Younger consumers are driving demand for chicken wings, per Technomic’s Center of the Plate: Poultry Consumer Trend Report, powered by Ignite, and it’s not just on Super Bowl Sunday. The handheld appetizer is now taking flight on snacking and shareable menus throughout the year. While the sauce or dry rub flavor associated with chicken wings is their most craveable element, consumers also point to certain wing cooking styles and preparation techniques—fried versus grilled and bone-in versus boneless—as factors that enhance craveability.
Click through to uncover the 10 chains that recent customers say offer the most craveable wings out of the leading brands surveyed for Technomic’s Consumer Brand Metrics. The chains are ranked from 10th to first, in order of the percentage of recent diners who say the brand's wings are craveworthy and one of a kind.
10. TGI Fridays
About 6.2% of recent customers say they can’t get their TGI Fridays wing fix anywhere else. Consumers point to the casual-dining restaurant’s “whiskey-flavored food” as craveable, specifically its Boneless Jack Daniel’s wings, served with ranch or blue cheese. The chain's wings are available as appetizers in boneless, traditional and grilled varieties, and feature one of four sauce options, with garlic Parmesan and barbecue receiving nods from consumers.
In February, the chain took the appeal of its wings to its burger menu with the Buffalo Wingman Burger, featuring a skewer of Buffalo wings atop the burger bun.
9. Hungry Howie’s Pizza
Wings at Hungry Howie’s are an item that 7% of recent customers say they can only get there, and the quick-service pizza chain’s mildly seasoned Buffalo Howie Wings receive high mentions when it comes to craveability. Boneless varieties are available in orders of 10 or 20, while traditional comes in orders of eight or 16 wings.
Consumers also called out its “Howie Wing special sauces,” with the Buffalo option receiving the greatest number of mentions.
8. Little Caesars
More than 7% of consumers say that wings at Little Caesars are a craveable item they can only get at that brand. The quick-service chain, known for its Hot-N-Ready pizzas, offers three varieties of oven-roasted Hot-N-Ready Caesar Wings as a side. Many customers hanker for the barbecue and Buffalo wings, though garlic Parmesan is also available.
7. Twin Peaks
More than 8% of recent customers say they can’t get their Twin Peaks wing fix anywhere else, and the majority of consumers point to wing variety as the top reason for its craveworthiness. The casual-dining restaurant offers four wing styles (bone-in naked, bone-in breaded, boneless, and smoked and grilled) with seven sauces or two rub varieties. Consumers most often refer to the Blazing flavor, which features ghost peppers and is the hottest sauce option available, as craveworthy.
Its other sauce options include jalapeno butter, Nashville hot, classic, garlic Parmesan, spicy Thai chili and smoky sweet barbecue.
Over a tenth of recent customers find wings craveworthy at Zaxby’s, which offers nine wing tossing sauces ranked by heat level and a choice of traditional or boneless. Consumers particularly rave that chicken at the fast casual “tastes better than anywhere else,” with a number voicing affection for the chain's Buffalo wings. The Tongue Torch sauce is another top callout among consumers; bearing two flames out of five for heat, the chain describes it as “a succulent sauce with a little kick to let you know it’s there.”
5. Pizza Hut
More than a tenth of recent customers crave the wings at Pizza Hut. Though it’s known for pizza, the quick-service chain heavily promotes its WingStreet-brand wings as a good appetizer or pizza pairing. The wings are available with or without the bone in eight different sauces or two dry rubs. Consumers specifically point to the three spice varieties of Buffalo wings (mild, medium and “burnin’ hot”) as craveworthy.
4. Beef ‘O’ Brady’s
Over 17% of recent customers crave Beef ‘O’ Brady’s wings and say they can’t get them anywhere else. The majority of consumers point to its signature Buffalo and garlic Parmesan flavors as craveable. The latter is the mildest of the casual-dining chain’s 13 wing sauce flavors (which go up to "nuclear" levels of hotness), but three dry rubs are also available. Traditional bone-in and boneless wings are offered.
A large jump from 17.6% of consumers who crave Beef ‘O’ Brady’s wings, more than two-fifths of recent customers say that Hooters serves up mouthwatering wings they can’t get anywhere else. Though most consumers point to Hooters’ Original Style Wings, which are breaded and tossed in sauce, the chain also offers Naked Wings, nonbreaded wings served with any sauce. Eleven sauces are available, but many consumers specifically refer to its 3 Mile Island sauce as craveable—the casual-dining chain describes the sauce as “a meltdown you won’t soon forget.”
Some consumers also call out its Bacon Wrapped Wings—Naked Wings wrapped in bacon, tossed in Daytona Beach sauce and finished on the grill—as craveworthy. But consumers also point to its Smoked Wings as a craveable item. Launched in March, these wings are marinated overnight with a sweet-and-spicy dry rub and then smoked over hickory wood.
2. Buffalo Wild Wings
More than half of recent customers hanker for Buffalo Wild Wings’ eponymous wings and say they can’t find any like them elsewhere. Variety is a major factor in craveability of the casual-dining chain's wings, which are available in traditional and boneless options with five seasonings or one of 16 sauces ranging from the mild Parmesan garlic to medium Asian Zing to super-hot Blazin’.
The chain also places heavy emphasis on limited-time wing flavors, perhaps due to the excitement it stirs from consumers. Recent additions include Mandarin Kick—a sweet-spicy flavor with orange and pineapple notes and a kick of heat—and Scorpion Rum, a sauce hotter than Blazin’ with a sting from scorpion, habanero and chipotle peppers, plus rum for some sweetness.
Almost two in three consumers rate Wingstop’s classic bone-in and boneless wings as craveworthy, elevating these wings to the top spot on this list. Its many wing options are what make the fast-casual chain’s wings so craveable—in fact, consumers list all 11 wing flavors as being craveworthy. The chain occasionally unveils new wing flavors for a limited run, such as its recent Brazilian citrus pepper dry rub with Portuguese piri piri peppers. Some consumers point to the fact that these flavors are specific to Wingstop as an alluring factor, noting that “There are some sauce and rub flavors not available elsewhere,” and “You can only get their type of wings and fries there.”
One consumer also spoke about the ease of ordering various wing types at once, without added cost: “It’s rather easy to get a mix of boneless and classic wings at this restaurant. Others make you buy 2 orders and I like both types.”