How To BBQ Right Chicken Wings

Nothing beats the irresistible aroma and flavors of perfectly grilled or smoked chicken wings at a BBQ party. It’s no wonder that BBQ chicken wings have become an all-time favorite for outdoor gatherings, game nights, and family dinners alike! Wondering how to BBQ right chicken wings in no time – with perfection?

Mastering the art of cooking these flavorful morsels takes time, patience, and attention to detail. From choosing quality meat to seasoning your wings with mouthwatering dry rubs or marinades – this blog has got you covered.

Key Takeaways

  • Choosing quality meat is crucial for making delicious BBQ chicken wings. Look for fresh, organic, or free-range options from reliable sources to ensure better flavor.
  • Trimming excess fat and seasoning with the right dry rub or marinade are key steps in preparing chicken wings for grilling or smoking.
  • Preheating the grill properly, setting up zones for direct and indirect heat, adding wood chips for smoky flavor, and cleaning the grill thoroughly are important preparation steps before cooking your BBQ chicken wings.
  • There are different techniques you can use when BBQing chicken wings including direct grilling, indirect grilling, and smoking. Experiment with different seasonings and sauces to find what works best for you!

Choosing And Preparing Chicken Wings For BBQ

To ensure delicious and juicy BBQ chicken wings, it’s important to choose quality meat by selecting the right cut of wings, trimming excess fat, and seasoning with a dry rub or marinade before letting them rest.

Importance Of Quality Meat

Selecting high-quality meat is the foundation for delicious BBQ chicken wings. Quality meat ensures tender, flavorful wings with a satisfying texture and taste that will impress your guests.

When choosing chicken wings for grilling or smoking, it’s essential to look for fresh, organic, or free-range options from a reliable source like local farmers’ markets or trusted butchers.

Starting with quality meat also means less work in perfecting your recipe since premium cuts require minimal seasoning and preparation to shine on their own. For instance, Malcom Reed – an expert barbecuer – credits much of his success in creating mouthwatering smoked wing specialties to using top-notch ingredients as his foundation.

Selecting The Right Cut Of Chicken Wings

Choosing the right cut of chicken wings is essential for achieving juicy and tasty barbecue chicken wings. The two main types of cuts are flats and drumettes. Flats have more meat than drumettes, making them a great choice if you’re looking for larger portions.

It’s also important to look for high-quality meat when selecting your chicken wings. Be sure to choose fresh, hormone-free chicken with no bruises or signs of freezer burn.

Trimming excess fat from the wings will help prevent flare-ups on the grill and create a cleaner taste overall.

Trimming Excess Fat

Before BBQing your chicken wings, it’s important to trim off any excess fat. This will not only make the wings healthier but will also prevent flare-ups on the grill. Removing excess fat ensures that you get crispy chicken wings with a perfectly charred exterior.

To trim the wings, use a sharp knife or kitchen shears and cut off any visible fat from around the edges and joints of each wing. Additionally, try to remove as much skin as possible from each wing without damaging the meat underneath.

Seasoning With Dry Rub Or Marinade

Great-tasting chicken wings take a lot more than just slapping them on the grill or smoker. One of the key ingredients to get those flavorsome wings is seasoning.

A good dry rub for chicken wings usually consists of a blend of spices like paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. These are then rubbed onto the wings before grilling or smoking to create an outer coating that’s full of flavor.

There are endless possibilities when it comes to creating your own unique wing seasoning mixtures. However, it’s essential to ensure you don’t over-season your wings with too much spice as this could overpower their natural flavors.

Letting The Wings Rest Before Grilling

After you have seasoned your chicken wings with a dry rub or marinade, it is important to let them rest for at least 30 minutes before grilling. This allows the seasoning to penetrate the meat and enhances its flavor.

Resting also helps the chicken wings cook evenly by bringing them closer to room temperature.

When you are ready to grill, remove the chicken from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before putting it on the grill. This will prevent overcooking, as cold meat takes longer to cook than warm meat.

Additionally, when you take hot chicken wings off the grill and immediately serve them, they tend to be less juicy because all their moisture hasn’t had time to redistribute throughout the meat yet.

Preparing The Grill For BBQ Chicken Wings

How To BBQ Right Chicken Wings

Preheat the grill to 275 degrees, and set up zones for direct and indirect heat by dividing the charcoal into two piles on opposite sides of the grill.

Preheating The Grill

Before placing the chicken wings on the grill, it’s important to preheat it properly. This ensures that the meat cooks evenly and prevents sticking. To preheat your grill, turn all burners to high and close the lid for about 10-15 minutes or until the temperature reaches around 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

For charcoal grills, light a chimney starter filled with charcoal and wait until they are hot enough before spreading them out in an even layer. A well-preheated grill also sears meat more effectively, giving it a nice crust while keeping moisture inside.

Setting Up Zones For Direct And Indirect Heat

To ensure that your BBQ chicken wings are cooked to perfection, it’s essential to set up zones for direct and indirect heat on your grill. Direct heat refers to when the food is placed over the flames or coals, while indirect heat means that the food is placed next to the fire, but not directly over it.

Setting up these zones allows you to control how much heat your chicken wings receive during cooking.

To set up zones for direct and indirect heat, start by lighting all burners on one side of your gas grill or building a charcoal fire on one side of your charcoal grill. This creates a hot zone where you can sear or cook with direct heat.

Cooking experts recommend setting up these zones when grilling because it helps prevent excessive charring or drying out due to uneven heating.

Adding Wood Chips For Smoky Flavor

To achieve that delicious smoky flavor in your BBQ chicken wings, adding wood chips to the grill is essential. Different types of wood produce different flavors, so it’s important to choose the right one.

For a milder flavor, fruitwood such as apple or cherry can be used.

When adding wood chips to your grill or smoker, make sure they’re soaked in water first for at least 30 minutes before using them. This will prevent them from catching fire too quickly and producing acrid smoke that could ruin the taste of your chicken wings.

By following these simple steps and carefully selecting the right type of wood for smoking your chicken wings, you’ll surely impress yourself and anyone who tries them with some truly unforgettable flavors!

Properly Cleaning The Grill

Before starting to grill your chicken wings, it’s essential to properly clean the grill. A filthy grill can affect the flavor of your food and cause uneven cooking. Begin by brushing off any debris from the grates with a wire brush.

For a deep clean, heat up the grill on high heat for 15 minutes before turning off the burners and allowing it to cool down completely.

Rinse everything thoroughly with water and dry with paper towels or allow it to air dry completely before lighting up again.

BBQ Techniques For Chicken Wings

How To BBQ Right Chicken Wings

When it comes to BBQ techniques for chicken wings, there are several options including direct grilling, indirect grilling and smoking.

Direct Grilling

Direct grilling is a great way to achieve crispy and charred chicken wings. To do this, preheat one side of the grill to high heat while leaving the other side cool. Place seasoned chicken wings directly on the hot side of the grill for about five minutes per side, flipping as needed until they are fully cooked.

This method adds a smoky flavor with a crisp outer layer that makes your mouth water. Remember to keep an eye on the wings while grilling them because direct grilling can easily burn them if left unattended too long.

The key is also to make sure you have evenly sized wings so that they cook at the same time and avoid taking some off sooner than others.

Indirect Grilling

Indirect grilling is a popular method for cooking chicken wings on the grill. This technique involves placing the wings away from the direct heat source, allowing them to cook slowly and evenly without getting charred.

To set up an indirect grilling zone, simply turn off one of the burners or push all of the coals to one side of the grill.

While indirect grilling takes longer than direct grilling, it allows you to achieve a more even cook throughout your chicken wings without burning or drying them out. It’s best to use this method when cooking larger batches of wings or thicker cuts that require longer cooking times.

For added flavor, try adding wood chips during cooking – hickory or applewood are great options for pairing with chicken.


Smoking chicken wings can impart a deep, rich flavor to the meat that is hard to achieve with traditional grilling methods. To smoke chicken wings, start by marinating them in your preferred seasoning or dry rub for at least an hour before cooking.

Next, prepare your smoker by adding wood chips like Post Oak for fuel and setting the temperature to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the wings on the grill grate and let them cook slowly for about two hours until they reach an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

For added flavor, consider brushing on some BBQ sauce during the last few minutes of cooking or serving it as a dipping sauce on the side.

Tips And Tricks For BBQ Chicken Wings

To ensure your BBQ chicken wings are a hit, don’t forget to flip and rotate them for even cooking, monitor their internal temperature, add BBQ sauce or glaze as desired, and serve with delicious sides and garnishes.

Flipping And Rotating Wings For Even Cooking

To ensure that your BBQ chicken wings cook evenly, it’s essential to flip and rotate them. Here are some tips for doing so:

  • Use tongs to carefully flip each wing over on the grill or smoker.
  • Rotate the position of the wings every 10 – 15 minutes to ensure that they cook evenly on all sides.
  • If some areas of the grill or smoker are hotter than others, move the wings around to prevent any burning or undercooking.
  • Be careful not to puncture or tear the skin when flipping and rotating the wings. This can cause them to dry out.
  • Keep an eye on the color and texture of the skin. When it turns golden brown and crispy, it’s almost ready to eat!

Remember that cooking chicken wings is a delicate process, so be patient and attentive throughout the cooking process. By following these tips for flipping and rotating your BBQ chicken wings, you’ll end up with perfectly cooked, juicy wings every time!

Monitoring Internal Temperature

It’s essential to monitor the internal temperature when cooking chicken wings on the grill or smoker. This helps to ensure that they are cooked thoroughly and safe for consumption.

Using a meat thermometer is an easy way to check that the internal temperature has reached 165°F, which is considered a safe temperature for chicken.

Overcooking can result in dry and tough chicken wings while undercooking increases the risk of foodborne illness. So it’s crucial to keep an eye on both time and temperature throughout your cooking process.

Adding BBQ Sauce Or Glaze

To elevate the flavor of your BBQ chicken wings, consider adding a barbecue sauce or glaze during the last few minutes of cooking. Brushing on a sweet and tangy sauce can add depth to the smoky flavor and make for finger-licking good wings.

One popular recipe involves mixing honey, soy sauce, tomato paste, vinegar, and spices for a homemade BBQ glaze that perfectly complements grilled wings. Remember not to apply too much sauce at once as it can burn quickly.

Serving With Sides And Garnishes

To round out your BBQ chicken wings, consider serving them with delicious sides and garnishes. Classic options like celery sticks and blue cheese or ranch dressing are always crowd-pleasers.

For something a bit more substantial, try macaroni salad, coleslaw, or baked beans. If you want to get creative, think about adding a little international flair – maybe some Jamaican rice and peas or Mexican street corn would be the perfect complement to your grilled wings.

How Long To Smoke/Grill Chicken Wings And Serving Suggestions

To achieve perfectly cooked chicken wings, it is important to smoke or grill them for 30-45 minutes at a constant temperature of 275°F.

Cooking Times And Temperatures

Cooking times and temperatures are essential to follow when grilling or smoking chicken wings in order to achieve the perfect doneness and flavor. Here’s a handy table that provides you with the appropriate cooking times and temperatures for various BBQ techniques.

BBQ TechniqueTemperatureCooking Time
Direct GrillingMedium-high heat (350°F – 400°F)20 – 25 minutes total (flipping every 5 minutes)
Indirect GrillingMedium heat (325°F – 350°F)25-30 minutes total (flipping halfway through)
SmokingLow and slow (275°F)1.5 – 2 hours (depending on the size of the wings)

Remember to monitor the internal temperature of the wings using a meat thermometer, and ensure that they reach an internal temperature of 165°F for food safety and optimal tenderness.

Checking For Doneness

To ensure that your BBQ chicken wings are cooked to perfection, it is essential to check for doneness. The internal temperature of the meat should reach 165°F before serving.

When checking for doneness, insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the wing without touching bone or gristle. If juices run clear, and there is no pink color visible, then your chicken wings are ready to serve.

It’s important also not to overcook your wings as this can result in dry and tough pieces with less flavor.

Ideas For Serving And Pairing With Other Foods

How To BBQ Right Chicken Wings

When it comes to serving and pairing BBQ chicken wings, there are several options that can complement their smoky flavor and crispy texture. Here are some ideas:

  1. Classic sides: Serve BBQ chicken wings with classic sides like coleslaw, macaroni salad, potato salad, or corn on the cob. These sides provide a refreshing contrast to the rich and savory flavors of the wings.
  2. Dips and sauces: Pair BBQ chicken wings with a variety of dips and sauces like ranch dressing, blue cheese dressing, honey mustard sauce, or barbecue sauce. These condiments can enhance the flavor profile of the chicken wings and offer different levels of spiciness or sweetness.
  3. Vegetables: Add some vegetables to your plate for a healthier option that also complements the flavors of BBQ chicken wings. Grilled vegetables like bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, or zucchini offer some smokiness while roasted vegetables like Brussels sprouts or sweet potatoes provide a hearty texture.
  4. Beer: A cold beer is often considered an ideal beverage pairing for BBQ chicken wings. Choose from different styles like lagers, pale ales, IPAs or stouts that complement the flavors of the dish.
  5. Desserts: Finish off your meal with something sweet like cookies, brownies or fruit salad that provides a refreshing contrast to the savory flavors of the chicken wings.

By pairing BBQ chicken wings with complementary foods and beverages, you can elevate your dining experience and create a well-rounded meal that satisfies all your cravings.


1. How long should I marinate my chicken wings before barbecuing them?

A good guideline for marinating chicken wings is at least 30 minutes to an hour, but ideally up to 24 hours in advance. This allows the flavors to fully infuse into the meat and create a more delicious result when cooked on the barbecue.

2. What temperature should I cook my chicken wings on the barbecue?

It is recommended to preheat your grill or smoker between 350-375°F (175-190°C) before placing your seasoned chicken wings onto it. Cooking time can vary depending upon wing size/type so keep checking internal temperature using a thermometer until it registers at least 165°F (74°C).

3. How do you know when BBQ chicken wings are done?

One way to check if chicken wings are done cooking on a barbecue is by using a meat thermometer and ensuring that they have reached an internal temperature of at least 165°F (74°C). Additionally, properly cooked meat will exhibit clear juices running out of them as opposed reddish-pink liquid – indicating undercooked product still present.

4. Can I glaze my BBQ chicken with sauce while grilling?

Yes, you can add your desired sauce/glaze during last few minutes of cooking while flipping regularly.. Just be careful that sugars in sauces don’t burn easily so monitor frequently; particularly if heavily caramelized flavor profile being aimed for as charred bits could also form which may not be pleasant overall taste appeal wise).


In conclusion, mastering the art of BBQ chicken wings is all about choosing quality meat, prepping it properly, and using the right techniques when grilling or smoking.

By following these simple steps and tips for selecting cuts of chicken wings that are juicy and tender, seasoning them with dry rubs or marinades that bring out their flavors just right, setting up your grill to ensure even cooking temperatures throughout the process, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a pro at making delicious grilled or smoked chicken wings!

Just don’t forget to experiment with different seasonings and sauces until you find what works best for you.

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