I have had these honey barbecue smoked chicken wings on my brain for several weeks and decided to not only make a big batch but, to also share them with you. They are brined in buttermilk to make them amazingly tender, marinated in Jeff's original rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub) for amazing flavor and then finished with my very own sweet and spicy honey barbecue sauce (recipe below)
Place a single layer of the wings in a disposable pan
Drizzle with olive or vegetable oil and brush it on to coat all sides thoroughly.
Sprinkle a generous amount of Jeff's original rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub) onto the wings then flip them over and apply rub to the other side as well.
Let the rub “settle in” and when it starts getting that wet look, place the wings in a ziptop bag and place them in the fridge for 2 hours.
This marinates the wings and gives them a ton of extra flavor!
After marinating the wings for 2 hours with Jeff's original rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub), it is time to give the chicken some extra flavor and tenderness. Buttermilk is known by many chefs to be a great tenderizer for poultry and it does absolute wonders on these smoked chicken wings.
The first step is to make the brine which consists of adding ¼ cup of kosher salt to 1 quart of buttermilk. Obviously if you are doing more than about 2 lbs of wings, you'll need to multiply the recipe accordingly.
Pour the quart of buttermilk into a pitcher and add in ¼ cup of salt. Stir for about 20 seconds to make sure the salt is dissolved.
The buttermilk brine is now ready to use.
Pour the brine into the bag with the marinated chicken making sure that all of the chicken is submerged in the brine.
Place the bag of chicken into the fridge for another 2 hours to allow the buttermilk to tenderize the chicken while the salt in the buttermilk draws some of the liquid into the meat to help juice it up.
After 2 hours of brining, remove the chicken wings from the fridge and pour them into a disposable aluminum pan for seasoning.
The wings do NOT need to be rinsed off. The buttermilk and rub together adds a lot of flavor and because my rub is low on salt, the salt in the brining process is perfectly fine.
You will want to add more of the Jeff's original rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub) to the chicken wings. Start by placing the wings in a single layer and reapplying the rub just like you did in the beginning.
This may seem like overkill but testing says it's not. Trust me!
Add Jeff's original rub to the top side..
Flip all of the wings over and rub the other side as well..
Leave the wings sitting for a few minutes while you get the smoker ready!
These smoked chicken wings are so easy and quick to make that you can do them indirect on the grill, or in an electric, charcoal, propane or wood smoker with excellent results.
Set up your smoker for cooking indirectly at about 250°F if possible. Lower temperatures will work if your smoker will not get up to 250°F as long as you know that it will take them a little longer to reach their finish temperature.
Note: Most smokers are designed to cook with indirect heat meaning the heat moves around the meat rather than directly onto the meat from below. An example of direct heat would be meat sitting on a grate with a burner directly below.
The higher temperature helps to get them done a little faster and because chicken handles higher temperatures very well.
I recommend using hickory on these or even mesquite if you want to. The short time in the smoker means you have limited time to get that smoke flavor applied and a bolder wood flavor works really well.
Place the chicken wings directly on the grate or you can use a rack like I did to make it easy to transport them to and from the smoker.
Lately I've been using a pan with a rack to aid in cleanup. Here's the ones I use now.
You can expect the chicken wings to reach 165-170°F in about 1 hour but feel free to take them on up to about 185°F to help them tenderize even more. Be sure to use a good quality instant read thermometer such as the Thermapen to test the temperature and make sure all of them are perfectly and safely done.
Remember that it is absolutely impossible to ensure these wings are cooked to a safe temperature without a thermometer. I recommend purchasing a high quality thermometer— you, you family and your friends are worth it.
Just before the wings are finished cooking, turn on the broiler in your oven so it's ready to caramelize the sauce just as soon as they are finished in the smoker.
You will also need to get the sauce ready by mixing 2 parts Jeff's barbecue sauce (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled sauce) with 1 part honey.
To make 1 cup of the honey barbecue sauce, mix 2/3 cup of Jeff's barbecue sauce with 1/3 cup of honey.
Bring the finished wings into the house and brush the sauce onto the top of the chicken wings as generously as you dare.
Place them under the broiler for about a minute or until the sauce starts to bubble furiously (WATCH THEM CAREFULLY).
Remove them, flip them over, sauce the bottom side and broil that side for about a minute once again.
This is a quick process and SO worth it.
To answer the obvious question: yes you can certainly do this on a hot grill but, in my opinion, the broiler is a little more predictable.
Holler, “done!” and watch them evaporate from before your eyes 😉