Chicken wings and drumsticks are some of my favorite ways to eat chicken. This article tells you everything you need to know about chicken wings. Then demonstrates my favorite way to cook them on the grill so your next tailgating party or family dinner will be a hit with everyone.
How To Cook Chicken Wings
Wings can be cooked many different ways but the classic at-home chicken wing recipe is to season and grill them. Grilling is a lot healthier than frying and adds better flavor to the chicken than baking.
Not looking for chicken wings? That’s ok, we have some other way to cook a chicken that will blow your mind too: For a light meal, read about our Chicken Zucchini Burgers. Or, for full chickens, our Beer Can Chicken and our Cast Iron Grilled Chicken are amazing.
Chicken Wings are Perfect for Cooking On A Budget
Chicken is generally an inexpensive meal choice. When I made this post, I was out grocery shopping and about a dozen wings at Aldi cost $7. That’s $0.29 per wing (when they have broken apart). Next to the wings was a large packet of drumsticks which were only $2.30 for the pack, coming out to $0.28 per drumstick. I literally fed a family of six dinner and had leftovers for under $12. There are not many ways you can feed a family for less than $2 per head.
Dry Rub for Chicken Wings
There are different ways of seasoning chicken wings such as to brine them, adding BBQ, or using other marinades. Each method has its own benefits. Brining typically adds a salty juiciness to the wings, adding BBQ or other sauces flavors and coats the wings but this can also make your grill very messy, while other marinades can be a fun way to add flavor to the meat. We used the marinade method on some pheasant in our Bacon Wrapped Pheasant Poppers very successfully. Marinading is a great tip for wild birds and game.
How to Buy Chicken Rub
My favorite, which is also a classic Minnesota recipe, is to use a simple chicken wing dry rub and place the wings directly on your grill or smoker. Before you get started, I have a couple of quick tips for buying spices. First, spices do get old and stale. If you have spices that have been around for more than a year, they probably have mellowed out and won’t be as good as if they were fresh. Second, light can damage the spices. It is best to buy spices that you can’t see in the jar. Third, sometimes you get what you pay for. There are different qualities of spices. If you don’t have the time to find the right spice for you, consider using Amazon and read the reviews of the products below. Or, if you don’t want to buy a chicken rub, I have my own mix of spices listed below:
How To Make a Chicken Dry Rub With Spices You Probably Have At Home Right Now
Making your own dry rub is easy. You can either mix the ingredients together in a bowl or sprinkle each one onto the chicken individually. One quick and easy chicken dry rub is to combine equal parts garlic and mustard powder with slightly less ginger. Then sprinkle salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste.
One tip I have used is to pat the chicken dry with a paper towel, then with a brush or spoon, gently add a light covering of lime juice before adding the spices. This will add some acidity to the chicken and really make the flavor pop.
Making your own dry rub for your chicken is really simple and there is an infinite number of ways to make your own so don’t be afraid to try something new each time.
How to Grill a Chicken Wing
Because of how thin chicken wings are, you don’t really want to sear the outside skin. Especially, because that is where all of your spices are. There is no reason to burn off all of that great dry rub! So, the best way is to use indirect heat on your grill. I like to cook them at about 300 degrees. The different types of grills use different fuels that affect the chicken differently. Here’s a quick breakdown of the different types of grills and the different technique I have used successfully with each one:
Indirect heat on a gas grill is very easy. Usually, the burners will either run horizontally or vertically below a series of slats under the grill. By using burners on either the sides or the front and back only, you can usually bring heat indirectly to the wings from the outside in. This will slow the cooking down and give the wings the effect of being in a convection oven leaving the chicken wings with a nice golden brown crust and evenly cooking the insides. Gas grills will leave very little if any flavor on the meat and are very easy to control exactly the temperature you want.
Charcoal grills are great for getting a lot of intense heat for searing meat. I especially like them for a thick steak but that isn’t the only way to use them. To properly create indirect heat with a charcoal grill, start your charcoal burning like always and then shovel the coals to the sides. I like to try to spread them to at least two sides but sometimes space is limited. Just do your best to have a cooking area in the middle with no charcoal below it. You can continue to feed the charcoal fire by adding a coal or two as needed. Charcoal is a little harder to regulate temperature but does add some flavor to the meat.
Traeger or other Pellet Grill
These are without a doubt my favorite grills. I have this Traeger and I love it. With a pellet grill, you just set the temperature and it will keep the fire going perfectly to hold it there until you are done. There is no monitoring of temperature, no adding coals, and the pellets add a wonderful smoky flavor to the meat. Plus, because of the way the grill works, you don’t give up any grilling space like you do with a gas or charcoal grill.
Our Favorite Chicken Wing Dips
Dips can be a perfect way to turn chicken wings into an appetizer buffet for your party. After cooking, place your wings on a serving tray and then have small bowls of dips available to your guests. Celery and other vegetables are a great pairing with the wings too. The classic chicken wing dips are buffalo sauce (http://amzn.to/2wO8S54), blue cheese, and ranch. You can also go to Buffalo Wild Wings and buy some of their dips to go. For something fun, consider getting the Anchor Bar Gift Set of sauces. Anchor Bar is in Buffalo New York and was the first Buffalo Wild Wings. I also have a dip I love that is very easy to make and is perfect for wings too:
Four Kids and a Chicken Adobo Dipping Sauce
Smokey, slightly spicy and mouthwateringly perfect for wings our own FourKidsAndAChicken.com adobo dipping sauce is a perfect 30-second recipe. Put one cup of ranch dressing in a food processor with one spoonful of canned adobo sauce (http://amzn.to/2wRQp2L). Blend until smooth. Here, it is pictured below with our Fried Zucchini Fingers.
Cooking Grilled Chicken Wings
Now that you know pretty much everything about how to season and grill your wings, I’ll demonstrate one of my favorite dry rub chicken wing recipes.
- Chicken Wings
- Chicken Dry Rub
- Baking Sheet
- Hungry People to Feed
Open your package of chicken wings and lay them out on top of a baking sheet. Take your chicken dry rub, or your mix of spices and coat the chicken on all sides as shown.
I cooked these on a Traeger grill. So I turned on my grill to 300 degrees and let the chicken cook. Notice how I left space between each of them for the smoke and air to move.
I let them cook for about half an hour. Use a thermometer to check that they are fully cooked. I flipped them about halfway through the cooking. When they are done remove them and let them rest for 10 minutes on a clean baking sheet.
After a short rest which lets the meat reabsorbs the juices and fats, they are ready for you to serve. I garnished mine with a snip of parsley. This grilled chicken wing will pair well with many sauces for dipping.
Printable Chicken Wing Recipe
A classic dry rub grilled chicken wing.
4 minPrep Time
30 minCook Time
34 minTotal Time
- Chicken Wings
- Chicken Dry Rub
- Equipment Needed
- Open your package of chicken wings and lay them out on top of a baking sheet. Take your chicken dry rub, or your mix of spices and coat the chicken on all sides as shown.
- I cooked these on a Traeger grill. So I turned on my grill to 300 degrees and let the chicken cook. Notice how I left space between each of them for the smoke and air to move.
- I let them cook for about half an hour. Use a thermometer to check that they are fully cooked. I flipped them about halfway through the cooking. When they are done remove them and let them rest for 10 minutes on a clean baking sheet.
- After a short rest which lets the meat reabsorb the juices and fats, they are ready for you to serve. I garnished mine with a snip of parsley. This grilled chicken wing will pair well with many sauces for dipping.
Want to try a baked chicken wing instead?
We also have a wonderful Crispy Baked Chicken Wing recipe that takes about 40 minutes to put on the table. All you do is mix dry ingredients in a large plastic bag and shake the chicken wings in it until they are coated. Brush with some butter and bake until cooked.
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