When it comes to serving chicken wings for your Friends and Family, it can be tough to figure out how many wings you should expect to serve per person.
In general though, you can expect a person to eat roughly 6-10 wings.
This number is highly variable though. For example, my Father and Brother-in-law can eat 10+ wings without batting an eye. Where-as my Mother (who is rather petite) can eat 5 at most and be satisfied.
If you're looking for how many packages of wings to buy, or are interested in how I arrived at that these numbers, the rest of the article breaks down the average amount of meat per wing.
For this guide I took 10 wings (5 flats and 5 drums) and weighed them on a scale. I then took the average of the flats and the average of the drums.
The average weight of the meat from the flats was 0.5 oz.
The average weight of the meat from the drums was 0.8 oz.
Note: The above numbers assume the person is eating the skin and meat. While I did my best to remove meat from the bones of the wings, the human mouth can do a much better job of cleaning the bone than I can with a fork, especially in the case of drums.
This guide assumes that you're serving the chicken wings trimmed - meaning the drum and the flat are separated and the wingtip is discarded (or saved for stock).
Note: Below I explain why you should always buy wings untrimmed (if possible).
It also assumes that you're not giving folks preferential treatment. Meaning, they'll get a mixture of both drums and flats. Both of which contain different amounts of meat - drums will typically have more meat than flats.
Wings are also typically served alongside something else as apposed to being the "main" like a steak. In this case a safe estimate that most catering businesses use for meat is 4-6 oz per person.
Meaning you can offer 4-6 oz of chicken wing meat.
However, chicken wings are made of of both meat and bones and people don't eat chicken bones.
You also need to remember that chicken wings will lose moisture (meaning weight) due to cooking - this is called "yield."
From our findings above:
Assuming the 4 oz of meat and an equal number of flats and drums, we get the following:
The above is 3.9 oz of meat.
Assuming 6 oz of meat and an equal number of flats and drums, we get the following:
The above is 6.5 oz of meat.
So to round this up, roughly 6 wings would result in 4 oz of meat and roughly 10 wings would result in 6 oz of meat.
Something I can't stress enough is that you should always buy the wings "whole" and untrimmed. Meaning, the wingette, drumette, and the wingtip are all attached.
The reason for doing this is that they are significantly cheaper - almost $1/lb cheaper in most cases.
This is because you're not paying for the cost of labor to separate the wings and you're also not paying for the added weight of the wingtips.
Trimming wings is also very easy once you figure out how to do so. If you're interested in learning how, I have an entire article that goes over how - truth be told, all it takes is two cuts per wing to separate the flat from the drum and to remove the wingtip.
A 30 pack of wings takes me roughly 5 minutes to completely trim.
If you're someone who is looking to offer wings while saving some money, be sure to look for markdown stickers.
A lot of people will see a markdown sticker and think that the wings must be bad. However, that's not the case.
A grocery store would rather minimize their profits rather than taking a loss. Meaning, they incentivize your purchase via a markdown sticker.
Since 1972, the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) has required poultry products to feature a date of packaging. They've also allowed for a "sell by" or "use by" date. The dates describe the last date the meat is suitable for eating at peak quality.
Whenever I buy wings, I go for "Family" or "Value" packs. These will typically contain 14-22 three joint wings per tray.
If they happen to have a markdown sticker, that's just a bonus.