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Is There Anything I Can Eat with Chicken Wings Besides Ranch and Celery?

Cornbread? Avocado? What else would I want to chow down on while my mouth is on fire?

While we can quibble all day about wing flats versus thighs, the more pertinent issue is the fact that celery and ranch (or blue cheese) dressing have become the de facto sides to chicken wings. Don’t get me wrong, I love a pile of celery and a big bowl of blue cheese dressing to pair with my semi-annual Wing Stop binge. But at the same time, we can certainly do better than a green stick of water masquerading as a vegetable and the same two, nearly identical, dips

In pursuit of broadening my options to pair with chicken wings in the future, I reached out to a number of culinary experts for advice. Here’s what they suggested…

Blue Cornbread and Snap Peas 

Per registered dietitian DJ Mazzoni, there are a few sides that can improve the overall nutrition (or lack thereof) of a chicken wing meal. “Cornbread is a staple side to chicken wings in the South because the sweetness pairs well with the savory spice of the wings,” says Mazzoni. “A homemade blue cornbread recipe that includes alternatives to processed sugar, like maple syrup or raw honey, can actually be healthy.” 

And although celery is typically the go-to side for chicken wing pairings “because of its high water content and crisp crunchy texture,” he adds, “snap peas have both of those qualities and higher fiber and vitamin content than celery.” 

Sticks and Cubes of Any Fruit or Veggies That Have Some Crunch 

“Traditionally, celery sticks accompany the wings to give your palate a break from the full-frontal assault of intense flavors,” says Christopher Koetke, executive chef at Ajinomoto Health & Nutrition North America. Similar to the pickled radish cubes that often pair with Korean-style chicken wings, Koetke offers “cubes of jicama, mango, cucumber, Belgian endive or even apple to replace your celery.”  

Crunchy Pickles and a Yogurt-Based Dip 

“The dairy in the yogurt helps cool down your palate when eating spicy wings, and the acidity in the pickles gives a refreshing break from the fatty, sticky wings,” says Sylvia Fountaine, professional chef and CEO of Feasting at Home. “A kosher dill pickle and thick, creamy labneh sprinkled with za’atar would be amazing alongside a classic buffalo wing, while spicy pickled carrots along with a creamy yogurt and gochujang dip would contrast well with sweeter wings like honey-garlic or barbecue.” 

The Simple, Wholesome Avocado

Avocados and chicken wings make a great pair “because avocados are versatile and almost tasteless, making them easy to season according to the kind of wings you’re serving them with,” says Natalia Thompson, recipe creator at Flavorful Home. And if your wings are on the spicier side, Thompson recommends making avocado fries by coating avocado slices with eggs, flour and breadcrumbs and then frying them. “If you’re having mild-flavored or salt and pepper wings,” she adds, “then you can make a spicy avocado sauce to go with them.” 

Zucchini Fritters and Feta, or Mexican Street Corn 

Akin to Koetke’s crunchy alternatives, food blogger Aysegul Sanford offers zucchini breadcrumb fritters as the crunchy veggie pairing for your wings. “They go so crisp on the outside, then soft on the inside and the crumbled feta helps to give them a nice tang,” she says. “I love these with a yogurt dip, which can also double as a creamy sauce for the spicy wings.” 

On the other hand, classic Mexican street corn is a “simple yet effective chicken wing pairing that’s easy to cook alongside wings on the grill, without much extra space needed,” she adds. “Cover in a thick tangy sauce of mayonnaise, sour cream, cheese and spices, then squeeze over some zesty lime for the ultimate flavor portfolio.”