your local pizza joint or sports bar to enjoy wings. You can enjoy them at home whether you deep fry them, stick them in an air fryer, smoke them, or grill them. However, you want to ensure that you’re cooking your wings properly. So what’s the proper internal temperature of chicken wings?

In order to be safe, you need to make sure the chicken wings temp is at least 165°F. No one wants the day after the big game ruined by being stuck in pain and in the bathroom. However, most people will tell you that 165°F might mean you’re safe to eat your wings but it might not be ideal. 

So let’s dig in and cover this topic like wings in hot sauce.

Wings In A Grocery Store – A Quick Recap

If you’re looking to cook up some chicken wings at home, you’ve got to understand what you’re looking at when you visit your local grocery store. You’ll come across two different options: whole chicken wings and party wings. Party wings are what most people think of when they think of chicken wings: pre-separated drums and flats, also known as drumettes and wingettes.

Drums vs Flat
Separating the drums from flats is easy. Read our guide.

Now if you’re willing to put in a little work to save some money, you can purchase packages of whole chicken wings. Then you can take the time to separate them into flats and drums. Our article on the differences between wings and flats has a quick little breakdown on how to do it. It’s simple and quick so don’t be nervous.

Now that we’ve got a quick bit of information on chicken wings out of the way, let’s focus on the question of the internal temp of chicken wings.

What’s The Minimum Recommended Internal Temp Of Chicken Wings?

As we said earlier, you need to ensure that you cook chicken wings to a minimum of 165°F. That’s the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommendation for poultry, and you don’t want to risk food poisoning by trying to save a few minutes of cooking time. No one wants stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea thanks to undercooked wings. Don’t risk it.

When it comes to chicken, we want to keep the light meat like the chicken breast as close to 165°F internal temperature as possible due to how lean it is. It’s easy to overcook and dry chicken breasts out.

However, chicken wings are dark meat which makes them naturally more moist and able to be cooked to much higher internal temperatures. So do we want to cook chicken wings to a higher temperature? Let us explain.

What Should The Internal Temperature Of Chicken Wings Be?

starting to grill chicken wings

One of the best parts of eating chicken wings is the crispy skin when they’re cooked properly. That’s why we fry chicken wings around 375°F. Now you can get to 165°F internally in a short period of time, especially the flats.

However, we want to ensure that the fat underneath the skin fully renders and some of the connective tissue breaks down for tender meat. We typically think of that in terms of low and slow smoking for barbecue, but the idea is the same. That means we want to get to temperatures of at least 180°F. Thankfully the dark meat of chicken wings can handle cooking to that temperature and even further.

We recommend that you cook chicken wings to an internal temperature between 180°-200°F for the best results.

How Do You Temp Chicken Wings?

All the talk of internal temperatures means nothing if we don’t know how to take that temperature properly. The standard rule of thumb for temping any cut of meat is that we want to take the temperature in the thickest part of the meat. 

The proper tool for doing so is an instant-read thermometer. Our personal favorite is the ThermoWorks Thermapen ONE due to its advanced features, speed of reading, and most importantly accuracy. If you don’t already have one, stop now and get one. This will change your cooking life dramatically. No more overcooking or undercooking meat equates to safer much better tasting food.

You also do want to be careful that you’re temping meat and not hitting bone. That’s always a concern anytime you’re trying to find the internal temperature of any cut of meat with a bone in it. So when you’re temping small cuts of meat with plenty of bones, it only gets more difficult. Then you factor in the smaller amounts of meat, especially in the flats, and properly temping chicken wings can be quite difficult. An instant read thermometer is the best tool for this job because you can pin point where to probe and temp the meat.

So is there a better way to determine whether chicken wings are done? 

How To Visually Tell Your Chicken Wings Are Done

Chicken Drummette is cooked to temp

There are a few different characteristics of the skin of wings that you’ll want to keep an eye on throughout the cooking process. You want that skin to be crispy and a beautiful golden brown color. You’ll also notice that the skin is starting to pull back from the meat. 

From there, you want to check to see if the juices are running clear. Pick the thickest drumstick and cut into the meat with a knife. If the juices are pink or red, you need to cook the wings longer. If the juices are clear, then your wings are done.

Finally, the meat itself will start to pull back from the bones as well. This is easier to tell on drumsticks. We know that the muscle fibers of the meat constrict as they cook, and just like with ribs, the meat will pull back from the bones a bit when it’s cooked.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, the most accurate way to tell your chicken wings are done is by using an instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature. The best temperature for chicken wings is between 180°F and 200°F, but they are done at 165°F. 

When it comes to temping chicken wings, just be aware that it is more difficult to ensure you’re hitting the proper part of the wing due to how little meat there is versus other larger cuts of meat. 

However, one of the benefits of chicken wings being dark meat is that they can handle being cooked to much higher temperatures than light meat like a chicken breast. So if you’re unsure, let it cook a little bit longer. It won’t dry out.

What’s your favorite way to enjoy chicken wings? Do you have a go-to sauce or a rub? Let us know in the comments!

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