Smoked Chicken Wings

Main Course

Recipe courtesy of The Outdoor Cook from America's Test Kitchen

Serves 4

  • ¼ cup table salt for brining
  • ¼ cup sugar for brining
  • 3 pounds chicken wings, cut at joints, wingtips discarded
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1¼ teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1¼ teaspoons pepper
  • 1¼ teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups wood chips


4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • Salt to taste

Smoked Chicken Wings

Smoked Chicken Wings

Click image to enlarge



For the wings Dissolve salt and ¼ cup sugar in 2 quarts cold water in large container. Submerge wings in brine, cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 3 hours. Combine paprika, chili powder, oregano, pepper, garlic powder, sugar, and cayenne in large bowl. Measure out 1 tablespoon spice mixture and set aside. 

For the sauce Melt butter in small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add reserved 1 tablespoon spice mixture and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Carefully add vinegar (mixture will bubble up). Bring to simmer, then remove from heat. Whisk in ketchup and salt. Cover and set aside. 

Using large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil, wrap chips in 8 by 4½-inch foil packet. (Make sure chips do not poke holes in sides or bottom of packet. If using gas, make sure there are no more than 2 layers of foil on bottom of packet .) Cut 2 evenly spaced 2-inch slits in top of packet. Remove wings from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Toss wings with remaining spice mixture until well coated. 

For a charcoal grill Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter mounded with charcoal briquettes (7 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over half of grill. Place wood chip packet on coals. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot and wood chips are smoking, about 5 minutes. 

For a gas grill Remove cooking grate and place wood chip packet directly on primary burner. Set grate in place and turn all burners to high. Cover and heat grill until hot and wood chips are smoking, 15 to 25 min­utes. Leave primary burner on high and turn off other burner(s). (Adjust primary burner as needed to maintain grill temperature of 400 degrees; if using 3-burner grill, adjust primary burner and second burner.) 

Clean and oil cooking grate. Place wings, fatty side up, on cooler side of grill (6 to 8 inches from heat source for gas grill), arranging drumettes closest to fire. Cover (position lid vent over chicken if using charcoal) and cook until wings are darkened and register at least 180 degrees, 40 minutes to 1 hour, flipping wings halfway through cooking. 

For a charcoal grill Slide half of wings to hotter side of grill and cook, uncovered, until charred in spots, 1 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer wings to platter and tent with foil. Repeat with remaining wings. 

For a gas grill Turn all burners to high and cook, uncovered, until wings are charred in spots, 5 to 7 min­utes per side.Transfer wings to platter and tent with foil. 

Reheat sauce over medium heat, about 2 minutes. Toss wings and sauce together in bowl. Serve. 


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