Wing Showdown: Air Fry vs. Deep Fry

Hello Everyone, welcome! As we cruise to Super Bowl Sunday, Alex and I wanted to test out an at-home wing technique that could hold its own against our favorite wing spot. They needed to be beautifully crisp, tender and flavorful. We tested three methods: deep fry, naked air fry (without a dusting of flour) and air fry with a dusting of flour. Are you ready for our Super Bowl Wing Showdown? Let’s do it!

wing showdown winner, flour dusted air fryer wings

We decided to go with lemon pepper wings instead of Buffalo hot wings. Mostly because we really love lemon pepper wings, but also because we wanted to see how well the wings held up without much of a sauce on them. These wings are tossed in a buttery lemon pepper sauce after they are fried, but it’s a thin sauce; only butter and seasoning. It’s drizzled over them and then they’re quickly tossed and set on a wire rack.

Deep Fried Wings

I have one pound of wings; with the wing separated from the little drumstick. After separating them, I patted them dry and salted them. I also seasoned them with some of the lemon pepper seasoning. I let let those sit while my peanut oil came up to 350-365 degrees. In a Ziplock bag, I had 1 cup of plain all purpose flour, in which I tossed about 4-5 wings at a time and gave them a quick shake in the flour. Shake them off really well and set them back on the wire rack.

I dropped about 5-6 wings in the oil at a time. Your oil will immediately start to cool off, so turn up the burner to maintain the 350 degrees. Keep an eye on the temp to adjust the burner as necessary.

wing showdown butter sauce

Lemon Pepper Butter Sauce

While the first batch of wings were frying, I melted one stick of butter (1/2 cup) in a saucepan and added about 4 tablespoons of lemon pepper seasoning. I am just using a seasoning blend from Trader joe’s. Pour the melted butter and seasoning a measuring cup and set aside.

wing showdown, deep fried wings

After about 8 minutes, when the wings are golden and floating to the surface of the oil, I used tongs to pull them out and drop them in a bowl; I drizzled on some of the butter sauce, tossed them and set them back on a separate wire rack.

I did one pound of wings in two batches. These wings do not disappoint. They are exactly what you’d expect; crispy, crunchy and moist on the inside. Deep Fried wings are best eaten hot. When let cool, the crunchy skin gets a little soft. This is fine at a restaurant, but when you’re making them in batches and they’re sitting amongst other snacks on a buffet table, you want them to hold up.

wing showdown deep fried wings

Air Fried, Naked

The next batch for the Wing Showdown is destined for the air fryer. I wanted to see if the skins would crisp up well enough that you wouldn’t need to dredge them in flour prior to frying. Once the flats and the drummies were separated, I tossed them with olive oil, salt and lemon pepper seasoning.

The naked wings went in the air fryer at 400 degrees for eight minutes. I turned them over and let them go another 8 minutes. When they came out, they got the same treatment as the oil-fried wings: tossed in a drizzle of seasoned butter sauce.

wing showdown naked wings

The naked air fryer wings turned out great, but they were more like baked wings than crispy, crunchy fried wings. Still totally delicious and faster than baking. I knew that these would be the clear loser in Alex’s eyes. He’s a die hard wing junkie, and very particular about wings. Ok, so on to the next batch.

Flour Dusted Air Fryer Wings

I had very high hopes for this batch in the Wing Showdown. Had these not worked, I might have lost some love for my air fryer. Like the other wings, these were separated, patted dry, seasoned with Kosher salt and the lemon pepper seasoning.

Lemon Pepper wings

Then I dropped about 5 wings/drummies in a Ziplock with about 1 cup of flour and shook to lightly coat. Shake off the excess flour and set them on a wire rack. Arrange the wings in a single layer in the basket and spray with a light coating of cooking spray. Fry for 8 minutes at 400 degrees. Flip after 8 minutes, spray with more cooking spray and fry for another 8 minutes.

Once they came out, they were tossed in a bowl with a drizzle of the lemon pepper butter sauce and set on a wire rack. I hit these with a little more Kosher salt after they came out of the butter sauce. And just look at how gorgeous they are!

Wing Showdown winner, flour dusted Air Fried Wings

The skin is browned and bubbly, without the extra oil. The drier finish of these air fryer wings made the crispy exterior lighter and crispier than the deep fried wings, which is a huge plus. Also, these wings stayed crispy long after they went cold. Which was not the case for the deep fried wings. I think these wings would hold up well tossed with Buffalo sauce too.

The Clear Winner

Wing Showdown winner, flour dusted Air Fried Wings

The flour dusted air fryer wings are the clear winner of our unofficial taste test. These will be on the table for Super Bowl Sunday, even if I am the one standing in front of the air fryer until the fourth quarter, air frying 11 wings at a time. They are that good! Making restaurant-style wings at home has been a quest for Alex. I am happy to report an air fryer lives up to the challenge!

I hope you found our Wing Showdown helpful! And maybe it has convinced you of the benefit of an air fryer. Either way, we had a lot of fun with this Wing Challenge and we discovered that we don’t have to head to the local bar for a basket of good chicken wings. An exciting discovery for the Djalalis, for sure!

If you’re planning your game day menu, consider my Old Bay Hot Shrimp Dip, it has rave reviews (from my family) and it’s super easy. Give me a follow on the socials: facebook, Instagram and Pinterest and I will see you here tomorrow for another game day recipe. Take care and be well, everyone. xo Kelly

Wing Showdown winner, flour dusted Air Fried Wings

Air Fryer Lemon Pepper Chicken Wings

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Dinner, Appetizer American
By Kelly Djalali Serves: 2-6
Prep Time: 15 Minutes Cooking Time: 16 Minutes per batch Total Time: ~50 Minutes

A light dusting of flour and minimal oil makes these chicken wings light and crispy. Seasoned to perfection with a lemon pepper-seasoned butter sauce.


  • 1 lb. Chicken Wings, flats separated from drummies
  • Kosher Salt, to taste
  • 1 cup All Purpose Flour
  • Cooking Spray
  • 1/2 cup Butter, melted
  • 4 tbsp. Lemon Pepper Seasoning Blend, plus more to taste



Separate the flats from the drummies and pat dry the chicken pieces. Set on a wire rack placed in a sheet tray.


Season with Kosher salt and a sprinkling of the lemon pepper seasoning blend and set aside.


Fill a large Ziplock bag with 1 cup all purpose flour.


Shake 4-5 wings/drummies in the flour. Remove each wing and shake off the excess flour. Place floured wings on the wire rack.


Preheat air fryer to 400 degrees.


Arrange chicken wings in a single layer in the basket and spray with cooking spray.


Fry for 8 minutes.


Meanwhile, melt butter in a saucepan and stir in 4 tablespoons of lemon pepper seasoning. Pour into a large measuring cup and set aside.


After 8 minutes, turn chicken pieces over and spray with cooking spray. Fry for 8 more minutes.


Transfer chicken pieces to a large bowl and drizzle or spoon 2-3 tablespoons of seasoned butter sauce over wings and toss to coat.


Transfer wings to a separate wire rack placed in a sheet tray. Add a sprinkling of Kosher salt if desired.


Repeat with the rest of the chicken wings.

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  • Terry
    February 3, 2021 at 10:56 am

    So glad you did the test, I always make wings for super bowl. I love your lemon pepper seasoning. Gram will love these ♥️Mom

    • Kelly Djalali
      February 3, 2021 at 12:45 pm

      Hi Mom, We are so pleased with the way thet turned out – a winner for sure! xo Kelly

  • Sylvia Espinoza
    February 3, 2021 at 11:03 am

    Alright!!! Thanks for testing wings out in the air fryer. Planning to test them myself asap! I think it’s one of the reasons we bought an af. We drive a good distance to eat wings. This is certain to change things. Thanks, Kelly! Hugs~

    • Kelly Djalali
      February 3, 2021 at 12:46 pm

      Hello Sylvia! Yes, these really worked out well. I am happy we did the test too, even though I was not pleased with having to deep fry. But it was worth the effort to find out! Thanks for stopping by today! Have a great Wednesday! xo Kelly

  • Deanna
    February 3, 2021 at 10:00 pm

    These look phenomenal!!! Pinning the recipe for now since I need to invest in an air fryer first. I’ll check out the Cosori model. Enjoy the game — I’m sure everyone will enjoy your food!

    • Kelly Djalali
      February 3, 2021 at 11:56 pm

      Hey Deanna, check out that Cosori if you’re on the fence about buying an air fryer; I really like it. Let me know if you get it and how you like it. Thanks so much for pinning the recipe and let me know how you like it. Have a wonderful rest of the week! xo Kelly