"I seriously can’t stop eating these!" mumbled my partner, with his mouth full, as he nibbled on yet another wing for dinner. Though chicken wings are often served as an appetizer or snack, if I make chicken wings in my home, they become the main component of a meal—and often the only things we eat!
My love of chicken wings means I’ve basically tried them all, from sticky-sweet to spicy-savory, and these honey buffalo wings combine all of those favorite flavors together. Even better, they’re made in a slow cooker, which means you can make them with minimal effort.
Why Make Chicken Wings in a Slow Cooker?
Three reasons: easy prep, flexible timing, and tenderness!
The only thing you need to do to get these wings cooking is quickly toss them in a spicy rub and a hot honey sauce, which you do right in the slow cooker. That's it! It takes less than 10 minutes. Then turn your slow cooker on, and forget about them until they're ready.
Thanks to the slow cooker, you also don’t have to worry about the wings getting cold or drying out, which means you have more flexibility in serving them. If the folks you're serving are running late, you can leave those wings in the slow cooker for up to an extra hour without any issues.
Most importantly, though, chicken wings prepared in the slow cooker are super tender. Though they won't have that crispy skin you get from deep-frying, the soft, juicy meat more than makes up for it, and you still make them a little crispy by broiling them!
How to Make Your Slow Cooker Wings Crispy
To add a bit of crispness to your wings, I like to do this: After cooking, reduce the sauce on the stovetop until it's a sticky glaze; coat the wings in the glaze, then give them a quick broil. This gives the wings a little smoky char flavor and crisps the skin slightly.
How Are These Different From Traditional Buffalo Wings?
Traditional buffalo wings have a sauce made with hot sauce, butter, and spices like paprika, cayenne, and black pepper. This recipe amps up the spice mixture even more with garlic, onion powder, cumin, and dried parsley.
But it’s the honey, molasses, and brown sugar that really set these wings apart. The honey's sweetness tempers and balances the hot sauce, while the molasses adds depth and dimension to the sauce.
How Long Should I Cook the Wings?
If you cook the wings on high, they'll be ready in 2 1/2 to 3 hours; if you cook them on low, then 3 1/2 to 4 hours. Reducing the sauce (about 10 minutes) and flash broiling (5 to 10 minutes) means you've made wings in less than 30 minutes of active hands-on time.
Can I Use Frozen Wings?
You can use frozen wings in the slow cooker, with a few modifications. Frozen wings are coated in ice, and when they thaw, the ice melts into water. This leads to a diluted, less flavorful sauce if you don't address it.
You can fix this one of two ways:
- You can thaw the wings ahead of time, and then cook as instructed.
- You can cook them from the frozen state and increase the total cook time.
If you cook them from frozen, add an additional hour to the cook time to allow for the wings to thaw properly in the slow cooker, then plan for closer to 15 to 20 minutes (instead of 10) at the end to reduce the sauce on the stove.
Make-Ahead Chicken Wing Instructions
You can make these wings up to three days ahead of time. Once cooked, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. When you're ready to serve, reheat the wings in a 350°F oven for 15 minutes.
And don't forget, wings can stay in the slow cooker up to an extra hour after they're cooked!
What to Serve With These Wings
Though I can eat an entire platter of chicken wings all by themselves, most people aren't me, so I recommend serving these wings with celery or carrot sticks. The vegetables aren't there just to make you feel better about eating all those wings; the crispy, clean vegetable flavor actually helps cut the richness of the wings, which is why they're a great compliment.
Though these wings aren’t super spicy (the honey helps balance the spiciness from the hot sauce), buffalo wings are traditionally served with a side of creamy blue cheese or ranch dressing to help cool the wings slightly. In this case, those creamy dressings also provide a great foil for the sticky-sweet glaze!
More Delicious Chicken Wing Recipes!
- Pressure Cooker Teriyaki Chicken Wings
- Honey Mustard Chicken Wings
- Miso Glazed Chicken Wings
- Ginger Honey Chicken Wings
- Bourbon Maple-Glazed Chicken Wings
Slow Cooker Honey Buffalo Chicken Wings
- 4 pounds party wings broken into flats and drummettes (See how to break down party wings in this post)
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1/4 to 3/4 teaspoon cayenne, depending on the spice level you want
- 3/4 cup hot sauce, like Crystal or Frank’s
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 tablespoon butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon molasses
- To finish:
- 1 tablespoon chopped chives, optional
- Carrot and celery sticks, for serving
- Blue cheese or ranch dressing, for serving
Combine the spices and sprinkle over the wings:
Combine the brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, parsley, and cayenne in a medium size bowl. Place wings in the pot of the slow cooker. Sprinkle dry rub over the chicken wings and toss to coat.
Combine the sauce ingredients, then pour over the wings:
Pour the hot sauce, honey, butter, and molasses into the same bowl you used for the spices. Stir with a fork to combine, then pour over the wings and toss to coat.
Cook the wings:
Set the slow cooker to the desired temperature. If high, cook for 2 1/2 hours. If low, cook for 3 1/2 hours.
Reduce the sauce:
Once the wings are done, remove the wings from the pot and pour the liquid into a large saucepan. Simmer on high heat, stirring occasionally for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the sauce has reduced to a thick glaze consistency. While the sauce is thickening, preheat the broiler.
Toss wings in the glaze, then broil:
Place a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet. Once the sauce has thickened into a glaze, toss the wings in the glaze to coat, then place on the wire rack.
Broil for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the wings start to get crispy. Flip the wings and broil the other side for an additional 3 to 4 minutes.
Garnish and serve:
Garnish wings with chopped chives, if desired. Serve with carrot or celery sticks and blue cheese or ranch dressing on the side.