a method & recipe for how to make the perfect grilled buffalo chicken wings. these grilled wings are perfectly crispy & have the best charred buffalo flavor, but they stay juicy from a beer brine. served with a creamy cool feta ranch, grilled wings are perfect for an easy summer dinner when you’re having friends over for a summer party, or for game day fun!
it’s my new favorite thing in the whole wide world & i think we need to make it a thing this last month of summer.
can you get down with that?!?
if you’ve been following pwwb for a while, you know that food traditions are so important to me. whether it’s a sunday pizza date night at red wagon with chris, a girls’ weekend run to bogart’s with my mom, a cozy friday night in with cocktails & a cheese board, or a little bit of brunch mischief with some bloody marys with friends.
these little traditions, to me, are what food & life are all about. gathering with loved ones over amazing, no-brainer food. there’s nothing better.
lately, chris & i have fallen into the most deliciously comfortable thursday night routine (with emphasis on delicious). he plays in a work golf league for a few hours after work & i spend this alone time either working out or taking pbr for a brisk walk around the lake near where we live. when i get home, i grill up a batch of perfectly grilled buffalo chicken wings. i serve them on a big platter with a homemade creamy feta ranch & we watch 2 episodes of the wire on our big cozy sofa before we head to bed.
it’s kind of the best, i’m not going to lie.
plus, grilled buffalo chicken wings are pretty much my favorite food ever.
i’m definitely a major snob when it comes to wings. of course i love a good fried wing, but i hate dealing with the mess of frying at home. plus, it never hurts to lighten things up a little bit. but baked wings are always just only okay. they never get super crispy & crunchy the way fried wings do, which leaves so much to be desired.
but grilled wings?! super crispy with charred bits & smoky flavor imparted from the grill…grilled buffalo chicken wings are where it’s at!
grilling wings properly takes a little bit of practice. but guess what. it’s not a problem because i’ve done all the practice for you. & guys? it’s SO easy.
let’s chat about everything you need to know about how to grill the most beautifully charred perfect grilled buffalo chicken wings.
1. the brine.
the best part of good chicken wings, aside from their crispy crust, is how juicy they are. but if you’ve ever grilled chicken, you know just how easy it is to end up with chicken that’s totally dried out & tough. & when it comes to wings, dry + tough is pretty much the worst combination ever.
a simple brine is the first step to avoiding dry & tough wings. brining wings couldn’t be easier – just think of it as marinating: place your wings in a large ziplock bag, add in 1 tablespoon of salt, top it off with a beer, & let it sit in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
it’s literally a 2 minute step that makes a world of difference in your grilled buffalo chicken wings. the salt draws out the water content of the chicken & replaces it with the more flavorful beer.
when it comes to beer, we like to use a beer that’s big, flavorful, & borderline stinky, like an ipa or a porter. i’ve tried this beer brine with lighter beers, like a pilsner or a lighter ale, but their flavors just doesn’t impart themselves into the chicken the way the flavors of bigger beers do.
even after the beer brine with a bigger beer, the beer flavor of the wings is still pretty mild – but it’s just enough to know that it’s there. that’s what we’re after here: a slight hint of beer flavor to pair beautifully with the buffalo sauce.
2. the grill.
so here’s the deal: the key to perfect grilled buffalo chicken wings (or any other flavor wings for that matter!) is really freakin’ hot indirect heat. if you grill them entirely over open flame, the outsides burn before the insides cook through.
fire up half of your grill on high heat, & once the it’s preheated (it should be HOT – like 500-600 degrees!), arrange the wings on the grates on the opposite side of the grill. cook them for 7 minutes before flipping them & rearranging them so the wings closest to the flame are furthest to the flame & vice versa for the next 7 minutes of cooking.
for example, in the photo shown above, you can see the open flame from the grill in the bottom half of the photo. the burners are not lit in other half of the grill shown in the top half of the photo, where the wings are sitting. the wings sit like this for 7 minutes, at which time they need to be flipped in 2 ways. first, the side of the wing facing the camera is flipped to instead be in contact with the grill. second, the wings furthest from the heat source (so at the top of this photo) swap places with the ones closest to the flame (the ones at the bottom of the photo).
the indirect heat from the flames on the other side of the grill will circulate & surround the wings, gently cooking them completely through before they’re thrown over the flame for a last minute quick char…which brings us to the next step!
3. the char.
once the wings are cooked completely through (14 minutes of indirect heat, with a flip halfway through), they still need a little bit of love to get that totally crispy, charred skin that we want out of any perfectly grilled buffalo chicken wing.
this is when we throw them over the open flame. leave them over direct flame for 2 minutes per side, which is just long enough to let the skin take on some char without overcooking the chicken.
4. the sauce.
aside from the beer brine & the combination of direct, the last step to really killer grilled buffalo chicken wings is gettin’ em nice & saucy.
unlike fried wings, which can take to just a quick toss in buffalo sauce because the deep fry develops a great crispy crust, grilled wings need a little bit of extra help when it comes to getting the sauce to adhere to the wings.
the solve for that couldn’t be easier – you just need to brush the wings with sauce throughout their time on the grill.
i like to sauce my wings 2 times per side while they’re on indirect heat & once more per side while they’re over direct flame, so 6 times in total.
the result? perfectly grilled buffalo chicken wings.
(every single time!)
so…tell me! what are your food traditions?! have you ever grilled buffalo chicken wings? have a show you’re bingeing with boo thang? let me know in the comments below…i’d obviously LOVE to chat! xx
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- 3 pounds chicken wing sections
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 12-oz bottle dark, strong beer, such as IPA
- 1 cup Frank's buffalo sauce
- Place the wing sections into a large, sturdy resealable plastic bag. Top with the salt and beer. Rest in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Preheat half of the burners on your grill on the highest heat setting. If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal and create a heat station on one side of the grill. The grill should be HOT - 500-600 degrees.
- Place the chicken wing sections on the grates over the side of the grill opposite the heat source.
- Brush the wings with two coats of Frank's buffalo sauce and close the grill lid, allowing wings to cook covered over indirect heat for 7 minutes before flipping the wings and rearranging them so the wings furthest from the direct heat source in the first half are closest to the heat source during the second half of the cook, and vice versa.
- Brush the wings again with 2 coats of buffalo sauce and continue to cook for 7 more minutes.
- Arrange the wings over direct heat to give them a nice char. Brush the wings with 2 coats of buffalo sauce and grill for 2 minutes, before flipping them and repeating.
- In a small bowl, combine 1 C greek yogurt, 4 oz crumbled feta, the zest and juice of 1 lemon, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 T dried dill, 1 tsp dried red chili flakes, and 1 T olive oil. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.