Perfectly smoked chicken wings on a Traeger grill have juicy tender meat with crispy crunchy skin and are topped with a delicious sauce. This is my favorite way to prepare chicken wings. These wings have amazing flavor and require minimal hands-on cooking.
A few years ago we bought a Traeger grill during a Father’s Day sale. Initially, I was reluctant to spend the money on a second grill but it has been one of the best purchases we have ever made. Not only does it produce amazing results, but it’s also incredibly easy to operate!
I don’t remember the last time we went out for barbeque because we get such great results at home for a fraction of the cost. I know our Traeger grill has already paid for itself with the money we have saved on eating out.
How Many Chicken Wings Per Person
If you are making these wings as the main dish, plan on about 8 to 12 pieces per person. If these wings are an appetizer, 4 to 6 pieces per person should be enough. I always tend to overestimate how much food I will need. In my opinion leftover chicken wings are never a problem. You may need to double or triple this recipe if you are preparing for a large group.
Prepping chicken wings
Most chicken wings are either fried or baked and while good I think there is room for even more flavor.
When I started brainstorming ideas for how to create the perfect smoked chicken wing on a Traeger grill I turned to one of my favorite sources for cooking information, Alton Brown, specifically his technique for steaming/roasting chicken wings.
The reason fried chicken wings taste so great is that the high heat crisps the skin and renders out most of the subcutaneous fat that can make wings flabby and rubbery. By steaming the wings before smoking them we can render out a lot of that fat allowing us to smoke them at a lower temperature. Cooling the chicken wings in the refrigerator allows the skin to tighten around the now leaner wing.
When I first started steaming chicken wings I was using a standard metal steamer basket. You know the ones that look like a flower and unfold. But I found it extremely difficult to clean. Chicken bits would stick in all of the nooks and crannies. Recently I bought this silicone steamer basket which is so much easier to clean.
What is the best wood for smoking chicken?
When smoking chicken wings, choose wood chips with a complementary flavor. Because of their small size and delicate flavor stick with lighter woods. Applewood, maple, and cherry are all good choices.
- Applewood has a subtle sweet fruity flavor that is ideal for poultry.
- Maple also has a subtle sweet fruity flavor but is a bit stronger than applewood. It is the sweetest of the heavy woods.
- Cherry is similar in flavor to other fruit woods but also adds a deep red color to the chicken as it smokes.
What temperature do you smoke wings at?
The general rule when smoking is to go low and slow to maximize the amount of smoke that is absorbed. This method works well for these chicken wings because we have already rendered the subcutaneous fat by steaming them. For this recipe, I like to smoke the chicken wings at 225 degrees Farenheight.
How to smoke chicken wings
- Select the wood. See my suggestions above.
- Preheat the smoker. On a Traeger grill, open the lid and select the SMOKE setting and let it preheat and smoke for 5-10 minutes. If you have a different smoker, consult your manual for specific directions.
- Set the temperature. I smoke my wings at 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Smoke the wings. Using a temperature probe, smoke the wings until they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Crisp them up. Crank the heat up as high as it will go to crisp and char the wings. If you’re using a Traeger grill, you can simply turn up the temperature. If your smoker can’t jump up in temperature quickly, transfer the wings to a cooling rack set inside of a rimmed baking sheet and broil them for a few minutes in the oven.
How long to smoke chicken wings at 225 degrees Farenheight?
Because of their small size, chicken wings are one of the fastest cuts of meat you can smoke. Actual smoke times will depend on the size of the wings. But most chicken wings will be done in less than an hour.
Should you flip wings when smoking?
It may be necessary to rotate or flip the wings as needed to maintain even cooking and avoid any hot spots on the grill.
Why are smoked wings pink?
The pink color is caused by myoglobin which is naturally occurring in all meat. Normally as the meat cooks the myoglobin turns brown but as wood burns, it creates a gas known as nitrogen dioxide. The gas binds with the myoglobin on the surface of the meat and prevents it from turning brown. This creates an outer pink ring known as “The Smoke Ring.”
How do I know when the smoked chicken wings are done?
Chicken wings are done when they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a probe thermometer to check the internal temperature. You will also notice the flesh beginning to shrink away from the bone.
- Save money by buying whole wings and breaking them down yourself. Lay each wing flat on a cutting board and cut through the two knobby joints. Use the drumette (it will look like a miniature chicken leg) and the flat for this recipe and discard the wingtips or use them to make some delicious chicken stock.
- To test for doneness, use a probe thermometer to check the internal temperature it should be 165 degrees Farenheight. You will also notice the flesh beginning to shrink away from the bone. You may see a pink smoke ring near the bone, but it should not appear bloody.
- If your smoker can’t jump up in temperature quickly, to crisp them transfer the wings to a cooling rack set inside of a rimmed baking sheet and broil them for a few minutes in the oven.
- Apply wing sauce at the end of the cooking time or toss the wings in the sauce after removing them from the grill grate.
How Long Will Chicken Wings Keep?
Leftover chicken wings can be stored in an airtight container. They will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days.
How to Reheat Chicken Wings?
There are a few ways to reheat chicken wings:
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a skillet and pan-fry your wings until they are warmed all the way through. This is a quick and easy way, but it can be difficult to resurrect the crispy skin.
This is the fastest and easiest way to reheat if you are in a hurry, but you’re going to have zero crispy skin.
Reheat the wings in the oven for 20-25 minutes at 375 degrees Farenheight. The skin will be crispy but this is the slowest way to reheat chicken wings.
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