The first time I had any type of grilled wings was about a year ago at a local barbecue restaurant and they became an instant favorite. I’ve always loved traditional hot wings so I’ve never given any thought to grilled wings. Ever since then I’ve been looking to make some really good smoked wings on the grill. This recipe has quickly become one of my favorite things to grill.
It starts with a really good dry rub. Dry rubs are fun and easy because you can experiment pretty heavily with the ingredients. I end up putting fresh thyme in a lot of my recipes because I have a thriving thyme plant that I could never over harvest even if I tried. It goes really well in meat rubs. I’ve also become very fond of red pepper flakes lately so I like to put that in rubs too.
Using plastic bags makes it a lot easier when dealing with meat rubs especially on chicken wings. Instead of having to get your hands nasty and wasting a good bit of the rub on your hands, you stay clean and all the rub gets on the chicken.
You could smoke these wings on gas too (with a chip box for smoking) but I love cooking on my old Weber. It’s simple and never disappoints. If you cook with charcoal having a chimney to start your coals makes it a lot easier and it doesn’t require using lighter fluid or match light which will take away from the flavor the coals give your food. All you need is to ball up some newspaper under the chimney and give it a light; give it time and about 20 minutes later your coals will be ready to go.
When I have a lot to smoke like this recipe, I use the ring of fire setup where the coals are all the way around the outside of the grill. You want the chicken to cook over indirect heat so this leaves most of the middle of the grill open for cooking. I just rotate the chicken away from the outside occasionally so it all cooks evenly.
A lot of times I’m not cooking anything too big on my grill so I love when I get a chance to fill my grill from side to side like this recipe. Something is oddly satisfying about having a packed grill.
The cooking time can vary a good bit on these wings based off the size of your wings and what temperature you maintain on your grill. You’ll want to have a temperature gauge on your grill so you know what the temperature is inside your grill. You’ll also want to have a nice thermometer to check the internal temperature of the wings so you know they are ready.
When you eat these wings, don’t worry about the pink around the outside because you’ve checked the internal temperature of the wings to be safe. The pink is around the outside which is just the smoke ring from being cooked like this. These wings have a little bit of a kick but they are super good!
Makes enough for 4-6.
- 4-5 pounds chicken wings
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp fresh thyme
- 1 Tbsp oregano
- 1 Tbsp garlic powder
- 1/2 Tbsp paprika
- 1 Tbsp chili powder
- 1/2 Tbsp onion powder
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 Tbsp kosher salt
- 1/2 Tbsp red pepper flakes
- Soak two handful of wood chips in water for at least 30 minutes prior to putting on coals.
- Get the grill ready by starting your charcoal in a chimney. You want enough coals to maintain around 250-300 F.
- Mix all of the dry rub ingredients together in a bowl.
- Put wings in one to two big bags. Pour olive oil over the wings and move them around to coat them in the oil
- Add dry rub mix to the bags and toss to coat wings evenly.
- Once the coals are white hot dump them out of your chimney. You want to arrange them in a ring of fire where all the coals are around the outside of the grill.
- Have the chicken ready to add to the grill. Add the chips to the coals and put your grate on the grill. Before putting chicken on the grates, wipe the grates down with a paper towel with some olive oil on it to keep the chicken from sticking.
- Close the grill lid and try to get the temperature in the grill to 250-300 F.
- Smoke for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until internal temperature of wings has reached 160 F. Flip wings every 30 minutes and occasionally rotate the wings in the outside to the inside so they all cook evenly.
- Pull the wings off the grill and let them rest for at least 5 minutes before serving. Wings will stay very hot on the inside.
Here are some resources I used when putting together my recipe.