I’m yet to find a person who doesn’t enjoy a good chicken wing. Alright, alright, vegetarians and vegans please take a seat.
But, if you’ve handled and prepared raw chicken before then chances are you may have come across some chicken wings that seemingly have small little hairs on them.
So, what gives? Are they really little hairs?
Well, here we go through why chicken wings sometimes have hair-like follicles on them, how you can remove them easily, and if they’re normal and safe to eat.
Hair On Chicken Wings?
Alright, let’s get the first thing straight. Chickens don’t actually have hair. So, what you’re seeing on any raw chicken wings skin is actually small filaments.
These hair-like filaments are the base of the feather, connecting the rest of the feather to the actual skin of the chicken.
Normally when chickens are processed commercially their feathers are all removed with feather-picking machines.
But, these machines can’t guarantee the removal of every single feather filament, which is why it’s not uncommon to find these small “hairs” on your raw chicken’s skin, particularly on chicken wings!
Your immediate thought may be: eww gross!
Although you’re not alone, it’s important to note that during the cooking process these small filaments usually burn off (particularly if you are grilling or cooking them in the air fryer or oven).
Still, you can go through the extra effort of removing them first. But, it’s not necessary and these filaments are completely harmless to consume too.
How To Remove Small Hairs On Chicken Wings
If you’re standing there looking at the little hairs on your chicken wings thinking “these have got to come off”, then you’re not alone.
Many people are grossed out initially by these annoying little “hairs”.
Although they are completely harmless and often will effectively disintegrate during the cooking process, if you want to remove them before cooking you are absolutely welcome to do so.
Here are the three easiest ways to get rid of the small “hairs” on your chicken wings.
- Place the chicken wings on a grill or a fire-resistant surface.
- Bring your barbeque lighter, a creme brulee torch, or one of those propane torches, and turn it on.
- Start making passes over the chicken areas that have hair on them.
- The fire will quickly singe the small hairs, burning them to a crisp.
This method also happens naturally if you are grilling your chicken wings on high heat, on a charcoal or gas grill for example.
If you want to get really methodical, this is the next way to do it.
- Place your chicken wings on a plate or tray.
- Get your tweezers.
- Start plucking out those hairs off of the chicken’s skin.
Yes, this is time consuming. But, it works if you do want to get rid of all of their little follicles. You won’t be able to do this if you’ve got frozen chicken wings though!
Another focused way to do this is by hand, but this method is effective and much quicker than using tweezers.
- Place the selected pieces of chicken wings on a plate or tray.
- Bring a bowl of water and place it next to you on the workspace.
- Wear rubber gloves, and start plucking the hairs.
- Between plucks dip your gloves in the water to get a better grip.
This is similar to how they pluck feathers commercially as the rubber helps to get a firm grip.
Are Chicken Wings With Hair OK To Eat?
Often these little filaments are hardly noticeable. So, if you’re not too concerned with them then you absolutely don’t need to remove them.
Depending on how you cook your chicken wings too they will more than likely disintegrate or burn away.
For example, if you’re grilling the chicken wings then the fire from the charcoal or gas makes short work of them.
If you are slow-cooking your chicken wings in a smoker or in the oven though, then the filaments will remain intact. It’s still completely OK to consume, but they will be there nonetheless.
If you’re looking for the perfect, crispy chicken wings, check out this guide to avoiding rubbery chicken skin.
Will They Burn Off In The Air Fryer
Chicken wings in the air fryer are next-level delicious.
But, I’ve tried and tested it, and the little “hairs” on the chicken wings certainly survive the cook.
Still, they don’t bother me too much and are quite insignificant, nor are they on every wing anyway!
Nonetheless, air fryers will not singe off these small hairs from the skin of the chicken the same way a grill does.
So if you’re still grossed out, we recommend that you remove them before cooking them using one of the previously mentioned methods.
Hair On Chicken Thighs Or Legs
The most common place you’ll find these small follicles, which look like little hairs, is on chicken wings. This is because this is the hardest place for commercial poultry pluckers to adequately reach, given they are often tucked away.
However, it’s not unheard of to find these small follicles on chicken thighs, chicken legs, or chicken drumsticks (see here for the difference).
So, don’t be alarmed if you’ve found any. You can either remove them yourself, let the grill do the work, or remove the skin entirely.
It will all depend on how you plan to cook them!
Sure, I can understand that some people are completely grossed out by these small hairs on chicken wings. But, the truth is, most of the time they completely disintegrate during the cooking process. Especially at high heat.
Nonetheless, I ain’t judging’ if you want to remove them. Simply get a little torch, tweezers, or your rubber gloves out and get pluckin’.
The main thing to remember is they are actually completely harmless. Don’t be alarmed when you see them.
They won’t make the chicken wings any less delicious – trust me!