Barbecued Buffalo Wings

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

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.

BBQ Buffalo Wings

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?

Barbecued Buffalo Wings Recipe

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  • 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.

In this recipe we are using a grill to mimic the low and slow cooking of a barbecue. If the temp is too high, the wings will cook more quickly than indicated here. We are trying to achieve a low cooking temperature so that the wings cook slowly.

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 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 the sauce to boil.

2 Cut whole wings into parts: If you have whole chicken wings, you'll want to cut them into parts. 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.

bbq-buffalo-wings-method-1 bbq-buffalo-wings-method-2

Use the knife or shears to separate the drumettes from the flats (the mid-joint wings).

bbq-buffalo-wings-method-3 bbq-buffalo-wings-method-4

3 Grill over low, indirect heat: Toss the wings with the vegetable oil and the salt, and arrange in one layer on the grill set over indirect 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 Paint wings with sauce, continue to grill low and slow: 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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Hank Shaw

A former restaurant cook and journalist, Hank Shaw is the author of three wild game cookbooks as well as the James Beard Award-winning wild foods website Hunter Angler Gardener Cook. His latest cookbook is Buck, Buck, Moose, a guide to working with venison. He hunts, fishes, forages and cooks near Sacramento, CA.

More from Hank

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

BBQ Buffalo Wings

Showing 4 of 33 Comments

  • 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,

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!!!

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