Last Updated on October 6, 2023 by Carne Diem
Method: Grill or Smoker
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Step up your game day or tailgating appetizer game with these dry rubbed chicken wings. These party wings are hit with a sweet and slightly spicy dry rub and then smoked, hot and fast, resulting in perfectly balanced and crispy chicken wings. The homemade dry rub for smoked wings perfectly complements the tender chicken and help give the wings a perfectly crispy, bite through skin.
Table of contents
Making Smoked Dry Rubbed Chicken Wings
Making these party wings with a dry rub is super easy and has the benefit of not being as messy as traditional buffalo wings. All you need to do is prepare your homemade chicken wing seasoning, season the wings, and cook the chicken wings on a grill or smoker. These dry rubbed wings can also be prepared in an oven, for those that do not want to smoke or grill them.
Prepare the BBQ dry rub for the smoked wings
To make the hot wing dry rub you will need salt, garlic powder, paprika, cumin, chili powder, turbinado sugar, black pepper, mustard powder, and cayenne pepper. We prefer sweet paprika for this recipe but smoked paprika will work well too. For the chili powder, feel free to use your favorite chili powder or mix. Our personal favorite is chipotle powder, as it adds a perfect amount of heat and smokiness to the hot wing rub.
This dry rub is perfectly balanced for smoked chicken wings and can be made in bulk, so you always have it ready for your grilled or smoked chicken.
To make the smoked chicken wing rub, mix all of the spice mix ingredients together in a bowl or spice shaker and then set aside. We like to make an extra-large batch of the homemade chicken wing rub, so we always have it ready. Store extra rub in a sealed container in a cool dry place. The rub is best if used within 3-6 months.
Cooking the Smoked Chicken Wings
To make the smoked wings on your grill or smoker heat the smoker to 400 degrees. If using a grill, set it up for indirect cooking. Chicken wings are best cooked hot and fast as this enables the skin to crisp up. Smoking at low heat can result in that dreaded rubbery skin that no one wants. If you want a little more smoke flavor, you can start at a lower temperature but will need to increase the temp at the end of the cook
Tricks to getting crispy chicken skin?
In addition to cooking the chicken at a higher temperature there are a couple of other tricks that you can use to achieve that perfectly crispy chicken skin. First, make sure the chicken wings are completely dry before applying your rub. Excess moisture can result in rubbery skin. Next, spray the wings and your grill grate with a little cooking oil. This not only helps keep the chicken from sticking but can also help crisp up the skin.
Prepare and season the chicken wings
Spray the wings with cooking spray or toss with vegetable oil, then place on a pan or cookie sheet.
Liberally season both sides of the wings with the chicken wings dry rub.
Once preheated, spray the grill grates with the cooking spray or lightly coat with vegetable oil. For this recipe we used our Cooking Steel griddle on our Gateway Drum smoker to really help crisp up the skin. If you do not have a griddle that works with your grill or smoker, you can also cook on the flat side of a GrillGrate or just directly on the grill.
Cooking the chicken wings in your oven, with a Cooking Steel, also works wonderfully for some perfectly crispy party wings, for those that do not want to use a grill or smoker. The seasoned wings can also by cooked on a well-oiled cookie sheet.
Place the chicken wings on the grill or smoker and cook for 15-17 minutes.
Spray the wings with cooking oil then flip them over and cook an additional 15-17 minutes.
At this point check the wings for doneness and crispiness. Wings are safe to eat at a temp of 165 degrees, but dark meat like wings benefits from being brought up to a temp of 185-195 degrees to fully break down all of the connective tissues.
If you did not use a griddle or feel like the skin could be crisped up a bit more, you can cook the wings over direct heat for a few minutes per side.
Serving your Smoked Dry Rubbed Chicken Wings
Serve your smoked wings while warm with ranch or blue cheese dressing or mix things up with some Authentic Aji Verde, Chimichurri Sauce or Alabama White BBQ Sauce. We think these wings are perfect served without sauce but if you wish to add a sauce to your wings, you can sauce them and toss them back on the grill for a few more minutes to set the sauce.
For more great smoked and grilled chicken recipes, be sure to check out some of our favorites:
- Pollo Asado al Carbon: Mexican Grilled Chicken
- Smoked Lebanese Chicken Shawarma
- Grilled Chicken Spiedini
- Peruvian Anticuchos de Pollo: Peruvian Chicken Skewers
- Grilled Jamaican Jerk Chicken
- Smoked Fried Chicken
Don't forget to check out some of the best Game Day and Tailgating appetizers right here:
- Buffalo Chicken Wontons
- Smoked Taco Dip
- Bacon Wrapped Halibut Cheeks
- Grilled Clams Casino
- Smoked Bacon Pimento Cheese
- Italian Style Parmesan Wings
- Smoked German Beer Cheese Sauce
- Fried Sausage Wontons
- Cast Iron Spinach Artichoke Dip
Frequently Asked Questions
While chicken wings and buffalo wings are safe to eat at a temperature of 165 degrees, they tend to cook more similar to dark meat due to the higher amount of fat and collagen. As a result, chicken wings can handle being cooked to a higher temperature and are best when cooked to 185-195 degrees.
In order to obtain that perfectly crispy chicken wing, the wings should be finished at a higher temperature, above 400 degrees. Making sure that the wings are completely dry before cooking also helps to obtain a crispy wing. Adding a small amount of baking powder to the rub may also help achieve a crispy skin.
If you want to add sauce to your smoked wings, if is best to do this the last 5 minute of cooking, after the skin has become crispy. Toss in the sauce and return to the grill, smoker, or oven for 5 minutes to set the sauce.
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Smoked Dry Rubbed Chicken Wings
- Grill or Smoker
- 2 Pounds Party Style Chicken Wings 1st and 2nd sections (flats and drumettes)
- Cooking oil spray or vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons Salt
- 2 teaspoons Garlic Powder
- 1 teaspoon Sweet Paprika
- 1 teaspoon Chili Powder we like Chipotle or Ancho, but a mix is fine
- 1 teaspoon Cumin
- 1 teaspoon Turbinado Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Black Pepper
- ½ teaspoon Mustard Powder
- ¼ teaspoon Cayenne
- Preheaqt your grill or smoker to 400 degrees and set up for indirect heat.
- Mix all of the spice mix ingredients together in a bowl.
- Spray the wings with cooking spray or toss with vegetable oil, then place on a pan or cookie sheet.
- Liberally season both sides of the wings with the BBQ rub.
- Once preheated, spray the grill grate with the cooking spray or lightly coat with vegetable oil.
- Place the chicken wings on the grill grate and cook for 15-17 minutes.
- Spray the wings with cooking oil then flip and cook an additional 15-17 minutes. Cook to an internal temperature of 185-195 degrees.
- If desired, finish over direct heat for a few minutes to further crisp up the skin.
- Serve warm with ranch or blue cheese dressing.