Wings Lovers! This is the Only Grilled Chicken Wings Recipe You’ll Ever Need 🔥
I’m admittedly a bit of a snob when it comes to wings. Our old apartment in Milwaukee was around the corner from a handful of amazing chicken wing restaurants (in case you didn’t know, wings are a pretty big deal in MKE!). (Our absolute favorites were the grilled & extra crispy “Stein-Style” wings at The Knick. They’re off the menu now, but you can still special-request them as “Knick-style” wings if you have the inside scoop. 😏)
Milwaukee grilled wings totally converted me into a lifetime grilled chicken wings lover. Fried chicken wings are always incredible, of course. But there’s something about the charred bits & smoky grilled flavor of crispy grilled chicken wings that’s especially irresistible!
Of course I had to start making my own! This grilled chicken wings recipe has been a PWWB reader favorite ever since we published it way back in 2017. It’s written for super easy, juicy, & crispy grilled buffalo wings but can be easily modified to make any flavor you love. The versatility of this grilled wings recipe is one of the reasons it’s the absolute best. If you’re stumbling upon this recipe for the first time…man, oh man, are you in for a major treat!
Grilled Chicken Wings Recipe Highlights
This is BEST grilled chicken wings recipe out there because it’s (click for shortcuts within this post!)…
- CRISPY YET JUICY. A flavorful beer brine & grilling with 2 zones of heat creates juicy & tender grilled chicken wings with crispy & charred skin. Seriously, so perfect!
- EASIER THAN TAKEOUT. This grilled wings recipe calls for just 3 key ingredients & the wings grill up in about 15-20 minutes.
- SERIOUSLY VERSATILE. These buffalo-style grilled chicken wings are easily modified to create other flavors you love. Switch up your grilled chicken wings with marinade or dry rub – the options are endless!
Absolutely perfect, every single time. ♡ Read on to learn more about how to make the Best-Ever Grilled Chicken Wings, or jump straight to the recipe & get grilling!
The Best Grilled Buffalo Wings Call For the Simplest Ingredients
At the base of this grilled chicken wings recipe are 3 key ingredients, plus a few other pantry staples to make a hot & spicy buffalo sauce. Grilled buffalo wings are our go-to, but you can easily use any dry rub or wing marinade you love most – we’ve provided a ton of grilled wing variations below!
Note: Full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.
To make this grilled Buffalo wings recipe, you’ll need…
- Chicken wings – I recommend using fresh chicken wings, but frozen ones work well too if that’s what you have on hand (chicken wings are a staple in our freezer!). Be sure to transfer the frozen wings to the refrigerator to let them thaw overnight.
- Beer – A super simple beer brine is my secret to juicy grilled chicken wings! We like to use a beer that’s big & flavorful, like an IPA, porter, or stout. The beer flavor ends up being pretty mild on the grilled wings – just enough to know that it’s there!
- Salt – Essential for a brine! Salt draws out the water from the chicken & replaces it with the more flavorful beer – osmosis magic! 🪄
- Grilled buffalo wings sauce – Keep these grilled wings buffalo-style by tossing them in a mix of Frank’s RedHot, unsalted butter, garlic powder, & smoked paprika.
How to Brine Chicken Wings for Grilling (Using Beer! 🍻)
If you’ve ever grilled chicken before then you know how easy it is to end up with totally dried-out chicken meat. It’s the worst, especially when grilling chicken wings! A simple brine is the first step to avoiding dry & tough grilled wings.
Since chicken is pretty lean, it always benefits from brine or a marinade. Using an easy beer brine infuses the wings with rich & flavorful moisture to keep the chicken nice & juicy. The beer also adds a rich, earthy flavor that’s pretty hard to beat (even if you don’t love the flavor of beer!). Beer brine is a 2 minute step that makes a world of a difference in your grilled chicken wings. Don’t skip it!
Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.
Choosing the right beer for the beer brine. ⇢ For best results, I recommend a big, hoppy beer like an IPA, porter, or stout. You can also use a lighter beer like a pilsner or ale, but I’ve found their flavors don’t add as much of a wow-factor to the chicken. Even if you’re not a big IPA lover or beer drinker (I am not!), the earthy flavor of hoppy beer is pretty perfect with grilled chicken wings. If you prefer not to use beer, buttermilk is a great alternative.
Brining chicken wings couldn’t be easier. It sounds fancy, but think of it just like marinating!
- How to brine chicken wings for grilling? ⇢ Place your wings in a large airtight container or resealable bag, add a good amount of kosher salt, top it all off with beer, & let it do its thing in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- How long to brine chicken wings? ⇢ Time is what gives this grilled chicken wings recipe extra depth of flavor, so soak the wings as long as possible (up to 3 days). If you only have 15 minutes before dinner needs to get on the grill, you can still do a quick brine for juiciness. Just know that it will lack a bit in flavor. So plan ahead! Beer brine is one of the easiest meal preps ever.
Grilling Chicken Wings 101: Get the Crispiest Grilled Wings With 2-Zone Grilling
Ever wonder how to make grilled wings crispy yet totally juicy? The secret is 2-zone grilling! Grilling with both indirect heat & direct heat creates perfectly crispy, charred, juicy, & tender wings. Not only is the 2-zone grilling the best method for grilling wings, it also couldn’t be easier! First, grill the wings over indirect heat so they cook through without burning. Then, finish them over a hot direct heat to turn them beautifully crispy & charred. Super simple!
How to make grilled chicken wings with 2-zone grilling:
Light the grill. Prepare your grill for 2-zone grilling, creating a zone of direct high heat & a zone of indirect heat. If using a gas grill, it’s as simple as lighting half of its burners to their highest setting. If using a charcoal grill, simply distribute all the lit charcoal to one side of the grill. The side of the grill directly over the heat source is the direct heat zone, while the other side is the indirect heat zone. Learn more! ⇢ Learn all about How to Light a Grill & 2-Zone Grilling.
Cook the wings with indirect heat. The secret to not drying out your grilled chicken wings is cooking them with gentle heat. To do so, place the brined chicken wings over the indirect heat source, as close to the fire as possible without being over the direct heat. Then close the lid to let all the hot air circulate. Grill the wings for about 7-10 minutes on each side. Grilling Tip! ⇢ When you flip the wings, rearrange them so the wings closest to the flame are now furthest from the flame & vice versa. This helps ensure everything grills up evenly.
Finish the buffalo wings over direct heat. Once cooked, the wings still need a little bit of love to get that totally crispy & charred skin we’re after here. Move the wings over the open flame in the direct heat zone to finish them off. Grill for a few minutes per side to let the skin char without overcooking the chicken. Grilled buffalo wings tip! ⇢ This is also the moment to slather the grilled chicken wings with plenty of buffalo sauce for the best hot wing flavor!
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Go-To Dips & Toppings for Serving Grilled Buffalo Wings
Juicy & charred grilled buffalo wings are perfect as-is, right off the grill. But if you have the time, whipping up a few simple special touches will take your grilled chicken wings to a whole new level.
The Best Grilled Chicken Wing Dip: Herby Yogurt Ranch
While you can definitely buy a bottle of ranch if it’s more convenient, this quick homemade version is super easy to make & one of my all-time faves.
Herby Yogurt Ranch! ⇢ Simply combine Greek yogurt with a splash of apple cider vinegar & generous amounts of finely chopped garlic, dill, & fresh chives or green onion. Whisk in some water until it’s the right dipping consistency & season with S&P to taste.
I love the herby coolness it adds to the grilled chicken wings, but it pairs perfectly with anything buffalo-flavored – buffalo chicken bowls, buffalo chicken sliders, you name it! More details in the Recipe Notes, below!
Other Grilled Chicken Wing Toppings
Extra toppings never hurt! Grilled buffalo wings practically beg for a sprinkle of crumbled blue cheese, chives, or green onions. I also love adding a few lemon wedges & sliced carrots & celery on the side for people to enjoy as they please. Add a bowl of dip & you have the ultimate grilled chicken wings platter!
Easy Grilled Wings Variations
I LOVE classic grilled Buffalo wings! But, the true beauty of this grilled chicken wings recipe is it’s a great base for pretty much any flavored grilled wings you can imagine. Try a different grilled chicken wings marinade or season the wings with a dry rub for endless options! Some ideas to get you started…
Feel Free to Customize!
BBQ Grilled Wings. My go-to BBQ dry rub is perfect on any type of chicken, especially wings! Brine as directed, then season your wings with dry rub before grilling & toss the grilled wings in your favorite BBQ sauce after they’re cooked. For dry rubbed grilled chicken wings, just skip the sauce!
Grilled Lemon Pepper Wings. Buffalo wings aside, the most iconic chicken wings! Brine as directed, then season your wings with your favorite lemon pepper seasoning before grilling. For an extra-special touch, toss lemon wedges directly on the grill to serve your lemon pepper grilled wings with charred lemon juice. So good!
Teriyaki Grilled Wings. Skip the brine & soak the wings in Mom’s legendary teriyaki marinade! Take it an extra step & double the marinade to baste the wings as they grill for a caramelized & crisp finish. Be sure to serve alongside Hawaiian mac salad!
Greek Chicken Wings. I’m obsessed with this bold & zesty lemony Greek grilled wings recipe. Serve with creamy whipped feta for dipping. SO good!
Tuscan-Inspired Grilled Wings. Infuse some classic lemon, garlic, & fresh rosemary into your grilled chicken wings with this easy Tuscan marinade. Tuscany is pretty famous for being Italy’s grill-loving, meat-loving region, so it’s perfect for grilled wings!
Whisky-Lovers Grilled Wings. Skip the brine & soak your chicken wings in a tangy, rich & sweet brown sugar bourbon marinade. The sweetness from the brown sugar will help create even more amazing caramelized char on the grill – so good!
I can’t wait for you to try these Best-Ever Grilled Chicken Wings! If you do give them a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations! Happy grilling! ♡
More Recipes Like This:
Must-Have Grilling Recipes
Grilled chicken wings are one of my all-time favorite foods – I fell in love with them when one of our Milwaukee apartments was just around the corner from a neighborhood restaurant that served the BEST crispy char-grilled wings. When we moved out of the neighborhood & out of the city, we craved them constantly, so my quest to figuring out how the to grill chicken wings perfectly began.
It all comes down to 2 secrets:
- Beer brine. Soaking the chicken wings in a beer brine infuses them with rich, earthy flavor & helps them stay super juicy & tender on the grill. (Don’t love beer? No problem. Check the Recipe Notes, below, for some easy swaps.)
- 2-zone grilling. Perfect grilled wings cook up 2 phases with 2 different heat zones. Gentle indirect heat slowly cooks the wings evenly & prevents them from drying out or burning – they stay super juicy. Finishing them over direct hot heat creates delicious char & makes them super crispy. (Never grilled with the 2-zone method before? No worries! Learn all about 2-zone grilling here.)
This particular recipe is written for grilled buffalo chicken wings (my go-to buffalo sauce is included below!), but it’s a great base recipe to make whatever wings you love – BBQ dry rubbed, lemon pepper, teriyaki style wings, & more. Be sure to check out the blog post, above, for plenty of inspiration & a few of my favorite variations. Happy grilling!
- 3 pounds fresh chicken wing sections
- 16 ounces beer of choice (see Recipe Notes)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 3/4 cup Frank’s RedHot Original
- 4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
- 1 heaping teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 heaping teaspoon smoked paprika
- for serving, as desired: crumbled blue cheese, freshly snipped chives or green onions, blue cheese dressing or ranch dressing (see Recipe Notes for our go-to wing dip!), sliced carrots, sliced celery, etc.
- Brine the chicken wings in beer: Place the chicken wings in a large airtight container or resealable plastic bag. Pour the beer over top & season with the kosher salt. Toss to combine well, ensuring all the of the chicken wings are submerged in the brine. Cover/seal & transfer to the refrigerator to brine for at least 12 hours or up to 3 days. The longer you’re able to brine, the juicier & more flavorful your grilled buffalo chicken wings will be.
- Grill prep: About 30 minutes before you’re ready to grill, pull the wings out of the refrigerator to come to room temperature for more even grilling. Prepare your grill for indirect cooking, creating a zone of direct high heat & a second zone of indirect heat. If using a gas grill, begin preheating at least 15 minutes before grilling. If using charcoal, light the charcoal at least 30 minutes prior to grilling. (To learn more about zone grilling, be sure to check out this post.) This is also a great time to mix up the buffalo sauce – simply add the Frank’s RedHot Original, melted butter, garlic powder, & smoked paprika to a small bowl & mix to combine well.
- Grill the wings with indirect heat: Once the grill is hot, place the brined chicken wings on the indirect side of the grill, shaking off & discarding any excess beer brine. Arrange the wings as close to the fire as possible without being over the direct heat. Close the grill lid & cook the wings with indirect heat for 7-10 minutes. Flip the wings, rearranging them so the wings furthest from the direct heat source in the first half of the cook are closest to the heat during the second half, & vice versa. Close the grill lid & cook the wings with indirect heat for 7-10 minutes more. If your wing sections are smaller, they’ll grill up in closer to 7 minutes per side, if larger it’ll take closer to 10 minutes per side – the goal is to cook the wings almost entirely with indirect heat.
- Char the wings over direct heat: Arrange the cooked wings over the direct heat to finish them off with a good crispy char, about 2 minutes per side or until as charred as desired, carefully brushing with the prepared buffalo sauce as they cook.
- Serve: Transfer the grilled buffalo wings to a serving platter, drizzling any remaining buffalo sauce over top. As desired, finish with freshly snipped chives or green onions & crumbled blue cheese. Serve immediately with blue cheese dressing or ranch dressing. Enjoy!
- Ingredient Notes:
- Beer: Even if you don’t love the flavor of beer or you’re not typically a beer drinker (I am not!), a beer brine adds rich, earthy flavor to chicken that’s pretty hard to beat. I’ve tested these grilled wings using all kinds of beer. Any beer works well, but for the best results, use a big &/or hoppy beer such as an IPA, porter, or stout. If you’d prefer not to use beer, buttermilk is an awesome alternative – it makes the chicken extra juicy & tender. If you do not have buttermilk on hand, you can quickly DIY it by adding 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice to 1 cup of milk. You’ll need 2 cups of buttermilk for this grilled chicken wing brine.
- Go-to grilled chicken wing dip – herby yogurt ranch: To a small bowl, add 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (whole milk or 2% is best), 1 finely chopped clove of garlic, 3-4 tablespoons finely chopped chives or green onions, 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill, 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar, & 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Mix to combine well, drizzling in a few tablespoons of water as needed to reach desired consistency.
- 10-Minute Meal Prep: Nearly all of the active prep work for these grilled chicken wings come from brining the wings. Up to 3 days before you’d like to grill the wings, brine the chicken wings in beer according to Step 1 of Recipe Directions, above. At dinnertime, all you have to do is fire up the grill – easy! (<10 minutes active prep)
Keywords: grilled buffalo wings, grilled chicken wings, grilling chicken wings, crispy, easy, simple, beer brine, low-carb
Recipe, Food Styling, & Hero Shots by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Process Photography by Rachel Cook, Half Acre House.
Ready to Hit the Grill?
If this all still feels new to you, I encourage you to head over to Grilling 101, a compilation of tips & tricks for all of the grilling basics – everything from how to light your grill to how to clean your grill.
All this talk about grilling have you feelin’ ready to hit the grill? Me too! Be sure to check out this post for my 15 go-to marinades you need this grilling season. At our house, a good marinade is at the heart of grilling season. I’m positive these marinades will be on repeat at your house this summer! For even more grilled goodness, be sure to check out all of our Grilling & Smoking recipes.
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