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Grilled Chicken Wings … let the games begin

Grilled chicken wings may be the staple of almost any good tailgate party… I sure wouldn’t want to be at a tailgate that didn’t have them. It’d be like having a bachelor party without the …um…never mind… my mind wanders. Back to the grilled wings.

If you’re like most men, you like football, beer and BBQ chicken wings. They are easy to cook and are almost guaranteed to never become leftovers. To me they are a great addition to any BBQ, and are the perfect appetizer. My question is, why only serve them during football season? They’re easy to prepare, reasonably priced, and can be made in so many different ways it makes your head spin. If you’re looking to make a few friends, you need nothing more than a few trays of wings and a couple of six packs. If given the chance, I’m pretty sure that grilled wings could solve world peace, especially if some of the below recipes were used to prepare them.

Enough about my love affair with grilled chicken wings (I could go on all day by the way). After reading the below recipes I’m pretty sure you’ll make grilled chicken wings a part of your regular BBQ arsenal too. Trust me, if given the love they need they are almost unbeatable. 

Recipe 1: Crispy Grilled Chicken Wings

It is a well known fact that if you place chicken skin coated with sweet BBQ sauce over a hot grill you’re going to get fireworks. While most grilled chicken recipes require medium heat and time, over the years I have yet to find a BBQ lover who won’t want to devour a plate full of crispy grilled wings. The recipe in this case is very open ended, and in reality it is the technique that will yield the delicious end results you are searching for.

The breakdown:


  • 20-40 whole chicken wings (40-80 drummettes)…don’t dare make less than this or you risk a riot when they run out too quickly!
  • Crazy Jane’s Salt or Lowery’s Seasoning
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Cajun Seasoning
  • Pepper

The Prep Work: Season wings thoroughly on both sides. Once seasoned, place them in a large plastic bowl containing a sealable lid. A large Zip lock bag will work too. Add enough BBQ sauce to the bowl or bag so that all the wings have a healthy coat on them. You can use homemade sauce if you prefer, but if you’re short on time and kickoff is coming up I’d go with Sweet Baby Rays. Leave the wings marinating in the sauce as long as possible. If you’re the Boy Scout type and can prep and leave them over night then do it. If not, anything over 30 minutes will do the trick.

Time to make some BBQ Chicken Wings:

Depending on your preference, you can use a gas grill or charcoal grill to get these wings right. If you have questions about getting the charcoal just right, consult our Charcoal Tips section.

For this recipe, we are purposely going for a high to medium high heat setting. I’m going to warn you now; you’ll need to watch these wings like a hawk to get them just right. Constant flipping and surveillance is the key. We’re looking for crispy, not burnt to a crisp.

Simply place them over the grill and close the lid. You’ll want to open it in about 4-5 minutes to be sure the fire is not too hot. If your grilled wings are taking on a nice caramelized crispy look flip them over and close the lid back up. If they still seem too chewy then leave them going a bit longer. Nobody likes chicken skin that’s not crispy.

Continue this process ensuring that all sides, corners, nooks and crannies have gotten the heat/caramelization they need. It will likely take about 20-30 minutes with constant maintenance to be sure they are cooked all the way through. People, please don’t eat raw chicken and get sick. I don’t need that on my conscious. If you want to give them a head start, pop them in the oven for a few minutes first. I would recommend a grill buddy and a cold beer to help keep you company.

Once you’ve got a nice crispy look to the BBQ Chicken wings go ahead and place them in a clean bowl with a lid. For me, a little burnt is better than soft, chewy skin. Now reapply as much of your favorite sauce as you like, close up the lid and shake them around to spread the sauce over all the grilled wings. The end product should look something like the picture below. Another tip for you BBQ lovers… don’t ignore the bottom joint of grilled chicken wings. You can gnaw on it like a piece of corn to get some of the most crispy and delicious bites.