Crispy smoked chicken wings are true crowd-pleasers, with their juicy and tender meat and the mouthwatering crispy skin.
Whether you are new to smoking or an advanced smoker, this recipe is definitely one you should try out.
It is very easy to prep and smoke, and the end result is absolutely finger-licking.
How to prepare crispy smoked chicken wings
A pound of chicken wings usually includes 4-5 wings, or 8-12 pieces, depending on whether you break each of the wings down into 3 or 2 parts. Breaking down the wings into 3 parts will leave you with the flat wingette, the drumette, and the wing tip.
Some pitmasters prefer to brine the wings overnight, while others only toss them in baking powder and pop them into the smoker for 1-2 hours.
After breaking down the wings, if you plan to brine them overnight, put them in a bowl or other container filled with a mixture of water, salt, brown sugar, dried spices, and powdered garlic. Make sure the salt and sugar are dissolved and that the water has covered all of the wings. Let them sit in the brine in the refrigerator overnight or for 24 hours. Before smoking them, discard the brine and dry the wings completely before smoking.
Important things to know
The usual serving size for wings is 4 wings per person, so when you are shopping, aim for about 1 pound per guest.
You can brine the wings and let them sit in the brine in the refrigerator overnight.
You can also skip the brining process and simply toss the wings in baking powder and salt. The baking powder is the secret ingredient that helps make the wings’ skin so delicious and crispy.
Remember to use baking powder and not baking soda for this crispy smoked chicken wings recipe.
Before tossing them in the baking powder and salt, make sure you pat down all of the wings with a paper towel so you remove as much of the moisture from their skin as possible.
Then toss them in the baking powder and salt.
Set your smoker to 250 degrees Fahrenheit and cook the wings for 30 minutes. After that, increase the temperature to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and cook the chicken wings until their internal temperature reaches 175 degrees Fahrenheit. You can easily monitor the internal temperature of the wings with the help of a suitable grill and meat thermometer. Some thermometers are wireless, so you can watch the temperature without the need of opening the smoker and letting the heat and smoke out.
The lower starting temperature is for rendering the fat of the wings, adding a smoky flavor, and drying the chicken wings’ skin.
A higher temperature of 425 degrees F is essential for the crisping of the wings’ skin.
The entire cooking process usually takes about 1.5 to 2 hours, which makes these smoked wings suitable for unexpected guests and preparing a quick and delicious dinner.
If your smoker is a pellet smoker, you can easily adjust the temperature by turning it up. But if your smoker is not so easy to adjust so that the temperature increases quickly, you may want to remove the wings from the smoker after the first half-hour and pop them in a preheated oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once the internal temperature in the center of the wings has reached 175 degrees, they are ready to be served.
These crispy smoked chicken wings go perfectly with different sauces, but if you plan on tossing them into a sauce, make sure that you preheat it beforehand because putting the hot wings in a cold sauce may cause that crispy skin to soften.
For how long to smoke chicken wings
At first, you need to smoke the wings at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes and then crank up the temperature to 425 degrees Fahrenheit for the rest of the cooking. Smoking them usually takes about 1.5 to 2 hours, but it depends on the size and number of wings you are smoking. The best way to know that the wings are ready and safe to eat is to monitor their internal temperature. While the recommended safe internal temperature for chicken is 165 degrees Fahrenheit, we recommend that you smoke these crispy wings to an internal temperature of 175 degrees Fahrenheit.
This higher temperature will help break down the connective tissue and make the cooked meat fall-off-the-bone done and tender.
Putting water in an electric smoker
By adding water, apple juice, or a mix of both to the electric smoker’s drip pan, you can help prevent the wings from drying out during the cooking. So, make sure you add enough water, juice, or an equal mixture of the two before the smoking.
Recommended woods for smoking chicken wings
The best woods for smoking chicken and other poultry are apple, maple, and cherry. For this specific recipe for crispy smoked chicken wings, we recommend that you use apple wood. Of course, if you have any other preferred wood, you can use it too.
To soak or not to soak wood chips
While some pitmasters swear on soaking the smoker wood chips before using them, we personally prefer not to soak the wood prior to the cook. The reason is that when it has been soaked, the wood tends to produce more steam than the desired flavorful smoke.
Recommended serving size
As mentioned earlier, the average serving size per adult is 4 wings. One pound of chicken wings usually consists of about 4-5 wings. This means that you will need to plan about 1 pound of wings per person.
Of course, the serving size may vary from one person to another, so make sure you plan ahead and calculate how many adults, how many kids will be attending, as well as whether there will be other main dishes or filling side dishes at the gathering.
Our suggestion is to plan more than you will need because you can rest assured that no one will leave hungry. Plus, the chicken wing leftovers can be stored for several days or frozen for a month or so.
Add a sauce
You can toss the ready wings in any BBQ sauce of your choice. Remember to heat the sauce up before adding the hot cooked wings because the cold sauce may cause their beautiful crisp skin to soften.
One suitable sauce for this recipe is to mix a cup of heated Buffalo sauce and two tablespoons of butter. Stir the two until they are combined, but do not bring the sauce to a boil, or the sauce will separate from the butter.
The secret to crispy skin
The secret to achieving that mouthwatering crispy skin is to toss the wings in some baking powder and salt. Baking powder (not baking soda!) is the ingredient that will ensure that your wings come out of the smoker with the crispiest skin possible.
To apply the baking powder, you can toss the dried wings into a bowl of the baking powder and salt mixture or add them all to a Ziploc bag and shake it well so that all of the wings are properly covered.
How to serve the chicken wings
If you are cooking the crispy smoked chicken wings as a main dish, you can serve them along with suitable sides, such as coleslaw, potato salad, baked beans, or any other side dish of your choice.
When cooking for a party, then you can serve the crispy smoked wings along with other finger foods and add dips of your choice.
Learn how to reheat chicken wings for the best flavor, crispiness, and sauciness