Why Do My Wings Taste Fishy? [What to Do]

There’s nothing worse than grilling some delicious homemade chicken wings, only to notice that they have a chicken flavor or smell. In this article, we’ll take a look at why chicken wings would taste fishy and how to fix it.

Why Do My Chicken Wings Taste Fishy?

When the chicken has a fishy taste, it’s usually due to the quality of the poultry, the cooking method, storage mistakes, bacteria, cleanliness of the grill, chicken feed, etc.

why do my chicken wings taste fishy

Unfortunately, there are several reasons your chicken has a fishy taste.

This article will take an in-depth look at all the potential reasons as well as answer other common questions pertaining to taste, touch, and smell.

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The most common reason why chicken tastes and smells like fish is the fishmeal in the chicken’s diet.

Since the 1960s, many chicken farmers have used a variety of different types of fishmeal (Atlantic cod, Dover sole, Pacific whiting, Dover sole) because it’s high in protein, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals such as omega-3 fatty acids.

In addition, the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish have been shown to improve overall health conditions in humans. Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids can decrease the risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, reduce triglycerides, etc.

It was such a popular thing to do, in fact, today many commercial feeds include fishmeal as a way of making the feed more nutritious.

That said, the use of fishmeal in broiler food can the eggs and meat to smell and taste like fish.

Poor Quality Chicken

The fishy flavor or smell could be due to where you purchased the raw chicken. Not all brands of chicken are created equally, and some of the largest grocery stores such as Kroger and Walmart are not the best places to buy fresh quality chicken.

In fact, this Green Egg Forum has several discussions about the quality of meats purchased from Kroger. They noticed the flavor, texture, and smell were different.

If you’re planning on cooking wings on the Pit Boss, I’d recommend buying raw chicken from a smaller chain grocery store. Most of the time, the meats you buy from any grocery store will be fine to eat, it the taste and flavor will make it hard to enjoy your meal.

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Cooking Method

Deep frying your wings in oils such as Canola oil can give off a fishy taste, especially, if you’ve recently deep-fried fish.

Cooking foods in water, oils, or any other type of liquid experiences the Maillard reaction. (A chemical reaction between amino acids producing a brown exterior and distinct flavor)

If the foods have a weird taste, it could be that the temperatures weren’t hot enough for the food to experience the Maillard reaction. The best strategy to use when cooking wings is to ensure they are completely dry before cooking them.

Whenever you’re deep-frying wings, make sure to use fresh oil every time.

Grill Cleanliness

It could be the grill you’re using hasn’t been cleaned in a while and caused the wings to taste like the fish you cooked the night before.

If you’re cooking both chicken and fish at the same time on the grill, make sure the meat is not touching.

It’s important to clean your grill after every use. This will prevent foods from tasting weird. A pellet grill like a Pit Boss makes it easy to do a burn-off after every cook, to ensure you’re burning away any remnants left behind.

Storage Mistakes

It could be that you didn’t store the food correctly in the freezer or fridge. Incorrect storage techniques can cause food to taste weird or spoil faster.

Store-bought chicken can be left in its original packaging, as long as it’s cooked within 2-3 days. Ensure the chicken is not touching other meats or foods in the fridge. This will prevent any type of contamination, which can affect the taste of the meat.

If you don’t plan on cooking right away, remove the chicken from the packaging and vacuum seal it for later use.


When preparing chicken it’s important to make sure the cutting board, knives, dishes, etc are properly washed to prevent contamination.

If you use the same cutting board for all your meats, make sure you wash it in between uses. Using the same cutting board without washing in between uses for meats can cause your chicken to taste weird.

I’ve written a guide that walks you through how to clean your knife after cutting raw chicken.

All meats and vegetables contain different types of bacteria that can affect the way food tastes.

The Wings Are Bad

It could be that the wings are spoiled. It happens to the best of us, we pull the chicken out of the freezer to grill during the week, but we get busy and before we know it the chicken has been in the fridge too long.

Here’s how to tell if the wings are spoiled.

  • The raw spoiled chicken will have a pungent smell to it.
  • If they feel slimy and look more greyish than pink, throw it away.

Sometimes you won’t notice an unusual smell or taste until it’s been cooked. My motto is when in doubt throw it out. It’s best to play it safe, especially, if you don’t want to risk getting a foodborne illness.

How to Get The Fishy Taste Out of Chicken?

Now that you know why chicken wings sometimes have a fishy taste, your next question is what can you do about it?

Some of the most common methods for getting the fishy taste out is to use the following:


Vinegar is known for removing different kinds of odors, even from raw chicken. Prepare a mixture of equal parts of vinegar and water and soak the chicken for 30 minutes.

Besides, removing the smell, it also removes the gooey fatty residue from the skin.

After 30 minutes you can remove the chicken and rinse it off under cold water. Then dry the wings with paper towels before cooking.


If you don’t have any vinegar in your pantry, you can substitute it with a homemade tomato paste.

In a bowl, squeeze the juice of one lemon, add 1 tbsp salt, and two smashed tomatoes. Next, rub the mixture on the chicken and let sit for 15-20 minutes. Then wash the chicken under running water to remove the mixture.

Salt and Seasoning

Make sure you’re using salt and seasonings that will help give the wings a delicious flavor. You don’t have to overdo it, but seasoning the wings before putting them on the grill can help eliminate any funny smells and tastes.

Make sure you’re using spices that are not out of date, as this has a negative effect on the taste.

Lemon Juice

Another option is to wash the chicken wings from all sides (making sure to get in between the joints).

In a squeeze the juice from two fresh lemons, water to cover the chickens, and the lemon peel.

Soak the chicken in the mixture for 15 minutes. Remove the chicken and wash it under cold water before cooking.

Is It Safe to Eat Chicken Wings That Smell Like Fish?

Are the chicken wings still edible if they smell like fish?

As long as you know the poultry isn’t spoiled, it should be fine to eat it. Grocery stores have regulations and requirements they follow when vacuum packing their meats. However, sometimes the material from the packaging can cause the chicken to smell fishy.

If this is the case, check the expiration on the packaging. It’s likely still good to eat, it just has a funny smell. The pre-packaged raw chicken sits in its blood, which can also cause it to smell funny.

This is why it’s best to buy fresh or frozen chicken wings.

Most of the time, the heat during the cooking process will cause the smell to disappear.

Final Word

No one wants their wings to taste fishy, but it’s more common than you think. There’s usually nothing to worry about and as long as the chicken doesn’t have a chemical taste to it, and you’ve checked to see if it’s spoiled, then it should be good to eat.

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