Barbecued Buffalo Wings

Planning a gathering for a Fourth of July BBQ? Try these spicy hot wings from Hank. Watch out though, they’re good; if you’re not careful you might eat the whole batch! ~Elise

Many years ago, when I was a cross country runner in college on Long Island, our team had a Tuesday tradition: After an especially hard workout, we would go to a place called Big Barry’s in Lake Grove and eat as many buffalo wings as we possibly could. Why Tuesday? That was night when each wing cost only 13 cents.

Now I’ve eaten thousands of Buffalo wings before and since, but none were like Big Barry’s. I swear they had to be either roasted or grilled, because Barry’s wings were crisp and charred and very much not like those nasty, pallid fried things you get in most of the country. Amazing what a slight difference in cooking method can do for a humble dish.

I loved these wings. Loved them. So much so that one day, after an unusually tough workout (and not a few beers), I decided to pick up the gauntlet that Barry’s threw down at every customer who walked in the door: Eat enough wings to get your name on the Plaque of Honor, and your whole table eats free. No problemo, I thought.

Because Barry’s wings were roasted (or barbecued, I was never sure), and they could be ordered with sauce on the side, I had routinely eaten dozens at a sitting. I started with 25 wings, which went down easy. Another few Pabst Blue Ribbons and I was on to my second 25. Again, easy-peasy.

It was the final 25 that got me. Mind you, as a cross country runner I weighed maybe 140 pounds. The last dude who got his name on the plaque was a fireman from Middle Island who was 6’7″ and weighed four bills, easy. I hit a wall when I got to 60 wings. At the urging of my teammates (screaming, more like, because they didn’t want to pay their bar tab), I managed to choked down another 7 wings before I gave up.

Did I make it? Not even close, the waitress said, smiling sweetly. “Good try, though, especially since you’re so skinny, but you’d need to eat another 40 wings to get on the board.” The thought of eating another 40 wings made me want to hurl, so we paid up and left as soon as we could.

These wings are as close to Big Barry’s wings as I’ve been able to make. They go down real easy, so make more than you think you’ll need. But I’d advise stopping before you hit 100, OK?

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Barbecued Buffalo Wings Recipe

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 1-12, depending on your appetite.

We like to make our own wing sauce, but you could use a store-bought one if you are pressed for time.

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds chicken wings
  • Salt
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil

Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup (8 Tbsp or 1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 12 Tbsp hot sauce (Crystal, Texas Pete, Tabasco, etc)
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Method

1 To make the sauce, mix all of the ingredients together in a small pot set over low heat and stir constantly until the butter melts. Once the butter melts, whisk the sauce vigorously off the heat and set aside. It should remain liquid throughout the cooking process. If it starts to solidify, heat it up just enough to melt it, whisking all the time. You don't want this sauce to boil.

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2 Using a sturdy chef's knife or poultry shears, cut off the wing tips and either discard or reserve (we usually freeze) for making chicken stock. Use the knife or sheers to separate the drumettes from the flats (the mid-joint wings).

3 Toss the wings with the vegetable oil and the salt, and arrange in one layer on the grill set over low heat. If you are using charcoal or wood, it will be very difficult to do this, so set your fire on one side of the grill and arrange the wings on the other side, away from the direct heat. You want them to cook slowly, with little or no sizzle. Cover the grill and cook like this for 30 minutes.

4 Turn the wings and paint with the Buffalo wing sauce. Close the grill and cook for another 30 minutes. Repeat the process, until the wings are done to your liking, this time painting the wings every 15 minutes or so. Make sure you have a little leftover sauce to toss the wings with at the end.

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Links:

Asian Chicken Wings - from White on Rice Couple
Duck Buffalo Wings - from Hunter Angler Gardener Cook
Ginger Lime Buffalo Wings - from No Recipes
Red chile wings from Lisa, the Homesick Texan

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45 Comments

  1. Hillary

    Yum, those look delicious!

  2. Mitch

    There is a vast difference between Tabasco and the milder hot sauces such as Crystal and Texas Pete which would radically alter the flavor.

    I’ve made this recipe with both and they are both excellent. It actually does not radically alter the flavor, surprisingly enough, and while Tabasco is a little hotter than Crystal, in my view they are interchangeable — but you can use whatever you prefer. ~Hank

  3. nia

    “Repeat the process, until the wings are done to your liking, this time painting the wings every 15 minutes or so.”

    I don’t understand this statement. It sounds like you are saying the chicken is like a great steak, you can eat it when it’s medium, and that isn’t true. You have to cook chicken all the way through otherwise you run the risk of making yourself or someone else very sick.

    Other than that they look and sound delicious :-)

    What I mean is that the wings will be done in about an hour or so, but people like them at different stages: barely done, kinda charred, and really slow-cooked, almost smoked. ~Hank

  4. Jill

    Mmmm grilled wings. I’m so glad you posted this, I forgot how good grilled wings could be! This recipe looks fantastic.

  5. Chris

    Big Barrys! They had a piano that played itself and the best steak fries.

    I make wings like this too, often on a big grate over a wood fire for a large crowd. Instead of painting them all with sauce, after 30 min I shovel them all into a huge bowl and mix them around in sauce, then dump them back out on the grill and keep moving them around with a couple spatulas until the sauce adds a little char.

  6. TopBanana

    They Look DE-LICIOUS! And so simple too! I think I’m going to give myself a day and try to hit the 100 mark!! :)

  7. Rob

    Just FYI 12 Tablespoons equals 3/4 of a cup. No need to fill a spoon 12 times.

    Good point. Thanks! ~Hank

  8. the other Mitch

    Tabasco is definitely hotter than Franks, and a more one dimensional flavor profile–but Hank is right in that when adding the other spices and ingredients the difference between using Tabasco and Franks would be slight. Authentic Buffalo wing sauce is pretty simple–equal parts Franks hot sauce and melted margarine (or butter). Toss out of the deep fryer, serve with celery and blue cheese dip.

    But insisting on authenticity with wings is silly–I like em fried, grilled, baked, barbecued, Asian style, teriyaki, you name it.

  9. Jim Price

    Could this recipe be made using boneless wings?

    Honestly, I’ve never cooked with boneless chicken wings, but I don’t see why not. Let us know how it goes! ~Hank

  10. Susan

    I think you’ve hit upon answer to what I think has been wrong with Buffalo Wings. Many recipes leave them with flabby skin and a slippery, almost greasy, texure. The skin needs to render some of it’s fat and crisp up a little and the sauce needs to caramelize a little; grilling does both. They look perfect, Hank. Thanks for this.

  11. Shannon

    Hmmmm…grill-less condo dweller. To roast, would you say 425 oven for the same amount of time? Or should I just break out the grill pan?

    You can slow roast your wings in a 250 degree oven, or use Elise’s recipe for broiled Buffalo wings. Her sauce is a little different from mine, but they’re both good. ~Hank

  12. Katrina

    Love this! What a perfect way to enjoy the American favorite at home.

  13. Jane

    I just added “chicken wings” to my shopping list for tomorrow.

  14. Mike

    So just to be sure I have this straight, you cook for 30 minutes, flip, 30 minutes more, then cook for another hour, flipping every 15 minutes, for a total of 2 hours on the grill? but in your comment below, you suggest it’s an hour total..

    Nope. Cook for 30 minutes, flip, then cook at least 30 minutes more, turning twice during that time. They will be cooked through in 1 hour, but you can continue cooking the wings for another 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how well done you want your wings. I like them cooked for 90 minutes total. ~Hank

  15. Jim

    I like grilled wings much more than fried ones. They seem to stay juicier that way. I usually grill my wings (I use the frozen party wings that are pre-separated) and then put the sauce and cooked wings in a tupperware bowl and shake until sopping wet.

    Then dunk them (and celery sticks) into blue cheese dressing and drink beer.

  16. jbailin

    I’ve been searching around for a good wings recipe for quite sometime and these look absolutely delicious. I also like your easy to follow along recipe. Currently working on our 3rd cookbook and trying to get inspired. thanks…

  17. Mike

    Thanks for the clarification! I’m looking forward to trying this. I love chicken wings

  18. james samy

    This is the first time I am here and I am attracted to your site. It has great stuff and a lot information for anyone. The barbecued buffalo wings makes me hungry.

    Thank you for sharing and I made it here after reading Rosalind Gardner “Affiliate Blogger Pro” writeup. Nice knowing you Elsie

  19. CopyKat Recipes

    I have made these like this before, but I have never added the sugar to the sauce. I am a major fan of Franks Red Hot Sauce. I look forward to trying your sauce on my big green egg!

  20. Chris @ TheKeenanCookBook

    I’m a huge fan of buffalo wings. I like the idea of grilling over frying. Makes me feel less guilty about eating so many (no way I could do 100!)

  21. honey k

    I made this last night but used a whole chicken cut in 8 pieces. We put it on our smoker for 2 hours and then raised the heat and brushed the sauce on every 15 min till cooked. Used Louisiana hot sauce in the recipe. Unbelievable!

  22. Jen

    Hank, what about marinating the wings in the sauce prior to grilling? Will that work? Adding this to the 4th of July menu… thanks!

    I am sure it would work, only remember that the butter will solidify in the fridge. Maybe marinate at room temperature for a hour or so. Or use oil instead of butter and do it in the fridge. ~Hank

  23. LeeAnn

    What temperature would you consider “low”? We have a charcoal grill with a remote temp sensor. 250?

    Yep. 250 degrees is a good temp to shoot for, although even as high as 300 would still be slower than high-heat grilling. The goal is to slow-roast the wings and let some of the fat render out. ~Hank

  24. Jennifer

    Sounds like my husband’s wings. Except he skims the butter solids off, and usually makes it the night before. Next day, he seasons the wings with granulated garlic, onion powder, lemon pepper, and for spicy ones, Lousiana Cajun seasoning from Sam’s. He grills them until done, then tosses them in the sauce. For the little kids (who often can’t handle spicy), he just seasons the wings with the garlic, onion, and lemon pepper. We have kids asking him when he can make his “lemon pepper wings” again, not to mention the grown-ups!

  25. Matthew Hyner

    I will definatly give these a try, have never tried BBQ’ing hot wings before, but obviously sounds like a healthier alternative to the traditional methood which being from Long Island myself has me now hearing the Croxley Ales Screamer in my head. “10Cent Wings Man…10CENT WINGS!!!”

  26. Jean Marie

    I have a bottle of Crystal hot sauce just waiting to adorn these wings. I’ve cooked wings in the oven many times, but the grill will do good things to them.

  27. TSAC

    Personally, I like grilled chicken wings for dinner parties or everyday, but the best chicken wings I’ve ever had were made by my grandmother- they were stir-fried in a pan and marinated in a special sauce containing a surprising ingredient; a few tablespoons of coca cola! Yum…

  28. Allison

    Elise, you need to come to Buffalo to try some chicken wings! Anytime wings are referred to as “Buffalo wings” you know you’re not getting the real deal. I’ll show you around!

    I’ve had the wings at the Anchor Bar, and they are awesome! Definitely different from this recipe, but mine are almost as good! ~Hank

  29. Maria

    Whew! These were sooooo goo! Made them with franks and they were superb, thanks so much for the recipe Hank! I’m going to try them again this weekend and tweak the recipe a little bit I’ll let you know how it turns out.

  30. Christine

    @Jen – re: marinating the wings; we do this prior to grilling them and then make a little sauce to dip in afterward. Our marinade is generally a good amount of hot sauce (we like Frank’s over those listed above – or Sriracha if we’re feeling a more Asian feel) a TB or so of oil, a couple cloves of garlic, smashed with the side of a knife but whole for easy removal, pepper and a sprinkle of salt.

  31. Anne Penney

    How much is a “stick” of butter? I’m an Aussie and we measure butter & margarine in terms of grams. A stick is something that grows on a tree.

    One stick of butter is 1/2 cup, about 112 grams. ~Elise

  32. Tracy

    This is the first recipe that’s I’ve tried from this site. It turned out great! I will be making this again for the 4th!

  33. Ruby

    I don’t have a grill or bbq cooker…just an old gas oven. How can these be cooked to almost the same effect in an oven. They sound so easy and delicious! Thanks!

    I’d cook them on a sheet pan in a 250-275 degree oven. Should work fine. ~Hank

  34. Jane

    We’re making these today. My husband is “all in” for the wing sauce, but I’m wondering what other sauce might be good, too. I like “buffalo” wing flavor, but not as much as he does! Maybe a honey hot sauce? I will experiment and report back…

    =D

  35. Christine

    Fantastic recipe! These were phenomenal, thank you.

  36. Michael

    I tried these yesterday with a blue cheese yogurt dipping sauce. The wings were awesome. I just wish I had taken your advise and made more than I thought I needed. They were gone way too quick.

  37. KimH

    Yumm… Im doing this one soon too! Thanks & cheers! :D

  38. marianne

    Hmmm,Tobasco has a new Buffalo sauce

  39. Matthew Hyner

    I made these last night, Very good. Best healthy-ish wings I’ve had so far.

  40. Christine

    Oh my those were so dang good I made ‘em twice…. i used some chipotle tabasco and WOW! im sold on this recipe :) my mouth is watering just thinking about them!

  41. Antonette

    OMG…they were a hit! The sauce was a little too hot for some of my family members, but they were so good. Cooking them on the grill with indirect heat is the secret. I couldn’t find my basting brush so I just threw all the wings into the sauce gave a good stir and then put them back on the grill for a few minutes. Poured the extra sauce over the wings once they came off the grill. Delicious!!!

  42. Janet

    Made these Sunday for an appetizer for my family. We all wished I had made more! I had tried grilling wings years ago and didn’t like them; don’t remember why. I don’t think my husband will let me make wings any other way now. I used a combination of hot sauces, a couple of tablespoons of Tabasco, a couple of tablespoons of Crystal and the rest Frank’s Red Hot and cooked them for about an hour and a half. Thank you for a great recipe!

  43. Kathleen

    Elise and Hank you are two amazing chefs! I DON’T EVEN LIKE buffalo wings. I made them over the weekend for my husband, and after trying one to make sure the skin wasn’t ‘rubbery’ (as he calls it,) I was hooked! It’s a good thing I made a double batch as you suggested, because between just the two of us, I am embarassed to admit, we ate them all!
    I need to rephrase my prior statement: I LOVE these buffalo wings!

  44. Eva

    This was sooo good. As you say the cooking time varied for me using a simple charcoal grill. I will be making this again and again. I love your recipes.

  45. David

    Tired this recipe for my sons HS Grad party. Everyone loved them from young to old. Many comments best wings ever had… We usually get wings from J Timothy’s- ranked second in US- so that’s pretty good. Used Franks Hot Sauce, left out salt in sauce. I was surprised they came out nice and succulent, I thought :60-:90 might create over-cooked dried out wings. This recipe and technique is a true keeper. Can’t wait for the next tail gate! I was told I Could open up a wing store with these wings,

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