The Difference Between Whole Chicken Wings And The Party Variety

Chicken wings — just the mere mention of these golden-fried or baked sirens of poultry can send many a salivary gland into a frenzy. From the ever-popular and ubiquitous Buffalo wings to the crispy, spicy, umami-packed punch of double-fried gochujang-sauced Korean wings, this is serious business.

Before pondering the plethora of sauces and seasonings, there's another important choice to consider when making wings at home: whole or party style? When eating the two types of wings, their differences may not be immediately noticeable. The key distinction is that whole chicken wings are comprised of three parts: the tip, the drummette, and the mid-joint, while party wings only have two parts, leaving out the tip.

Sort of like the question of whether a chicken wing is white meat or dark meat, the difference between whole and party-style wings is something you don't need to actively think about most of the time. So, why consider it now? Depending on your desired preparation and the type of event you're serving them for, there may be certain advantages to choosing whole over party wings and vice versa.

Party wings versus whole wings

Whole chicken wings contain three connected parts. First, the upper meatiest part known as the drummette, which connects to the bird's body. Second, the middle section known as the mid-joint (also called a flat or wingette), which has two bones running through it and typically hosts less meat than the drumette. And lastly, the narrow, pointy, mostly inedible tip. Whole wings are easier to cook in large batches since there are fewer pieces to turn on the grill. They can be seasoned or sauced before being placed on the grill (versus party wings, which are sauced post-frying). Whole wings also have extra crevices for sauces and spices to linger, waiting to be slurped up by hungry mouths.

Party wings are simply whole wings that have been cut down into just the wingette and the drummette while the tip is discarded altogether. They're perfect when baked or deep-fried as appetizers or on party trays alongside an array of dipping sauces. The pre-separated pieces make for faster prep, easier dipping, and quicker eating. Plus, they're way less cumbersome and sloppy when dipped or sauced. If you can't find party wings at your grocer, you can easily make them yourself by cutting down whole wings. Instead of throwing out the tips, save them for homemade broth.