Grilled Sweet and Spicy Chicken Wings Recipe

These grilled wings are juicy, tender, and imbued with a hint of smoke.

A plate of grilled sweet and spicy chicken wings.

Serious Eats / Joshua Bousel

Why This Recipe Works

  • Cooking the wings over indirect heat helps keep them tender, while aromatic wood imbues them with smoky flavor.

Ever since I started grilling chicken wings, I've been hooked. Less mess and more flavor than frying, It's becoming my preferred path to perfect wings. Building on this, I tried out a recipe from Super Smokers BBQ, the famous St. Louis barbecue joint. The flavor added a little smoke in the wing equation—and it blew my mind.

These wings are coated with a rub, cooked over indirect heat with the apple wood chunks for about 40 minutes, then finished with a sweet and spicy barbecue-honey glaze. There's a lot going on here: the succulent smoky meat, peppery rub, and a sticky sauce that started sweet and left a pleasing lingering heat.

As a less than graceful eater, these left me a bit of a mess (I couldn't stop myself to take a cleaning break between wings) but I wore that mess with pride as a badge of all the deliciousness they embodied.

Adapted from Peace, Love, & Barbecue by Mike Mills and Amy Mills Tunnicliffe.

January 2010

Recipe Details

Grilled Sweet and Spicy Chicken Wings Recipe

Prep 35 mins
Cook 45 mins
Marinating Time 30 mins
Total 110 mins
Serves 5 to 6 servings

These grilled wings are juicy, tender, and imbued with a hint of smoke.


  • 2 1/2 tablespoons ground black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon onion powder

  • 1 tablespoon chile powder

  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder

  • 1 tablespoon seasoned salt

  • 5 pounds chicken wings, rinsed and dried

  • 1 cup honey

  • 1/2 cup hot barbecue sauce (or more to taste; use your favorite and the hottest sauce you can stand)

  • 3 tablespoons apple juice

  • 2 small chunks of apple wood


  1. Mix together the pepper, onion powder, chili powder, garlic powder, and seasoned salt in a small bowl. Place the chicken wings in a large Ziploc bag. Pour in the dry rub and shake to coat the wings well. Marinate for at least 30 minutes (at room temperature) or as long as 24 hours (in the refrigerator).

  2. 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 either side of the charcoal grate, keeping the middle empty. Add 1 small chunk of apple wood to both piles of charcoal. When the wood is lit and producing smoke, place the wings in the middle of the grill, not over the coals, cover, and cook for 25 minutes. Turn the wings and cook for another 20 to 25 minutes.

  3. While the wings are cooking, mix the honey, barbecue sauce, and apple juice together in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until warmed through. Place the wings in a disposable foil pan and pour the warm sauce over the wings. Toss to coat evenly. Cover and cook for another 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the glaze is finished the way you like it. Remove from the grill and serve immediately.

Special Equipment

Disposable foil pan

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
636 Calories
24g Fat
62g Carbs
44g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 5 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 636
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 24g 31%
Saturated Fat 7g 34%
Cholesterol 168mg 56%
Sodium 1187mg 52%
Total Carbohydrate 62g 23%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Total Sugars 55g
Protein 44g
Vitamin C 5mg 23%
Calcium 64mg 5%
Iron 4mg 23%
Potassium 554mg 12%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)