One of my favorite foods of all time is chicken wings. Whether spicy like buffalo hot wings or sweet like teriyaki wings, I love them all. However, this does not mean I can have them all on the keto diet. After all, there are so many types and sauces its hard to know what wings you can have on keto. So with this article, I want to answer the simple question: Are chicken wings keto?
Chicken wings by themselves are very low-carb and would be considered keto-friendly. However, it depends on the sauce that you put on it. Some flavors of chicken wings like honey bbq contain too much sugar for keto. Some other flavors like buffalo, however, are typically low in carbs.
That said, most places fry their chicken wings in vegetable oil. So if you are following an eating plan that does not allow vegetable oils they might be off-limits. That or you might need to make them yourself. Personally I like to make mine in an air fryer. That way I can control the oils I use and I can avoid having to deep fry my wings. If you are curious about vegetable oils on the keto diet, I go into great detail in my article Is Vegetable Oil Keto?
That said, It really is the sauce that you put on the wings that determine whether or not it is keto-friendly. Let us take a look at some of the most popular types of chicken wings to determine if they are keto-approved. Let’s start with the most popular chicken wing, that is buffalo wings.
Are Buffalo Wings Keto?
Almost all buffalo wing recipes are ok on the keto diet. For the most part, the sauce is simply made up of hot sauce and butter. Of course, some recipes call for a bit of Worchester sauce but usually in such small quantity that it does not make a difference. Of course, if you are going to look up a recipe online you should still be mindful. Though not common you may find recipes that add honey or sugar so be careful. You will want to avoid the recipes that use a sweetener.
As previously stated, most places are also going to deep fry their wings in vegetable oils. Though these oils will not kick you out of ketosis, I do not think they are a healthy choice. That said, I would leave it up to you whether or not you want to add them to your keto diet. Of course, if you make them yourself you can control this issue.
If you are going out, however, expect that they are deep-fried in vegetable oils. Personally, I will break my rules and go out for chicken wings. Though not ideal, doing this kind of thing every once in a while is not that big of a deal. That said, I would not recommend making it a normal habit.
I should warn you again however that many of the sauces used on wings are loaded with sugar. Some places even use cornstarch on their wings. So, unfortunately, you will likely have to do some research if you are going out to a restaurant to eat wings. However, I will point out some of the best options to choose from at one of the most popular wing restaurants.
Lowest Carb Wings At Buffalo Wild Wings For Keto
I should start by saying that the examples I am using are for medium-sized traditional wings. In addition, this does not account for the celery and dip that would come with the wings. Unfortunately, the boneless wings are breaded and contain far too many carbs for the keto diet. So all the wings on this list are actual chicken wings. That said, let’s look at the top 12 lowest-carb wings at buffalo wild wings. I am pulling these numbers from the buffalo wild wings website. To get the full list click here.
#1 Lemon Pepper Dry Seasoning
The best flavor or at least the most keto-friendly wing sauce to choose from is the lemon pepper dry rub. The wings by themselves contain zero carbs and the lemon pepper dry rub adds only 1 carb to the chicken wings. That said, you can have a whole medium-sized plate of wings at buffalo wild wings for just one carb!
#2 Salt & Vinegar Dry Rub
Salt and vinegar is a flavor that people either love or hate. Like the lemon pepper, this flavor contains just one carb as well. Personally, I love the taste of salt and vinegar and it is probably my favorite of the wings with just one carb. The only reason it’s my number two pick is that for most people the lemon pepper is a safer bet.
#3 Buffalo Seasoning Dry Rub
If you were looking for a little spicier wing the buffalo dry rub only adds 2 total carbs to a medium order from buffalo wild wings. As you are probably starting to notice the dry rubs at buffalo wild wings is where it’s at for the keto diet. They are all lower in carbs than the other sauces. That said, if you are looking for a dry rub with just a bit of spice then give these wings a shot.
#4 Chipolte BBQ Dry Rub
If you are not sure what to choose the chipotle bbq dry rub is a pretty safe bet. This is a flavor that almost everyone will enjoy. It has a tiny bit of a kick but it’s not too spicy for most people. In addition, it only adds 2 carbs to your order of medium wings.
#5 Desert Heat Dry Rub
This is the last of the dry rubs so don’t worry I will get to the others next. The dry rubs just so happen to be the lowest in carbs. If you are looking for a more spicy wing then you might consider the desert heat dry rub. It also only contains 2 carbs and tastes great if you can handle the spice.
#6 Buffalo Wild Wings Mild Sauce
This is an excellent flavor to get started with. It only adds 3 carbs to one medium order of wings. This is only slightly higher than the dry rubs. However, this flavor actually contain 9 grams of fat. To be honest I could not figure out what where the fats come from but I’m hoping it is from butter and not more vegetable oils.
#7 Medium Sauce
If you are looking for something between mild in spicy then try the medium sauce. Like the mild sauce, it contains just 3 carbs. It also contains 6 grams of fat. I really enjoy this flavor as someone who does not prefer wings that are crazy spicy.
#8 Buffalo Wild Wings Hot Sauce
Coming in at number 8 is the classic hot sauce. It is ideal if you are looking for a spicer wing but do not want to do the dry rub. It only contains 4 carbs with 8 grams of fat. Though slightly higher than the others on the list, these are still very low numbers for a medium plate of wings.
#9 Spicy Garlic
If I was going for a spicy flavor I would probably choose the spicy garlic. I love the taste of garlic and this flavor contains just 4 carbs. In addition, it also contains 8 grams of fat. So if you like garlic as much as I do give this sauce a try.
#10 Wild Sauce
The wild sauce at buffalo wild wings is another great option. This sauce contains 5 carbs and 8 grams of fat. I believe this is the spiciest of the buffalo sauces and the second spiciest on the menu. This is a great option as long as you can handle the spice.
#11 Nashville Hot
Another hot one on the list is the Nashville Hot sauce. It contains 5 carbs and 6 grams of fat. This is the last sauce on their menu with 5 or fewer carbs. I do not recall ever trying this flavor but if you like spicy wings it is probably a solid choice.
#12 Parmesan Garlic
I almost didn’t put this one on the list because it contains 6 carbs. Usually, I would recommend sticking to the wings with 5 or fewer carbs. However, I thought this one should at least be mentioned. It is very tasty and has a unique flavor. That said, it is probably the last one on the menu you could get away with on a keto diet. After this, the sauces jump all the way up to 8 carbs.
Make Your Own Keto-Friendly Wings Without Deep Frying
Though chicken wings are low in carbs, they are usually fried in vegetable oils like canola or soybean. These oils have been shown to cause inflammation in the body. So for good reason, many people choose to avoid them on the keto diet.
Thankfully, however, you can still enjoy chicken wings without having to deep fry them in vegetable oil. My favorite way is to simply use a high-quality air fryer like a Cosori Air Fryer. There are a ton of air fryer recipes for chicken wings online. Best of all, they require zero or very little oil to air fry wings. If you choose to use a little bit of oil just go with coconut oil or avocado oil. You can even use the cooking spray.
If an air fryer is out of the question there is still another option. You can always make baked buffalo wings. Just make sure to coat them in a high-quality fat. There are also a ton of recipes you can find online for baked wings. I would recommend this recipe from therealfoodrds.com.
As long as you choose a low carb sauce you can have chicken wings on the keto diet. That said, be careful when going out because some wings might have more carbs than you think. In addition, you can typically expect that wings bought at a restaurant will be deep-fried in vegetable oils. Though it might not kick you out of ketosis, you may want to limit fried foods for health purposes.