Chicken wings make a superb addition to a party menu. You can make them the star of the show, or just one item in the lineup. They’re delicious, versatile, fun to eat, and a good source of protein to boot.
How long do chicken wings last in the fridge before and after you cook them? When you’ve finished reading our guide, you’ll be an expert on the shelf life of this bar-menu staple.
How Long Do Chicken Wings Last in the Fridge?
Raw chicken wings should keep for up to 2 days when stored in the refrigerator. After they’re cooked, you have another 3 to 4 days to enjoy them before they start to deteriorate. If you’ve stored the meat in the freezer, you should cook it off within 2 days after thawing, depending on how long it was around before you froze it.
Where Can You Buy Chicken Wings?
Depending on where you live, it can be hard to find raw chicken wings for sale. Your local grocery store might stock them from time to time, but smaller chains and mom-and-pop places don’t always keep them on the shelves.
Fortunately, it’s easy to find chicken wings for sale online. Be forewarned that you’ll have to buy them in bulk if you go this route. Big-box stores like Walmart and Sam’s Club will usually have them on offer, as will specialty websites such as Farmer’s Fresh Meat.
You might also be able to buy locally farmed chicken wings. If you have a good relationship with a poultry farmer, ask whether it would be possible to purchase a batch of fresh or frozen wings on your next visit.
How Long Do Raw Chicken Wings Last in the Fridge?
Always keep raw wings refrigerated in the temperature range between 33 and 38 degrees. You can uncover them after seasoning to help dry out the skin, but they should remain in the fridge until about 30 minutes before you’re ready to start cooking.
When stored properly, raw chicken wings should keep for up to 2 days in the fridge. Try to cook them as soon as possible after bringing them home. This should be easy enough, since wings are too small to benefit much from brining or marinating.
That’s not to say that you can’t marinate wings, but there’s no need to leave them in the mixture for long. Since wings are considered white meat, they should be good to go after just a few hours of marinating.
You should be able to tell if the chicken wings have gone bad by smelling them. Raw chicken doesn’t have much of a scent when it’s fresh. Other telltale signs of spoilage include a slimy or sticky texture, discoloration, or patches of mold.
Also, know that you shouldn’t leave the wings out at room temperature for longer than 2 hours. If the weather is particularly warm that day, they shouldn’t be out for longer than 1 hour.
How To Tell When Chicken Wings Are Done
The most reliable way to test for doneness is to use a meat thermometer. The wings are fully cooked when they’ve achieved an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Since wings are mostly bone, though, it can be difficult to get an accurate readout. What’s more, you likely won’t want to take the time to test the temperature of each individual wing before you serve them.
Though it’s seldom a good idea to rely on timing alone, this method comes in handy when cooking chicken wings. Deep-fried wings should be cooked through in about 10 minutes, while they can take up to 40 minutes when baked in a 400-degree oven.
Grilling and smoking times may vary, depending on what temperature you use. When you grill the wings over indirect heat, they should take about 30 minutes. If you opt for a smoker temperature of 275 degrees, the process could take up to 1-1/2 hours.
We would recommend using these times as a guideline, then testing the temp of one of the wings when you’re getting close to the estimated end time. If the wings are all roughly the same size, they should reach the optimal temperature at around the same time.
How Long Do Chicken Wings Keep in the Freezer?
When you’re not going to consume the wings right away, the freezer comes in handy. You can freeze meat indefinitely—at least in theory.
In practice, it’s better to thaw and cook chicken wings within 6 months whenever possible. Longer storage periods will cause the meat to dry out. The wings may even begin to take on a grayish color as a result.
The best way to thaw chicken wings is to store them on the bottom shelf of the fridge, preferably on a platter or rimmed baking sheet to catch any juices. The meat should thaw at a rate of 4 to 5 hours per pound.
How Long Do Chicken Wings Last in the Fridge After Thawing?
Once the meat is thawed, you’ll only have a day or two to cook it off before it starts to go downhill in terms of quality. This makes sense, since it would only have kept for up to 2 days if you’d left it in the fridge without freezing it.
Try to take the wings out of the freezer the same day you plan to cook them. If you want to get an earlier start, or if you plan on using a marinade, start the defrosting process the night before.
We should point out that you can only keep thawed wings in the fridge if you defrosted it using the refrigerator method to begin with. When you thaw meat in the microwave or a cold water bath, you need to cook them off right away.
How Long Do Fried Chicken Wings Last in the Fridge?
After you’ve cooked off the chicken wings, they’ll keep for 3 to 4 days in the fridge. Sometimes, it’s best to cook them just to buy yourself time, even if you don’t plan on eating them right away. After all, you can always reheat them.
When it comes to breaded and deep-fried chicken wings, though, it’s best to consume them within a couple of days. The meat itself should still be safe to eat, but the breading won’t fare as well.
To reheat fried chicken wings, take them out of the fridge and let them rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes. This ensures even heating and helps prevent excess moisture loss, which would lead to sogginess.
Set the wings on a wire rack, then place the rack inside a rimmed baking sheet. That way, the heat will circulate around the pieces.
Heat the wings at 400 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes, or until they’re crisp and heated through. Let cool slightly before serving.
How Long Do Smoked Chicken Wings Last in the Fridge?
Smoked chicken wings should keep for 3 to 4 days in the fridge. In fact, unless the wings were breaded beforehand, this is a good rule of thumb no matter what cooking application you used.
You can reheat the wings in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes or so before enjoying them, or just eat them cold. If you have more than you’ll be able to eat within a few days, you can store them in the freezer for 2 to 3 months.
Keep an eye out for signs of spoilage. If the cooked wings start to smell sour, or if they become slimy to the touch, it’s time to throw them out.
We recommend that you cook chicken wings as soon as possible after bringing them home. That’s the best way to ensure that the meat will have the flavor and texture you’re looking for. If that doesn’t work for you, consider storing them in the freezer instead.