How to Grill Chicken Wings

By Nils Hoyum - September 21, 2011

Grilled Chicken Wings with Hot Sauce | Chicken Recipes


3 servings



dish type


Chicken wings: the whole country is crazy for them. I remember not that many years ago the only thing we used chicken wings for was making chicken stock. But eventually someone talked to someone from the South and the practice of eating these little nuggets of tender meat and skin with hot sauce began to catch on in the rest of America. Since the skin can be a bit chewy, it's best to get it crispy in some way, which is why many places deep-fry their wings before they dip them in the sauce.

I've already made wings under the broiler, so I thought I would try to make them on the grill. Here is what I came up with.

Grilled Chicken Wing Recipe: Wings Rubbed with Cumin, Coriander, Cayenne, Salt, and Grilled with Hot Sauce

raw chicken wings

1. Pick up some chicken wings. You will need at least a pound of wings per person unless you are making something else, too. But it never hurts to have a few leftover wings in the fridge. The tips of the wings are almost entirely inedible, unless you like chewing on cartilage. And some do. Anyway, you can remove that if you want. It makes the wings easier to cook.

dry rub for chicken wings

2. Rub the chicken wings with the spices. Make the spice rub using a mortar and pestle, spice grinder, food processor, or blender. Mix the spices and herbs with the wings in a bowl. The recipe for the rub that I have included can be altered to your liking. It is just a base to work from. If you want to boost the flavor of these wings, let them sit in the rub overnight.

grilling the chicken wings

3. Fire up the grill and start grilling the wings. Heat up the grill or start the charcoal with a chimney starter. You want a nice low heat to cook these wings over. They will be on the grill for a while and too high of heat would burn them. You will also be closing the lid, so a low heat is all you need. The lid will help trap the moisture which will break up the connective tissue in the wings, which will make them tender.

hot sauce and chicken wings on a grill

4. Heat up the hot sauce and melt the butter in it. After you've crisped up the wings and they look like they're nearly cooked, start heating up the sauce in preparation for dipping. If you put your pot of sauce right on the grill, this will be easier to do. Of course that pot will get charred and stained with smoke, so don't plan on using it in the house again.

dipping the hot wings in the hot sauce

5. Dip the wings in the sauce 2‒3 times each. Dipping is quicker and easier then basting or brushing. Less wasteful, too. After you dip each wing, put the lid back on for 4‒5 minutes more. You can dip as many times as you want, but generally once the wings get tender, they will begin to fall apart, so at that point you're done. After you take the wings off the grill, you may toss them in the sauce one more time or serve it on the side.

Tips and Tricks

The chicken wings will be easier to grill if you remove the tips. But some people like that part so you may want to check with everyone before you do so.

The vinegar-based hot sauce that I am using here is homemade by my brother. It is similar to sriracha, but not quite as hot and a little bit thinner. It is one of my favorite hot sauces. Like Frank's, but better. I like that too.

With the lid closed and the sauce on the wings, you are creating a closed, moist environment. Much like braising, barbecuing creates tender qualities in chewy pieces of meat.