The Absolute Best Wings In The U.S.

Crushing a crispy basket of chicken wings is one of America's favorite pastimes. According to a study published in the New York Post, the average American will eat about 18,000 chicken wings over the course of their life. Affordable and easy to eat with seemingly endless sauce and seasoning combinations, chicken wings deliciously bridge food cultures that span the globe. Add to this the fact that wings can be smoked, grilled, fried, baked, and slathered in any kind of tasty sauce your farm fowl-loving heart desires and it's no wonder chicken wings are so beloved.

From the tangy zip of traditional Buffalo to the sticky sweet sauces inspired by the Eastern hemisphere, here in the United States we pride ourselves on offering a range of delicious wing abundance. The question next becomes: where to start? Fear not — we've got you covered. Here are some of the absolute best wings in the U.S.

Barbacoa - Boise

Any self-respecting wing-lover would agree that one of the most important aspects of a great chicken wing is the texture. If it's underdone, the meat tastes gummy and flabby, and eating it is like chewing on a deflated balloon in a broken dream that leaves you feeling hungry and disappointed. What we're looking for is tender meat with a solid crunch.

Barbacoa in Boise, Idaho has found a way to guarantee that your wings are cooked flawlessly. Each order comes out with a mini hibachi grill for the table so that you can crisp up the wings to your liking. Not only is this a brilliant way to ensure crispness, but it's also a smart move for patrons who may want to work through their wings at a more leisurely pace, gradually charring them up one at a time. The sauce leans toward the sweeter side, but there's a nice burst of heat that shines through thanks to the chipotle ranch that comes along with it.

Chicken and Guns - Portland, Oregon

No need to worry about the weaponized imagery in their name — the "guns" at Chicken and Guns in Portland, Oregon is just their moniker for crispy potatoes. Specializing in wood-fired chicken with a Latin American twist, Chicken and Guns operates out of a food truck courtyard that has picnic tables and a fire pit. The wings are dry-rubbed and wood-smoked, then flawlessly charred on the grill until they're nice and crispy.

One area where Chicken and Guns really shines is their sauces. There's the Peruvian Aji, a creamy jalapeño sauce with cilantro, garlic, and lime juice. There's also a carrot habanero sauce and a delicious chimichurri. Aside from wings, Chicken and Guns offers smoked chicken noodle soup, cold chicken salad, and a rice bowl filled with a mix of lentils, black beans, corn, and plantains topped with an over-easy egg and your choice of pork belly, smoked chicken, or crispy potatoes. More good news: You can even order a whole smoked chicken.

J's Creole Wings - New Orleans

Down in the heart of the Deep South, New Orleans is renowned for its celebrated food scene that includes fried fare, jambalaya, gumbo, and other Southern comfort food staples. The cuisine in New Orleans sprouted from a rush of multicultural influences, and the local penchant for frying food became a defining feature permanently fused to the regional culinary style (via Chowhound). Between the need to create big flavors with relatively few ingredients and the tendency to cook en masse with sizzling vats of hot oil, the humble chicken wing is a perfect vessel to embody the glorious indulgence of New Orleans. No surprise then that some of the best wings you'll ever have can be found in the Big Easy.

The menu at J's Creole Wings focuses exclusively on chicken wings (boneless or classic), different styles of fries, and fried okra. You get nine different flavors of wings to choose from, including creole rub, island jerk, sriracha lemon pepper, honey heat, and spicy hot. The fries also come in a handful of different flavors like bacon ranch, garlic rosemary, or fully loaded. Throw in homemade fruit punch and fresh strawberry lemonade and it's clear why J's Creole Wings is making a splash. Another bonus: they sell some of their delicious seasoning blends online at their website so you can cook up your own version of their wings at home.

Rooster's - Margate, Florida

Open since 1980, Rooster's is a local favorite in Margate, Florida, and for good reason (via Rooster's). The no-frills bar and grill has an extensive menu with everything from Philly cheesesteak nachos to locally crafted brews to a massive fried pork tenderloin sandwich. All of their sides and soups are freshly homemade, they boast nearly a dozen salads to choose from, and they even have a lengthy list of grilled and fried seafood. It's no wonder Rooster's has a reputation for being a such crowd pleaser — there's something here for everyone.

Their wings are perfectly crispy and come in all the classic flavors: mild, medium, hot, BBQ, or teriyaki. You can also add parmesan or garlic to any flavor you'd like, or order them extra wet and get them bathed in extra sauce. If you prefer boneless tenders, Rooster's cooks those up too. They also offer a great deal in their weekday lunch special, where you can pair different items like their famous wings or mouth-watering burgers with sides like sweet potato fries or homemade soup. Add in a daily happy hour and a pet-friendly patio and it's easy to see why Rooster's has been a local hot spot for decades.

One Hot Mama's - Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Blending international food trends with the tradition of old-fashioned Southern BBQ, One Hot Mama's is run by chef Orchid Paulmeier, who worked her way up through the restaurant business with a dream to own her own restaurant one day and ended up as a finalist on Season 7 of Food Network Star (via Food Network). Now with a couple of locations near the Southern coast of the Palmetto State, One Hot Mama's award-winning food has become a part of the official South Carolina BBQ trail (via One Hot Mama's).

A part of what makes One Hot Mama's so special is their extensive list of homemade sauces and the variety of wing styles to choose from. The wings at One Hot Mama's can come slow smoked, grilled, or fried. They have tons of creative sauces like whisky teriyaki, pineapple ginger, and strawberry jalapeño. And for those on the prowl for some serious heat, One Hot Mama's also offers Devil wings, which are tossed in smoked and puréed fresh habaneros.

J. Timothy's Taverne - Plainville, Connecticut

Regarded by the Food Network as having some of the best bar food in the country and the nation's best Buffalo sauce, J. Timothy's Taverne is located inside of a historic building in Plainville, Connecticut, and has been making waves on the scene for decades (via J. Timothy's Taverne).

What J. Timothy's Taverne is truly famous for are their "dirt" wings, named after a beloved guest nicknamed Dirt because he was "old as dirt" and the eldest member of the restaurant's softball team. As the story goes, Dirt would chat it up with other patrons for so long that his wings would grow cold and he'd ask the cooks to re-sauce them and toss them back in the fryer for him. The restaurant obliged and discovered that the process actually made the wings taste even better, caramelizing up from the extra sauce and double fry (via J. Timothy's Taverne).

Wings come in five different flavors: original Buffalo, honey gold BBQ, sweet red chili, or buffalo chipotle dry rub. No matter how you choose to order, you better buckle up because you're in store for some of the best wings you've ever had.

Saw's Soul Kitchen - South Birmingham, Alabama

Saw's Soul Kitchen was founded by Mike Wilson, who grew up in North Carolina, studied restaurant and hospitality management, attended culinary school, and then went on to work as a chef. Open since 2009, Saw's has earned a reputation for serving up some of the best soul food around. On the menu you can find amazing dishes like smoked sausage hushpuppies, sweet tea fried chicken sandwiches, fried green tomato BLTs, and pulled pork.

One of the most stellar items on the menu at Saw's Soul Kitchen are the wings. Slow-smoked with hickory, tossed in a sticky red BBQ sauce, and then drizzled with Alabama white sauce, the chicken wings at Saw's have a deliciously complex flavor profile. Juicy and smoky with just the right amount of creamy brightness from the Alabama white sauce glaze, you'll be savoring every last bite and coming back for more. You can even score some of Saw's famous sauce online at their store.

Hattie B's - Nashville

Nashville style hot chicken has been taking America by storm for decades — and legend has it that the origin story of this fiery dish is rooted in revenge. One thing is for sure: Nashville hot chicken has carved out a distinct niche for itself in the diverse and flavorful world of roasted birds. What makes Nashville hot chicken unique is its higher level of spice and the extra coating it gets right out of the fryer (via Bon Appétit). The chicken is typically dry brined in salt and pepper, patted dry, and then double-coated in hot-sauce-infused buttermilk and flour seasoned with cayenne pepper. When it's freshly fried and crispy, the outer crust is brushed with oil seasoned with more cayenne pepper, paprika, garlic powder, brown sugar, and chili powder. The delicious aftermath might make you break a sweat, but the taste is well worth the burn.

The original Hattie B's opened in Nashville in 2012 and has since expanded to newer locations in Birmingham, Memphis, Atlanta, and Las Vegas (per Hattie B's). Their pared-down menu has grown famous for wings and hot chicken sandwiches that come in six different flavors. Going the extra mile with sides like pimento mac & cheese and offering seductive desserts like peach cobbler, it's no wonder that Hattie B's has become so well-respected for its deliciousness.

Dirty Birds - San Diego

With an extensive menu full of pleasant surprises, Dirty Birds in San Diego is cooking up some of the best wings in the country. Their menu boasts nearly forty different craft wing sauces made from scratch, including maple chipotle bbq, garlic serrano, and a Korean inspired sauce made with soy sauce, fresh garlic, and chilis (via Dirty Birds). On the spicier end, Dirty Birds has the flaming hot honey mustard, mango habanero, a spicy version of General Tso's sauce, and a secret hot sauce ominously called "diablo" that is made with three different types of chilis. One of the most creative sauces on the menu is fireball — a flavorful sweet and spicy mix that includes habaneros, cinnamon, maple syrup, cayenne peppers, brown sugar, and a reduced fireball whiskey glaze.

Dirty Birds also offers a lengthy list of appetizers, hand-breaded chicken tenders, fried chicken sandwiches, nachos, burgers, tacos, and more. With half a dozen salads to choose from and desserts like a classic ice cream sundae, Dirty Birds has a little something for everyone.

La Pizzeria Metro - Wilmington, Delaware

Known primarily for its famous wood-fired pizzas, La Pizzeria Metro in Wilmington, Delaware has a few more tricks up its sleeve. There are a few things that make the wings at La Pizzeria special — like the addition of caramelized onions to balance the savory with some subtle sweetness — but the real stroke of genius is how they're served.

Coming out in a sizzling cast-iron skillet is a brilliant move for so many reasons: not only does the searing hot cast iron perfectly crisp up the skin, it also helps keep the wings hot because the cast iron skillet retains all the heat so well (via Serious Eats). La Pizzeria Metro also bastes the chicken in garlic and parmesan and then finishes it off with a delicate drizzle of Mike's hot honey. The end result is wonderfully crispy chicken wings with a complex flavor profile that stay nice and hot right at your table.

Big Bob Gibson BBQ - Decatur, Alabama

Started in 1925 when a railroad worker by the name of Bob Gibson began selling his hickory-smoked barbecue from his backyard, Big Bob Gibson BBQ in Decatur, Alabama has been dishing out some of the best slow-smoked meats in the nation for nearly a century (via Big Bob Gibson BBQ). The restaurant is now owned and operated by professional barbecue legend Chris Lilly, a world champion pitmaster who's written two books about his mastery of the craft (via Food & Wine).

The menu at Big Bob Gibson BBQ is rooted in tradition but still inspired by modern trends. One crowd pleaser is the BBQ nachos piled high with your choice of pit-fired meat, drizzled in their famous champion red sauce, layered with Mexican cheese and a thick stream of sour cream, and garnished with fresh shredded lettuce and jalapeños. The menu also offers a wide range of sandwiches, samplers, platters, sides, and homemade pies. Like everything else on the menu, their wings are top tier and exceptionally delicious. Marinated in a spicy apricot sauce before being smoked and grilled, they are sticky and smoky and lightly kissed with the perfect amount of heat (via Southern Living).

DB's Grill - Kapolei, Hawaii

Imagine eating some of the best chicken wings of your life surrounded by a tropical paradise. You can make that dream a reality over at DB's Grill in Kapolei, Hawaii. Billing itself as a modern Asian bistro, DB's Grill features everything from duck-fat fried rice to kimchi pancakes (via DB Grill). They've also become renowned for their wings, and their K.F.C. (Korean Fried Chicken) sauce with gochujang, honey, and sesame shows why. For those unfamiliar, gochujang is a fermented Korean pepper paste. Sweet and spicy, it's used as a base for many traditional Korean dishes. Basting virtually anything in gochujang instantly boosts the flavor profile.

In order to cater to everyone's unique taste buds, DB's Grill allows you to customize the level of spiciness in your dishes (via Honolulu Magazine). From the special homemade burgers of the week made from a blend of short rib and brisket to the ahi belly tacos, DB's Grill is expert at bringing international flavors to every palate in a casual atmosphere.

Foggy Bottom BBQ - Loganville, Georgia

What began as a competitive venture by the founders in 2012 blossomed into catering projects and eventually into two beloved restaurants located in Georgia. Foggy Bottom BBQ has been delighting the taste buds of its patrons for a decade. From the fried pickle spears served with spicy ranch to the melted pimento cheeseburger served on Texas toast, the menu is loaded with tons of indulgent Southern treats.

Another Foggy Bottom specialty is the chicken wings. Slow smoked over hickory coals, the wings at Foggy Bottom BBQ are the tasty result of talented craft and good old-fashioned patience. You can order them as is straight off the smoker, but they're also available in lemon pepper, sweet chili, or classic buffalo. Some of their other offerings include ribs, Brunswick stew, BBQ sliders, full-sized sandwiches, and a number of generous plates that come with two sides. Foggy Bottom BBQ has declared that its mission is to ensure "the finest pit to plate experience." Mission accomplished.

Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza - Nationwide

Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza was started back in 2002 by a New York native who'd moved to South Florida. While pizza is their specialty, they've also become famous for their wings. Marinated overnight in fresh herbs and garlic, then baked in a coal fired oven at 800 degrees and served with strands of caramelized onions and fresh focaccia bread, the wings at Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza are nothing short of spectacular (via Sun Sentinel). 

The high temperature of the coal fired oven gently sears the surface of the chicken and imbues a mellow smokiness, locking in its juices, rendering them crispy on the outside yet nice and tender on the inside. The natural sweetness of the caramelized onions compliments all of these flavors and the fresh focaccia bread is the perfect vessel to help you mop up any drippings. With other items on the menu like a meatball and mozzarella sandwich on focaccia with hot peppers and New York Style cheesecake baked in a graham cracker crust, there's truly something for everyone at Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza.

Martin's BBQ Joint - Nashville

Martin's BBQ Joint has been featured on popular channels like the Food Network and Travel Channel and in respected magazines like Bon Appétit and Esquire. It's easy to see why — they smoke fresh whole hogs every single day, and absolutely everything at Martin's is made from scratch daily. Martin's BBQ Joint understands that quality food takes talent and time, and you can taste the love of the craft in every bite. They smoke their wings for up to 24 hours so that the flavor runs deep into the meat and then finish them off with a glaze of barbecue sauce.

One of the more creative items on the menu is the redneck taco: a cornbread hoecake (a crispy cornmeal pancake, per Spicy Southern Kitchen) topped with your choice of smoked meat, homemade slaw, and Jack's Creek barbecue sauce — a sweet and spicy mix that's vinegar-forward. With a menu that cleanly fits onto a single page, the offerings at Martin's still pack a punch and serve as a reminder that sometimes less is more. With six different sandwiches, eight different BBQ trays, smoked brisket chili, burgers, salads, desserts, and more, Martin's BBQ Joint is at the top of its game.

Nando's PERi-PERi - Washington, DC

Nando's PERi-PERi in Washington, D.C. started in South Africa and later successfully expanded to the U.S. Their signature peri-peri sauces are made from spicy African Bird's Eye chili peppers. The wings are marinated for 24 hours and then grilled over an open flame instead of fried. Bathed in the gentle flicker of flames, the chicken wings get perfectly charred. You can get your wings tossed in any of their delicious sauces that include lemon and herb, coconut lemon, mild, medium, garlic, hot, and extra hot.

In an effort to give back to the community, Nando's is working to make sure that their African Bird's Eye chili peppers are grown in Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe, and pay their farmers a premium for their harvests. They now work with over 1,400 farmers in 18 different regions across South Africa (via Nando's).

With an eclectic menu that offers everything from fire-kissed wings to sweet potato halloumi wraps to a pulled chicken, feta, and avocado bowl, the bold flavors, creative dishes, and affordable prices at Nando's are truly something to appreciate.