Crispy grilled wings using just your smoker

Perfect crispy chicken wings on your smoker/grill

Your hunt for the perfect crispy chicken wing is over. This recipe requires no frying, no coating, no oil. We promise you'll get a crisp chicken wing every time using this method. Best of all, this recipe is easy — you don't have to thaw the wings before starting!

We perfected this simple chicken wings recipe using a Traeger pellet grill, but it should also work on other pellet grills such as Pit Boss, Camp Chef or recteq, as long as your chicken wings aren't over direct heat. This method won't work the same if you're grilling on gas or charcoal, which flare up easily and could burn your wings. 

Let's begin!
Gather ingredients
  • Fresh or frozen chicken wings (as many as you can fit on your Traeger!) Plan on a dozen chicken wings per person, or fewer if you're also serving side dishes. 
  • Your favorite chicken wing hot sauce or dry seasoning
  • Ranch and blue cheese dressing for dipping
Clean your smoker/grill
First, make sure your grill has a clean drip tray liner. If your liner is covered in a buildup, change it. Also make sure your pellet hopper is loaded. We like apple, hickory or pecan pellets for this recipe.
Smoke the wings
Next, open a package of frozen chicken wings and place them directly on the grill grate. Be sure to spread them out in a single layer with a little space between each wing. 
Now, turn on your Traeger to 180 degrees. As the grill heats up, the wings will thaw and begin to take on some smoke. Let your wings smoke for an hour. 
This step gives the skin time to dry out (because soggy skin will never get crispy.) Take this time to enjoy the game while you relax with a cold one.
Crisp them up

Once the wings are thawed and smoked, remove them from the grill to a pan or bowl. (A Traeger XXL spatula makes this step quick and easy.) Now, turn up the grill to 450 degrees.

It's important to take the wings off while you raise the temperature.  You don't want the wings to cook at a lower temperature - they won't get crisp.

When the grill reaches 450°, add the wings back to the grill, spreading them out on the grates like you did before. Once your wings are on the hot grill, start checking them at the 20 minute mark. To ensure your wings are safely cooked, use a digital thermometer or meat probe to ensure the wings reach 165°. Resist the temptation to pull the wings too early. Leave them on until the skin is crisp to the touch. For us, this usually takes 20-30 minutes on a 450° grill, depending on the wing size. 

Add flavor
Now that your wings are crispy and cooked through, it's time to sauce or season the chicken wings. Use clean tongs or a spatula to take the wings off the grill and into a big bowl. Season the entire batch, or divide your wings into several smaller bowls so everyone can choose their own hot sauce or seasoning. Ranch and blue cheese dipping sauces are traditional, and napkins or wet naps are necessary. Eat your wings while they're still hot to ensure maximum crispiness!
Wing night has never been easier!
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