Crispy Game Day Chicken Wings

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No matter the season, no matter the sport, chicken wings will ALWAYS be a Game Day favorite! I have learned there are MANY ways to cook a chicken wing but nothing, NOTHING beats a smoked chicken wing. Many backyard cooks shy away from smoking wings because it seems SO difficult to get crispy, delicious skin but this recipe solves all those problems! This recipe will turn you into a Game Day Hero; just make sure you smoke enough wings for everybody at the party!


I start by buying my wings from my local membership store. They offer fresh and frozen options. If I buy them frozen, I just need to take one extra step and thaw them. To properly thaw, simply put the frozen wings on a wire rack with a baking sheet underneath it in the fridge overnight.

Once our wings are thawed, or if you bought fresh, we are ready to go! 

No one likes biting into rubbery chicken skin so begin by thoroughly patting each wing dry then applying your rub. You can go many different routes here from a simple salt and pepper rub, to salt, pepper, and garlic, to a sweet rub, or maybe something a bit different – the choice is yours! Just remember: do your best to balance the flavors at the end between your rub and your finishing sauce.

MITCH TIP: When I say “thoroughly pat each wing dry,” I mean make sure you get ALL moisture out of the wing; there shouldn’t be any “shine” to it anymore.

Now, for this specific recipe, we have fallen in love with a sweet rub that blends sugar, salt, and different peppers. Try and use your favorite sweet rub on this, too, because it balances perfectly with our sauce recipe. I like to sprinkle my rub and coat the entire wing about a half hour prior to smoking. Put your wings back in the fridge for a little bit then fire up your grill.


Your grill temp should be set to 225 to introduce as much smoke as possible to your wings. Place your wings on your grill with some slight spacing between them and keep them as centered as possible. Let them take in the smoke for an hour. 

MITCH TIP: You want to stay centered on your smoker because of the deflector shield. This shield ensures that the heat from the burn pot encompasses the grill starting at each side and then rotates down into the center. Keeping your food in the center gives you the best chance at an even cook.

After an hour, I flip the wings over so the other side of the wing can enjoy some heat. Also, at this time, increase your grill temperature to 400 degrees. We are going to start the crisping process of the wings. This should take about a half hour.

Once the half hour is up, turn each wing over to the original position for 15 more minutes.

Once 15 minutes is up, begin saucing. I like to take my bowl of sauce out by my grill and dunk each wing in the sauce so they are coated entirely. This can be a tedious process but it’s absolutely worth it. I then let them grill for another ten minutes to set the sauce.

After the 10 longest minutes of your life are up, remove the wings, serve on a platter, and let everyone enjoy!

MITCH TIP: When removing your wings from the grill, do NOT stack or pile them. If you do this, they will steam and lose their crisp! Make sure to place them side by side, spaced out, to retain all the hard work you’ve done!


For Game Day wings, I like a little kick to match my adrenaline rush of watching sports all day. It’s a simple recipe:


  • 3/4 cup of hot sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 1/2 sticks of COLD butter

Pour the hot sauce in first and simmer. Once you see a few bubbles, add the garlic powder, cayenne powder, worcestershire sauce, white vinegar, and honey then whisk them in. Once completely whisked, add the cold stick of butter to the simmering pot. Let simmer until butter is broken down enough that you can whisk it all together. Let that simmer for about 15 minutes, whisking occasionally, until it has a nice vibrant orange color and an amazing aroma to it. Remove from heat until ready to use!


  • frozen or thawed chicken wings
  • paper towel to pay wings dry
  • your favorite wing seasoning; we prefer a sweet seasoning
  • hot sauce
  • garlic powder
  • cayenne powder
  • worcestershire sauce
  • white vinegar
  • honey
  • cold stick of butter

MITCH TIP: If on keto/low carb, you can remove the honey from the recipe and double both the worcestershire sauce and white vinegar to enhance the flavor profile.


Set pellet grill to 225 degrees

Thoroughly pat thawed wings dry; until shine/moisture is gone

Liberally apply rub; salt, pepper, garlic base is preferred but use any rub you love

Smoke wings at 225 degrees for one hour; place on center of grill for most even cook

After one hour is up, flip wings and increase grill temp to 400; wait 30 minutes

After a half hour goes by, flip your wings again; wait 15 minutes

Once the 15 minutes is up, put wings in your homemade sauce and place back on grill for 10 final minutes

Remove after 10 more minutes, plate, and serve!

Don’t forget napkins – this recipe is a thing of beauty and of utter messiness!


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