Today we are making chicken wings in the smoker. One of the challenges when smoking chicken wings is keeping them from drying out and from preventing the skin from getting too “crispy”.
There are 3 simple steps for making moist, juicy wings in your smoker.
- Brine them the night before
- Don’t use a rub with sugar
- Set up your smoker properly
Step 1. Brine Your Wings
As mentioned in some of our other “how to” posts (see How to Smoke Chicken Breasts) a brine is used to marinate your chicken before cooking and keeps your chicken moist (and adds flavor) while you are smoking. It doesn’t have to be complicated and for these wings I use about 1/2 cup sea salt, 1/2 cup brown sugar and about 3/4 gallon of water. A brine works by hydrating cells of the chicken muscle tissue before cooking and thereby allowing the cells to hold the water during the cooking process. Simply put, the saltwater brine permeates the chicken and helps keep it moist!
Step 2. Don’t use a rub with sugar
The smoking process is at lower temperatures and therefore requires more time. Many rubs have a high content of sugar. The sugar tends to get hard and crunchy during the longer cook time while smoking. As a result you can end up with a very crunchy skin as opposed to a moist, tender skin.
Step 3. Set up your smoker properly
There are two aspects to setting up your smoker properly. First, make sure the water bowl in your smoker is full. This will ensure you have moisture inside the smoker during the smoking process for keeping the wings moist.
The second aspect of setting up your smoker is smoking at a higher temperature than you would for beef or pork roast. Chicken wings are lean, so you need to complete the smoking process quicker to prevent dryness. Smoke your wings at 250 degrees.
The Smoking Process
You will need to smoke the wings approximately 2 hours until they reach 165 Degrees. About 70 minutes into the process, apply your sauce. For these wings, I am using Honey Badger Honey Habanero BBQ Sauce Cobra Strength.
This sauce is all natural, preservative free, gluten and MSG free. For those who don’t appreciate a lot of heat, the habanero is mild in this sauce. The primary ingredients include tomato paste, sugar, honey and less than 2% of habanero pepper. We rate Honey Badger Cobra Strength at 3 of 10 on heat. This is really a great choice to add a little spice and still be appealing to a large group of guests.
For the complete, detailed step-by-process for How to Smoke Chicken Wings, see our video below.
Follow our 3 simple steps and you are on your way to making great chicken wings in your smoker every time!