How to Buy Chicken Wings

Get the best chicken wings for your next cook-off with our easy wing buying guide. Master the meat counter, know what to look out for, and discover our favorite online wing delivery services.

smoked chicken wings buffalo dip

While each chicken cut provides a unique flavor and texture, you can’t go wrong with chicken wings. The party platter classic carries the perfect balance of crispy charr and juicy white meat. Whether you prefer them flame-grilled or slow smoked, wings are always a hit.

Choose the best quality raw chicken wings. Whether you want to know what to look out for at the meat counter or need a reliable online delivery service, our chicken wing buying guide is here to help.

smoked chicken wings buffalo dip

Chicken Wings Explained

When buying chicken wings, you can purchase the whole wing, the drumette, or the flat. Most supermarket butchers sell cut wings, mixing drumettes and flats.

The drumette resembles a miniature drumstick. There’s one bone in the middle of the meat and some cartilage at each end. The drumette has a chunk of delicious and moist white meat at one end, then tapers down to the bone at the other.

The flat, or wingette, is the center section of the wing. Two thin bones run parallel down the middle of this part. The meat here is darker than the drumette, though there’s less of it since it’s a smaller section.

If you buy prepackaged wings, the manufacturer will often cut off the tip. The tip doesn’t have much meat; it’s mostly bone and cartilage. But there’s skin on it, so you can flavor them, cook them alongside your regular smoked chicken wings, and have something tasty to nibble on.

Chicken wings are popular because they contain the perfect ratio of meat to skin. Whether you prefer smoked or grilled chicken wings, you’ll taste the flavor infused in the juicy meat and crusted on the skin. Since wings include bones, you have a place to grip them, making them the perfect finger food for BBQs and tailgating on game days.

smoked chicken wings buffalo dip

What to Look for When Buying Chicken Wings

Your dry rub and sauce might make any chicken taste unique, but starting with quality chicken wings gives you a leg up in terms of flavor and juiciness.

Good Quality Meat

Buying organic chicken ensures you’re getting top-notch wings. You can also look for the antibiotic-free label on meat or opt for wings from an animal that’s never consumed antibiotics.

Good quality chicken wings have a creamy white or yellow color. The skin should look stretched across the meat. If you can see hints of the flesh beneath the skin, it should look pink and plump.

The chicken should feel slightly moist to the touch. If you press on the meat, it should bounce back to its original shape. There won’t be much of an aroma in quality chicken.

Fresh vs. Frozen

Fresh chicken wings are juicier and hold flavor better than frozen ones. Freezing chicken wings helps preserve them, which is crucial when ordering online or storing meat you won’t cook immediately. But freezing chicken wings impacts the meat’s texture.

Air chilling is a great compromise because manufacturers use chill chambers instead of chemicals to preserve the meat. Your final product will taste like fresh chicken wings because the chemical freezing doesn’t waterlog the meat.

Delivery Time

Delivery time is crucial when ordering online. Most companies give free flat-rate shipping if you order a certain amount, but you might want to pay more for next-day or two-day shipping to ensure the meat is fresh.

When the chicken wings arrive, you either want to cook them within two days or store them in the freezer. If they’re vacuum-sealed, you can freeze them in the original packaging. Otherwise, transfer them to an airtight container to prevent freezer burn. You can keep them in the freezer for six months.

Buy Chicken Wings Online

While you can find chicken wings at your local supermarket, you might not get what you want. The frozen section often has prepackaged options already flavored with buffalo or BBQ sauce. If you want to smoke them for the perfect flavor, buying from the following online services guarantees top-quality chicken wings.

Porter Road

Porter Road raises chickens in Kentucky and Tennessee, guaranteeing all animals live outside and consume vegetarian food. They never ingest hormones or antibiotics, ensuring you get healthy, natural chicken wings.

Their wing party pack delivers 2 to 2.5 pounds of whole chicken wings to your door. Porter Road doesn’t brine, treat, or inject the chicken. Porter Road wings arrive frozen and ready to cook or store. Orders over $125 get free shipping in certain Southern and Midwestern states, while other locations pay a flat rate of $15 to $35.

Highlights:

  • Pasture-raised chicken
  • Very affordable party pack
  • Free shipping to 24 states

Buy on Porter Road

Crowd Cow

Crowd Cow sells both pasture-raised and organic free-range chickens that grow up in Arkansas. They eat non-GMO vegetarian feed and are free to forage around the farm. Since the chickens are healthy and natural, you get more meat and less fat per wing.

You can order a pound of cut chicken wings for an affordable price, but you must meet an order minimum to checkout. You don’t get free shipping until you spend $149.

Highlights:

  • Choose pasture-raised or organic free range with each order
  • Air-chilled wings guarantee the ideal texture
  • Each wing is larger than you’d expect

Buy on Crowd Cow

Meat N’ Bone 

Meat N’ Bone sells meat online but functions like your neighborhood butcher shop. The owners focus on meat quality and send consistent cuts to customers. The small business partners with Bell & Evans Farms to provide humanely-raised chicken that never used antibiotics.

Each order includes 1.7 to 1.9 pounds of cut chicken wings air chilled to ensure they stay fresh during delivery. You can pick up the meat in Miami-area grocery stores. Orders delivered to the south get free shipping at $125, while other states require a $225 minimum for free shipping.

Highlights:

  • Air chilled for a better texture
  • Wings already cut, so you’re not paying for the tips
  • All wings are consistent sizes

Buy on Meat N’ Bone


Still hungry? Check out more BBQ posts

smoked chicken quarters recipe Smoked Chicken Quarters - Perfect smoked chicken leg quarters with crispy skin. Time and temperature guide. Use the best BBQ chicken rub and smoking… ...
smoked chicken wings Smoked Chicken Wings - Delicious smoked chicken wings perfect for any occasion. These BBQ wings are prepared in a simple brine for extra moisture… ...
smoked korean chicken wings 2 Smoked Korean Chicken Wings [BBQ Gochujang Sauce] - South Korea does chicken wings like no other country. Striking the perfect balance between spicy, sweet, smokey and crunchy, these… ...
Easy Chicken Wing Brine Recipe How to Brine Chicken Wings (with Recipe!) - If you’re ready to take your BBQ wings to the next level then get ready to try out this easy… ...
bbq chicken wings recipe Easy BBQ Chicken Wings - BBQ Chicken Wings should be a staple for any grilling enthusiast. Here's a really easy recipe that you'll be able… ...

Sign Up

Get recipes, BBQ tips & regular discounts straight to your inbox!