Hickory Smoked BBQ Chicken Wings

Flats, drums, flappers, everyone has a favorite and everyone loves chicken wings!  There is a reason every restaurant you go to at least has wings on the appetizer menu, if not on a full meal for them.  They are so versatile for different flavors and all you need is your hands and an appetite to eat them.  I love a good wing and most of the wings you get at restaurants are one of two ways, breaded and fried, or naked and fried.  You don’t see a ton of smoked wings out there unless you’re at your favorite BBQ restaurant.  I will say frying the wings is much quicker and easier for restaurants, but if you really want to get some good flavor, smoking them is where its at!  As you read below, I will give you a sure-fire way to make some of the best smoked wings and impress everyone at your next tailgate or watch party.

Prepping the Wings

First things you need to do is get the smoker going.  Set it to 300 degrees with some Hickory wood and some Apple wood.  I do a split here with my wood, 75% Hickory and 25% Apple.  Fruit woods work well with poultry and adding a bit of Apple will keep the wings from getting overly spiced by the Hickory smoke.  If you are smoking with a pellet smoker you shouldn’t have the issue of over spicing with certain woods, but when adding wood to a gravity feed, (my smoker) or a off set type you will be burning actual wood and you can over smoke with it.

Look over your wings and do any fat trimming you may need to do, but it shouldn’t be nearly a task as it is to trim thighs or drums.  After trimming, dry off your wings and add them to a large bowl or sheet pan.  Add the canola oil to the wings and make sure they are good and covered with the oil.  Now season with salt, pepper, and the BBQ rub.  Let the wings sit for a bit to allow the rub time to set in, at least 10 minutes.

Time to Smoke

With the wings ready to smoke add them into a foil pan skin side down.  Take your melted butter and add it to the pan with the wings.  What you’re looking to do here is have the wings about 60% down in the butter.  The purpose here is to tenderize the skin and get it ready for the grill.  When you eat smoked or girl chicken you want that crispy bite through skin and not a rubbery one.  This method will help you achieve that as the butter basically cooks the skin but also keeps the chicken nice and juicy.  After you have the butter in the pan place the pan in the smoker and let it cook.  You’re looking at about an hour and a half and an internal of 160 degrees.  Fully cooked is 165 degrees, so the reason we are pulling them early is because we are going to be glazing and finishing on the grill so pulling them just before they are finished helps to keep you from over cooking them at the last minute.

Build the Glaze

While the wings are smoking, its time to get the glaze ready to go on the wings at the end.  First thing to do here is get the butter in the pot and let it start melting, so set the medium sauce pot to medium low heat and start melting the butter.  Once the butter is melted start adding all the other ingredients and begin to whisk them together.  Let the glaze cook about 10 minutes but be sure to stir it occasionally to keep a film from forming on the top and be sure not to boil it.  Boiling will cause it to burn and give you an awful taste to the glaze.   When you start to cook the glaze, it may seem a bit runny, but don’t work it will thicken up by the end.   After the glaze is done cooking remove from the heat and let it set.  You are going to want to put this on the wings warm or no worse than room temperature.

Grill to the Finish!

There are two ways to finish here, one is set your grill to 400 and transfer the wings to the grill directly over the heat, or you can pull the pan of wings off the smoker and run the temperature up to 400 and place them back on the smoker directly on the grates.  I have done both and either works just fine.  The only reason I do one or the other is based on what I am cooking.  Example here is if the wings are going to be appetizers and I have ribs on the smoker, I don’t want to run the temperature up and mess up the ribs, so I go to the grill.  Now for this post, we are going to do the grill method as some smokers out there won’t heat to 400 degrees so doing the grill method is the only real option. 


With the grill at temp. add the wings to the grates.  Once all the wings are on the grill start the glazing process.  Take a basting brush and begin applying the glaze, it shouldn’t take a ton to cover each wing, but feel free to add more if you desire. Once all wings are glazed close the lid and let them cook no more than 2 minutes as the glaze should set quickly.  

Now remove the wings and let sit about 5 minutes.  Letting the wings sit for a bit allows them to recover and keep them from drying out.  After they are done resting serve them up and dig in!

Recipe Instructions:

Hickory Smoked BBQ Chicken Wings

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 35 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 5 minutes
Servings 4


  • 20 Chicken Wings trimmed
  • 2 sticks Butter melted
  • 1/2 cup Canola oil
  • 1 tbsp Salt
  • 1 tbsp Pepper


  • 2 tbsp Brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp Chili Powder
  • 1 tbsp Paprika
  • 1 tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tbsp Garlic Salt

BBQ Glaze

  • 1/8 cup Karo syrup
  • 1/2 cup BBQ sauce your choice
  • 1 stick Butter (this one is separate from the 2 in recipe) melted
  • 1/8 cup Ketchup
  • 2 tbsp BBQ Rub


  • Set smoker to 300 degrees.  Add Hickory wood
  • Put wings in a bowl and slather with the canola oil.  After wings are covered season with salt, pepper, and the BBQ rub, let sit about 10 minutes to let the rub set
  • Add the wings into a foil pan, skin side down.  Pour in the melted butter and place in smoker
  • Cook about 1hr 30min, or until about 160internal temp., as they will finish on the grill
  • Take all ingredients for the glaze and place in sauce pot over med/low heat and whisk together Let cook for around 10 minutes but don’t let the glaze boil.  Keep warm to add to wings
  • Set grill to high heat, about 400 degrees
  • Pull wings from smoker when they have hit temp, and place on the grill to crisp up the skin
  • Slather the wings with the BBQ Glaze and let them cook for about 3 minutes until glaze has caramelized and becomes sticky
  • Pull wings off grill and let sit for 5 minutes then serve
Keyword appetizer, apple wood, bbq, chicken, chickenwings, glazed, hickory, hickorywood, sauce, saucy, smoked, Smoker, spicy, sweet, wings

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