Once you’ve made Buffalo Wings in your Slow Cooker, you’re going to have a hard time making them any other way! Crockpot chicken wings come out perfectly tender and practically fall off the bone. After they’re done cooking, toss with buffalo sauce and broil to crispy skin perfection! You can use teriyaki sauce, bbq sauce, or other sauces using this method as well for this healthier recipe.
I’m a sucker for good wings. But they often come at a cost. Most restaurant versions are battered and deep fried, then smothered in a really buttery buffalo sauce. Delicious, but not the healthiest! Plus, it’s often hard to get all the meat off of the bones depending on how they are cooked, leaving those precious morsels to go to waste.
These crockpot wings are the perfect healthier solution. Here’s why:
- Cooking wings in the slow cooker with olive oil and spices makes them much healthier than battering and deep frying.
- The buffalo sauce uses less butter than traditional buffalo sauces (with ketchup added to make it thick and add flavor and a touch of sweetness).
- And the low and slow cooking method also ensures fall-off-the-bone tender wings, meaning it’s easy to get all the meat off without wasting anything!
You’re going to love these Slow Cooker Buffalo Wings. And if you’re not a fan of buffalo sauce – don’t worry! You can use any sauce you want. Teriyaki, BBQ sauce, sweet and sour sauce… or any other sauce that would be good with wings. And since they’re seasoned with spices while they cook in the crockpot, they’re also delicious plain!
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Chicken Wing Pieces – you can use drumsticks or whole wings if you like, but I prefer the smaller pieces.
- Olive oil – or another cooking oil such as canola.
- Spices – kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and chili powder. You can get away with just using salt and pepper if you like, or use a pre-mixed seasoning like your favorite bbq rub or taco seasoning.
- Butter – for the buffalo sauce (you can use ghee for a paleo/dairy-free version).
- Hot Sauce – I always use Frank’s Red Hot for buffalo sauce.
- Ketchup – my secret ingredient to add to homemade buffalo sauce to make it lower in fat, thicker, and caramelize a bit in the oven with more flavor. You can omit it and just use butter and hot sauce if you prefer.
How to make chicken wings in your slow cooker
- ADD the wings, oil, and spices to the crockpot. Mix together to coat all the wings evenly in the oil and the spices (I use tongs for this so I don’t have to touch the raw chicken).
- COOK on low for 2 1/2 – 3 hours. You can double check that the internal temperature is 165 degrees F. when they are done cooking.
- MIX buffalo sauce in a large bowl – melted butter, hot sauce, and ketchup.
- TOSS the cooked wings with the sauce.
- Place the wings in a baking sheet and spoon or brush and extra sauce from the bottom of the bowl on top of them.
- BROIL the wings skin-side up for 5-10 minutes until sauce is thickened/caramelized and the skin on the wings crisps up. (Note: the broiling part is optional but highly recommended for the most delicious wings.)
- SERVE the wings with celery and carrot sticks and some ranch or blue cheese dressing.
Can I cook frozen wings in my crockpot?
Yes! Just follow the same directions and cook on high instead of low for 3 hours.
You’ll want to make sure the frozen wings are separated out from each other (so if they are all stuck together from being in a tray and frozen, it won’t work, but a bag of frozen wings will).
Be sure to double check that the internal temperature is 165 degrees F if you are nervous about them cooking all the way through.
Tips and Tricks
- For mess-free cooking, you can use a slow cooker liner if you want, and line your baking sheet with foil before broiling. I also like using tongs to transfer the chicken into and out of the slow cooker so I don’t have to touch it.
- To broil evenly, you may want to rotate the baking sheet halfway through cooking.
- For extra spicy wings, add a little cayenne pepper to the spices when you cook the wings, and/or use extra spicy hot sauce.
- For an extra thick buffalo sauce layer, you can brush the wings with any extra sauce from the bottom of the bowl 1-2 times when broiling (similar to this bbq chicken and bbq salmon technique).
Other buffalo sauce recipes
- Buffalo Cauliflower “Wings” (vegetarian)
- Healthy Buffalo Chicken Tacos
- Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Shells
- Crispy Honey Buffalo Chicken Thighs
- Buffalo Mushroom Naan Pizza (vegetarian)
Other slow cooker chicken recipes
- Slow Cooker Chicken Breasts
- How to cook a whole chicken in a slow cooker
- Slow Cooker Turkey Breast (OK not chicken but close!)
- Slow Cooker Greek-Style Green Beans and Chicken Thighs
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Slow Cooker Buffalo Wings
- 3-4 pounds chicken wing pieces
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or another kind of oil
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 2 tablespoons butter (preferably salted)
- 1/2 cup hot sauce (I like using Frank's Red Hot)
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- celery sticks, carrot sticks, and ranch or blue cheese dressing for serving (optional)
- Place chicken wing pieces (3-4 lbs.) in slow cooker crock. Drizzle with olive oil (2 tablespoons) and add spices (2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon chili powder). Stir to coat each chicken piece evenly.
- Cook on low for 2.5-3 hours (or until internal temperature of wings is 165 degrees F).
- In the bottom of a large bowl, melt the butter (2 tablespoons). Stir in the hot sauce (1/2 cup) and ketchup (1/4 cup) to make the buffalo sauce.
- Use tongs to remove the cooked chicken wings from the slow cooker to the bowl with the buffalo sauce. Toss to coat evenly.
- Place the wings on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet skin-side up. Brush or drizzle tops with extra buffalo sauce from the bottom of the bowl. Broil for 5-10 minutes or until sauce has thickened and caramelized a bit and the skin on the wings crisps up (this step is optional but highly recommended for optimal sauce-sticking and skin texture).
- Serve with celery sticks, carrot sticks, and ranch or blue cheese dressing if desired.
- You can use frozen wings for this recipe. Make sure the wings aren’t all attached together and follow the instructions as written, adjusting the temperature to high on the slow cooker instead of low. Check internal temp to make sure they’re 165 degrees F after they are done cooking.
- Use another kind of sauce if you like, such as BBQ sauce, teriyaki sauce, sweet and sour sauce, store-bought buffalo sauce, etc. Just follow the instructions and instead of mixing the buffalo sauce in a bowl, toss the wings with another kind of sauce, broil, and serve.
- Store leftover wings in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days.
- To use drumsticks instead of wings, follow the same instructions except increase the cooking time to 3-4 hours on high or 5-6 hours on low.