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.
At our house, you get your favorite meal on your birthday.. but I digress!
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 ;-)
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 1.5 hours
- Smoker Temp: 250°F (121°C)
- Meat Finish Temp: 175°F (79°C)
- Recommended Wood: Pecan
- About 35 full-sized chicken wings (about 6 lbs)
- ¼ cup vegetable or canola oil
- ¼ cup Jeff's original rub
- Jeff's barbecue sauce
If possible, I try to find chicken with one or more of the following labels:
- Minimally processed
- Air chilled
These are good things.. not just marketing terms.
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.
To prepare the wings for smoking, I like to put Jeff's original rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub) 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 the 2.5 gallon size.
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.
Sprinkle on about 1/4 cup of Jeff's original rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub) 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 too crazy with it since you want to minimize burning. Besides, we are just adding a layer of flavor and 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.
This is the variable that just depends on what you have available. I opted to use my Weber Smoky Mountain (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.
If you happen to have a pellet smoker, here's 9 of my best tips.
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 had reached about 220°F (104°C), I started adjusting the vents a little to allow it to ease on up to my target temperature of 250°F (121°C). 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 my set temperature for the amount of charcoal that I used.
I placed about 15 of the hot wings on the bottom grate. Then I added the top grate and put the rest of the wings on the top grate.
After about 1 hour and 30 minutes the chicken wings had reached 175°F (79°C) and were perfectly done.
Use a digital probe meat thermometer to tell you when the wings are done for best results.
Once you remove them from the smoker, you have a big decision to make:
- Sauce them and eat them now
- Roll them in flour and do a fry on them and THEN sauce them
I recommend option 2 but I'll leave that entirely up to you ;-)
Before we get ahead of ourselves..
You're gonna want to try this wing sauce..it's super tasty and it's easy to make.
Jeff's Special Wing Sauce
(of course you don't have to use my barbecue sauce if you have another favorite.. I'm just biased)
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.
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.