Super Crispy Chicken Wings (without breading!) with Ranch Dressing, (c) 2022, Judy Barnes Baker

What I wish I had known when my children were little:

A mother from one of the low vitamin A sites asked for help in feeding her picky son. He would eat chicken wings, but he was not happy with the “breading” on the keto versions. I don’t know if this recipe will appeal to the picky eater or not, but I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest some other approaches that might help get children to eat healthful food. Judging by the commercials on television, this is a common problem. (One ad for frozen french fries suggests bribing your child with one french fry for every bite of something else. Another suggests giving up and serving mac and cheese to maintain the peace.)

Rule # 1: Avoid getting into a battle of wills with a small child at all costs. You will never win. What they swallow is one thing they have total control over (perhaps the only thing). The solution: Pretend you don’t care what they eat. It is surprising how little food small children need anyway and they are the only ones who know when they are hungry. I have never heard of one starving to death in the presence of good food. (I must also admit that it is possible that I was wrong about what was good for my own kids and they may have been guided by some primal instinct to avoid toxins when they refused the foods like liver and spinach that I put in front of them.)

Of course my system will only work if you provide healthful food and don’t have junk available 24/7 as an option. They can only eat what you provide, at least until they can drive.

Super Crispy Chicken Wings

This technique makes super crispy chicken wings (without breading!) in an air fryer. It was the brainchild of J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, author of The Food Lab. The same trick works for roast chicken. No air fryer? It also works in a convection oven.


1½ pounds chicken wings, drumettes* preferred, but either or both segments are OK*

1½ teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, optional

Serve with:

1 or 2 ounces of Ranch Dressing for dipping, optional (Recipe below.)


If using whole chicken wings, cut into 2 segments at the joint. Place the wing segments on a large plate and sprinkle evenly with the baking powder. Turn and toss the wings with your hands to make sure they are fully coated. Let the wings rest for 1 hour or refrigerate overnight. (Don’t salt the wings until ready to cook because it will keep the surface damp.)

When ready to cook, sprinkle wings with salt and pepper and place on a greased rack set over a shallow pan if using a convection oven or stand them up if using an air fryer. Cook at 400° F until cooked through and brown and crisp, about 20 minutes.

Serve with a side of crunchy vegetables, like celery sticks, and/or cauliflower flowerets, with Ranch Dressing for dipping. A dairy-free, low vitamin-A Ranch recipe is below.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition Facts, wings only:

Calories: 443.6; Fat: 28.7g; Carbs: 0.62g; Fiber: 0.02g, Net Carbs; 0.6g; Protein: 40.5g; Vitamin A RAE (Retinol Activity Equivalent): 20.4 mcgs


Primal Kitchen makes two versions of ranch dressing if you prefer to purchase one rather than make your own. The company is one of the few that uses good oil (from avocados) instead of soy. Their regular Ranch is made with eggs; their Vegan Ranch is made without eggs, so it is lower in vitamin A.


1 cup Kite Hill almond yogurt (for low A and dairy free)

1/4 cup coconut milk 

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste

One dash ground black pepper, or to taste

1 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon dried parsley**

1/4 teaspoon dried dill**

Makes 4 servings of 2 tablespoons each.

Nutrition Data per 2 tablespoons of Ranch Dressing:

Calories: 86.7; Fat: 8.4g; Carbs: 2.1g; Fiber: 0.6g; Net Carbs: 1.5g; Protein: 0.8g; Vitamin-A RAE (retinol activity equivalent): 0.25 mcg


Super Crispy Chicken Wings in a countertop convection oven, (c) 2022, Judy Barnes Baker

Air Fryers:

When Air Fryers first became popular, I decided against purchasing one because countertops are precious real estate and I already had too many one-purpose, small appliances to squeeze in yet another. When I saw a recipe that I really wanted to try that specified cooking in an air fryer, I realized I already had one and you probably do too! Any oven with a convection feature can be used as an air fryer. The chicken wings in the pictures were cooked in a countertop toaster oven with a convection feature.

Vitamin A:

*Most of the vitamin A in chicken is in the skin. The meaty drumettes have less skin than the tips, so less vitamin A. Of course the whole point of chicken wings is the crackly, brown skin, but if you are trying to keep your intake as low as possible, you can remove some or all of it.

**Dried herbs contain a tiny fraction of the amount of vitamin A in fresh herbs. (Fresh chives have the most.)


I am not affiliated with any company and have not received free products.

I am not a doctor and cannot give medical advice. If you believe you have a health problem, please consult a medical practitioner.

(c) 2022, Judy Barnes Baker

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Judy Barnes Baker

The working title for my first book was, “You’ll Never Know What You Are Missing.” It summed up my goal: to make eating for health synonymous with eating for pleasure. Once you discover the secret, you will find that the very best food for weight management, longevity, the treatment and prevention of disease, and over-all health and happiness is also the most sumptuous, satisfying, and indulgent way of eating the world has to offer. You are invited to the feast. Enjoy!
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Andrea Tiktin-Fanti
Andrea Tiktin-Fanti
2 years ago

Judy, can these be cooked in a regular oven for those of us who have neither an air fryer nor a convection oven? I wonder if they would get crisp.

2 years ago

Sounds great! We’ll have to try them. 🙂