The Meatwave: Barbecue & Grilling Recipes, Reviews, Tips, and Tricks

Tue Jul 19, 2011

Honey Chipotle Wings

Posted by

Meatomic Bomb

There's some things in life you probably shouldn't admit to, what's about to follow is one of them. At this time last year, the wife and I were celebrating our first anniversary and where else does this brilliant man choose to dine on such an important occasion, Chili's. Ok, to be fair to myself, I woke up early that morning and picked up flowers from the florist who did our wedding, then a cake from our cake people, and took my wife to Storm King for a picnic and a day in the sculpture park. On the way home we drove by the outlets and decided to stop. That excursion quickly dissolved into Wal Mart, and while we were being classy, we went for dinner at Chili's. Chili's oddly enough does play into stories of our courtship years, but that was a long time ago, and on last year's anniversary we quickly learned that Chili's is not an establishment to celebrate a momentous occasion in your life, nor is it a place either of our stomachs cares to tolerate anymore. One important thing did come out of the dinner though, honey and chipotle together on chicken is fantastic.

Honey Chipotle Wings

At that fateful meal I had chicken fingers coated in a honey-chipotle sauce. While the flavor was excellent, I was left with a way too heavy feeling in my stomach, which lead me to take a somewhat lighter approach to these at home and use grilled wings instead of battered and fried tenders.

The wings were coated in baking powder and seasoning and set in the fridge—this ensures a crispy, textured skin. While those were resting, I contemplated sauce.

Honey Chipotle Wings

I saw no reason to expand beyond the two simple ingredients, honey and chipotles in adobo. What I did have to consider a bit more was the proportions. Knowing the sauce would be grilled, I wanted a mixture that seemed a tad too spicy because when it's exposed to the heat, the sugars will come out more and achieve the balance between sweet and spicy that makes this sauce a stand out.

Honey Chipotle Wings

After 8 hours in the fridge, the wings were ready for the grill. Cooked over indirect high heat, it took about 40 minutes to get the crispy crust that is essential for good wings in my opinion.

Honey Chipotle Wings

I wanted all the cooking to be done prior to applying the sauce, because I knew that honey would quickly burn over the fire. As insurance, I brushed the wings over the cool side of the grill, then moved them over to the hot side, were they browned and charred in about a minute. Once they started to get little black patches, I removed them to a plate for a quick rest.

Honey Chipotle Wings

There they are, my pile-o-wings, and boy were they delicious. The first taste starts with a crisp bite of sweetness, which quickly turns into a smoky heat that leaves a slight burn in the back of your mouth. The only way to cure that is an additional hit of that initial sweetness from another wing—a deliciously addictive pattern. I can't say I'm upset that Chili's will may never be in my diet again, but for whatever shame and pain that anniversary visit created last year, at least it left me with these incredible wings.

Honey Chipotle Wings


3 pounds chicken wings (18 wings), cut up
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt

For the glaze:
3 chipotles in adobo
1 tablespoon of the adobo sauce
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro for garnish


1. Pat the chicken wings dry with paper towels. Place the wings in a large bowl and sprinkle with the baking powder, chili powder, and salt and toss to evenly coat. Arrange the wings in a single layer on wire rack placed over a baking sheet. Refrigerate uncovered for at least 8 hours.

2. Place all the ingredients for the glaze in a blender and puree until smooth. Pour into a small bowl and set aside.

3. Light a chimney 3/4 full of charcoal. When charcoal is fully lit and covered in gray ash, pour coals out and arrange them on one side of the charcoal grate, keeping the other side empty. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place the wings skin side up over the cool side of the grill, cover, and cook until skins are crisp and are starting to brown, about 30-40 minutes. In the last 10 minutes of cooking brush the glaze all over the wings. Brush the wings with the glaze again and move to the hot side of the grill until the just begin to char, about 1 to 3 minutes. Remove the wings to a plate, sprinkle with cilantro, and serve.


  • 01
  • Phil in France says
    :%s/honey/agave syrup

    Fixed that for you
    Posted Tue, Jul 19 2011 11:09am
  • 02
  • Sara says
    These sound incredible---what a great combination of flavors! Can't wait to try try these soon :)
    Posted Wed, Jul 20 2011 1:36am
  • 03
  • Chris says
    These spicy beauties look extraordinary. Did you deseed the chipotle or just throw them in whole?
    Posted Fri, Jul 22 2011 3:57pm
  • 04
  • Josh says
    @Chris Whole.
    Posted Fri, Jul 22 2011 3:58pm
  • 05
  • Daniel says
    Posted Mon, Aug 6 2012 9:17pm
  • 06
  • carol says
    these were awesome. nice and crispy, and flavor just like willow street pizza's "willow wings." i will be making these again. thanks for the recipe!
    Posted Sun, Apr 27 2014 11:05pm
  • 07
  • Josh says
    @Carol Glad to hear you like this recipe!
    Posted Mon, Apr 28 2014 8:16am
  • 08
  • carol says
    loved it! okay, i have a question. i want to use the sauce for some chicken kebabs i'm making for a party this weekend. i don't think i'll realistically have the time (day of) for the slow cooking or the refrigerator space (day before) for the wings. so...i figure i can make kebabs out of boneless chicken breast, which i have done many times, cooks quickly, everyone likes them. i think i will make half mild the normal way, and half with this sauce. (the sauce is easy enough to make.) since the chicken will be skinless, i don't use the baking powder obviously, but do you think i should toss the chicken with salt and the ancho chili powder before skewering or leave it out? if it doesn't sit for 8 hours (instead just an hour), will it be too salty? was the salt really just to help dry out the chicken skin or was it more for flavor or both? my gut says to use the ancho chili powder and salt, but less salt, just in case. what do you think you would do? thanks in advance...
    Posted Mon, May 5 2014 1:28pm
  • 09
  • carol says
    by the way, i went to willow street 2 days ago and had their wings again. yours were better! this skin was crispier...
    Posted Mon, May 5 2014 1:31pm
  • 10
  • Josh says
    @carol Yes, I'd season the chicken before grilling with the salt and chili powder. The salt was for seasoning, but in the case of skinless chicken breasts, if applied to the chicken and then let sit, it will act as a brine, enhancing the flavor, texture, and moisture of the meat.
    Posted Mon, May 5 2014 8:27pm
  • 11
  • Rob says
    Can you be more specific about the adobo. What exactly was in it and how much?
    Posted Thu, Sep 25 2014 7:05pm
  • 12
  • Josh says
    @Rob It's the adobo sauce from the canned chipotles in adobo.
    Posted Thu, Sep 25 2014 8:25pm
  • 13
  • heather says
    Love the sound of these but where do I buy ancho chili powder and adobo sauce in Chester, England? Please let me know as I would love to try these or if anyone can let me know of a substitute much appreciated.
    Posted Sun, Nov 23 2014 5:32pm
  • 14
  • Josh says
    @heather Not sure what you can get in England, but a standard chili powder would be fine. You're looking for an earthy pepper flavor without a lot of heat.
    Posted Mon, Nov 24 2014 2:43pm
  • 15
  • Jessica says
    Josh- I only have a gas grill, what temperature do you recommend and for how long? Thank you!!
    Posted Fri, Nov 4 2016 1:37pm
  • 16
  • Josh says
    @Jessica Shoot for around 425-450°F for about 45 minutes%u2014let the wings cook until crispy.
    Posted Tue, Nov 15 2016 10:27pm
  • 17
  • Jessica says
    Josh-- thank you! I went ahead and made the cajun spice wings. My gas grill has cool spots, so I cooked them for about 5-8 minutes a side on the cool spots first and then went to char them. They were absolutely amazing! Cannot wait to make again! Thank you!
    Posted Wed, Nov 16 2016 9:38am
  • 18
  • Curt says
    Last night was the third time I have used these recipes for parties. I have now tried 6 of the 10 and all were great. None of them have overpowering heat from the peppers so everyone can enjoy the great flavors. I always get big "wows" from my friends when they bite into them.
    Posted Sun, Jan 1 2017 8:47am
  • 19
  • Jared says
    About how many wings would your recipe coat? I'm looking to make about 60 wings. Should I double the recipe?
    Posted Sat, Feb 4 2017 3:22pm
  • 20
  • Jared says
    Nevermind, I see the 3lbs now.
    Posted Sat, Feb 4 2017 3:32pm
  • 21
  • Steve says
    This is the Best Chicken I have ever cooked.
    Probably the best Chicken I ever tasted.
    Did not have 8 hours to let it sit before grilling it and still worked, probably crispier if I would have had time.
    Corydon, Indiana
    Posted Wed, Mar 15 2017 10:23pm

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