Delicious smoked chicken wings perfect for any occasion. These BBQ wings are prepared in a simple brine for extra moisture before fired over applewood for beautifully tender but crispy wings.
Smoked chicken wings are perfect for barbecue beginners and smoke pros alike thanks to their quick cook time and easy meat prep. This gameday and party classic always goes down a storm and is the perfect place to start if you need to feed a crowd.
One of the best things about chicken wings is how little time they take from scratch. Like many smoked chicken recipes, they only need a quick two-hour brine to lock in moisture before just one hour on the smoker to get them up to temperature. We’ll then give them a quick sear over direct high heat to give them that perfect crispy finish.
From perfecting the salt and sugar brine to choosing the best wood chips, discover how to smoke chicken wings today.
How to Smoke Chicken Wings
Chicken wings are easy to smoke thanks to their lean meat content and small size, and take only an hour to do. Check out our full recipe at the bottom of this article, but the process can be broken down into these simple steps:
- Fire Up: Fire up your smoker to 250-275°F (121-135°C). If you’re using a charcoal grill, ensure you are set up for 2-zone cooking. The wings will go on the indirect zone, but the direct zone will come in handy for our sear finish later.
- Prep the Meat: After brining your wings, pat them dry to remove excess brine solution and coat in dry rub seasoning. You can either use our BBQ rub recipe below or use a store-bought rub. Apply a thin layer of canola oil first – this will act as an adhesive for the rub and help turn the wings crispy.
- Smoke: Arrange the chicken wings on your smoker’s grates and smoke for 45-60 minutes, until the internal temperature hits 155°F (68°C)
- Sear: Crank up your smoker or grill’s heat to high and grill your wings directly over the heat for a couple of minutes on each side.
- Serve: Chuck the wings into a large bowl and toss in barbecue sauce, or serve as they are. Plate up and enjoy!
Buying Chicken Wings
Look out for good quality wings that are creamy white or yellow on the surface, with any visible flesh looking pink and plump. The meat should be fresh and chilled, not frozen, and should be organic and antibiotic-free.
Want to buy chicken wings online? Our friends at Porter Road regularly stock preservative-free wings sourced from pasture-raised chickens. The results speak for themselves. Trust us. Check out their wing party pack here.
Smoked Chicken Wings
- applewood smoking chips
- 5 lbs chicken wings
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 3 quarts water room temperature
- ½ cup kosher salt
- ⅓ cup brown sugar
- 3 tbsp red pepper flakes
- 2 tbsp ground black pepper
- ¼ cup cider vinegar
Dry Rub Seasoning
- 1 tbsp dried thyme
- 2 tbsp chili powder
- 2 tbsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp ground black pepper
To Serve (All Optional)
- 1 cup barbecue sauce
- 1 cup blue cheese dip
- In a brining bucket, add the water, salt, brown sugar, red pepper flakes, ground black pepper, and cider vinegar. Use a whisk to stir. Combine until the salt and sugar has dissolved.
- Submerge the chicken wings in the bucket, ensuring the wings are kept below the water surface using the bucket lid
- Cover the bucket and transfer to the refrigerator. Leave the wings to brine for 2 hours.
- Fire up your smoker to 275°F (135°C). Add wood chips to your smoker’s wood tray or smoker box. Ensure your smoker’s water pan is filled with fresh water. If you’re using a charcoal grill, ensure you are set up for 2-zone cooking. The wings will go on the indirect zone.
- Remove wings from the brine and lightly rinse with water. Pat dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture.
- Combine all dry rub ingredients in a small bowl. Use a fork to remove any lumps that may appear.
- Coat the chicken wings in a thin layer of canola oil. Apply dry rub seasoning to each wing, covering evenly on all sides.
- Arrange chicken wings on smoker grates. Place any smaller pieces further away from your heat (these will cook quicker).
- Close the smoker door or lid and smoke until the meat’s internal temperature has reached 155°F (68°C), approximately 1 hour. Use a meat probe for an accurate reading. Remove from the smoker and cover with aluminum foil.
- Fire up your smoker or grill to high heat, at least 450°F (230°C). Place wings over direct heat and grill until they hit an internal temperature of 165-170°F (74-76°C).
- Remove from the grill and throw into a large bowl. Coat and toss in barbecue sauce.
- Plate up and serve with your choice of blue cheese dip, barbecue sauce, or other dipping sauces. Enjoy immediately.