Beyond Thanksgiving or the deli aisle, turkey tends to be an overlooked meat. Few home cooks prepare turkey wings like they cook chicken wings, but these budget-friendly cuts are succulent, flavorful, and meaty. Use turkey wings as a versatile ingredient that easily stars as an appetizer or main dish.
- Originated in the Americas
- Rich, gamey flavor
- Often eaten during Thanksgiving
- Store uncooked, frozen for up to a year
What Are Turkey Wings?
Unlike turkey legs, turkey wings are considered white meat but have a richer, more gamey flavor than turkey breast. Turkey wings have all the flavor of whole roast turkey without having to cooking an entire bird or wait for Thanksgiving.
You’ll find whole turkey wings at the supermarket, as well as those that have been separated into wings and drumettes (the top part of the wing). Turkey wings also have a wing tip which are often included in the wing cut and trimmed off before cooking.
How To Cook Turkey Wings
Popular methods of cooking turkey wings include deep-frying and serving with Buffalo or barbecue sauce, dry-rubbing with spices and grilling, and roasting with herbs in the oven. They can also be used to make turkey stock.
To prep turkey wings for cooking, rinse under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. If the wings came with tips, trim them off using a very sharp knife or kitchen shears (as they may burn), then split the wings at the joint if desired. The cooked wings can be eaten as-is, or the meat can be stripped from the bone and added to other dishes. Turkey wings can also be marinated or brined before cooking for extra juiciness and flavor.
Make sure cooked wings reach an internal temperature of at least 175 degrees. When checking for doneness, ensure that the thermometer is in the thickest part of the wing without touching the bone.
What Does It Taste Like?
Turkey wings are packed with dark, rich, juicy flavor and have a heartier texture than chicken wings. The skin crisps up nicely for a pleasant textural contrast. Marinating turkey wings helps keep them moist and flavorful during cooking.
Turkey Wings vs. Chicken Wings
Featuring almost identical cuts, chicken wings can be substituted for turkey wings in most recipes and vice-versa. Chicken wings, while easier to find year-round and more common in recipes, contain less meat than turkey wings, so you’ll want to cook more of them to compensate. Turkey wings are also a larger cut, so increase your cook time accordingly.
Turkey Wing Recipes
Turkey wings can be served and eaten much like chicken wings—as an appetizer or a main dish. They pair well with a wide assortment of seasonings and sauces and can be fried, grilled, roasted, smoked, or slow-cooked.
Where to Buy Turkey Wings
You can buy turkey wings in many grocery stores and seasonally at butcher counters. Don't be afraid to ask at the meat counter for turkey wings — some stores sell turkey breasts year-round and may have wings behind the counter. If desired, you can have the butcher trim the tips and split them for you. As turkey wings are sold by the pound, servings vary.
You can also find whole turkeys in most supermarkets year-round, although there will be a greater selection in the lead up to Thanksgiving and Christmas. Most farmers markets offer options to pre-order whole turkeys for the holidays around September and October.
Store uncooked turkey wings in their original packaging in the refrigerator for up to two days or up to six months frozen. Once cooked, turkey wings will last in the fridge for four days.
When thawing turkey wings, transfer them to the refrigerator a day or two before you plan to cook them, depending on the size of the package. It's best to let them completely thaw in the fridge before cooking.