Super Bowl LVI is right around the corner, which can only mean three things: an allegedly epic '90s-filled halftime show, awkward Doritos commercials, and Buffalo wings. Oh, and I guess a football game. Go team … rah, rah, rah and stuff.
If you’re anything like me and most Americans, Buffalo wings take center stage on Super Bowl Sunday (right next to pizza and beer, of course). And while you can certainly (and easily!) make the poultry party staple yourself, sometimes life gets in the way and it’s more convenient to simply toss a frozen bag of pre-seasoned wings and drumsticks into the oven and call it a night.
To help you prep this year’s grocery list, we put five of the most popular Buffalo-style chicken wings to the ultimate crisp test, including plant-based and gluten-free options to accommodate any potential dietary restrictions. Surprisingly, there was one very clear winner — but it came with a few caveats.
Check out our official ranking below, but please keep one important detail in mind: We oven-baked these according to the instructions on their labels. An air fryer is absolutely going to be your best bet in guaranteeing that fresh-out-of-the-fryer crispiness that we crave. Also, all ovens are different, so it’s up to you on whether or not you should remove a baking sheet early or keep it in a bit longer than the suggested cooking time.
5. Foster Farms Take Out Crispy Wings
With "crispy" in its name, one would assume that Foster Farms' wings would rank highest on this list. Well, give me an "N" and give me an "O," and what does that spell? "No," as in no, they certainly did not.
In these wings’ defense, they were certainly crispy when removed from the oven. The problem was that, aside from Field Roast’s plant-based variety, they’re the only brand that required us to toss them in sauce after baking. This resulted in a mushy, gooey coating that was, frankly, almost inedible.
That said, the flavor of the sauce was balanced, both in heat and sodium content, and something we’d happily drizzle on our wings. Our recommendation is to toss these wings in a little bit of the sauce before popping them in the oven, just so it bakes directly into the meat. You can then use the remaining sauce as a dip or glaze instead of a crunch-ruining bath.
4. Field Roast Plant-Based Buffalo Wings
I know that we’re looking for crispy here, but we could not get over the bizarre taste of these plant-based Buffalo wings. Ironically, the vegan blend tasted like mini breakfast sausages, which was off-putting at first and then grew on us.
The crisp was totally acceptable — delicate like a McDonald’s Chicken McNugget, but not bold enough to knock out a filling or rival a potato chip. Despite the bag’s marketing, these weren’t wings by any stretch of the imagination (we were expecting some type of cassava flour cracker or broccoli stalk "bone" to crunch into), but we appreciated the company’s attempt to be more inclusive for our vegan and vegetarian friends.
3. Tyson Any'tizers Hot Wings
These chicken wings on steroids had us a bit skeptical — more surface area typically means more difficult to get crunchy. But they were an all-around solid choice and our second favorite when it came to taste.
After following the heating instructions to a T, we all agreed that they could have used a couple more minutes in the oven to get even crispier. We were also turned off by the amount of cartilage in the meat (a type of unwelcomed crunch that not even tangy hot sauce could mask), but any unfussy friend will have zero problems dipping these into a bowl of blue cheese or ranch on game day.
2. Good & Gather Buffalo-Style Wings
Target’s line of Good & Gather products has really emerged as a rival to other beloved grocery store brands like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods’ 365. And their Buffalo-style wings are another touchdown when it comes to quality, with this frozen bag taking home top honors in overall taste.
The coating of the wings was thick, but didn’t sacrifice the spice and crunch you desire, and even though they were aggressively large like Tyson’s, they cooked like an absolute dream.
We also totally cheated and threw these in an air fryer, just to see. Needless to say, we may have found our new favorite frozen wing. They were Beyoncé halftime show-levels of good.
1. Springer Gluten-Free Buffalo Style Chicken Wings
Springer’s gluten-free variety ranked supreme when it came to crispiness, which isn’t surprising considering it relied solely on fatty chicken skin to do all of the talking. Sure, they were quite dry, but the crunch decibel level made these sound like a rock concert to Foster Farms’ lullaby.
I will say that what this delivered in crunch, it completely lacked in flavor. There was virtually zero coating, which makes sense considering they're gluten-free, but why not use literal pig skin by incorporating pork rinds, or at least a more potent seasoning to make up for its blandness?
Be sure to have your favorite sauces and dips on stand-by because you’re going to need them.