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Crispy Smoked Chicken Wings: Finger Lickin’ Good!

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Moist and tender on the inside with perfect brown and crispy skin on the outside, Crispy Smoked Chicken Wings make for some pretty amazing Game Day food! Brining overnight gives these wings a delicious flavor and keeps the meat just the way we like it — juicy and finger-lickin’ good!

Whether you’re a smoking pro or just beginning to experiment with that new electric smoker you got for Christmas, this smoked chicken wings recipe is a real crowd-pleaser that comes out perfect every time.

a pile of smoked chicken wings on a white plate

Crispy Smoked Chicken Wings

If your group of friends is anything like my group of friends, they can really put away some wings — especially when you’re talking about meaty, juicy, and like I said earlier, finger-lickin’ good WANGS!

That’s something to keep in mind when you’re planning to smoke chicken wings for a group of wing lovers. Luckily, this recipe can easily be adjusted for the number of people you plan to serve.

Here’s how to figure out how many chicken wings to buy. One pound of chicken wings usually includes 4 to 5 wings. Break each wing down at the joints and you’ll end up with three parts, the drumette, the wingette (flat), and the wing tip.

Sometimes we leave the flat and wing tip as one piece. That means one pound of chicken wings will yield 8 to 12 pieces depending on the way you prefer to cut your wings. How many wings can you eat?

tongs lifting a smoked chicken wing out of the electric smoker

Smoking chicken wings FAQs

How long does it take?

Chicken wings should smoke for 1-1/2 to 2 hours at 250 degrees, or until they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees. An instant read digital thermometer is my go-to method for checking that the wings are done.

Do you need to put water in an electric smoker?

Adding water or apple juice (or half water, half apple juice) to the drip pan in the electric smoker helps keep the chicken wings moist and tender as they cook, so don’t skip it.

What is the best wood for smoking wings?

Apple, cherry, or maple are always good wood choices when smoking poultry, but I’d have to say my favorite wood to use with this chicken wing recipe is apple.

Do you soak wood chips before smoking?

Personally, we do not soak wood chips before adding them to the electric smoker. Soaking the wood chips is fine, but we found that only seems to create steam instead of the nice wood smoke and flavor we desired.

How many wings are in a pound?

When you’re planning how many chicken wings you need for the umber of people who will be served, remember this:

Typically, there are 4 to 5 chicken wings per pound and the recommended serving size is 4 wings. That means you’ll need a pound of chicken wings for each person.

How do you make them crispy?

After trying several different smoking methods, I’ve found that dusting the chicken wings with baking powder is the secret to crispy skin. First, brine the wings overnight, then dry them thoroughly with paper towels. Add the chicken wings to a gallon-size ziplock bag and shake with baking powder and then smoke. You’ll get crispy skins every time!

Serving suggestions

If you’re serving chicken wings at a party, then you may want to serve them with other finger foods and party dips (see my Game Day recipe list further down in this post).

However, if you’re serving chicken wings as a meal, I suggest the same sides you might serve at a picnic or barbecue, like Cole Slaw, Baked Beans, and Potato Salad. The good thing is you’ll have plenty of time to make sides while the wings are in the smoker!

a plate of smoked chicken wings with carrots and celery in the background

To make this recipe, you may need…

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A good set of poultry shears make breaking down whole chicken wings really easy. I really love these OXO poultry shears for cutting the wings safely at the joints. For me, it’s much safer and easier than using a big knife!

What else is new? Check out my Life, Love, and Good Food Store on Amazon! Thanks so much for being a part of our community!

More game day recipes!

Smoked wings recipe

Remember to always preheat the electric smoker ahead of time. I like to set the smoker temperature 25 degrees above the cooking temperature to help boost the initial cooking process and because some heat will be lost when you open the door to load the wings. After the wings are on the smoker racks, adjust the heat per the recipe’s cooking temperature.

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Yield: 3 servings

Crispy Smoked Chicken Wings

a plate of smoked chicken wings with carrots and celery in the background

Moist and tender on the inside with perfect brown and crispy skin on the outside, Crispy Smoked Chicken Wings make for some pretty amazing Game Day food!

Prep Time 1 day
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 day 1 hour 30 minutes

Ingredients

Brine

  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 4 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon Trader Joe Onion Salt

Wings

  • 3 pounds chicken wings
  • 2-1/2 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

Brining the Wings

  1. Pat the chicken wings completely dry with paper towels. Break down the chicken wings by cutting them at the joints with poultry shears. Add the wings to a pan and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  2. Add water, salt, brown sugar, garlic, and dried spices to a large tub or bowl and stir until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Submerge the chicken wings in the brine and return to the refrigerator for 24 hours, or overnight.

Smoking the Wings

  1. Remove the chicken wings from the refrigerator. Drain and discard the brine and pat the chicken wings very dry with paper towels.
  2. Place the wings on a wire rack (inside a sheet pan) and refrigerate another hour, or until fully dry.
  3. Preheat the electric smoker to 275 degrees. Add apple chips to the chip loading tray. Pour a 1-to-1 mix of apple juice and water to the drip pan.
  4. Place the chicken wings in a gallon-size resealable plastic bag and sprinkle with the baking powder and black pepper. Shake the bag until the chicken wings are well coated. 
  5. Place the wings on the smoker racks and close the door. Reduce the temperature to 250 degrees.
  6. Smoke for 1-1/2 hours, turning once after 45 minutes. The chicken wings are done when an instant read digital thermometer reads 165 degrees when inserted into the thickest part of the meat.

Notes

Remember to always preheat the electric smoker ahead of time. I like to set the smoker temperature 25 degrees above the cooking temperature to help boost the initial cooking process and because some heat will be lost when you open the door to load the wings. After the wings are on the smoker racks, adjust the heat per the recipe's cooking temperature.

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ABOUT SHEILA
Sheila Thigpen, author of Easy Chicken Cookbook and The 5-Ingredient Fresh and Easy Cookbook, is a recipe developer, food photographer, and food writer. She spent 20+ years as a business manager in the publishing industry before she retired in 2018 to focus on her passions — cooking, photography, and writing. Living near the beautiful Smoky Mountains, Sheila and her husband have two adult daughters and two fine sons-in-law, are active in their church, love to travel, and have a precious little granddaughter who has stolen their hearts. Follow Sheila on YouTubePinterestInstagramFacebook, and Twitter!

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Sandra Newsome

Thursday 16th of July 2020

My chicken skin came out rubbery. What did I do wrong?

Sheila Thigpen

Thursday 16th of July 2020

Sandra, I'm not sure if this is the problem, but you may want to make sure the temperature of your smoker is reading accurately. Thanks!

David

Tuesday 24th of March 2020

Your recipe states to use baking soda and I want to make certain as we use baking powder in our recipe. There’s a big difference. The baking powder does a wonderful job of extracting moisture and creates the crispy skin your looking for. I’m uncertain about the taste of baking soda on wings. Your feedback would be appreciated

Sheila Thigpen

Wednesday 25th of March 2020

Hi, David. You are absolutely right. Although my recipe card listed baking powder as it should, the paragraph in the text mentioned soda which was a mistake. Thanks for pointing this out, it's been corrected!

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