Smoked hot wings are one of my favorite things to eat and I almost always ask my wife to make up some of her famous hot wings on my birthday.
I like them made the traditional way – fried up and covered in hot sauce but since I'm constantly looking for new ways to use the smoker, adding some smoke just sort of made sense to me;-)
I've essentially taken something that is already great and made it a whole lot better with some smoke 😉
Purchasing the Meat
This part is not rocket science.. I try to find meat that is labeled as “MINIMALLY PROCESSED” but other than that, it's chicken wings and there just aren't a lot of options where I'm from.
Be sure to buy the full sized wings, not the little drumettes. You can buy the smaller ones if you like but I think the full sized wings work best for smoking and they actually look like wings instead of little chicken legs.
Get the Recipes for Jeff’s Rub and Sauce
My rub is not only great on ribs and all pork, but it is absolutely amazing on poultry, beef, fish, seafood and even vegetables like corn!
I promise you’ll love my dry rub/seasoning recipe and my barbecue sauce recipe or you don’t pay!
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To prepare the wings for smoking, I like to put some of my rub recipe on them. As many of you know, my rub does not have a lot of salt so it works really well as a layer of flavor even if you are planning to add some sauce or something later. The easiest way to add the rub to the chicken wings is to use a jumbo sized zip-loc bag. This one is 2.5 gallon that I found at Wal-mart.
Feel free to use the store-brand of cooking oil, pour about 1/4 cup or so over the top of the chicken wings in the bag. (I used canola oil). Use more oil if you need it to make sure all of the chicken is coated with a thin layer of oil so the rub will stick.
My rub works best when you put it into a shaker with large holes at the top. Perfect for shaking onto ribs, chicken, or whatever.
Sprinkle on about 1/4 cup of my rub recipe to start with then toss and roll the wings around in the bag until the wings are well coated. Depending on how many wings you are making, you may need more rub. Feel free to use as much as you like, but I wouldn't go to crazy with it since you do want to minimize burning plus we are just adding a layer of flavor. We will also be adding sauce later for another flavor layer. Once the rub is on all of the wings, I pour them out into a pan for easy transport to the smoker.
Get the Smoker Ready
This is the variable that just depends on what you have available. I opted to use my WSM 22.5 for these wings but the hot wings work very well in a wood smoker as well as gas or electric so use what you have available and it will work just fine.
No matter what type of smoker you are using, do what is required to get it up to about 250 degrees. I cook very few things on the smoker at more than 225-230 degrees but chicken is one of those things that does not benefit so much from the low heat. The only benefit of the low heat is that it takes it a lot longer to cook which gives it more time in the smoke. This equates to more smoke flavor and that is always a good thing in my opinion.
What kind of wood you decide to use is up to you.. I used a stick of pecan but you could do very well using mesquite, cherry, apple, oak, or hickory.
For the WSM, I filled the charcoal chamber about 1/3 full of charcoal and placed a piece of fire starter on the very top. I let this burn with all vents full open for about 20 minutes before proceeding.
I then, placed the water pan into it's place and filled it with 1 gallon of warm water. I placed the bottom grate into it's place right over the water pan and then put the lid on the smoker with the top vent full open.
I planned to use the bottom grate as well as the top grate for cooking so no use putting the top grate on just yet.
Once the smoker has reached about 220, I start adjusting the vents a little to allow it to settle in nicely at about 250 degrees. This is something that can only be learned by practice. For mine, all 3 vents are open about 1/4 of the way to hold 250 for the amount of charcoal that I used.
Smoking the Hot Wings
I placed about 15 of the hot wings on the bottom grate, skin side up. Then I added the top grate and put the rest of the wings on the top grate.
After about 1 hour and 15 minutes the chicken wings have reached 165 degrees and they are technically done.
Use a digital probe meat thermometer to tell you when the wings are done to a safe temperature (165 degrees F)
Here's where it gets crazy.. you have a decision to make: sauce them and eat them now or take a little extra time to roll them in flour and do a fry on them then sauce them.
Here is how to do the 2 different processes:
Sauce them and Eat Them as they Are
Once the wings are done cooking/smoking, make some of my special wing sauce using the recipe below:
Jeff's Special Wing Sauce
- 1 cup of Jeff's barbecue sauce recipe
- 1/2 cup of Franks RedHot Original Sauce
- 1 stick of melted butter
Note: if you like them a little hotter you can add more of Franks Original sauce to taste. This has a little kick but it may be too mild for those of you who like it really spicy.
Instructions: Add the ingredients together and mix well.
Brush this mixture on each wing liberally and let them continue cooking for about 20 minutes to help caramelize the sauce a little. At this point they are ready to eat. Serve immediately with blue cheese and celery sticks. I like to have a little of the sauce on hand in case folks want more.
Presto! Ready to Eat.
Method #2 (My personal favorite)
Rolled in Flour, Fried and Tossed in Sauce
Once the wings are finished cooking/smoking, bring then into the house quickly. You should already have a deep heavy frying pan or skillet filled up with about 1.5 – 2 inches of oil and preheated for about 10 minutes on medium-low to medium heat. (The chicken is already done so the only goal is to fry the breading on the outside and crisp the skin a little.)
Dip the wings in milk, then roll in the flour mixture* then immediately into the hot oil for about 2 to 3 minutes per side or until they are golden brown. Fry in batches and place into a pan or baking sheet in preheated oven (warm or 200 degrees) to keep them warm until all of the wings are finished.
*flour mixture is 2 cups of all purpose flour, 1 cup of cornmeal, 1 TBS of salt, 1 TBS of black pepper.
Once the wings are golden brown, place them in a large bowl and pour the Jeff's Special Wing Sauce from the recipe above in method #1 over them. Toss the wings to coat.
Serve immediately with celery and blue cheese dressing.
Quick Recap (Preparation and Smoking)
- Place wings in large zip loc bag
- Pour 1/4 cup of canola oil over wings and toss to coat
- Pour 1/4 – 1/2 cup of Jeff's rub recipe over wings and toss to coat
- Pour wings into pan for easy transport to smoker
- Prepare smoker for cooking/smoking at 250 degrees for about 1 to 1.5 hours
- Place wings directly on grate skin side up
- Wings are finished cooking once they reach 165 degrees in thickest part.
Using Method #1 (Smoke, Brush on sauce and Eat)
- Make Jeff's Wing Sauce per the recipe above
- Brush on sauce and continue to cook for about 20 minutes
- Serve wings with celery and blue cheese dressing
Using Method #2 (Smoke, Roll in Flour mixture, Fry, Toss in sauce and Eat)
- Preheat oven to warm setting or 200 degrees
- Put a baking sheet on center rack once oven is warm. (ready for wings)
- Preheat 1.5 to 2 inches of oil in large skillet for 10 min over med-low to med heat
- Dip wings in milk
- Roll in flour mixture (2 cup AP flour, 1 cup corn meal, 1 TBS each of salt/pepper)
- Fry in batches for 2-3 minutes per side or until golden brown
- Place fried wings in oven on baking sheet to keep warm until all wings are finished
- Make a double/triple batch of Jeff's Wing Sauce depending on how much you need
- Place wings from oven into large bowl once all are finished
- Pour Jeff's Wing Sauce over wings and toss to coat
- Serve with celery and blue cheese dressing
Notes: If you decide to use method #1 and the skin is not crispy enough for you, place them in under the broiler for a few minutes. Watch them very carefully so they don't burn. Alternatively you could broil them for a few minutes to crisp the skin then brush on the sauce in the oven and broil them for another minute or so to quick caramelize the sauce.
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