How Do I Barbecue Chicken Wings?

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  • Written By: Christian Petersen
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 05 February 2020
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Chicken wings have become increasingly popular since the introduction of the "buffalo wing" in the 1960s. This started a trend that has resulted in chicken wings, which were once regarded as barely suitable for human consumption, becoming as sought after and expensive as other parts of the chicken, including chicken breasts. Most often, chicken wings are deep fried, usually with breading. A good alternative is to barbecue chicken wings instead, which is healthier and can be just as delicious in its own way. To barbecue chicken wings, all that is really necessary is a grill and some tongs.

Barbecue is a cooking technique in which foods are cooked on a grill over heat, traditionally provided by coals of real wood or charcoal, although gas grills have become very popular. While many assume that it is barbecue sauce that defines a food as barbecue, it is, in fact, the cooking method. It is the popularity of certain sauces with such foods that has caused the name to be so closely associated with sauce, and indeed, many barbecued foods are enhanced by a good barbecue sauce. The terms grilling and barbecuing, however, can be used interchangeably. To barbecue chicken wings, you need a grill, but even a grate over a bed of coals from a campfire is sufficient.


Little preparation is required to barbecue chicken wings besides preparing a heat source. Good hot coals, charcoal, or a gas grill set to medium heat are all good choices. The chicken wings can be put on the grill plain or they can be marinated or coated with a spice rub as desired. Many good marinades or spice rubs for chicken are commercially available at your local supermarket or available in recipes online.

While most chicken wings in restaurants come as wing sections, it is best to leave them whole when you barbecue chicken wings in order to retain more of the juices which enhance flavor. The very tip can be removed if desired. Grill the wings over medium heat, turning frequently, and watching for flare-ups from dripping grease.

Wings cook fairly quickly and require only about 15 minutes of grilling. Chicken should be cooked until it reaches an internal temperature of at least 165°F (75°C), which can be determined by inserting a meat thermometer into the center of the thickest part of the chicken wing or by cooking until the meat next to the bone in the thickest part of the wing has become completely opaque. Sauce may be applied during the second half of the cooking time and should be brushed on with a bristle brush.



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