How to Make Barbecue Wings

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Grilled Barbecue WingsHow to Make Barbecue Wings

How to Make Barbecue Wings


Welcome to How to Make Barbecue Wings 101.

In this class, I will give you an overview of chicken wings.

Then we will discuss;

  • How to pick the best wings for barbecue
  • How to process chicken wings for grilling
  • How to grill chicken wings
  • How to sauce chicken wings

So, let's get started!

How to pick the best wings for barbecue

Choosing chicken wings for barbecue is pretty simple; pick fresh chicken wings with a nice color. The wings should have an off white to light yellow shade to them. 

Wings that are dark or off-colored should be avoided. I've never seen a terrible package of chicken wings. I think it's because they're so popular that they don't sit around long at grocery stores.

Wanna know how to make barbecue wings? Make sure your chicken wings are fresh! 

Do not buy frozen chicken wings. Most frozen chicken wings have been treated with a solution to supposedly make them juicy and taste better.

It's mostly chicken broth, salt, and natural flavor. 

This solution gives the chicken an unpleasant, salty, metallic taste. Plus, you're paying for chicken broth, salt, and "natural flavor" when you buy these products. I'd rather just pay for the chicken and season it myself.

How to Process Chicken Wings for Grilling

Take a look at the picture below.

Uncooked Chicken WingUncooked Chicken Wing

As you can see, the chicken wing is thick on the left side, the part that attaches to the shoulder, then it gets thinner until it becomes skinny at the wingtip. 

This is an essential part of knowing how to make barbecue wings; If you cook the wing as one piece, the middle will dry out before the thick part, the drumette has finished cooking. The wingtip will be burnt by then.

No, you have to cut the wing into sections.

See the picture below.

Uncooked Chicken Wing Cut Into Three PiecesUncooked Chicken Wing Cut Into Three Pieces

This allows you to cook each section separately until it's done and delicious.

Cut the wings right at the joint. There are cartilage and tendons there that are much easier to cut through than the bone.

How to Grill Chicken Wings

Chicken wings have some fat and will burn if exposed to a hot fire for too long. 

But we need them to be cooked with a hot fire to crisp up the skin.

The solution? 

2 stage cooking, indirect cooking to start them off, and then direct heat to finish.

This means you'll cook them for about 10-12 minutes on the indirect side of the grill, then move them directly over the fire for the last 10-12 minutes until they're done to your liking.

How to Sauce Chicken Wings

Once the chicken wings are done, you can put sauce on them if you'd like.

The easiest way to do this is to add the wings to a large mixing bowl, add your warm sauce to the wings and toss the wings to coat them well.

If you tried to apply sauce to each wing while it's on the grill, they would burn before you got the sauce on all of them. Saucing the wings in a large bowl will save you that headache.

Sauce the wings while they're hot; the sauce will stick to them better.

If you want more than one kind of sauce, I suggest multiple bowls. Having more than one bowl is more manageable than washing the same mixing bowl over and over.

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How to Make Barbecue Wings

Recipe Notes: You can sauce the chicken wings with various sauces limited only by your imagination. Some of my favorites are below.

You can also apply a rub and serve them dry. Don't use a rub with sugar, or the wings will burn.

While cooking the wings with direct heat, you have to watch them and turn them a lot. If you're not careful, they will burn. The wingettes are done when you can see the meat bubbling up from below. The drumettes are done when the flesh is no longer pink at the cut end.

  1. Set up your grill for indirect cooking; For a charcoal grill; If you're using a 22" kettle grill, the most popular size, place 50 charcoal briquettes in the grill and light. When the coals are ready, push them to one side of the grill. Place a drip pan on the charcoal grate next to the coals. For a gas grill, turn all the burners on high for ten minutes to heat the grill. Turn off all the burners except the primary burner(s). 
  2. Prepare your bowls and sauce. Keep your sauce warm. 
  3. If you're serving celery and blue cheese, cut the celery into sticks about 4"-5" long. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
  4. Cut the chicken wings into three pieces. Save the wingtips for stock or discard.
  5. Season the drumettes and wingettes with salt and pepper.
  6. Clean and oil the grate.
  7. Place the chicken wings on the indirect side of the grill and cook for 10-12 minutes. Put the drumettes closest to the fire since they take longer to cook.
  8. After 10-12 minutes, move the wings to the direct side. Cook for 10-12 minutes, frequently turning, until the wings are done to your liking. 
  9. Place the wings in a large mixing bowl, add 1/2 cup of warm sauce of your choice. Toss the wings in the sauce until well coated. If using teriyaki sauce, use 1/4 cup. 
  10. Pour the wings on a large serving platter and serve immediately.
  11. Serve celery sticks and blue cheese dressing if you're making Buffalo wings.

Buffalo Sauce

This is the classic buffalo sauce. It's simple, but don't be fooled; this is the real deal!

  1. Add ingredients to a small saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat until the mixture starts to simmer. Keep warm until ready to use.

You can serve any extra sauce on the side if desired. If the sauce is not hot enough, add more hot sauce. If it's too hot, add less. Taste the sauce before you use it. The ratio in the recipe is 50/50 sauce to butter.

Now you know how to make barbecue wings!


If you have any questions or comments about how to make barbecue wings, please fill out the recipe talk form below or contact me here.

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