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Are chicken wings low fat?

Chicken wings are a popular appetizer and snack food. They are often served deep-fried or baked with a sauce, which can make them high in calories and fat. However, chicken wings can also be a lean protein option when prepared properly. In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at the fat and calorie content of different chicken wing preparations to determine if they can be part of a low-fat diet.

Bone-In vs Boneless Chicken Wings

Traditional chicken wings contain a drummette, a flat, and a wing tip connected by bones and cartilage. Boneless wings are cut from the breast meat of the chicken. There are pros and cons to each when considering fat content:

Bone-in wings

  • Higher in fat since they contain skin and attached fat
  • Weigh more per piece due to bones
  • Have more gristle and connective tissue

Boneless wings

  • Lower in fat since they come from the lean breast meat
  • Lack the skin and fat of a whole wing
  • Weigh less than traditional wings

Boneless wings are the clear winner when it comes to fat content. A 3 oz boneless wing averages around 2-4 grams of fat, while a bone-in wing can have around 5-10 grams of fat in the same serving size.

Baked vs Fried Chicken Wings

The cooking method for wings also greatly impacts their fat and calorie content. Deep frying chicken wings adds a significant amount of fat from the oil, while baking does not add any fat.

Baked Chicken Wings

  • No added fat from cooking oil
  • Allows fat to drip away while cooking
  • Skin may become crispy, but no oil is absorbed
  • Healthier cooking method for reducing fat and calories

Fried Chicken Wings

  • Oil is absorbed into the skin and meat while frying
  • Pick up an extra 150-400 calories per serving from frying oil
  • Can absorb an extra 5-15g of fat per serving
  • One of the highest fat cooking methods

Baked wings are undoubtedly the lower fat option. However, flavorful baked wings can still be achieved by using seasonings, sauces, and rubs.

Sauces and Seasonings

Sauces and seasonings also impact the fat content of wings. Some sauces add calories and fat, while dry rubs and herbs add lots of flavor without the extra fat.

High Fat Sauces

  • Butter-based sauces
  • Creamy sauces like ranch, blue cheese, etc.
  • Coconut milk-based sauces
  • Commercial barbecue sauce

Lower Fat Sauces and Seasonings

  • Hot sauce
  • Mustard-based sauces
  • Greek yogurt sauces
  • Dry rubs with spices and herbs
  • Citrus juice
  • Vinegar-based sauces

Opting for lower fat sauces and dry rubs is an easy way to save calories and fat when eating wings. Homemade sauces made with Greek yogurt, hot sauce, or mustard are all great options.

The Best Low Fat Chicken Wing Options

After looking at the different factors, here are the best options for low fat chicken wings:

  • Boneless chicken wings – Less fat since they come from the lean breast meat
  • Baked not fried – Prevents absorbing fat from frying oil
  • Dry rubs, herbs, spices, and low-fat sauces – Boost flavor without adding fat
  • Hot sauces like Frank’s RedHot or Cholula
  • Greek yogurt-based sauces
  • Mustard-based barbecue sauces

Using these guidelines, baked boneless chicken wings with a yogurt or low-fat mustard dipping sauce are one of the leanest preparations. A serving of 5 baked boneless wings with 2 tablespoons of Greek yogurt ranch averages around 5 grams of fat and 150 calories. Not bad for a tasty game-day snack!

Nutrition Facts of Popular Chicken Wing Styles

To get a better idea of how much fat is in different types of wings, here is a nutrition comparison of some of the most popular chicken wing options. Serving sizes are for 5-6 wings.

Chicken Wings Calories Fat (g)
Fried bone-in wings with skin 500-600 30-40
Fried boneless wings 350-450 15-25
Baked bone-in wings with skin 400-500 20-30
Baked boneless wings 150-250 5-10

As shown in the table, baked boneless wings are the lowest in both calories and fat compared to other common wing preparations. Going with this style in moderation can let you enjoy the flavor without all the excess fat.

Tips for Making Low Fat Baked Chicken Wings

Follow these tips for keeping your homemade baked wings lean and healthy:

  • Use boneless chicken breast cut into wing shapes
  • Trim off any excess skin or fat before baking
  • Line baking sheet with foil or use a cooling rack to allow fat to drip off
  • Bake at 400F for 20-30 minutes, flipping halfway
  • Toss cooked wings in sugar-free, low-fat sauces or dry seasonings
  • Serve with fresh veggie sticks and low-fat Greek yogurt dip

You can also use an air fryer to cook boneless wings without any added fat. Just set the air fryer to 380F and cook for 15-20 minutes, shaking occasionally, until crispy.

Healthier Dipping Sauces for Baked Wings

The dipping sauce that accompanies your wings can quickly add extra fat and calories. Whip up one of these lighter sauce options instead:

Greek Yogurt Ranch

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 packet ranch seasoning
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • Chives, salt, and pepper to taste

Honey Mustard

  • 1/4 cup mustard
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Buffalo Sauce

  • 1/4 cup hot sauce
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For even more flavor, mix in some fresh herbs like chives, parsley, cilantro, or dill. You can also find pre-made Greek yogurt based dips at many grocery stores if you want to save time in the kitchen.

Healthy Substitutes for Chicken Wings

For those looking to further reduce fat and calories, swapping out chicken wings for a plant-based snack can be a smart move. Some good options include:

  • Cauliflower wings – Florets coated in sauce and baked
  • Zucchini sticks – Slices coated in breadcrumbs and baked
  • Carrots and celery – Served with hummus or Greek yogurt dip
  • Baked tofu cubes
  • Portobello mushroom caps
  • Chickpeas tossed in wing sauce and spices

These swaps remove the chicken skin and fat while providing crunch from the veggies or plant-based protein from tofu. Toss them in your favorite wing sauce for tons of flavor.

Are Chicken Wings Part of a Balanced Diet?

Chicken wings can be part of a healthy, balanced diet when eaten in moderation. The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat intake to 13 grams daily as part of a 2,000 calorie diet. This means there is room for a serving of 3-6 lower fat baked boneless wings a couple times per week without going overboard.

It’s best to avoid fried wings cooked in oil and smothered in creamy sauces to limit saturated fat and sodium intake. Pair your wings with veggies, whole grains, and other lean protein sources. This provides a well-rounded meal full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, healthy fats, and protein.

Here is a sample balanced plate with chicken wings:

  • 3-5 baked boneless wings tossed in hot sauce (150 calories, 5g fat)
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa (222 calories, 4g fat)
  • 1 cup roasted broccoli (50 calories, 0g fat)
  • 1 medium orange (62 calories, 0g fat)

This meal comes in under 500 calories with 9 grams of fat. It incorporates protein, carbs, fruits, and vegetables for a nutritious meal that satisfies a chicken wing craving.


Chicken wings can definitely be a leaner option when focusing on preparation methods. Opting for baked boneless wings without the skin is the lowest fat and calorie choice. Pair them with healthier sauces like mustard, hot sauce, or Greek yogurt dips.

Fried wings and wings cooked with creamy, buttery sauces are higher in fat and are best saved for an occasional treat. Keep calories and fat in check by balancing your wings with nutritious sides like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

Made with the right techniques and ingredients, baked boneless chicken wings can absolutely be part of a healthy low-fat diet.