Barbecued Buffalo Wings

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.

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

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).

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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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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!!!

  • 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!

  • Matthew Hyner

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

  • marianne

    Hmmm,Tobasco has a new Buffalo sauce

  • 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.

  • Christine

    Fantastic recipe! These were phenomenal, thank you.

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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!

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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…

  • 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!

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • Rob

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

    Good point. Thanks! ~Hank

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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