When it comes to chicken wings, I get very picky. You’ve probably been to Buffalo Wild Wings (meh) or East Coast Wings (pretty good), but there is nothing like being able to perfect your own smoked chicken wings.
When you get the appetizer where ever you are at, there is a really high chance it’s all about the sauce… they really try to push that sauce on you! But what about the wing flavor?
For me, the wing flavor is where it’s at. Well sports fans, I have an amazing recipe for you. I struggle to order wings when I’m out because making my own at home is way better than anything I’ve ever ordered. Want to judge me? Please do.
The prep for making smoked chicken wings is pretty simple.
First – How many wings do you need? Four pounds of chicken wings will yield approximately 25 wings.
Second – Prepare the wings and sauce.
Third – Smoking and tossing.
Preparing the Chicken Wings
We are going to start by cutting the wings. Typically when you buy chicken wings from the store, they will come in, well… a wing. Imagine that. The beautiful drumsticks and flats you normally see come from this wing, so you’ll have to cut them.
To cut the wing into the traditionally recognized “wings”, you will need to locate the joints along the dotted lines shown, and with some force, use a very sturdy knife. Alternatively, you could use a good set of poultry shears, like these from OXO. They are my favorite, and can easily spatchock a turkey.
The wing components are broken down as follows: 1 = Drum, 2 = Flat, and 3 = Wing tip. Typically, I throw away the wing tips OR save them up for some killer stock.
Once you have your pile o’ wings, pat them as dry as possible with a paper towel and put them in a large Ziploc bag.
Mix the ingredients
In order to get crispy skin, we are going to throw a bit of chemistry into the mix here… Mixing Baking Powder and salt will create a chemical reaction! For 5 lbs of chicken wings, mix 1 tablespoon of Baking Powder with 1 teaspoon of table salt separately and then pour into the bag with the chicken and mix thoroughly!
The salt will activate the leavening agents (something in dough that makes it rise), and once in the bag with the chicken, you’ll see the bag start to balloon up (release of CO2), so make sure you leave a small opening for the air.
In addition to activating stuff, it will raise the acidity of the skin, and this breakdown will cause much crispier skin! Let this sit for about 30 minutes while your smoker warms up.
The sauce for this is actually the recipe for Frank’s Red Hot Sauce. It’s really easy to make: simply mix 1/3 cup of butter with 1/2 cup of Frank’s Red Hot Sauce for 2.5 lbs of wings in a saucepan and warm it on the stove. For the smoked version (see grilled here), I like to also add a teaspoon of 16 mesh black pepper. That’s it!
Just as you probably figured, you can use whatever sauce you want here. I only recommended the Frank’s Red Hot because it is as classic as you can get. Did you know Frank’s Red Hot sauce was in the FIRST buffalo wing? Yeah, you should try this first before anything else.
Alright, with your smoker set for indirect heat at 225 degrees F, you are ready to go. Because we are going to be smoking for such a short period of time, I try to maximize the amount of smoke exposure, and then ramp up the temperature to render the fat/crisp up the skin.
Smoke at 225 degrees for 30 min – During this time, we are going to maximize the amount of smoke. This stage is where all of the flavor comes from, so make sure you are at peak smoking when you put the wings in (I like to use grill mats for smaller things like wings).
Smoke at 425 degrees for 30 min – Once you start the ramp up to 425, the timer starts. I tend to take about 15-20 min to get to 425 degrees. IF you start your 30 minute timer after the smoker hits 425, you are going to have very dry wings.
Heat up the sauce – Mix the Frank’s Red Hot and butter and bring it JUST to a simmer, and then shut it off.
Toss the wings – In a large bowl, mix the sauce and wings.
These bad boys might be some of the best Buffalo Wings you’ve ever tried. They are a true classic. Put them all on a large plate and serve!
Smoked Chicken Wings – Buffalo
- 4-5 lbs Chicken Wings
- 1 cup Franks Red Hot Sauce
- ⅔ cup Butter (Salted)
- 1 tbsp Baking Powder (aluminum free)
- 1 tsp Salt (Kitchen Salt)
- Cut all the wings down to "wings". Pat dry and place in a large bag.
- Mix 1 tablespoon of baking powder and 1 teaspoon of table salt. Once mixed, pour into bag and shake well ensuring the powder/salt mixture has thoroughly coated the wings.
- With the smoker setup for indirect heat at 225 degrees, place wings in the smoker and cook for 30 minutes.
- Raise the temperature of the smoker to 425 degrees F and cook for 30 minutes. (Reminder: the 30 minute timer starts when you start to raise the temperature, NOT when you hit 425 degrees)
- While the wings are cooking, mix 2/3 cup butter and 1 cup of Frank's Red Hot and 1 tsp of pepper in a small sauce pan. Bring to a simmer and cover to keep warm.
- Mix completed wings and sauce in a large bowl and serve.