These smoked chicken wings are packed with tons of spices and smoky flavor, and when tossed in a sweet brown sugar barbecue wing sauce they are some next-level chicken wings.
If you follow me on Instagram, you might know that I recently bought a smoker! I choose a Traeger Texas Elite 34, and I am totally in love with it. I had been flirting with the idea of buying a smoker for awhile, and when the annual Costco Traeger roadshow came to Omaha, I knew now was the time. Imagine the smoked meat possibilities!
So, of course, I needed to try it AS SOON AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE, and I had all of the ingredients to smoke some chicken wings! (I always have emergency wing rations, of course.) They turned out SO. GOOD.
They are smoked with a dry rub (picture of wings pre-sauce below), and then tossed in a stick, sweet barbecue wing sauce and the combination is seriously dynamite. The dry rub is super easy to throw together, and I will say that it looks like it’s going to be too much spice for ~20 wings, but trust me, it’s the perfect amount. The dry rub on any good smoked meat brings a great meal to an outstanding, excellent, amazing one, so don’t skimp out.
The skin on these smoked chicken wings stays crispy even after being sauced, but if you wanted to eat them with the sauce on the side or even just the dry rub and no sauce, that would be fine too.
These are my husbands new favorite wings and according to him the best wings he’s ever eaten (and not just the best smoked wings), and since I’m usually the chicken wing junkie who just drags him along for the ride, that’s high praise. I’ll admit that I had an inkling ahead of time that the barbecue sauce and flavors would be a hit with him.
Personally, I have made these with pecan wood and hickory and they were good both times, but I prefer the slightly stronger smoke flavor of hickory for this application.
If you want to try a different wing sauce, you may consider any of these:
I like to serve these with ranch dressing. My favorite is Hidden Valley Ranch dry mix made according to package directions, with a little sour cream and copious amounts of fresh chopped dill added.
Get the recipe below!
Smoked Sweet Barbecue Chicken Wings
For the Chicken Wings and Dry Rub
- 2 pounds chicken wing pieces flats and drumettes
- hickory wood pellets, chips, or whatever your smoker uses
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt I used Morton's
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon chipotle chili pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried mustard powder
For the Sauce
- 1/2 cup store-bought or premade barbecue sauce I like Sweet Baby Ray's Original
- 1/4 cup hot sauce I like and recommend Valentina's
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt I used Morton's
Prepare your smoker according to manufactures directions. You will need enough wood for about 2 hours of smoking. I prefer hickory for this recipe.
Preheat smoker to it's lowest setting (I used the Smoke setting on my traeger which is about 165 degrees F). Toss your wings in dry rub spices so they are completely coated.
Add wings to smoker and smoke for 30 minutes on the lowest temperature setting (or about 165 degrees F). After 30 minutes, adjust the smoker temperature to 350 degrees F and continue to smoke your chicken wings for another 50 minutes. Finally, set your smoker to 375 and smoke the wings for a final 15 minutes to crisp up the skin.
While your wings are in the last cooking step, make the sauce. Add all sauce ingredients to a small sauce pan and heat over medium, whisking until combined.
Toss your finished wings in the sauce, and serve with ranch or bleu cheese dressing.
Chicken wings are small, so if you have any hot spots in your smoker, keep them away from that area as much as possible or you will have the equivalent of chicken burnt ends.
I have a Traeger pellet smoker, which is what I tested this recipe on. The times and temperatures should be universal for all smokers, but you know your smoker best, so use your best judgement depending on your situation.
Sam, do you know I googled the Traeger Texas Elite 34 right after you mentioned it. I would love one of those to smoke your delicious recipe, how yummy!
All this makes me think is how much I need a smoker!!! Wow! Stunning!
Do you turn your wings over halfway through the cook?
I don’t turn them over, I try not to open the smoker at all during the cook so I don’t let the smoke or the heat out.
I love wings and I am learning to use my smoker right now- I’ll have to try these- they look so good!
These look so good! My hubby literally just left to pick up wings for our dinner LOL! Next time we will have to make them ourselves 🙂
Lord have mercy they look so good! I showed this to my husband and he says to me “make it” lol. He loves chicken wings! I’m going to have to bookmark this recipe for the weekend!
Oh wow, these are the most drool-worthy chicken wings I have EVER seen! That glaze just looks incredible! I am running to the store asap to buy some wings and make these 🙂
Are you smoking these from frozen or thawed wings?
I smoke them from thawed wings! I’ve never smoked starting with completely frozen wings before so I can’t say for sure how well it would work with the given times/temps. But sometimes I’ll start them when they’re not 100% thawed all the way through and they’ve been good with no adjustments!
Do you cook your wings from frozen or thawed?
I had frozen but thawed out in cold water, they turned out amazing!
Trying to smoke frozen wings doesn’t work. They need to be thawed to allow the smoke to penetrate.
These were AMAZING!!! I ended up just using a rub I had already mixed (pretty much the same spices). The sauce was SOOO good! My husband said these were hands down better than any place we have gone for wings. All I could find was frozen wings so I ended up thawing them out in cold water & pat dry before I put on the rub. Thanks for the recipe! Will be making again!
My husband and I followed this recipe exactly as presented. They were spectacular!!! Perfect rub perfect crispness and awesome sauce! My husband use to only eat drumsticks but after using this recipe he is converted to wings also. We will be smoking a double batch next time.
Um this recipe looks amazing and all but, I don’t have a smoker and I REALLY want to make these wings so what can I do?
Hi Navia! You could fry the wings instead then toss them in the dry rub right out of the fryer and then sauce. They won’t be quite the same but they’ll still be good. There’s a recipe for pub style wings on the blog, you could use that as the base.
Hi this recipe looks great and all but I don’t have a smoker. can you maybe give me something else I can use? Thanks! 🙂 😀
Hi Taylor! You could fry the wings instead then toss them in the dry rub right out of the fryer and then sauce. They won’t be quite the same but they’ll still be good. There’s a recipe for pub style wings on the blog, you could use that as the base.
Don’t have an air fryer. Thanks! 🙂 😀 🙁
Just got my Traeger Pro 34 and all set and ready for first smoke. Saw your recipe and can’t wait to taste them. Going to make them tomorrow even tho 114 out there in the shade. Appreciate all your helpful info…I used to have a Masterbuilt and felt pellet would give much better smoke and taste. I’ll let you know!