December 8, 2022

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Smoked Chicken Wings • Just One Cookbook

Take your wings to the next level with these Smoked Chicken Wings! They are cooked to perfection in the Traeger pellet grill so every bite is crispy, juicy, and unbelievably flavorful. Here, I show you how to season the wings two ways—with salt and pepper and with my Spicy Soy Glaze. Enjoy the tasty smoky flavor and shattering crispy skin!

A bamboo basket containing smoked salt and pepper chicken wings.

Chicken wings are classic food. They are finger-licking good—be it on the grill, oven-baked, or deep-fried in hot oil, but some wings are better than others. If you’re looking to up your game, you need to try these Smoked Chicken Wings!

Ever since we invested in a Traeger pellet grill, my husband has been experimenting with different cuts of meat and discovered that wings taste incredibly amazing when smoked! The wings come out with a crispy exterior while retaining perfect juiciness within, and the heavenly smoky flavor makes everything so much better. You won’t want to stop eating!

Today’s recipe is a smoker version of our family’s favorite Teba Shio (Salted Chicken Wing). In addition to the salt and black pepper seasoning, we also shared a spicy soy glaze that has an amazing kick. If you have a smoker or planning on getting one, go forth and make these wings.

Why You Should Smoke Chicken Wings

  • Super crispy! Once you tried these wings, you may not go back to regular oven wings.
  • Easy and less cleaning. Outdoor cooking is great. No smoke smell or heat in the house. And the cleaning is a lot simpler.
  • Unbelievably easy! The wings require only a short marinading time and simple seasonings. Cooking them in the smoker is straightforward and easy. We love it as one of our lazy meals, especially on perfect outdoor cooking days.
A bamboo basket containing smoked salt and pepper chicken wings.

Two Seasonings: Salt & Pepper and Spicy Soy Glaze

Salt and Pepper Smoked Chicken Wings are our go-to flavor because our whole family really enjoys it very much. It’s the exactly same recipe for Teba Shio (Salted Chicken Wing), but instead of broiling in the oven, we cook in the smoker. Broiling in the oven emits smoke but outdoor smoking has no such issue.

Smoked Chicken Wings with Spicy Soy Glaze are lightly salted and the smoked wings are coated with a savory glaze for the final touch. This slightly sweet, spicy, and salty glaze is phenomenal.

These flavors are a fun and tasty change to the usual BBQ sauce, buffalo sauce, dry rub, ranch, and blue cheese dressing for smoked wings.

A blue ceramic bowl containing Smoked Chicken Wings with Sweet-Salty Japanese Sauce sprinkled with scallions.

How to Make Smoked Chicken Wings

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Chicken wings – I use organic chicken wings (smaller but delicious).
  • Sake – This is Japanese rice wine and the most important ingredient for this recipe. You can find it at major liquor stores. Learn more here.
  • Salt – I always use Diamond Crystal brand kosher salt.
  • Black pepper – I use Premium Coarse Ground Black Pepper (16 Mesh) for smoking and BBQ.
  • Glaze: soy sauce, sake, mirin, and red pepper flakes.

Overview: Cooking Steps

  1. Soak chicken wings in the sake for 10 minutes.
  2. Remove from the sake and season with salt (and pepper).
  3. Smoke the chicken wings for 45-50 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, make the spicy soy glaze in a pot.
  5. Take out the chicken wings from the smoker. For the spicy soy glaze, toss to coat with the glaze.
A bamboo basket containing smoked salt and pepper chicken wings.

3 Tips for Making Best Smoked Chicken Wings

Soak the wings in sake – This is the most important tip for chicken wings. Sake helps to remove the chicken’s gamey odor; you can also use Chinese rice wine or dry sherry.

Season the chicken wings with a generous amount of salt – For salt and pepper chicken wings, salt and pepper are the main seasonings. Keep in mind to “generously” sprinkle.

Smoke at 450ºF (232ºC) – Many smoked wings recipes recommend smoking at a much lower temperature (225-250°F or 107-121ºC) for 1-1.5 hours. This yields a very nice smoky flavor due to cooking for a long time, but it can result in rubbery skin. Some recommend switching to a higher temperature (425-450ºF or 218-232ºC) at the end to make the skin crispy. For the Japanese-style chicken wings, we realized that smoking at 450ºF (232ºC) for 45-50 minutes gives the perfect wings we like, just enough smoky flavor with super crispy skin that gives the crunch sound.

How do we know if the chicken wings are completely cooked? Use an instant-read thermometer to make sure chicken wings are cooked to a safe internal temperature of 165ºF (74ºC).

About Traeger Pellet Grill

Q: Does this recipe work fine in a different smoker or grill?

Yes, you can use a different type of smoker to make these wings. We find that both electric smokers and pellet smokers are better options, but you can certainly use a gas or charcoal grill.

Q: What are your favorite pellets?

We use Camp Chef Competition Blend BBQ Pellets that have a blend of maple, hickory, and cherry woods.

Q: Can I use wood chips in the Traeger pellet grill?

The short answer is no. While wood chips are used in regular charcoal and propane grills to infuse flavor, we do not recommend using wood chips in the Traeger pellet grill. They will only jam the hopper in the Traeger.

Takara Sake Sho Chiku Bai Premium Ginjo Sake

Sho Chiku Bai Premium Ginjo Sake Pairing with Smoked Chicken Wings

We love serving Japanese sake with food since it works with a variety of dishes. One of our favorite go-to is Sho Chiku Bai Premium Ginjo Sake. This ginjo sake is fermented from Calrose rice polished to 50% so it’s very smooth and easy to drink. It’s a great starter sake for anyone who hasn’t tried many sakes before.

With its delicate and fruity flavors, Sho Chiku Bai Premium Ginjo Sake is perfect for drinking chilled on warm summer days with finger foods like smoked chicken wings. The fruity flavor contrasts well with both the salt and pepper wings, as well as the spicy soy glaze ones. It also works as a palette cleanser so you can enjoy both wings to the fullest.

We’ve paired this versatile sake with seafood and okara in the past and it’s worked wonderfully so feel free to explore your own food pairing.

A blue ceramic bowl containing Smoked Chicken Wings with Sweet-Salty Japanese Sauce sprinkled with scallions.

More Smoked Recipes You’ll Enjoy

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A blue ceramic bowl containing Smoked Chicken Wings with Sweet-Salty Japanese Sauce sprinkled with scallions.

Smoked Chicken Wings

Take your wings to the next level with these Smoked Chicken Wings! They are cooked to perfection in the Traeger pellet grill so every bite is crispy, juicy, and unbelievably flavorful. Here, I show you how to season the wings two ways—with salt and pepper and with my Spicy Soy Glaze. Enjoy the tasty smoky flavor and shattering crispy skin!

Prep Time: 10 mins

Cook Time: 45 mins

Soaking Time: 10 mins

Total Time: 1 hr 5 mins

Ingredients 

 

For the Salt and Pepper Wings

For the Spicy Soy Glaze Wings

Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here.

Instructions 

  • Gather all the ingredients.

  • Cut the chicken wings into flat and drumette pieces, if they’re not already separated. Then, place the chicken wings on a tray and add the sake to marinate the wings for 10 minutes. Alternatively, soak for 20 minutes and keep rotating the wings if you want to use less sake.

  • Transfer the sake-marinated wings to a wire rack, skin side up. Discard the sake. I usually pat dry the chicken with paper towels for my oven-broiled Salted Chicken Wing recipe to remove any excess moisture, but we can skip this process (and save paper towels) when using a smoker. The air ventilates really well inside the smoker and the skin gets super crispy every time.
  • Here, I’ll show you how to season the wings with both flavor options. Generously sprinkle half of the measured salt on the skin side of all the wing pieces (I use this sifter). For the salt and pepper wings, sprinkle half of the measured black pepper on a HALF PORTION of the chicken wings. I will season the other half of the wings with the spicy soy glaze, so there’s no need to add black pepper here.
  • Flip the wings and repeat the previous step.

  • Preheat your smoker (I use this Traeger grill) to 450ºF (232ºC) using your favorite pellets.
  • Place the wings directly on the grill grates, close the lid, and smoke for 20-25 minutes. You can start preparing the spicy soy glaze during this time.

  • At the 20- to 25-minute mark, rotate or flip the wings to maintain even cooking and avoid any hot spots on the grill. Cook the other side for 20-25 minutes. Use an instant-read thermometer to make sure chicken is cooked to a safe internal temperature of 165ºF (74ºC). Cooking time may vary slightly depending on the size of the wings.

To Make the Spicy Soy Glaze

Author: Namiko Chen

Course: Main Course

Cuisine: Japanese

Keyword: chicken wing

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