BBQ Grilled Chicken Wings

AppetizerGrillChicken Wing

These Amazing BBQ chicken wings are slow-grilled and slathered in a classic Buffalo wing sauce. Make plenty because everyone will want seconds!

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Featured in 11 Wing Recipes to Make Your Super Bowl Soar

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 BBQ wings as we possibly could.

Why Tuesday? That was the night when each wing cost only 13 cents.

The Best BBQ Wings of My Life

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 BBQ 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 Wings - how to grill chicken wings

How Many Grilled Chicken Wings Can you Eat?

Because Barry’s wings were barbecued (or roasted, 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.

Don’t eat 100 BBQ Wings, but Make Plenty

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.

This grilled chicken wings recipe is as close to Big Barry’s BBQ 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?

From the editors of Simply Recipes

What Chicken Wings to Buy

Buy whole chicken wings for this recipe: wings with the tip, the flat, and the drumette. Whole wings are cheaper than pre-separated wings, and breaking them down yourself is easy!

How break Down Chicken Wings

Here's how to break down those wings once you're back home:

  1. Wiggle the joint where the wing tip connects to the flat. With a chef's knife or kitchen shears, cut right through the middle of this joint.
  2. Do the same with the joint connecting the flat and the drumette. Cut right down the middle to separate.

READ MORE: How to Break Down Chicken Wings

Use the drumettes and the flats for this recipe (or any chicken wing recipe). Save the wing tips in your freezer for the next time you make chicken stock.

Make Your Own Sauce

We're making our own sauce for this recipe! It's a simple mix of butter, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and sugar. 

This sauce comes together in minutes, but it's fine to use store-bought sauce if you want to save some time.

Trust Us: Grill Low and Slow

This is not a quick-cooking wing recipe; grill these wings low and slow over indirect heat on  your grill. This will take at least an hour -- longer is even better if you can stand to wait!

You might think all this grilling will result in tough, overcooked wings, but never fear. Your reward for all time at the grill meat so tender that it practically falls off the bone, with every bite infused with smoky, spicy flavor.

PRO PARTY PLANNING TIP! If you're throwing a party, get these started before your guests arrive so you can great them with the first wings off the grill.

Love Chicken Wings? Try These Recipes!

Updated May 18, 2020 : We spiffed up this post to make it sparkle. No changes to the original recipe.

BBQ Grilled Chicken 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 BBQ wings sauce, but you could use a store-bought one if you are pressed for time.

In this grilled chicken wings 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 tablespoons vegetable oil

For the sauce:

  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons or 1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 12 tablespoons 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. Do not let it boil.

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.

2 Cut whole wings into parts: If you have whole chicken wings, you'll want to cut them into parts. (Here's How to Break Down Chicken Wings.) 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. Then use your knife or shears to separate the drumettes from the flats (the mid-joint wings).

One whole chicken wing on a cutting board Separate the chicken wing tip by cutting through the jointSeparate the drumette from the flat on the chicken wing by cutting through the joint Three parts of the chicken wings: the tip, the flat, and the drumette

3 Heat the grill: Prepare a gas or charcoal grill for low, indirect cooking.

4 Grill the wings: 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.

5 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.

6 Serve immediately.

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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

37 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Floranet

    Outstanding work! Enjoyed your writing!!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  2. Nicole

    Nice.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  3. Wagick

    I’ve been looking for Big Barry’s wing recipe for years, can’t wait to try this! I’m old enough to remember when they were 10 cents lol. Point of interest the real Big Barry, who owned the restaurants, was a contestant on America’s Got Talent a few seasons ago.

  4. Kimberly

    Will be making this as many of my Friday nights in my twenties was spent at Big Barry’s! They also had the best salad with their own house dressing served in a wood bowl. Do you rennet the cauldrons the wing sauce was served in and the gold mining pans? Thank you for the memories ❤️

  5. 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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