Perdue Farms is one of America's leading chicken brands. Founded over 100 years ago, the family-run business became a household name in the 1970s, thanks to its memorable television commercials and reputation for producing some of the biggest-breasted birds on the market. Today, you'll find its blue-and-gold logo on numerous poultry products at supermarkets nationwide, ranging from fresh boneless, skinless tenderloins to frozen nuggets and patties.
But, there's one emerging category in which even the venerable avian experts at Perdue had yet to stake its banner. Well, until recently, that is.
Just last month, the company introduced its newest chicken specialties, targeted directly at owners of the most trendy kitchen appliance of the moment: Perdue Air Fryer Ready Crispy Wings—which the company proudly described as "the first-ever at-home wings specifically formulated for air frying."
In a press release, Cody Walter, the company's senior marketing manager, explained, "Knowing 75% of households in the U.S. have air fryers, Perdue saw an opportunity to create the first of its kind chicken wing uniquely made for the air fryer, conveniently delivering the crispiest wings in just 16-18 minutes."
If you're a Costco shopper, you're probably rolling your eyes right now. Members of the popular warehouse club have been raving about a different brand of air-fryer-ready chicken wings for at least three years. Found in the Costco freezer section, Foster Farms Take Out Crispy Wings are lauded as "amazing," "better than some restaurants," and "best wings I ever bought" by fans on Reddit.
Though perhaps not as clearly advertised as air fryer-specific as the new Perdue products, which explicitly namedrop the fashionable cooking device right in the title, the Costco-sold wings do include a similar claim ("ready in about 16 minutes from your air fryer") in the top right corner of the package.
For consumers, of course, the question of which air-fryer wings came first is a trivial concern. A far more important question: which air-fryer wings are the best?
That's why I recently rounded up bags of both brands, including two flavors from each producer, to see which wings prove to be the crispiest, juiciest, tastiest, and most excellent overall for your hard-earned dollar. I then air-fried each of these wings according to the directions on the package. In doing so, I quickly came to one common conclusion: though both brands claim to be ready in about 16 minutes, you'll get better results by extending the cooking time by five to 10 minutes in either case.
Here's how they compared, ranked in descending order from my least favorite to the most delectable wing of all.
Perdue Air Fryer Ready Crispy Wings Hot 'N Spicy
Hot 'N Spicy is the first of two Perdue flavors that I sampled. The exact source of that heat and spice? Well, that's something of a mystery. The listed ingredients are pretty vague, mentioning only "spice," "spice extract," and "extractives of paprika." One immediate difference from the Foster Farms brand is that the Perdue wings come seasoned with a dry rub, so there's no tossing with sauce after cooking. Not only does that make the Perdue wings easier to make, but it presumably helps them retain their crispiness, too. The 22-ounce bag cost $9.99 at my local ShopRite and contained a total of 14 pieces.
The look: Orangish and smallish. At first glance, the Perdue wings seemed rather paltry compared to the Foster Farms wings from Costco that I sampled previously. Weighing each one on my digital kitchen scale proved me right: the drumsticks from the Hot 'N Spicy batch ranged between 1.8 and 2.3 ounces, while the flats varied from 1.2 to 1.6 ounces.
The taste: Just as spicy as advertised. These were unquestionably the hottest wings in this survey. The kick is evident upon the first bite and continues with a rolling burn felt all along the tongue and back into the throat. (My teenage son, who volunteered to help taste these, immediately ran to the fridge for a cold glass of milk.) The spice level is so intense that you can hardly taste the chicken, though the meat is so sparse, it hardly matters.
Meanwhile, the skin crisped up really nicely in the air fryer, but it also took on a rather sticky texture that clung to my teeth. I'm used to flossing or using a toothpick after eating chicken wings, but that's usually to pry loose the meaty bits stuck in between. Scraping residue off the surface is something new.
Foster Farms Take Out Crispy Chicken Wings Classic Buffalo
While Costco shoppers rave about the Foster Farms brand, in general, not everyone loves the accompanying Classic Buffalo-flavored sauce of this particular variety. I didn't dislike the sauce as much as others when I tried these previously, but I did prefer a different flavor. Unlike the Perdue wings, the sauce comes in a separate packet, and it's up to you to apply the flavoring after cooking. Predictably, the Costco-sized bag is much bigger than the Perdue package—three times bigger, in fact. You get four pounds for just $15.99 at the warehouse.
The look: Fiery red and noticeably larger on average than the Perdue wings. On my scale, the drumsticks ranged from 2.4 to 2.9 ounces—the biggest one was a full ounce heavier than many of its Perdue counterparts. The flats, meanwhile, ranged from 1.7 to 2.2 ounces.
The taste: Bright, vinegary, and hot sauce-forward. Though certainly not packing as much heat as Perdue's Hot 'N Spicy wings, these morsels had a pleasurable, tongue-tingling effect. They were also a lot meatier than the Perdue pieces, and the chicken within tasted, well, like chicken. The juicy meat pulled easily off the bone. However, these wings didn't get quite as crispy as Perdue's, likely due to the moistening sauce, larger surface area, and denser mass.
Perdue Air Fryer Ready Crispy Wings Lemon Pepper
Next up from the Perdue side is this Lemon Pepper variety. Like the Hot 'N Spicy flavor, these wings are flavored with a dry rub—no saucing required. They also cost the same: $9.99 for a 22-ounce bag, containing precisely 14 wings.
The look: Beautifully golden brown and dotted with specks of black pepper. Much like the other Perdue flavor, these wings were all modestly sized. Drumsticks generally ranged from 1.6 to 1.8 ounces, with one larger outlier weighing in at 2.3 ounces. Flats ranged from 1.3 to 1.7 ounces, with one tiny guy barely crossing single-ounce mark.
The taste: Bright, citrusy, and savory. Though much milder than the other Perdue variety, these wings packed a lot more flavor, with pleasing umami notes and subtle hints of pepper. The seasoning seemed well-balanced and didn't distract from the meat's natural taste. The wings came out of the air fryer super crispy outside and juicy inside. My only quibble with this flavor is the measly amount of meat, a trait that's unfortunately common to both Perdue offerings in this test.
Foster Farms Take Out Crispy Wings Sweet Chipotle BBQ
Like the aforementioned Buffalo flavor, these wings from Foster Farms similarly promise a "restaurant-quality" experience, but with an altogether different and arguably better sauce. One superfan on Reddit, in fact, called the barbecue flavor "top tier." They also come in a similarly super-sized 4-pound bag for $15.99 from Costco. Mine contained a total of 27 wings.
The look: Nicely browned and meaty. The reddish glaze gives these wings an enticing sheen and their plumpness stands out compared to their puny rivals.
The taste: Ambrosial. I've previously raved about the tangy, smoky, and sweet flavors of these saucy wings, and I stand by that conclusion now. While there's a lot to like about other flavors in this test, the crave-worthy chipotle sauce really kicks these wings up to another level. The whole "finger-licking" descriptor is often overused, but in this case, it's warranted. If you're not lapping up the excess stickiness when you're done with these, then you must have monk-level self-control.
While the dry-rubbed Perdue wings have a clear advantage in terms of convenience—and generally seem to get crispier much faster in the air fryer—the Foster Farms wings from Costco are meatier, juicier, and a better deal, too. At Costco, you're paying less than 60 cents per wing, compared to 71 cents per wing for the Perdue brand.
And though the sticky glaze might somewhat dampen the crunch, the tastiness of that Sweet Chipotle BBQ sauce is simply too tough to match.