Wings always feel like a treat. They are so simple, but when wings are prepared correctly they just shine in a way that’s hard to top. They always make me think of smoky bars and Superbowl parties, and I’m always finding excuses to make them.
So what happens when you are on Whole30? Do you have to give up those delicious wings that make any hard day fade away? I’m happy to tell you — no, you don’t have to give them up.
You can have wings during Whole30, but you have to follow some basic rules. Can you eat double-fried chicken wings smothered in blue cheese? No. Can you have amazing dry rub wings with homemade dipping sauces? Yes.
Before we get into our favorite Whole30 chicken wing recipes, let’s make sure we know what is and isn’t off-limits.
What makes chicken wings whole30 compliant?
Since wings are often cooked with or accompanied by foods that aren’t Whole30, you need to be careful. Here’s how to make any wing recipe Whole30-approved:
1. Whole30 wings need to be baked instead of fried.
Fried means batter, and batter and frying foods in unhealthy oils like vegetable oil is not Whole30 approved. Whole30 is about eating clean. By eliminating all foods that could be making you feel bad, you slowly introduce them back into your diet and examine how they make you feel. Fried food isn’t healthy, so it’s off-limits.
Baking your wings instead and using a healthy marinade or dry rub eliminates a lot of the unhealthy ingredients in wings and gets you closer to the source — the chicken itself. Since Whole30 focuses on being as natural as possible, any cooking method that keeps you closer to the original ingredients is going to be better.
2. Whole30 wings can’t have any added sugar.
Added sugar is not allowed, and that goes for every part of your wing experience, from the marinade to your sauce or dry rub, to your dip. Some hot sauces or dips have sugar, others don’t. This is when you need to check your labels.
And if you really want to go more of the sweet route, use natural sugars found in fruit instead. A blood orange glaze or lime finish can go a long way to brighten up your wing experience.
3. Whole30 wings can’t contain any dairy.
Sorry, buffalo and ranch lovers. Whole30 does not allow butter or dairy. This eliminates traditional buffalo wings, but you can use butter substitutes like ghee (which is just clarified butter) to get at the same taste, You can also sub coconut oil or avocado oil.
Keep in mind that your dairy exclusions apply to your dipping sauce of choice as well, so you can’t have any buttermilk ranch. Fortunately, there are a lot of Whole30-approved dipping sauces for you to make instead. They are so good, too, so don’t knock them until you try them.
4. Whole30 wings must avoid other non-compliant ingredients.
Typically found in wing sauces or dips, the following ingredients are not Whole30 Approved:
- Sulfates and other additives
- Sugar of any kind
- Sugar alternatives like stevia
- Corn starch
The 12 best whole30 chicken wing recipes
Now that you know what to watch out for, here are a few of our favorite baked Whole30 chicken wing recipes.
Some of these will require you to make minor substitutions (usually involving the recommended dipping sauce), but we chose a variety of recipes that are already or very close to being Whole30 to give you lots of options to try.
You have to start with buffalo wings, right? This recipe does a great job of combining a nice spice mix with Frank’s Hot Sauce (which is Whole30 Approved) to give you the most classic wing experience. Dip it in Whole30 ranch to make it even more delicious.
For a no-frills, simplistic chicken wings recipe, this is for you. It doesn’t get much healthier than this. All you need is chicken and a bit of seasoning! And if you skip the dip, they’ll be about as healthy as you can get. Put it next to some celery or a spinach salad for a great lunchtime meal.
These Lemongrass BBQ wings will be a hit whether your entire household is Whole30 or not. Remember to skip the honey and use a Whole30-compliant fish sauce! Lots of Asian cuisine and products include MSG and other additives, so use extra caution when cooking these cuisines.
We like this recipe because it goes all-in on the dry rub. Good dry rub wings when they’re smoked to perfection give the best sauce-based wings a run for their money, and this combination of spices from The Chunky Chef is really great. The only changes you need to make are axing the brown sugar, using a healthier oil, and making a Whole30-friendly dipping sauce.
Air fryers are a great way to avoid breading while still getting some of that crisp you may be craving. A lot of recipes recommend baking powder to make them extra crispy, which is technically not Whole30 approved, although it is low-carb and keto-friendly. If you’re following Whole30 strictly, then sub homemade cream of tartar for the baking powder and ghee for the butter. It’s worth it.
This baked chicken wing recipe uses tallow to give it some extra depth, so if you’re looking for one step above plain-baked wings, then this will work well. These are made without an oven as well, so if you want a quicker wings option then use this one. You can whip them up in 20 minutes or less.
This recipe puts a lighter spin on baked buffalo wings by keeping the sauce and dips a bit tamer than other recipes. Apart from skipping the blue cheese dressing, you don’t need to change anything about this recipe!
This is a clever recipe that includes a delicious Whole30 creamy garlic sauce. It’s like a vegan restaurant’s sauce meets a wing shop, and we’re here for it. The cashews and avocados make this recipe shine, and the spice mix is really fantastic. Mustard seeds and Chinese 5-spice? Sign me up.
How good do these look? This is another blend of vegan creativity with delicious, hearty wings. By using nutritional yeast, cashews, salt, and garlic powder, you can get an awesome faux-parmesan effect that is really delicious.
We’re lovers of spice here, so we had to include something with a bit more kick. This recipe gives a bunch of great Whole30 brand recommendations and has that herbal snap from the cilantro. If you want to eat wings that feel halfway classic and halfway Thai, then check these out.
We know. Slow cooker wings sound a bit strange, but believe us — they are so easy to make and are worth the minimal effort! This recipe uses coconut milk to really lean into the Thai-flavor — give it a shot if you’re feeling a bit exotic.
This recipe uses a homemade ranch mix to give you the effect of ranch wings without the buttermilk. It takes just a few minutes of prep before you head out to work to come home to some amazing slow cooker wings.
The bottom line on whole30 wings
There are so many amazing Whole30 chicken wing recipes for you to try! All you have to do is pick one and modify it if needed. Just remember to keep it clean, keep it healthy, and good luck with your Whole30 journey. You got this.
The best chicken wings use the best chicken
US Wellness Meats’ Free Range Chicken Wings are a necessity for every tailgate, barbecue, or Super Bowl party, and they are so good with any of these recipes.
US Wellness Meats’ free-range chickens are raised on pasture with a salad bar of grasses, legumes, and insects. The limited amount of grain our chickens consume is Non-GMO, and they’re also antibiotic and hormone-free.
Once you experience the flavor of US Wellness Meats’ outdoor birds, you will never want to eat commercial birds again.
Try our free-range chicken wings today.
Nathan Phelps is a writer, ethical foodie, and outdoors-aficionado hailing from Nashville, TN. He splits his time between helping sustainable businesses find new customers and managing his ever-increasing list of hobbies, which include playing guitar, baking bread, and creating board games.