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Penalty Free Chicken Wings for Game Day

Posted by Amelia Kermis, MPH CHES, Food Safety Education Staff, Food Safety and Inspection Service in Health and Safety
Sep 27, 2021
Chicken wings with celery.
Chicken wings with celery.

The star of most Super Bowl parties is the chicken wing, crispy and covered in a delicious sauce. If you are going to make wings for your Super Bowl party, follow these steps to make sure your dinner’s star player is safe to eat. You don’t want to get a penalty for giving your guests food poisoning.

Baking Your Wings
To start baking wings, preheat your oven to 400 °F. Meanwhile, place your wings in a rimmed baking sheet. To ensure maximum crispiness, do not crowd the wings and place them in a single layer.

After 30 minutes of cooking take out the pan, flip the wings and continue baking for another 15 to 20 minutes. This will ensure both sides of the wings are crispy. Read on to learn how to properly take the internal temperature of a sample of your wings before your serve them. Taking the internal temperature is the only way to know if the wings are fully cooked and ready to eat.

Frying Your Wings
If you want to fry your wings, and are using a skillet, fill oil no more than 2 inches from the top of the skillet to allow space for the oil to rise. It is best if you have a candy or deep frying thermometer to ensure the oil reaches and stays at 375 °F. When your oil reaches that temperature you’re ready to cook.

Before frying, remove the chicken wings from the refrigerator and pat dry the wings to prevent oil splatter.

Make sure not to overcrowd the chicken wings as you place them in the fryer. If crowded, wings can turn out undercooked and increase the chances of giving your guests food poisoning.

While it is important to test the internal temperature of the chicken wings to ensure they are cooked, DO NOT test the temperature while the wings are submerged in oil. This will lead to an inaccurate temperature reading. To take the temperature of your wings, place them on a clean plate covered with paper towels.

Taking the Temperature
Whether you are frying or baking your wings, it’s important to take the internal temperature of multiple wings with a clean food thermometer. For an accurate reading, insert the meat thermometer into the thickest area of the wing being careful to avoid the bone.

If the wings are below the minimum safe internal temperature of 165 °F, return to the oven or submerge again in the hot oil.

After Cooking
Coat your delicious wings with a sauce of your choosing and remember to refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours. Cooked food left out longer than 2 hours can rapidly grow bacteria making it unsafe to eat.

Category/Topic: Health and Safety

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Amy Holcombe
Jan 27, 2015

As the USDA is also responsible for animal welfare (via APHIS),, how irresponsible to focus on the Super Bowl and chicken wings. Why is there no discussion about the horrible, inhumane conditions in which most chickens in the U.S. are raised? Your blog post is information to come from a for-profit company not a federal agency. Please do your JOB!

Skippy Calhoon
Jan 27, 2015

The US government is responsible for human welfare first and foremost (Civics 101), which is what this article is about. Thus, the USDA IS doing its job with this article.

Jan 27, 2015

I'd love to see a full recipe for wings using this advice - more tasty education! :)

Ron Kuleck
Jan 28, 2015

Wouldn't it be nice if chicken wings were a renewable resource that could be harvested and then grow back. May be that would satisfy the animal welfare concerns. My suggestion is to generate some grant money that could be used for a study. We have probably done worse!!

Terry Banks
Jan 30, 2015

I hope Ms. Holcombe gets really hungry because she doesn't have a clue what we farmers have to deal with to feed this great country we live in. Good luck with bean sprouts honey.

Michael Droogsma
Aug 24, 2016

Hey...I got an idea... cross a chicken with a starfish...then when you break off a wing to cook it. The starken or chickfish will grow two new wings to replace it. Renewable! Haha...

James McKenney
Sep 30, 2019

I spent an hour looking for a safe baked wing recipe. They were either needlessly complicated or appeared to under cook them.
I would never have imagined I could find instructions to meet my needs at the USDA website.
I will be checking back here for other ideas in the future.

Dale A. Sanchez
Sep 14, 2021

Thank you for the info.

James Foster
Sep 25, 2021

Make sure not to overcrowd the chicken wings as you place them in the fryer. If crowded, wings can turn our undercooked and increase the chances of giving your guests food poisoning.

Please change to “wings can turn out undercooked” thanks!

Ben Weaver
Sep 27, 2021

@James Foster - thank you for letting us know. We have updated the sentence in the blog.