The Meatwave

Ultimate Grilled Buffalo Wings

Ultimate Grilled Buffalo Wings View Recipe

I'm fresh off a solid week of wings thanks to the best assignment given to me by Serious Eats. The mission that I chose to accept was to find five non-buffalo wing recipes that would entice serious eaters. Seeing as I'm a man of excess, I ended the week with eight recipes, over a hundred wings, and a severely broken New Years resolution. I was also left with one nagging desire that had to be fulfilled—Buffalo wings, well, not just Buffalo wings, but ultimate grilled Buffalo wings!

Buffalo Wings

Now I can't take full credit for these wings, since they're a combination of the work of J. Kenji Lopez-Alt and Cooks Illustrated with my own grilling know-how thrown in. To start these off, the baking powder method to perfectly crisp skin was implemented. Basically, the wings are tossed with baking powder and given at least 8 hours to sit in the fridge, which creates the super crisp and textured skin.

Ultimate Buffalo Wings

A good rest for the chicken allows proper time to contemplate sauce. I used to be a solid Frank's and butter man, but the more I made wings, the more I fiddled with the ingredients. During that time is when Cook's Illustrated came out with their master recipe for buffalo sauce, which I quickly adopted with a few minor revisions. Although Frank's still dominates, the addition of another hot sauce, brown sugar, honey, vinegar, and cayenne creates a depth that instantly elevates any wings above the commonplace.

Buffalo Wings

Here's where my contribution comes into play, wings meant for the oven or fryer are instead taken to grill. Over indirect high heat for about 30 minutes, the wings get fully cooked, browned, and crisp. From here, some grilling magic is applied by giving the wings just a little time over direct heat, producing beautiful little char blisters.

Buffalo Wings

That time over the hot coals also creates added texture and flavor, making these grilled wings stand out among their non-grilled brethren. You get the crispy, you get the juicy, but you also get that char and little smokiness that makes grilling anything a pretty good idea.

Buffalo Wings

Tossed with the sauce, these are now wings that cannot be beat. That burning spice with just a hint of sweetness is exactly what was needed after a week of exploring the immense varieties wings can come in. I loved everything I created for Wing Week, but there's something about the Buffalo wing that is just so right, so perfect, that nothing could ever take its place.

Print Recipe

Ultimate Grilled Buffalo Wings

  • Yield Serves 2-3
  • Prep 15 Minutes
  • Inactive 8 Hours
  • Cook 45 Minutes
  • Total 9 Hours


  • 3 pounds chicken wings, cut into drumettes and flats
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • For the Sauce
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup Frank's Louisiana Hot Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Texas Pete's or other hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus more to taste


  1. Pat the chicken wings dry with paper towels. Place the wings in a large bowl and sprinkle with the baking powder, cayenne, 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 butter in a small saucepan and melt over low heat. Whisk in the hot sauces, brown sugar, honey, cider vinegar, and cayenne to taste until combined. Remove from the heat 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 cooking 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. Flip the wings over and move to the hot side of the grill and continue to cook until the skins just begin to char, about 1-3 minutes. Remove the wings to a bowl. Pour the sauce over the wings and toss to coat evenly. Remove wings to a plate and serve hot.

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  1. Chris Looks like you put together a winning combination. I follow the air drying (not as long though) and definitely think the grill works better than the fryer. Nice job.

  2. BrooklynQ Great technique, but the sauce wasn't anywhere near hot enough for me.

  3. Phil in France Well that settles it, I will be doing this Saturday on my deck. 20c and sunny, with a load of hoppy beers in the fridge. Thank you!

  4. Gregg Love the tastes the grilling gives wings. I made some tweets to the sauce but the drying and grilling made them great.

  5. Eric Awesome wings! I added a couple things to the sauce but not much. I had my group from work over and I could not get them to stop eating them! Great job! Thanks for posting the recepie.

  6. Eric OK The wings themselves were incredible. The skin is crisp and the chicken falls off the bones. The sauce, on the other hand, is not what I was expecting. My theory is: Why mess with perfection? I tried the sauce and kept expecting to taste buffalo wing sauce, but it was way too sweet for that. Maybe some prefer the sweet, but not me. Now when I cook wings I follow this recipe, but toss the wings in a traditional buffalo sauce. For me it is perfect that way.

  7. Phil in France Made these again tonight. Jiminy Cricket on a Crutch, they're always good. I dunno about what Eric says (perhaps using the wrong kind/too much honey?) but the sauce adds the extra dimension these wings are missing. Freakin' awesome. Although, I do sub agave nectar for honey, and chipotle tobasco for pete's.

  8. Eric I dunno - I have measuring utensils and I'm a pretty good cook. This is a very simple recipe. For me, the sauce just isn't as good as regular old fashioned buffalo sauce. I mostly came to this site to see if there was a better way to grill wings than what I'd been doing, and this recipe is unbeatable. I use it every time now. the wings are perfect every time. I gave the sauce a go just for fun.

    I will say - a couple of the women seemed to like this sauce is better than regular buffalo. I'm not knocking it. I just think buffalo sauce is pretty much perfect without adding sweeteners or more vinegar to it. That's my opinion, which contrary to some people's beliefs doesn't have to be the same as everyone else's. Hence the reason for sharing it here.

  9. Josh @Phil in France I made these yesterday too! So glad you like them!

    Regarding the sauce, I obviously like the added complexity to and the little sweetness the sugar and honey brings, but to Eric's point, Frank's and butter is the classic and authentic, so it's probably preferably to a fair number of people out there.

  10. Marieva Wow - so lucky to stumble on this while searching for the perfect wing recipe - made these last night - we couldn't stop eating them, they were fantastic - had to modify the sauce with the hot sauce brands we had on hand (Tapatio for the 1/2 cup and B&B for the really hot one) but still out of the park!

  11. scotty perfectly awesome!!!

    grilled them on my primo kamado, loved it.

  12. Dd Just used this recipe but the skin was tough as leather when it cooled. I had one wing hot off the grill and it was perfect. It's so odd how quickly the skin texture changed with the cool down. Any tips?

  13. Josh @Dd That's odd, I've only had great results with this method, never had any tough skin, even when the wings start to cool. Was the skin on your wings overly thick? Early on I made the switch from Perdue or supermarket chicken to the more "organic" brands (hormone free, antibiotic free, etc) because the flavor of the chickens were much better and the skin was noticeably thinner and, in turn, more tender.

  14. Dd Maybe I did not put them over direct fire long enough at the end. How long should I keep them on?

  15. Josh @Dd I only put them over direct fire quickly go give them some color, most of the crisping of the skin actually happens over indirect heat.

  16. Susie I would love to try your recipe but I only have a gas grill. Would it still work and how would I adjust the grilling time! Thank you!

  17. Josh @Susie A gas grill is no problem. For indirect grilling, turn one burner zone on and leave another off. Let the grill heat up covered, then place the wings over the cool side of the grill and cover. Cook until skin crisps, should be about 30-40 minutes if the grill is in the 400-425 degree range. If the grill doesn't get that hot, it'll just take a little longer to cook.

  18. Dan Gunther I make the basting sauce with Franks, tobasco to taste, butter, minced garlic, cracked black pepper and a dash of worchestershire sauce. Let charcoal get going and put one one end, place wings on opposite end, add apple wood or other wood for smoke, then baste wings every 15-20 minutes, turning each time. After 2-2.5 hours, wings are done. Moist, spicy and ready to eat. Do not need to pour sauce over wings at end of cooking time. Rule of thumb is 2-2.5 hours or 6 beers. By the time the wings are cooked, so are you. Great smoky flavor with heat. The smoke adds a great flavor and the butter keeps them moist. You'll make a lot of friends with this recipe I guarantee!

  19. Kels Great wing recipe! Made them thus evening for my family with pizza! They were the best my husband has had. I did alter two things. Less vinegar and used an additional tsp of cayenne :-) fabulous!

  20. stumbled across this blog and recipe Everything about these wings is great. The sauce is delicious and the drying/baking powder combo works like a charm.

    I've made these three times now I tend to need more time to get the final crispiness/grill marks but that is probably just a function of me only using about 2/3 of a full chimney of lit charcol piled on one side of my weber kettle.

    Anyway, I've shared these with several people and everyone loves them. Thanks!

  21. Meredith So, I'm an expat living in Belgium, and I don't have access to Frank's hot sauce. I did have some other hot sauce from the last time I visited the States.

    I substituted Frank's with El Yucateco Red Chile Habanero (85% the amount called for) 3 drops of Dave's Insanity Ghost Pepper.

    Super hot wings, but the flavour was outstanding. Definitely recommended, especially with a nice punchy blue cheese sauce (Roquefort please, or Danish Blue!)

    Thanks for the basis recipe!

  22. Amy These were outstanding! My husband and son loved them as well. I'm working on recipes getting ready for football season, and this is definitely a "make again"! Thanks for the recipe!

  23. Andy Where did I go wrong. Found your process online and sounded great. Only difference was that I had wings cut up and soaking in Italian Dressing as usual.? Dried wings off and put mixture on as directed. 8 hours later hit the grill indirect at 450. 40 min later no change in color or texture. After 1 hour had to transfer to hot section of grill. Never got crispy! Suggestions appreciated.

  24. Andy Tell me where I went wrong. The only thing I did different from you process was that my wings were soaking in Italian Dressing when I saw your recipe. I did everything as posted. Indirect heat at 450 for 40 mi and still no crispy. One hour I put on hot direct heat to finish. Good wings but not crispy. Was the marinade the problem ?

  25. Bill I can't wait to try this recipe this weekend! Football is here and I'm ready to try almost all of your recipes!

  26. Josh @andy My guess would be soaking in Italian dressing kept the skin from being able to totally dry out and get crispy.

  27. Zac Wings looked great and came out crisp, but the skin tasted almost acidic from the baking soda. I only let them sit for 4 hours in the fridge, would that have made the difference?

  28. Josh Not sure why they'd be too acidic. I wouldn't think time would make that big of a difference.

  29. Nate Making these now. Results in about 1.5 hours. I am a true wing and grilling fan and am really excited about these. Using a wood pellet grill with Mesquite pellets. Can't wait, will post results........

  30. Nate Unreal wings. I went with my gut and used Franks but the prep and cooking method is great. My 4 year old loved them too and pretty much had to cut me off. "Do daddy's ever get full?" That's when I stopped.

  31. Cody I find that adding about 2 ounces of orange juice to the sauce really adds another level of flavor.

  32. Chris George I followed this recipe for this weekends tailgate here in Denver against Buffalo. I made 12 lbs of wings and not one wing left by the end of the tailgate. This recipe is fantastic. The wings came out crispy on the outside, and the meat was moist and tender. The sauce was amazing too. What I really like is how you can alter the heat of the sauce and dry ingredients to suite personal taste. When grilling the wings on a gas grill, I started all 5 burners on the lowest heat setting for about 10 minutes, then turned every other burner off and just kept an eye on them. Total cook time was about an hour. Go Broncos!

  33. Sarah Have made these several times and enjoyed them, however the last time I used a bit to much baking powder and they had an awful ammonia taste, be careful not to overdo it!

  34. sophia pelekai Aloha Mahalo for the recipe. I too changed it up a bit. My hubby always does the oven or frying but me I jus love everything on the barbecue so since I'm cooking, barbecue it is.
    I work around food and lots of people so on always asking questions about what people are buying. I as well love the Franks with butter and touch of honey so this recipe caught my eye. I once had a customer tell me his secret to his sauce he was a cook at hooter I believe it was. Anyway he said use 1 btl Franks, butter, and 1 packet italian dry seasoning (good seasoning) plus I kept with my tad bit of honey. I mastered the sauce, so I thought. ...
    I took this recipe with his and mine and mastered yet another.
    Instead of vinegar I kept with the italian seasoning I did the baking soda and cayenne/hawaiian salt on the chicken and left in fridge uncovered as said. I used reg tobasco this time light brn sugar only since it was all I had. (But I love drk) everything eles was added. .... HEAVEN YUMMY

    Tangy from the italian seasoning, heat of course, jus a tad bit sweet not much cause I don't like sweet buffalo wings. Ohh also added fresh ground pepper tov the sauce.

    Made sauce after putting chick on grill and allowed to slow simmer while it cooked


  35. Craig Great recipe. I used paprika instead of cayenne pepper and added some garlic powder. I have never been able to get wings crispy in the oven or grill without drying them out. The method worked and everyone loved them. Thanks

  36. joec Remember bakin powder is different from baking soda.

  37. Dom Hey, made these wings, they were excellent but was kind off thrown off by baking soda. kinda ruined the taste of wings. next time I may try excluding baking soda, but otherwise I love the wings

  38. Kat Cooking tonite but using Hooters sauce on some, hawaiin bb on som. Will advise lol

  39. Stephen Patrick Awesome way to cook the wings tastes as close to fried as you can get. We have cooked these twice now like this and we couldn't get over how much we liked them and preferred them to anything else. I usually do not comment on many recipes but this is worth the time. Thanks again

  40. Cendi This recipe is by far the best for hot wings I have ever had in my life!!! You just made our Sunday!!! This recipe is BOMB!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

  41. HK By far the best recipe. Everyone raves about these wings when I make them. Thank you for sharing!!

  42. Jett I have made the wings on my grill and they are fantastic. I am visiting my parents, and how would I cook the wings inan oven?

  43. Jav What temp should I cook these on the BBQ. I'll be using briquettes Inna Weber kettle

  44. Chu E Bacon I'm going to try my tenderloin recipe on the grill tonight. I usually coat them in flour and fry them. Would they work on the grill if I coat them in baking soda instead? I'm assuming I will need a shorter grilling time..
    Have you tried this?