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    I Air Fried Every Frozen Chicken Wing I Could Find; Here's What Tasted The Best (And The Worst)

    Just in time for game day, the winner was surprisingly clear.

    Super Bowl Sunday brings up lots of conflicting opinions. But whether or not you're rooting for Tom Brady, we can all agree on one thing: game day food.

    Tom Brady eating a turkey drumstick.
    YouTube / Via

    And no Super Bowl food is more satisfying than...CHICKEN WINGS! 🍗

    Sure, you could order in wings from your favorite local spot, but my husband (who happens to be obsessed with chicken wings) has a theory that has been proven time and time again. Because restaurants are making wings in such a large quantity on Super Bowl Sunday, the quality of such wings diminishes.

    Universal Studios

    Plus, due to increased demand, delivery times are longer and by the time your wings arrive, they are past peak-crispiness and already turning soggy.

    The easiest solution? Store-bought frozen wings. But of course, there are dozens of options, and they aren't all created equally. So I did the research for you — and taste-tested the most popular ones.

    Seven different brands of frozen store-bought wings.
    Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

    I bought seven popular brands of frozen chicken wings and cooked them all in the air fryer. I also tried making and air frying my own wings from scratch. And I'm here to tell you the results.

    Before we begin, let's break down the contenders:

    1. Tyson Any'tizers Boneless Buffalo Style Chicken Bites

    A bag of Tyson Any'tizers Boneless Buffalo-Style Chicken Bites
    Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

    In case there is still any confusion, boneless chicken wings are actually just chicken nuggets. Yup, it's true. So you can call these boneless wings or you can call 'em chicken bites, chicken nuggets, popcorn chicken, whatever.

    Price: $8.99

    2. Perdue Buffalo Style Lightly Breaded Chicken Wings

    A bag of Perdue Buffalo Style Lightly Breaded Chicken Wings
    Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

    Perdue's Buffalo-style chicken wings are breaded and glazed, so you just cook 'em and dig in. Each bag contains both parts of the chicken wing (aka the wingettes and drummettes).

    Price: $12.99

    3. Vegan Fruffalo Wings

    A bag of Fruffalo vegan wings
    Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

    Vegetarians and vegans deserve delicious wings, too! These are actually made of smoked apple sage "sausage," which, according to the ingredients, is made up of apples, potatoes, onions, garlic, and a bunch of spices before they're battered and fried. Each bag comes with packet of sauce to toss the wings in after they're cooked.

    Price: $7.99

    4. Trader Joe's Hot & Spicy Chicken Wings

    A bag of Trader Joe's Hot & Spicy Chicken Wings
    Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

    I am a veryyy devoted Trader Joe's fan, but believe it or not, I have never tried their chicken wings before. These fully cooked wings are a mixture of wingettes and drumettes and they come preseasoned/glazed so you don't have to add any additional Buffalo sauce.

    Price: $5.99

    5. TGIFridays Buffalo Style Boneless Chicken Bites

    A box of TGIFridays Buffalo Style Boneless Chicken Bites
    Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

    These boneless wings (aka popcorn chicken) under the TGIFridays label claims to be made with rib meat that is battered and fried into little nuggets. The packaging includes a spicy Buffalo sauce that you thaw and toss the chicken in.

    Price: $6.89

    6. Caulipower Spicy(ish) Chicken Tenders (Gluten-Free)

    A bag of Caulipower Spicy(ish) Chicken Tenders
    Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

    Before you get upset that I'm including chicken tenders in this wings competition, why must we label our chicken so rigidly?? I mean honestly, what's the difference between a boneless wing and a tender? It's all just breaded fried chicken! Plus, I've been seeing these cauliflower-crusted spicy(ish) tenders all over the place, so I wanted to try them out for myself. They happen to be the only gluten-free wing option, so here's one for the GF crowd.

    Price: $6.99

    7. Banquet Hot & Spicy Bone-In Wings

    A box of Banquet Hot & Spicy Bone-In Wings
    Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

    At $5 for an 11-oz box of wings, Banquet's bone-in breaded hot & spicy wings were the cheapest of the bunch. They're fully cooked, and like the Perdue and Trader Joe's options, they include both parts of the wing.

    Price: $4.99

    So let's take a look at the line-up all together, shall we? Here's everything straight out of the bag:

    Uncooked chicken wings on a platter.
    Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

    Judging simply by appearance, I thought the Banquet bone-in wings could be a serious sleeper hit here. The Perdue wings seemed to be the largest, plumpest of the bunch.

    Uncooked chicken wings on a platter.
    Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

    And while the Fruffalo and TGIF wings look a bit sad compared to the rest, it's only because their dipping sauce comes in a separate bag, meant to be tossed in after cooking.

    With the piquant smell of Buffalo sauce wafting through my apartment, it was time to start cooking. Rather than heat up the wings in the oven, I wanted to try air frying them. Ever since getting an air fryer this past summer, I've been fully obsessed. I figured air frying would be the best method for achieving peak crispiness. Of course, if you don't have an air fryer, you could make these wings in the oven.

    My dog eyeing the frozen chicken wings longingly.
    Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

    The key to air-frying is spacing out the food enough so that it isn't crammed together. If you have a small air fryer, you'll want to cook the wings in batches.

    Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

    I used my Chefman 6.3 Quart Digital Air Fryer, which I love because it's spacious and it has two racks so it can hold a lot of food at once. It also has a window so you can check on your food is cooking.

    I cooked all of the wings at 400°F for about 20 minutes, checking on them and flipping them a few times throughout.

    Pulling a rack of chicken wings out of the air fryer.
    Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

    The Fruffalo Wings need a bit less cooking time, so I removed them from the air fryer after about 12 minutes once they were hot and crispy.

    The Fruffalo Wings and the TGIFridays bites both came with a package of Buffalo sauce, so I tossed those wings in their respective sauces. The TGIFridays sauce was a bit creamier, but the Fruffalo sauce was very good and definitely spicy.

    Fruffalo Wings and TGIFridays Wings with buffalo sauce on the side.
    Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

    I pulled the wings out of the air fryer and got tasting while they were still sizzling and crispy.

    Crispy chicken wings on a platter.
    Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

    Time to dig in! I enlisted the help of my husband, Zack, because he's very passionate about the subject of wings and he's always very hungry. I didn't invite my dog to the tasting but he came along anyway because chicken is his favorite food and I can't say no to him.

    Zack and Hudson ready to taste some wings.
    Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

    In order to fairly evaluate, we tasted all the wings on their own before dunking in the blue cheese dressing. Here were the results:

    Crispy wings on a platter with a side of carrots, celery, and blue cheese.
    Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

    🏅 BEST IN SHOW: Trader Joe's Hot & Spicy Chicken Wings 🏅

    A Trader Joe's chicken wing.
    Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

    While I am a devoted Trader Joe's fan, I honestly expected the big names in chicken like Perdue and Tyson to take the cake here. But T.J's, you have done it again with these chicken wings. These hot and spicy wings looked and tasted the most restaurant-quality by a landslide. They're crispy but the breading is not at all overwhelming. The chicken is high quality as well.

    My only critique is that these wings aren't extremely meaty, so you'll probably want to eat more than the suggested serving size. And by that, I mean you could probably take down the bag if you're hungry. They're very moist but they're not saucy, so you might want to dip these in some more Buffalo sauce or at the very least, blue cheese dressing. It's also worth nothing that for $6, these wings are a huge bang for your buck. I would absolutely buy these again and keep a bag in my freezer.

    RUNNER-UP: Perdue Buffalo Style Lightly Breaded Chicken Wings

    A close-up of a Perdue chicken wing.
    Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

    The Perdue wings were a close contender to the Trader Joe's version. In fact, some might prefer Perdue because they are very plump and meaty. In terms of size and portion of meat per wing, these by far the most substantial of all the contenders. The chicken was also just as high quality as the Trader Joe's version and it was super moist. These wings were also spicier than TJ's, so if you like a little kick you'll appreciate these more.

    The breading is the main source of point deductions for the Perdue wings. It's heavier and not quite as crispy. These wings would also benefit from some additional sauce, but overall they exceeded my expectations and are a solid freezer aisle find.

    BEST BONELESS OPTION: Caulipower Spicy(ish) Chicken Tenders

    A close-up shot of a cauliflower tender.
    Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

    Now that we've established that there is no difference between nuggets, tenders, and wings and that they are all, in fact, boneless, I'd like to award best boneless wing to Caulipower. It all boils down to the quality of the meat. Beneath the cauliflower coating (which, by the way, doesn't at all taste like cauliflower and you probably wouldn't even know it's not breadcrumbs) is a juicy, tender, generous portion of white meat.

    That being said, the cauliflower coating didn't get quite as crispy as did the other boneless options. The balance between the breading and the chicken is very good, and they pack a little bit of spice without being too much. They are also gluten-free, which is a fun little bonus and makes it easy if you have anyone in your household with a gluten sensitivity.

    BONELESS RUNNER-UP: Tyson Any'tizers Boneless Buffalo-Style Chicken Bites

    The inside of a Tyson chicken bite.
    Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

    I had higher hopes for Tyson but IMHO, I wasn't impressed by these. They taste like your average chicken nugget, and they're lacking in the flavor department. If you can't find anything else come Super Bowl Sunday, you should still pick up a bag of these, but I certainly wouldn't seek them out.

    MOST NOSTALGIC: TGIFridays Buffalo Style Boneless Chicken Bites

    Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

    The TGIFridays boneless bites are basically popcorn chicken in Buffalo sauce. They are mediocre, but they really hit the nostalgia factor on the nose. One bite immediately takes me back to my middle school days when my girlfriends and I would grab a bite at TGIFridays before seeing a movie. These wings taste like childhood, and there's something to be said for that. No one really expects frozen food to taste amazing, but there should be some sort of a memory attached to it, and these wings most certainly achieve that.

    I appreciate that they come with Buffalo sauce on the side. That being said, it's very unclear what part of the chicken the meat comes from (questionable) and the bites are pretty tiny. You could easily eat a whole box.


    The inside of a Fruffalo wing.
    Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

    Not that there was any competition here (lol), but these Fruffalo Wings are definitely a good option for anyone who is vegetarian, vegan, or just wants to cut back on meat but still enjoy the game day tradition of wings. The taste and texture of the field roast "sausages" is more similar to that of chicken than another meat substitute like cauliflower bites.

    I will admit they looked a bit off-putting at first, mostly because they are naked with Buffalo sauce in a separate packet, but once tossed in the sauce they look a lot like chicken nuggets. They're fairly crispy and take on the flavor of the Buffalo sauce, so all in all, pretty decent.

    BEST BUDGET OPTION: Banquet Hot & Spicy Bone-In Wings

    A close-up of a Banquet chicken wing.
    Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

    Based on appearance, I thought the Banquet wings were going to be good. They looked plump and crispy and well-seasoned, but sadly they were my least favorite bone-in wing of the competition. The breading was heavy and unappealing and sort of fake-tasing. The silver lining is that thanks to the heavy breading, these get very crispy.

    But ultimately, the quality of the meat is noticeably inferior to most of the other wings. They are the cheapest option among the competition, but if you happen to have a Trader Joe's nearby, I would absolutely recommend spending an extra $1.50 for their higher quality and tastier wings.

    Before I called it quits though, I decided to try making air fryer wings from scratch with just a few easy ingredients. After about 30 minutes in the air fryer they were perfectly crispy and delicious. I recommend following this recipe if you want to try making them at home.

    Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

    All you need are chicken wings, salt, pepper, baking powder (optional) and a tiny bit if oil for frying, plus your favorite buffalo sauce.

    No matter which team takes the prize on Super Bowl Sunday, chicken wings are the real winner. Happy game day feasting!

    Hannah Loewentheil/Giphy