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Home Recipes Perfectly Smoked Chicken Wings

When it comes to making amazing crispy smoked chicken wings, it’s more about the technique than it is the chicken wings recipe.

platter of smoked chicken wings with carrots and hot sauce.

The Secret to Perfectly Smoked Wings

When BBQ hall-of-famer Mike Mills had his Memphis Championship BBQ restaurants in Las Vegas, I always ordered his wings. They were perfectly smoky, with deliciously crispy skin.

Smoked and grilled chicken wings can either be really amazing like Mike’s or soggy and undesirable. It all depends on how you cook them.

Why are chicken wings soggy sometimes?

Chicken wings have quite a bit of fat under the skin. If you don’t allow that fat to render properly during the cooking process, the meat will cook too fast and the skin will remain rubbery.

There are a few ways to avoid this. The long method is to allow the wings to rest uncovered in a refrigerator overnight dusted with baking powder or cornstarch.

Visit my Crispy Grilled Chicken Wings to learn more about that process.

Another way to render the skin is to boil your wings before grilling them. The problem with this method is that fat is flavor. When you boil the wings, all the fat gets lost in the boiling water.

So I like to use Mike’s method, which is to smoke the wings over low heat for 60-90 minutes. This allows the fat to render. The rendered fat flavors the chicken. And the chicken absorbs great smoker flavor.


Ingredients

smoked chicken wings ingredients: chicken wings, SPG and chicken rub.
  • Chicken Wings: You can smoke whole chicken wings or flats and drums. Both work with this recipe.
  • Salt, Pepper, Garlic: I buy a pre-mixed blend of SPG from Spiceology, but you can also make this yourself, by combining equal parts of kosher salt, coarse-ground black pepper and granulated garlic.
  • Chicken Rub: My award-winning Chicken Rub was designed for all things chicken.
  • Sauce: You can either eat your delicious chicken wings with just rub or toss them in your favorite barbecue sauce or wing sauce.

Substitutions: If you don’t have my chicken rub, you can use any BBQ rub or poultry seasoning.

bottles of BBQ rubs on black background

How to set your grill up to smoke chicken wings

Smoked chicken wings can be prepared on any type of smoker, but to get the smoky flavor, you will need to use wood chunks, pellets or chips.

The key is to cook the wings over indirect heat at a temperature of 225F degrees, which means there shouldn’t be a hot flame or coals under the wings.

Charcoal Grill: With a kettle grill, only add hot coals to one side of the grill. With a ceramic cooker, add the diffuser plate. Add a wood chunk to the coals just before adding the chicken.

Pellet Grill: Add wood pellets and set the temperature to 225F degrees. The grill has a diffuser, so the heat is already indirect.

Gas Grill: Turn one burner onto medium. Leave the other burners off. Adjust the burner temp until the grill reaches 225F degrees. Place a Foil Pouch filled with wood chips over the hot burner.

WOOD TYPE: My favorite types of wood for smoking chicken wings are apple wood, cherry wood or hickory wood.

How to cook smoked chicken wings

  1. STEP ONE: Pat the wings dry with paper towels. Season the wings with a light coat of salt, pepper and garlic and Chicken Rub. Don’t overdo it.
seasoned chicken wings on tray.

STEP TWO: Place wings on the 225F-degree grill over indirect heat and smoke without flipping for 60-90 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 155F degrees.

Smaller wings like the flats will probably reach temp in an hour. Whereas, the drums or whole wings will likely take the full 90 minutes.

seasoned chicken wings on grill over indirect heat.

PRO TIP: If you’re using a kettle or gas grill, there will be more heat on one side of the grill. For even cooking, rotate your wings, so they’re all exposed to the hotter and cooler areas.


Either Hold the Wings or Grill Them

At this point, you have two options. You can either grill the wings over direct heat to eat them right away, or you can refrigerate or freeze them for another day.

This is a great restaurant tip that Mike and Amy Mills share in their cookbook Praise the Lard.

Smoking them ahead of time is a really smart idea if you’re prepping a bunch of dishes for a big party.

After they’re done smoking, the Mills’ recommend refrigerating them for up to 5 days or freezing them for up to 3 months. If you freeze them, be sure to thaw them in the fridge, before grilling them.

Once you’re ready, move onto the next step.

wings smoking on grill.

How to crisp up chicken wings

After your wings have been smoked to an internal temperature of 155F degrees, it’s time to make them crispy. To do this, you’re going to need direct heat, which means cooking straight over the coals or hot burner.

Charcoal Grill: With a kettle grill, add more coals if you need to. With a ceramic cooker, remove the diffuser plate.

Pellet Grill: Most pellet grills are always setup with an indirect heat zone, but you can crank the temperature up to 425F degrees to get the heat you need.

Gas Grill: Leave the one burner on. That’s the side you’ll use for the next step.

  1. STEP ONE: Place the chicken wings over the direct heat and grill for 2-4 minutes per side, flipping once.
smoked chicken wings on grill.

How to tell when chicken wings are done

To ensure your wings are juicy, the internal temperature of the wings should be about 165F degrees.

To check this, place an instant read digital meat thermometer into the thickest part of the meat without touching the bone.


How to serve smoked chicken wings

Once your wings are ready, give one a taste. If you think it needs a little more flavor, add another light dusting of rub.

You can also toss your wings in a large bowl with your favorite sauce. Or to make hot wings, make your own buffalo wing sauce by mixing 1 cup of Franks Hot Sauce with one stick of melted butter.

Serve on a platter with a side of ranch dressing, Blue Cheese Dip, celery and carrots.

smoked chicken wings on a black plate with sauce and veggies.

Storage

Cooked chicken wings can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

You can also store them in the freezer for up to 3 months.


GCG Pro Pitmaster Tips

  • Lightly season your wings
  • Smoke at 225F degrees to an internal temperature of 155F degrees
  • Grill over direct heat for a few minutes, until crispy and at least 165F degrees

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to grill chicken wings on a charcoal grill?

It takes about 1 hour and 45 minutes to smoke wings and then grill them on a charcoal grill. Start with a smoking temperature of 225F degrees, and then increase the heat to 425F degrees to finish them on the grill.

How many chicken wings are in a pound?

Each pound of chicken wings yields about 4 whole wings or 8 party wings (the separated drummettes and flats)

How many pounds of wings should I make per person?

This varies depending on what else you’re serving. If wings are the star of the meal with very few sides, plan on 6 party wings or .75 pounds per person. If wings are just the appetizer, plan on 4 party wings or a half pound per person.


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4.67 from 3 votes

Smoked Chicken Wings

This smoked chicken wing recipe makes wings that are juicy and smoky inside with wonderful crispy skin that we call crave.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Servings: 4

Ingredients 

Instructions 

  • Heat Grill: Set your grill up with an indirect heat zone and a temperature of 225F degrees. (see above for grill tips)
  • Season: Season the wings with a light dusting of SPG and Chicken Rub.
  • Smoke: Place the wings on the grill over indirect heat. Smoke for 60-90 minutes to an internal temperature of 155F degrees. Rotate the wings occasionally, but don't flip them.
  • Adjust Grill: Adjust your grill so that you have a direct heat zone and a temperature of about 425F degrees (see above for grill tips).
  • Grill: Place the wings on the grill over direct heat. Grill for 2-4 minutes per side, flipping once. The internal temperature should reach 165F degrees.
  • Serve: Season with more rub, if needed, or toss in BBQ sauce or buffalo sauce.

Notes

Smaller wings like the flats will cook up faster than drummettes or whole wings. 
These chicken wings can be smoked in advance, stored for up to 3 months in the freezer and grilled at a later date. Read the post above for details. 

Nutrition

Calories: 275kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 23gFat: 20gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 94mgSodium: 671mgPotassium: 198mgFiber: 0.1gSugar: 0.03gVitamin A: 206IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 25mgIron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Did you try this recipe?Be sure to rate it, leave a comment and save it so you can make it again. Show off your awesome results on social by tagging @girlscangrill

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christie vanover standing against wood wall.

Hey BBQ Family

Hi. I’m Christie, the head cook and award-winning competitive pitmaster for Team Girls Can Grill. I have won multiple grand championships and have dozens of top ten category finishes. People know me as the girl who is forever hovering over a grill, smoker or campfire with tongs in one hand and a glass of wine in the other.

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