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Are chicken wings healthy without skin?

Chicken wings are a popular appetizer and snack food. They are commonly eaten with the skin on, which adds flavor and a crispy texture. However, the skin also contains a significant amount of fat and calories. Removing the skin drops the fat and calorie content of chicken wings considerably, but does this make them a healthy choice?

Nutritional content of chicken wings with and without skin

Chicken wings contain a good amount of protein, which provides around 20 grams per 3-ounce serving. Protein is an important nutrient that helps build and maintain muscle mass. However, the fat and calorie content differs dramatically between wings with skin and without:

Nutrition Facts Chicken Wings with Skin (3 oz) Chicken Wings without Skin (3 oz)
Calories 175 93
Total Fat 13g 1g
Saturated Fat 3.5g 0.3g
Cholesterol 75mg 75mg
Sodium 460mg 460mg
Carbohydrates 0g 0g
Protein 18g 18g

As you can see, removing the skin drastically reduces the total fat, saturated fat and calorie content of chicken wings. The protein remains unchanged.

Fat content

The biggest nutritional difference between wings with and without skin is the fat content. Chicken skin is high in fat, providing around 11 grams in a 3-ounce portion. This accounts for over 60% of the total calories. Removing the skin cuts the fat grams to under 1.

Both versions contain saturated fat, but skinless wings only have about 0.3 grams compared to over 3 grams for wings with skin. Saturated fat increases LDL (bad) cholesterol levels in the blood, which raises risk of heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat intake to no more than 13 grams per day for the average adult.


When you remove the skin from chicken wings, the calories drop by over 50%. Each 3-ounce serving of wings without skin contains 93 calories, versus 175 calories for wings with skin. For watching your weight, the lower calorie content of skinless wings makes them a far better choice.

Sodium content

Wings are high in sodium, with over 450 milligrams per 3-ounce serving. This is due to sodium-containing spices, seasonings and sauces commonly used for preparing them. Going without skin makes no difference to the sodium content. High sodium intakes have been linked to high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.

Other nutrients

Chicken wings are a source of minerals like selenium, phosphorus, iron and zinc. You’ll get the same amounts of these with or without the skin. Wings of both varieties also contain vitamin B12 and small amounts of other B vitamins like niacin.

Are skinless chicken wings healthy?

Removing the skin significantly improves the nutritional profile of chicken wings. But does this make them a healthy food choice?


Here are some of the main benefits of choosing skinless chicken wings:

  • Much lower in total and saturated fat compared to wings with skin.
  • Contains only 93 calories per 3-ounce serving.
  • Provides 18 grams of protein per serving.
  • Good source of iron, zinc, selenium and B vitamins.
  • Skinless preparation allows you to enjoy the flavor without the high fat content.


Some potential downsides of skinless wings include:

  • Still high in sodium, with over 450 milligrams per serving.
  • Lacks the crispy texture of wings with skin.
  • May be dry without the fat from the skin.
  • Often coated with sauces high in sugar, salt and calories.
  • Easy to overeat as they are small and finger food.

Are they a healthy snack or appetizer?

In moderation, skinless chicken wings can be a healthy snack or appetizer choice. A serving of 4-6 wings makes a reasonable portion. Watch out for high calorie sauces and dressings that can make them less healthy overall. Accompany your wings with fresh cut veggie sticks and choose healthier dips like hummus or Greek yogurt instead of blue cheese or ranch dressing.

Tips for healthy chicken wing options

Here are some tips to keep your chicken wing recipe as healthy as possible:

Always remove the skin

Get rid of the skin to cut the fat and calories significantly. The skin contains the majority of the fat.

Try baking instead of frying

Baked chicken wings are much lower in fat and calories than fried wings. Coat them lightly in oil spray and seasoning for a crisp, healthier alternative.

Use lighter sauces and dips

Watch out for high calorie sauces and dips that can make wings less healthy. Opt for lighter options like barbecue sauce, mustard, hot sauce or Greek yogurt dips.

Add extra flavor with spices and herbs

For extra flavor without the fat and salt, coat your wings in spices and fresh or dried herbs before cooking. Garlic powder, oregano, paprika, chili powder and cayenne all work well.

Portion control

It’s easy to overdo it on wings since they are bite-sized. Stick to a reasonable portion of 4-6 wings for a snack or appetizer. Measure out your portion to avoid mindless overeating.

Pair them with healthy sides

Enjoy your chicken wings with fresh vegetable sticks, a green salad or other healthy sides. Avoid typical high fat, high calorie accompaniments like fries, chips or cheese cubes.

Healthier chicken wing recipes

Here are some delicious recipes for healthier baked chicken wings without skin:

1. Greek Chicken Wings

These Greek-inspired baked wings are seasoned with lemon, oregano, garlic and yogurt. Much lower in fat than traditional fried wings.

2. Buffalo Chicken Wings

For the classic buffalo flavor without the deep frying, coat your wings in hot sauce and blue cheese dressing before baking until crispy.

3. Jerk Chicken Wings

Caribbean jerk spices like allspice, garlic, thyme and cayenne give amazing flavor to these baked wings.

4. Honey Sriracha Wings

Wings baked with a sweet and spicy honey sriracha glaze for a kick of flavor without the extra fat and calories.

5. BBQ Chicken Wings

Your favorite barbecue sauce makes a quick and easy flavor for lower fat baked wings. Just brush on your favorite brand before baking.


Chicken wings without the skin are significantly lower in fat, saturated fat and calories compared to wings with skin left on. Removing the skin cuts the calories per 3-ounce serving by nearly 50%. Skinless wings are a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals.

In moderation, baked chicken wings without skin can be a healthy appetizer or snack. Be mindful of portion sizes, and avoid high calorie sauces and dips. Bake them instead of frying in oil to further reduce the fat and calorie content. Overall, skinless chicken wings are a better choice compared to wings prepared with the fatty skin.