We’re big fans of spicy food, and have always been big fans of Buffalo wings. However, traditional Buffalo wings, the kind you get in a bar, are deep fried, and fried food really disagrees with me, not to mention being bad for you. With that in mind, I set out to recreate the spicy flavor and crispiness of traditional wings, while making them on the grill.
I’ve tried these a few times, and have changed up the recipe to see what works best. I debated whether the spice rub was really necessary, given the spiciness of the sauce, but was told that the flavor was ‘deeper’ with the rub included. I would advise using it, though it isn’t 100% necessary. You can also vary the spiciness depending on the ingredients you add to the sauce. For the batch I made recently, I just added some black pepper. This was a bit too hot for a few guests we served, but they are self-admitted wimps when it comes to spicy food. If you like it spicier, you can substitute some cayenne pepper for the black pepper, or simmer some habaneros or hot peppers with the sauce to give it an extra kick.
Note that I made these in our ceramic smoker, the Big Green Egg, using a high heat indirect cooking method. This keeps the chicken nice and juicy and gives the wings a great smoky flavor that is a great compliment to the spicy sauce. You could probably get good results by grilling these direct on a gas or charcoal grill too. I’d cook them at a medium-high heat (400-450 degrees Fahrenheit) for 5-7 minutes per side if doing them direct.
Grilled Buffalo Wings (makes 3 dozen, which is exactly how many fit on the grate of my large Big Green Egg. Approx. Cost Per Serving $0.60))
3 dozen chicken wing parts. Note that this would be 18 whole chicken wings. I buy mine from Costco, where 36 whole wings come separated into packs of 6. These freeze easily, so you can always have some on hand.
Spice Rub. You can use your favorite spice rub for chicken here. Try and use something that matches or compliments the peppery flavor of the sauce. I used the Dinosaur BBQ Cajun rub, since I happened to have some handy.
2 1/4 cups Franks Red Hot Sauce. You could probably use another Louisiana-style hot sauce, but this is supposedly the ‘authentic’ Buffalo sauce
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons paprika
2 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons butter
Pepper to taste
- Big Green Egg, or other grill / smoker
- Large bowl
1) Prepare the wings. If you are using whole wings, cut off the wing tip and discard. Separate the drumstick from the upper part of the wing. Coat with your spice rub of choice, and let the rub sit for at least 1 hour.
2) Make the sauce. Begin with a base of Frank’s Red Hot Sauce. Add the spices and butter to the pan, and allow to simmer while the wings are cooking. If you are using the slow cooking method I describe below, you can make the sauce while the wings are cooking.
3) Set up your grill for cooking. On my large Big Green Egg, I set up for indirect cooking, using my plate setter legs up, with a drip pan half-filled with water sitting in the plate setter. This is important. I tried this once with an empty drip pan, and got a lot of smoke from the drippings in the pan, which can negatively affect the flavor of the food.
4) Add your favorite smoking wood to the fire – I like apple wood for poultry. Stabilize the dome temperature around 450 degrees Fahrenheit and put the wings on the grill. 36 wings should just fit on the main grate of a LBGE.
5) Cook for 45-50 minutes. This will allow enough time to impart a nice smoky flavor to the wings, and the higher than normal smoking temperature crisps the wings up nicely. In the Egg, the chicken will stay nice and moist. I can’t vouch for other smokers or grills using this method.
6) Remove the wings from the grill and place into a large bowl. Pour the sauce over the wings, and toss to coat the wings evenly. Serve immediately. If you like, you can serve bar-style with a side of blue cheese or ranch dressing and some celery stalks.