How To Prevent Slow Cooker Chicken Wings From Falling Apart

Chicken wings are a fan-favorite, and perfect for serving at a party. They're handheld, dressed up in any sauce, and are overall just delicious. In fact, when hosting, you'll notice that people can eat a lot of them. Instead of grilling them and hovering over hot smoke, a slow cooker could save the day. Slow cookers are a convenient way to cook nowadays, with its set-it-and-forget-it feature that allows you to whip up just about anything without having to tend to it, preventing you from missing out on all the fun.

Oftentimes, slow cookers are a go-to for melt-in-your-mouth meat. While meat that is falling off the bone is ideal in most circumstances, when whipping up wings, it's best they stay intact for texture and less of a mess. That being said, the winning question is: Can this countertop appliance help make for easy entertaining, while also producing crispy wings that hold their shape?

According to Southern Living, larger cuts of meat are best for the slow cooker, seeing you want them to cook at a low temperature for longer in order to tenderize properly. The advantage of cooking wings in a slow cooker is that it adds extra flavor, versus grilling where that sauce you brushed on can easily fall through the grates. With slow cookers being a pot that is covered, any flavors that you add to the meat are there to stay. However, if you overcook them, they may fall apart and be extremely messy to eat.

The broiler is your friend

The trick is to pre-broil the wings in the oven slightly, before adding them to the slow cooker. This adds browning for a nice color and a new layer of flavor to whichever sauce you choose (via America's Test Kitchen), and gives a crisp texture to the skin to almost act as a barrier for the liquid (via Southern Living).

Iowa State University states that slow cookers max out at 300 degrees Fahrenheit, so it's difficult for the meat to brown without that extra pre-broil step. From there, unlike larger cuts of meat that need to cook on low for nearly an entire day, each batch of wings should cook on high for 2 to 3 hours, or on low for 4 to 5 hours.

Bottom line is, by taking the extra step to broil your wings beforehand, and setting a timer so you cook 'em just right, you'll have sturdy wings at your next gathering that don't require any babysitting.