Cooking chicken wings is a staple for backyard bbq’s, Superbowl, and large gatherings. If this is your first time cooking wings, you might be wondering, do you have to cut the wings or cook them whole? In this article, we’re going to look at the different ways to cook wings as well as how to cut the wings into smaller pieces.
Can You Cook Chicken Wings Without Cutting Them?
Yes, chicken wings can be cooked whole. Cooking them whole makes it easier to flip and rotate during the grilling process.
Whether you cut them before or after cooking is a personal preference. That said, depending on the cooking method, you may want to separate them. You can also remove the tips since they don’t have a lot of meat.
In this article, we’ll answer all your questions about splitting the wings into sections as well as how to split them.
Why You Shouldn’t Cut The Wings Before Cooking
According to several online forums, the biggest reason not to separate the wings prior to cooking is it makes it harder to flip. If you’re smoking or grilling the wings, you’ll likely want to flip them to the opposite side to make sure they cook evenly.
The separated sections are much smaller pieces, (especially the wing portion) making it hard to grab with tongs. You may also run into an issue where the wing portions fall through the grills grates.
In addition, your hands will get frozen from trying to separate the wings while they are cold.
They are much easier to cut after they have been cooked. Plus, people will have an easier time eating them, because they have a way to hold onto them.
That said, some people remove the wing tip before cooking because it has very little meat.
What Are Whole Wings?
Store-bought prepackaged usually consist of whole wings with all the joints attached. These can be cooked or reheated without separating.
That said, some people prefer to cut them at the joints before cooking.
A Look at the Three Parts of a Chicken Wing
A whole chicken wing consists of three pieces; the wing tip, drumette, and wingette.
Wing Tip: This is the flat part of the chicken wing and contains mostly gristle and very little meat. It is edible, but most people discard it in favor of its meatier counterparts.
Wingette: The wingette is the flat section of the wing, and consists of two parallel bones. Both the dark meat and skin are edible.
Drumette: This is the section that looks like miniature chicken leg aka drumstick and also has the most and juiciest meat. Given the reason, it’s one of the most popular parts of the wing.
Now that you know the different parts of the wing, let’s take a look at how to separate them at the joint.
If you don’t have a sharp knife or don’t want to separate them yourself, you can ask your butcher to do it for you.
How to Cut Chicken Wings
Cutting your own chicken wings is extremely easy and saves you money. All you need is a cutting board, sharp knife, or kitchen shears. I prefer to use a Chef knife as it’s easier to cut through the cartilage.
How to Remove the Wing Tips
Store-bought chicken wings are whole chicken wings that contain three sections: the drumette, wingette, and tip.
The tips consist of metacarpals, phalanges bones, and a lot of cartilage, with very little meat.
Some people prefer to remove the wings and save them for chicken broth or stock. Immediately after cutting removing the wing tips vacuum seal the tips and put them in the freezer until you’re ready to use them.
Here’s a chicken stock recipe you can use for those meatless wing tips. This makes them hard to cook and they have a tendency to burn easily on the grill.
To remove the tips, stretch the wing out on a cutting board so you can see all three parts.
Use kitchen shears or a sharp knife to cut through the v-shape between the wing and the wingette.
Press straight down through the joint by applying some pressure.
Separating the Wingette and Drumette
Flip the chicken wing onto the side so you can see the v-shape. After you cut the wing tip the only two sections are the wingette (flap) and the drumette.
Take the knife and cut along the drumette. Press the knife straight down through the joint. Make sure you’re using a sharp knife, or you’ll have a hard time sawing through the joints.
After separating the drumette from the wingette, I like to remove any excess skin from both pieces of the meat.
It’s not necessary to do, but it makes the chicken look cleaner after it’s cooked.
Can You Separate Frozen Wings?
The wings can be separated when they are frozen, however, it’s much easier to see the joints if you defrost the chicken before trying to separate it.
If you’re cooking the wings immediately, you can run cold water over the seams until you can safely separate them with a knife.
Whenever handling frozen or hot chicken, you’ll want to use gloves. That way, it doesn’t get too cold to handle and causes you to let go of the chicken while trying to cut it.
How to Cut the Chicken Wings After Cooking?
You can cut the cooked wings into sections as mentioned above. However, most people prefer to eat the whole wing, because they are easier to hold.
As long as the wings are cooked to a safe internal temperature of 165°F, the bones will slide right out of the chicken wing flat, leaving you with nothing but meat.
Everyone has their own method of eating chicken wings, but this video shows you an easier way.
Why Separate the Wings First?
As mentioned above, you can cook your wings whole. However, some of the reasons you may want to cut them before cooking are:
- You can save the wing tips in the freezer for a later date to use for soup.
- Separating the wings makes it easier for you to control portion sizes.
- It’s easier to use get creative with different marinades, dry rubs, salt, and pepper, etc.
- Separated wings are easier to dip in your favorite sauce!
- It looks like you have more chicken, which is great if you’re throwing a Superbowl part or other large gathering.
- It’s cheaper to buy whole chicken wings and separate them yourself.
- If you’re using a grill basket.
Separating or cooking whole chicken wings comes down to a personal choice, cooking method, or recipe you’re following.
If you’re not sure which method you prefer, try cooking some whole and separate a few at the joints to see which method you prefer.
Regardless of which method you prefer, your guests likely won’t complain unless they get stuck with the wing tips!