Honey Mustard Wings
Now that I'm about 40 recipes deep into my grilled wings explorations, I figured I had all the basics covered. I have a steady stream of new wing ideas that I keep jotted down and I had some pretty unique ones on tap for my 2020 Meatwave season. Of course, that was the season that never was and I wanted to hold onto my more ambitious ideas for when I had a taste testing audience, so I began to examine if I had any omissions in my reliable wing bench that needed filling and realized I had never done the tried and true classic of honey mustard wings. To be totally honest, this is probably because they're not my favorite, but the recipe I put together ended up being so delicious I couldn't stop myself from eating the entire plate almost by myself!
I can't deny that when sharp and pungent mustard is combined with sweet honey, the two form a pretty irresistible union. It's one that's so ubiquitous at this point though that it doesn't feel exciting, and is definitely not novel. So when I decided to approach my own honey mustard wings recipe, I wanted to still featured those two primary players front and center, but add more depth to maybe make this recipe a little different than others out there. One way I did that was by using a rub where I began adding complimentary ingredients like garlic powder, mustard powder, and light brown sugar, but those components have different flavor effects in their dry form over their liquid ones.
Before applying the rub, I patted dry my wings with paper towels to start with a semi-dry and tacky surface that the spices would adhere to well. I then tossed the wings with the seasoning in a large bowl until they were all more or less evenly coated.
Part of that seasoning mixture was baking powder, which isn't a flavoring component, but one that works to give the chicken skin a textured surface that holds sauce well, akin to what you get when frying wings. That's one part of getting a crackling skin on the grill, the other is allowing the chicken to air dry for at least eight hours in the fridge to remove almost all surface moisture. I do this by placing the wings on a wire rack set in a sheet pan so as much of the chicken skin is exposed as possible for full exterior drying.
With the wings in the fridge, I turned my attention to the sauce, which will come as no surprise started with Dijon mustard and honey. I then added a splash of apple cider vinegar, and after mixing those three items together, I felt like I needed a little more sugar to achieve the right balance. I worried more honey would begin to overpower the flavor, so I grabbed the light brown sugar I already had out for making the rub, and that was able to boost the sweetness without the scaled tipping too far in the honey direction, plus I got the added bonus of a light molasses touch. I then rounded out the sauce with Worcestershire for a savory quality and crushed pepper for different type of heat than the mustard provided.
It was the next day when I fired up the grill to cook these and I arranged my freshly lit batch of charcoal so all the coals were situated on one side of the grate to create a two-zone fire. I then placed the now dry-looking wings on the cool side of the grill, covered and let them roast.
Unlike with other cuts of chicken, I'm cooking wings to get the right exterior color and crispness over internal meat temperature. It actually takes a good 45 minutes for wings to get a crackling skin using a high heat fire, and the chicken meat has surely "overcooked" by this time, but what makes wings so easy and versatile is that amount of fat in them, which allows them to take this beating and still remain nothing by tender and juicy inside.
Once the wings were done, I transferred them to a large bowl, poured in the sauce, and tossed to coat. The heat of the wings released a great aroma as the sauce heated up, which started warming my heart to them more than it was when I first set out on developing this recipe.
I was left pretty surprised that these were not only better than most honey mustard wings I've had in the past, but they may have ended up being my favorite wing recipe I did this year! I would normally be drawn to spicier creations like my jalapeño wings, but these delivered such a pleasing sharp and sweet flavor that it was hard not to fall in love and keep eating one after another. It wasn't that honey-mustard flavor that hooked me though, it was the extra depth these had, mainly from the garlicky undertones and crushed red pepper that added just enough heat to keep my spice-loving taste buds happy. If the pandemic hadn't left me with the inability to host cookouts this summer, I may have never even made these, so I guess you could consider that some type of odd silver lining.
Honey Mustard Wings
- Yield 4-6 servings
- Prep 15 Minutes
- Inactive 8 Hours
- Cook 45 Minutes
- Total 9 Hours
- For the Sauce
- 1/3 cup Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- For the Wings
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 pounds chicken wings, cut into drumettes and flats
- To make the sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together mustard, honey, vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and crushed red pepper. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- To make the wings: In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, baking powder, salt, garlic powder, mustard powder, and black pepper. Place wings in a large bowl, pat dry with paper towels, and sprinkle in seasoning mixture. Toss until wings are evenly coated in the seasoning. Arrange wings in a single layer on a wire rack set inside a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, leaving a little space between each wing. Place baking sheet with wings in the refrigerator for 8 hours to overnight.
- Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. 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 browned, about 45 minutes.
- Transfer wings to a large bowl. Add in sauce and toss to thoroughly coat wings. Transfer wings to a platter and serve immediately.
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Matt Want to try the honey mustard wings! The recipe doesn't specific how many wings you start with given the porportions of rub and sauce. What do you recommend? Two pounds? More or less? Thank you!
Josh @Matt Whoops, bad to forget the main ingredient, haha. Fixed that, it's 3lbs of wings.