Smoked Chicken Wings - Low & Slow Style

smoked chicken wings on plate with spatula

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Smoked Chicken Wings - Low & Slow Style

Overview: How to Smoke Chicken Wings?

Step 1: Pat dry the wings
Step 2: Combine spices to form a rub
Step 3: Toss it up
Step 4: Pre-Heat the smoker
Step 5: Let it smoke
Step 6: Turn up the heat
Step 7: Serve it saucy or plain

smoked bbq wings


Content Table: 

  1. Tools You’ll Need
  2. Smoking Instructions
  3. Best Smoking Methods for Chicken Wings
  4. Best Wood for Smoking Chicken Wings
  5. Alternate Recipe for Smoked Chicken Wings
  6. Serving Ideas
  7. Serving Sizes
  8. Storing Smoked Chicken Wings
  9. Tips to Remember While Smoking Chicken Wings
  10. Nutritional Value (Table)
  11. Frequently Asked Questions

Today, the star of my blog is a perennial favorite, the one with tender and juicy meat on the inside and crisp, golden skin on the outside. Yup, you got that right…. 

It’s SMOKED CHICKEN WINGS! 

LOVE. WINGS. Fried, grilled or baked, tossed in sauce, served with a dip or just plain, if it’s a wing, it’s got to be my favorite thing! This obsession of mine reached a new peak very recently when I tried my hand at making the most lip-smacking, mouth-watering, belly-pleasing Smoked Chicken Wings. So, if you’re in the mood to do some smoking, you’ve come to the right place. 

Let me break down the smoking process for you here, so that you and your loved ones can devour this flavorsome beauty from the comfort of your home. 

1. Tools You'll Need

raw wings ready to be smoked beside a Dalstrong knife

A sharp knife

If you choose to buy your wings whole, you are going to need a sharp knife with a tapered and pointed tip to separate the drumettes and wings. A sturdy chef’s knife should work just fine for this purpose. Dalstrong’s 10” chef’s knife from the Gladiator Series is my personal recommendation. However, if the blade of this knife is too big, you can also use a sharp boning knife or even a paring knife. These knives cut around tough areas like the bone with great ease and precision.

An apron

It’s not that making smoked chicken wings is a super messy process, but better safe than sorry, right? Keep an apron around to make sure your clothes are rub-free and smoker-safe.

A cutting board

If you’re one of those who buy whole wings, this is a must! Make sure you have a big and stable cutting board to place the wings and separate them without getting the chicken all over your kitchen counter.

A large bowl

You’re going to need this to toss your wings. If you don’t have a bowl that is large enough, you can also use a plastic bag. 

A smoker

Let’s not forget about the main tool for this process, a smoker. Ensure your smoker has been cleaned and prepped perfectly before you pop in those wings. 

Wood pellets

If you have a traditional smoked, you are going to need wood pellets. These last longer, burn hotter, and smoke more evenly than wood chips. 

All right then! Now that you have all the tools set up, let’s get smoking! 

2. Smoking Instructions

wings on a smoker

Smoked Chicken Wings Recipe

Prep Time

10 mins

Cook Time

2 hours

Total Time

2 hours 10 mins


Ingredients

Wings:

6 LBS Chicken Wings

Note: You can buy whole wings and separate the wing, drumette, and tip by cutting them between the joints. To save prep time you can also buy a bag of party wings. 

Rub: 

  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 tablespoons Chili Powder
  • 2 table Smoked Paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder 
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
  • 3 teaspoons Fresh Ground Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Cayenne

Steps to Smoke Chicken Wings

Step 1:
Pat dry the wings

The real key to crispy, smoked chicken wings is making sure that the skin is totally dry. Pat the wings dry with paper towels and leave them in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.

If you’re short on time, place the wings in a large bowl or plastic bag and add a mixture of baking powder and salt. For every pound of chicken wings, use 1 teaspoon of baking powder and ½ teaspoon of salt. Then shake it up. 

Step 2:
Combine spices to form a rub

Add all the ingredients required to make a rub in a small bowl and mix it up. I suggest you combine the spices with a whisk and use your hands to break down any small clumps. 

Step 3:
Toss it up

Place the wings, olive oil and rub in a large bowl or plastic and toss it up, making sure each wing is nicely coated in a layer of this mix. 


Let the wings rest for at least an hour. 

Step 4:
Pre-heat the smoker

Before you place the wings in the smoker, remember to heat it up. Heat the smoker to a temperature between 225-250F. 


If you don’t have a smoker, you can also use a grill. 

Once heated up, add wood to the coals. 

Step 5: 
Let it smoke

Once preheated, add the wings to the smoker over indirect heat. To achieve this, push the coals to one side and the wings on the other, making sure it is not directly placed over the coal. 


Now smoke the wings for 2 to 2 ½ hours, maintaining constant smoke for at least 1 ½ hours. When done, the chicken should have an internal temperature of 165 F and will be full of smoke flavor.

Step 6:
Turn up the heat

Your juicy and tender wings are almost ready. Now it’s time to get that beautiful crisp. To do this, place the wings on direct heat (the grill or coal) for 2-3 minutes. This is enough time for your wings to get that gorgeous color and a nice crisp. 

Step 7:
Serve it saucy or plain

Remove from heat and let the wings rest for up to 10 minutes. This will give the meat time to reabsorb its juices and remain tender. 


Plate the wings and serve it slathered in sauce, with a dip on the side or enjoy them just the way they are. 

3. Best Smoking Methods for Chicken Wings

smoked wings with rosemary

While traditional chicken wings are deep-fried in oil to get the perfect tenderness on the inside and crunch on the outside, smoking chicken wings is a much healthier option. 

Smoking is a simple yet satisfying process where the marinated wings are placed in a smoker over indirect heat for at least 2 hours until the meat inside is fall-off-the-bone tender and the skin outside is golden. 

If you’re smoking chicken wings for the first time, let me take you through the different smoking methods that are available for your to choose from. 

Method 1: Wood Smoker

This is the most common type of smoker and usually the preferred choice among seasoned chefs because of their superior flavor profile. Wood smokers are designed to cook food by using the heat that is generated by burning wood and/or charcoal. All you have to do is place the wood and/or charcoal in the smoker’s fuel compartment, wait for it to reach an appropriate temperature, and then add your meats or veggies to the cooking grate. 

While these smokers are very similar to charcoal grills, one characteristic that sets them apart is the offset fuel compartment or firebox. This is mostly located inside the smoker, allowing you to cook food at a lower temperature than grilling. With charcoal grills, the food is exposed to more direct heat, making it difficult to achieve a low temperature, which is a must when smoking meat. 

Benefits of using a Wood Smoker: 

  • Compared to electric smokers, these provide a richer smoky flavor.
  • These are mobile and can be used anywhere, like on your patio, lawn, or outdoor living space. Electric smokers require a corded connection.
  • These smokers are more affordable than electric smokers. This makes it the perfect buy for someone who is on a budget. 

Method 2: Electric Smoker

These smokers are designed to produce heat using an electrically powered heating element and here is how it works. When the smoker is turned on, electricity travels through the heating element until the interior of the smoker reaches the desired temperature. In electric smokers, this temperature is controlled through a digital interface where you can increase or decrease the temperature. 

Although these smokers are powered by electricity, they also support the use of wood. Every electric smoker comes with a compartment or tray where you can place the wood chunks to produce a thick, flavorful smoke to give your wings the perfect smoky flavor. 

Benefits of using an Electric Smoker: 

  • The greatest benefit of using an electric smoker is the ease at which you can control the temperature. The digital interface makes this very simple. 
  • Electric smokers have at least 5 or more cooking racks, making it easier to accommodate more food than wood smokers, which come with a single cooking grate. 

Method 3: Makeshift Smoker

No smoker? No problem! Not everyone has a smoker, but everyone deserves delicious and flavorful smoked chicken wings. Here are a few things you can do to give your regular grilled wings a smoky flavor: 

  • You are going to need a disposable loaf pan to make this makeshift smoker box.
  • Another important element to this is wood chips. Be sure to pick up the right now as wood chips are different from wood pellets. You can pick these up from any home improvement store. 
  • Next, soak the wood chips in water for at least 30 minutes or longer.
  • Turn on the grill and light up only 1 burner. Set it to about 300 degrees. 
  • Add the soaked wood chips to the loaf pan and cover it with aluminum foil. Cut 15 small slits in the foil with a knife to allow the smoke to escape and penetrate the wings. 
  • Place this pan over the single-lit burner.
  • Add the chicken wings to the grates where the burners are not lit. Remember, chicken wings require indirect heat, and placing them on the lit burner will result in burnt and dried-out wings. 
  • Let the wings cook for 2 - 2 ½ hours or until the internal temperature of the wings reaches 165 F. 

    4. Best Wood for Smoking Chicken Wings

    wood for smoker

    Back in the day, life was simple. If you wanted to set up a BBQ or smoke some meat all you had to do was set up some logs and you were good to go. But today, the choices of wood and its form can get very overwhelming. Before you can even decide which of the dozens of varieties of wood to use, you need to first pick from wood chunks, chips, pellets, discs, and whole logs. 

    While you can choose to burn just about any kind of wood to smoke your food, when it comes to smoking meat, there are recommendations for meat/wood combinations. 

    Hardwood

      This is recommended for heavier meats like beef and pork 

      Lighter hardwood

        This is recommended for delicate meats like chicken and fish

        Softwood

          Using this wood is a complete NO-NO as the wood can be too resinous and can ruin the meat.

          Personally, I love the flavor cherry or applewood chunks give me. These are readily available and add sweetness to the meat. You can also take a look at this list of other woods you can use to smoke your chicken wings. 

          Fruitwood

          You can opt for apple, cherry, or maple wood if you want a wood that burns sweet and gives the wings a mellow touch of the smoke flavor.

          Hickory

          This wood has a sweet, savory, hearty, and slightly balcony flavor. However, be careful while working with this wood as too much of this can cause your meat to have a bitter flavor. 

          Mesquite

          When used in smaller quantities, this wood is packed with intense flavor. It is recommended for grilling and is famous for its strong and unique taste. 

          Oak

          This is the go-to wood for smoking meat and if a great wood to start with is you’re a newbie to smoking. This wood will give your meat a medium to strong flavor. Use this wood in small quantities otherwise, the taste can get overpowering. 

            5. Alternate Recipe for Smoked Chicken Wings

            wings being smoked

            At the beginning of this blog, we spoke about how you can prepare your chicken wings with a delicious dry rub and smoky flavor. Now, let’s talk about an alternate recipe that is not only delicious but will make all the smoking effort worthwhile.

            Bourbon BBQ Smoked Chicken Wings

            Prep Time

            15 mins

            Cook Time

            2 hours 45 mins

            Total Time

            3 hours

             

            Ingredients

            Wings:

            • 4 LBS Chicken Wings
            • Chicken rub (Follow instructions from ‘Smoked Chicken Wings’ recipe or use your favorite store-bought rub)
            • 2 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
            • Hickory wood pellets (for a medium-strong smoky flavor)

            Bourbon BBQ Sauce: 

            • ½ medium sweet yellow Onion- finely chopped
            • 5 cloves Garlic- finely minced
            • ½ cup bourbon
            • ¼ cup Tomato Paste
            • 2 cups Ketchup
            • ½ cup packed light Brown Sugar
            • ⅓ cup apple cider Vinegar
            • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce 
            • 2 tablespoons Liquid Smoke
            • ½ tablespoon Kosher Salt
            • ½ teaspoon Black Pepper
            • ¼ teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
            • A few dashes of Hot Sauce (optional)

            Instructions

            Bourbon BBQ Sauce

            • Step 1: Place a saucepan over MEDIUM heat and add a drizzle of olive oil. Add chopped onion and garlic and sauté it for 5 minutes.


            Add in the bourbon and continue cooking for about 3 minutes.  


            • Step 2: Add the tomato paste and whisk it to ensure there are no lumps. Add all the remaining sauce ingredients and combine. Turn up the heat to MEDIUM-HIGH and bring it to a boil.

              Reduce heat to MEDIUM-LOW or LOW and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

            • Strain out onion and garlic pieces by pouring the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve. Set aside and cool.

              Got leftover BBQ sauce? Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks. 

            Smoked Chicken Wings

            • Step 1: With clean paper towels pat the chicken wings dry. Add them to a large mixing bowl or plastic bag. Toss in the vegetable and dry rub, massaging it into the wings. Coat each wing properly.

            • Step 2: Add the hickory pellets to the smoker and turn it on. Leave the lid open for 5-10 minutes, until very smoky.

              Oil the grill grates and add chicken wings, set the smoker to 250F degrees. Smoke the wings for 2 ½ hours or until the wings reach an internal temperature of 165 F degrees. 

            • Step 3: To get golden, crispy skin, baste chicken wings on both sides with the bourbon BBQ sauce, change smoker setting to HIGH and cook wings for 3-5 minutes. Flip them over and repeat. 

            • Step 4: Remove wings and place on a foil or parchment-lined plate and let it rest for 5-10 minutes. 

            • Step 5: Serve wings as it is or brush on some more bourbon BBQ sauce.

            6. Serving Ideas

            smoked wings with dipping sauce

            The beauty of smoked chicken wings lies in the fact that you can enjoy them just the way they are or pair them up with your favorite sauce, dip, or seasoning. 

            One of my preferred choice of dip with any kind of chicken wings is a delicious Buttermilk and Her dipping sauce.

            Buttermilk and Her Dipping Sauce

            Ingredients

            • 1 cup full-fat Buttermilk
            • ½ cup Sour Cream
            • ¼ cup Parmesan Cheese- finely grated 
            • ¼ fresh Parsley- finely chopped
            • ¼ cup Chives- finely sliced
            • ¼ cup fresh Dill- finely chopped
            • 1 clove Garlic- grated
            • Zest of 1 Lemon
            • Juice of ½ Lemon
            • Kosher Salt
            • Black Pepper- freshly ground

            Instructions

            • In a mixing bowl, add the buttermilk, sour cream, and parmesan cheese and whisk it smooth. 
            • Add the parsley, chives, dill, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to this mix.
            • Combine all ingredients well and serve with smoked wings. 

            Another ALL-TIME CLASSIC partner for your smoked chicken wings is some traditional hot sauce, buffalo style. I use Frank’s Red Hot sauce, but you can choose the one you like. 

            Here’s what you need to do for this: 

            Hot Sauce

            Ingredients

            • 1 cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce (or any other that you may prefer)
            • 2 tablespoons butter

            Instructions

            • In a saucepan, melt butter at a low temperature. 
            • Add the hot sauce and let both of them simmer for a bit.
            • Remove and serve with the smoked chicken wings 

            Tip: Do not make the mistake of melting the butter at high heat. If you do this and then add the hot sauce, you will be left with an oily sauce where the hot sauce separates from the butter and doesn’t stick to the chicken. 


            If you want quick options, you can also try dipping the smoked chicken wings in:

            • Blue cheese 
            • Ranch dressing
            • Honey Mustard sauce 
            • Garlic Parmesan sauce

            Other than these sauces, there are a bunch of sides also that pair beautifully with the smoked chicken wings, making it a complete meal. 

            I really enjoy a quick and easy grilled corn on the cob. The soft and buttery flavor of the corn goes very well with flavorful wings, without leaving an overpowering taste. You can also whip up a quick salad with some macaroni, ham, and cubes of vegetables to accompany your wings. 

            You might be surprised, but wine also goes very well with smoked chicken wings, especially something like a sweet Riesling or Gewürztraminer ​. This is because these wines have a small amount of residual sugar in them, leaving a slightly sweet and refreshing feeling that cools the palate. I love myself a nice glass of wine and when I got to know about this, I was obviously intrigued. After going through the trial and error process, I came to the conclusion that semi-dry Rieslings pair beautifully with wings. They have a lovely, fruity aroma, lively acidity, and a cooling sweetness that will calm your palate from the wings. 

            No wings platter is complete without some fresh cut-up veggies. Here are a few veggies that go perfectly well with your smoked chicken wings: 

            • Carrots
            • Celery
            • Cucumber
            • Radishes
            • Sliced bell peppers
            • Cherry tomatoes
            • Snap peas

              You can also get creative with this and have some additional munchies on the side with these amazing wings: 

              • Chips
              • Tortilla chips
              • Nuts
              • Olives
              • Pickles
              • Cut cheese

                7. Serving Sizes

                Chicken wings being BBQ'd with spatula and fork set

                Initially, I had a hard time figuring out serving portions for my guests. 

                “How many wings do I need per person?”
                “How many wings do I get in 1 pound?”

                “Will this be enough for the number of guests coming over?”

                These questions may seem silly, but they really had me worried. If you are someone who has the same doubts, it’s your lucky day because I’m going to break this down for you. 

                First, let’s figure out how many wings you need per person. This will depend on what part of the meal this is. If you are serving the smoked chicken wings as the main meal or main appetizer, you will need at least 6-10 wing pieces per person. This should've served with at least 4-6 pieces of veggies per person. 

                If you are serving this as a starter that comes before the main meal, you will want to serve 3-5 wing pieces per person with 2-4 veggie pieces. 

                Now that you know how many wings you need per person, let’s see how many pounds of chicken wings does that equal out to be. The size can vary depending on the size of the wings, but roughly, one pound of chicken wings is about 10-12 cut chicken wings

                So if you plan on serving the smoked chicken wings as the main course, you can buy about 1 pound per person and if it’s the starter, you can buy about half a pound of chicken wings per person. 

                8. Storing Smoked Chicken Wings

                wings on grill with fire

                Couldn’t finish all the chicken wings in one sitting? Don’t sweat it! You can always save the wings for another meal. 

                Place the smoked chicken wings in an air-tight container with a lid and put them in the refrigerator. 

                I recommend consuming them within 3-5 days, or there might be a higher chance of the wings drying out. You can eat these wings cold, straight out of the refrigerator, or heat them up for a few minutes in an air-fryer or microwave. 

                9. Tips to Remember

                Raw chicken wings on teak cutting board

                Be sure to buy party-style wings with are already cut up. This will save you a lot of prep time.

                Normally, smoked chicken does not have crispy skin because it’s cooked at such a low temperature. To get that crispy skin, place the chicken wings on the broiler or directly over the coals for about 5 minutes on each side.

                To get extra crispy skin on the outside, lay UNCOOKED chicken wings on a baking sheet and refrigerate, fat side up, uncovered for several hours or overnight. This dries out the skin, allowing it to crisp more.

                Keep a digital thermometer around to keep a check on the internal temperature of the wings. They are inexpensive and easily available.

                You do not need to flip the chicken until the very end.

                The smoke coming from the smoked should be very light, almost blue. A heavy white smoke may leave a bitter taste on your food.

                Rubbery chicken is a result of not getting the smoker hot enough before popping them in. Make sure to double-check your heat settings during cook time.
                To add some creativity to your smoked chicken wings, you can also serve them on a charcuterie board with all your sauces, veggies, dips, and other munchies by its side. This is a great way to serve these wings as an appetizer.  

                  10. Nutritional Value of Smoked Chicken Wings

                  Nutritional Value

                  Calories

                  607kcal

                  Carbohydrates

                  4g

                  Protein

                  46g

                  Fat

                  45g

                  Saturated Fat

                  12g

                  Cholesterol

                  189mg

                  Sodium

                  1001mg

                  Potassium

                  519mg

                  Fiber

                  2g

                  Sugar

                  1g

                  Vitamin A

                  2439IU

                  Vitamin C

                  2mg

                  Calcium

                  51mg

                  Iron

                  4mg

                  11. Frequently Asked Questions

                  bowl of wings on cutting board beside chef's knife

                  How long does it take to smoke wings? 

                  To get tender and juicy chicken wings, you should smoke them for at least 1 ½ hours to 2 hours over indirect heat, at a temperature between 225-250 F degrees. 

                  To get crisp and gold skin on the outside, increase the temperature to 350 F degrees for 10-20 minutes or place the wings directly on the heat of the coal or wood for 5-7 minutes. 

                  How long does it take to smoke wings at 225?

                  It takes a minimum of 90 minutes to 2 hours to smoke wings are 225 F degrees. 

                  What temperature should chicken wings be smoked at?

                    You should smoke the chicken wings at 225 F degrees for an hour and then turn up the heat to 350 F degrees for the next 30 minutes to achieve the perfect crisp on the outside and soft tenderness on the inside.  

                    How long does it take to smoke chicken wings at 275 degrees?

                      It takes about 1 ½ hour to smoke chicken wings at this temperature. However, it is recommended you smoke the wings at a temperature between 225-250 F degrees. 

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                      Written by Himani Vaid

                      Toronto-based food nerd turned food storyteller, Himani is a connoisseur of all things delish. Currently, busy thinking about what to eat next.