The Ultimate Smoked Chicken Wings (with crispy skin!)

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The best method for Smoked Chicken Wings (Buffalo Style) with crispy skin is to dehydrate the wings in the fridge, smoke, then sear.

Learn the tips and tricks for getting crispy skin when cooking smoked chicken wings low and slow. Check out some of our other favorite Buffalo flavor inspirations like this smoked chicken dip or these stuffed chicken breasts.

Smoked Buffalo Chicken Wings with Crispy Skin

The Best Smoked Chicken Wings, Buffalo Style

My husband is from Rochester, NY, and Im pretty sure that means it is required by upstate NY law a babys first food must be Buffalo Chicken Wings.

Buffalo Chicken Wings are an upstate NY original and an American pub staple. And by Buffalo Im not referring to the animal, but instead Buffalo, NY, the city where these indulgent treats originated at Anchor Bar.

Fun fact, Anchor Bar was the first place we ate after getting married. True Story.

Weve been making Buffalo style wings for years, and found the very best way to emulate the same signature style, while maintaining crispy skin, while cooking on the smoker.

Crispy skin is hard to achieve while cooking low and slow. You need heat to get that crispness. Well we have the answer and the secrets to getting smoked chicken wings with crispy skin while cooking low and slow.

Smoking and grilling in the snow
Why yes, that would be hubby, smoking wings in the snow on New Years Day.

How to Smoke Chicken Wings

Follow these steps for the most incredible smoked chicken wings WITH crispy skin.

  1. First dehydrate the wings in the refrigerator. This allows for the skin to be fairly dry before you even start the smoking process. Pat dry your wings, then place them on a baking sheet in the refrigerator for up to 3 hours.
  2. Next, smoke your wings at a low temperature to get that delicious smoke infusion.
  3. Then, right towards the end, increase the heat to at least 375 degrees (or higher) to finish them off.
  4. Alternatively (and not mentioned in the recipe or video) you can transfer them to a hot grill to finish them off, or place them under the broiler for a couple minutes.

How long to Smoke Chicken Wings?

It takes roughly 90 minutes for smoked chicken wings with crispy skin on the smoker. Smoke the wings at 225 degrees for one hour. Then increase the temperature to at least 350 for an additional 30 minutes. Conditions will effect the exact time. The key is to not pull the wings until you feel that crispy skin on the exterior. You can tell by touch!

Cooking chicken wings on a smoker

What is the Best Wood For Smoked Wings?

Fruit wood, and specifically apple or cherry is ideal for smoked chicken wings. The wood burns sweet and give a touch of smoke flavor. Mesquite or oak will have more intense smoke flavor if you want to really go big.

More Buffalo Chicken Inspired Recipes


Smoked Chicken Wings Recipe

Smoked Buffalo Chicken Wings

The best method for smoked wings with crispy skin.This success of this recipe is ALL in the technique. Well, that, and the Franks. But seriously pay attention to the technique!
4.69 from 35 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 3 hours
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Cost: $15.00


  • 16-20 Chicken Wings, or "Party Wings" as you'll sometimes find them labeled
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground pepper


  • 1 cup Franks Red Hot sauce
  • 2 tablespoons butter


  • Pat dry the chicken wings with a paper towel.
  • Place a drying rack over a cookie sheet and place wings on top.
  • Place into a refrigerator, uncovered, for 1-3 hours to dehydrate (3 hours being optimal). This is crucial to the end texture of the chicken. This process will prevent the wings steaming when you cook it, which creates a rubbery texture. Were going for crispy here, trying to emulate the texture of fried wings.
  • When ready to cook, preheat smoker to 225 degrees, and remove wings from fridge.
  • In a large bowl, toss the wings with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  • Place wings on the smoker for one hour.
  • Next, increase heat to 350 and let wings cook another 30 minutes. Conditions can change which can lead to more time. The key is to not pull the wings off until you get that crispy outside. You can tell by touch.
  • Remove from smoker and toss immediately with hot sauce mix.
  • Serve with your favorite ranch or blue cheese dip.

For the Sauce (prep sauce just before the wings come off the smoker):

  • Bring butter and sauce to simmer (not boil!!) and remove from heat. Place into a large bowl to toss the wings in. *see notes


As I mentioned above, weve made these perfect on several occasions. Weve also made every mistake you could make when it comes to cooking wings, so read these tips before you make this.
1. The first, most important step, is patting dry, and then dehydrating your wings in the fridge. If you dont do this you run the risk of your wings steaming in the smoker, creating a rubbery skin. Who wants wings with rubbery skin?! I see very few recipes recommend this, and you know what? Those recipes result in rubbery skin.
2. If, when they are fully cooked, you dont see a nice char or crispy outside, feel free to adjust the temperature on your smoker. I like to jack up the heat for a few minutes to give them a burst of heat helping to create a crispy outside.
3. The sauce: Watch the temperature you melt the butter at. Slowly simmer this and dont melt at a high heat. Weve made this mistake before. If you melt the butter at too high a heat, and then add the Franks, the result is oily and the Franks does not integrate with the sauce. Instead the hot sauce separates from the butter. Its a sad oily mess, and the sauce doesnt stick to the chicken.
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Wine Pairing for Buffalo Chicken Wings

A Large plate of smoked chicken wings served with wine and celery

In the wine and food pairing world, they say what grows together goes together. Well my two favorite things from Upstate New York (besides my husband!) are the chicken wings, and the wine. And yes, they actually do go quite well together.

Look for semi-dry Rieslings from the Finger Lakes Region of New York State for smoked chicken wings.They have lovely crisp juicy apple, peach, and apricot aromas, lively acidity, and a cooling sweetness that will refresh and cool your palate from these wings.

People are always recommending sweeter wines (like sweet Rieslings and Gewrztraminer) with Thai food. And while, yes, that works, the whole idea is that they pair well with spicy food in general (not just Thai), I say also pair them with Buffalo Wings. Try it!

Why is this so?

Because these wines have a small amount of residual sugar in them, leaving a slightly sweet and refreshing feeling that cools the palate. When your mouth is hot from spicy food, what do you want? Something to cool it. Its the same thing that happens when you take a sip of an ice-cold beer after a bite of something spicy, which is why beer is the typical drink of choice for most wing enthusiasts.

Alternatively, these wings work fantastic with a fruity ros!

*This recipe was originally published in October, 2013, and updated in January, 2020, with new photos. The original recipe remains the same.

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