Chicken wings may not be a traditional “summer food,” but Grilled Chicken Wings sure are. Be it charcoal or gas, your backyard buddy is just one of the things you need to get the absolute crispiest skin and the most tender meat from grilled wings. Our simple, balanced dry rub guarantees they’re perfect for saucing, dipping, or enjoying as-is.
If there is one thing I cannot abide by, it’s chicken wings with soggy skin. Especially when they’re sauced. Then they’re both limp and just… wet and kinda slimy. *gag* It’s a crime against poultry.
That being said, I am well aware that it takes extra effort to get crispy skin. I love making wings in the Instant Pot because they’re so quick and easy, but even that recipe calls for a nuclear blast of broiler heat at the end to finish off the outer layer.
So what better way to ensure the perfect balance of tender meat and crispy skin than by just throwing chicken wings straight into the fire? Well, onto the fire. Rather, cooking them over an open flame. I mean, open but contained. You’re picking up what I’m putting down… Light up those grills!
Grilled chicken wings are amazing in the same way that all grilled meat is amazing, but they also have the added bonus of that perfect skin-to-meat ratio which means you get more of what you love in every bite.
But hold your horses. Before you actually just toss them into the proverbial flames, there are a few extra steps you’ll need to take to guarantee this grilled chicken wings recipe yields the best chicken wings yet!
One Trick for Extra Crispy Wings
Yes, I’m going to tell you to pat those chicken wings dry (and I’m not gonna not tell you not to use a whole dang roll of paper towels doing it), but that’s not the real trick.
Coat your chicken wings with baking powder! Well, technically, I use a mixture of baking powder and salt for a double duty dose of drying power. Baking powder not only helps draw any moisture you missed up and out of the skin, but also aids in browning for cracklin’ good crispy skin. This tip is brought to you by science.
One Trick for Extra Flavorful Wings
For denser poultry parts, marinade makes sense, but wings have a gloriously even distribution of skin and meat that doesn’t need extra help to stay tender (just the right cook time and method).
While most people head straight for the sauce, we like the extra kick of a dry rub, since the crispy skin is the star of the show when you grill chicken wings. This easy 5-ingredient dry rub for chicken wings ramps up the caramelization and lends just enough flavor to make these grilled wings tasty enough to eat without any sauce at all.
How to Grill Chicken Wings
The secret to the best Grilled Chicken Wings is all in the prep. Time and baking powder will ensure you get super crispy skin when you cook chicken wings on the grill. Dry rub adds subtle, smoky flavor that makes these grilled wings perfect for saucing or dipping.
- Pat the chicken piece dry, then arrange in casserole dish or on a baking sheet. Sprinkle the wings with kosher salt and baking powder. Chill for at least 1 hour, and up to overnight.
- When you’re ready to cook, heat a gas grill to medium (350-375°F) and clean the grates well. Be mindful of this temperature! Too high, and the skin will unpleasantly char before the meat is cooked through.
- Again, pat the chicken very dry with paper towels – for one, you want to remove most of the remaining salt and baking powder. For two, they will have weeped a ton of moisture.
- Oil the wings a bit, then coat them with dry rub.
- Arrange the wings on the grill in a single layer, clustered together, with all wings touching. Grill 20 minutes, with lid open, turning every 5 minutes. Aim for an internal temperature of 180-185°F.
- Remove from the grill, then toss with sauce or serve with dipping sauce. Enjoy right away!
- Thoroughly dry your wings before prepping. Pat with towels until there’s no visible pooling of moisture.
- Contrary to 99% of the grilling advice you’ll hear, you want to crowd the wings – this is so they both grill AND steam.
- Also contrary to most grilling advice, you should grill with the lid OPEN, not closed. A closed lid will cause too much charring on the skin.
- Watch your grill temp and adjust the flame to maintain an even heat.
How Long to Cook Grilled Chicken Wings
Just 20 minutes over direct heat – with rotations every 5 or so minutes – will get you perfectly grilled chicken wings, with tender meat and crispy skin. Do mind the temperature! Maintain a medium flame with a temperature of roughly 350°-375°F.
Charcoal vs Gas Grill
Whether you’re grilling chicken wings on a charcoal grill or a gas grill, they will require the same amount of cooking time – 20 minutes for this chicken wing recipe).
If using a charcoal grill, mind your coals! You’ll want a thin, even layer of charcoal to maintain medium heat. More coal = higher temperature. Read more about maintaining the temperature of your charcoal grill here.
How to Know When Chicken Wings are Fully Cooked
The best way to check the doneness of chicken wings on the grill is with an instant read thermometer. Once your grilled chicken wings reach 180°F, they’ll not only be ready to eat, but you’ll have super tender meat inside crispy, lightly-charred skin.
How to Store Leftover Grilled Chicken Wings
Grilled wings will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. They’re still great cold, but if you want to reheat them, spread them out on a baking sheet and place in a 350°F oven for about 15 minutes, or until warmed through.
These “naked” grilled chicken wings are flavorful as-is, but I understand that sometimes you wanna get saucy. If you’re going to toss, stick with a classic Buffalo wing with our famous Buffalo sauce or try bbq chicken wings this tangy summer strawberry bbq sauce.
Prefer to dip? Homemade ranch is a healthy favorite for dunking grilled chicken wings.
More Grill Season Favorites
- Balsamic Chicken Thighs
- Grilled Portabello Mushrooms
- Grilled Mexican Street Corn Stuffed Peppers
- Easy Bruschetta Chicken
- Grilled Veggie Kabobs
Did you try chicken wings on the grill? I’d love to know how the recipe turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below.
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- 9×13 Casserole Dish
- Glass Mixing Bowl
- 3 lb chicken wings
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Pat the chicken very dry and arrange on a platter or in a casserole dish.
- Combine the kosher salt and baking powder in a small bowl. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the chicken wings. Rub the mixture into the skin with your (clean and dry) hands. Transfer to the fridge and chill at least 1 hour, and up to overnight.
- When you’re ready to grill, heat a grill to medium (350-375°F). Scrub the grates clean, if needed.
- Combine the dry rub ingredients – brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper – in a small bowl.
- Remove the chicken from the fridge and pat very dry using paper towels. Pour the olive oil over the chicken wings, then rub into the skin. Sprinkle the chicken with the dry rub, then work into the skin on all sides.
- Arrange the wings on the grill, crowding them a bit so each wing touches its neighbor (you want them snug so they both steam and crisp). Grill 20 minutes, with the lid open, turning every 5 minutes. Aim for an internal temperature of about 180°F for very tender meat that will practically fall off the bone.
- Remove from the grill and toss with your favorite sauce, or serve with a dipping sauce on the side.