How to Smoke Chicken Wings on Pit Boss (No Need to Wing It)

August 22, 2022

I have been smoking chicken wings on Pit Boss pellet grill for as long as I can remember – it is something that my family has done for quite a while. Of course, being the perfectionist that I am, I had to experiment with various flavors, temperatures, and timings.

Now, though, I have the best ever recipe to share with you!

Chicken wings on pit boss

How to Smoke Chicken Wings on a Pit Boss Pellet Grill?

First things first, you need to know how to smoke chicken wings – or any kind of meat really – on your Pit Boss pellet grill.

Before you do anything else, make sure that they are enough of wood pellets in the hopper. This way, the cook will continue uninterrupted and at a consistent temperature.

Once you have done that, plug in your pellet grill and use the Smoke setting. Power it up and let it preheat for 10 minutes with the lid open. If you want, you can continue to smoke the chicken wings on this setting.

On a Pit Boss grill, the Smoke setting has a temperature range of 180 to 200 degrees F. This is fairly low but more than enough for smoking chicken wings. Just be warned that at this grill temperature that your smoked wings can take quite a while to cook.

If you do stay on this setting, then you also have access to the P setting on the Pit Boss pellet grill. This is where the higher the setting, the greater the amount of smoke produced. This can create a smokier flavor with your chicken wings.

In case you go any higher than the Smoke setting on the Pit Boss pellet grill, then this option will not be available to you.

Grilled Chicken Wings with Bell Pepper

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Should You Dry Brine Chicken Wings Before Smoking?

One of the trickiest elements of making this dish is ensuring that you get crispy smoked chicken wings. See, when cooked over a low heat, the chicken skin has a tendency to become rubbery and unappealing.

There is a solution to this, however – dry brining.

Now, there are two ways that you can go about this. The first is to only season the chicken wings with kosher salt and then leave it overnight. If you choose to do this, make sure to leave salt out of your dry rub.

Your other option involves applying the whole dry rub (salt and all) to the chicken wings and then letting it sit for an hour or a bit longer.

I find that dry brining with kosher salt alone gives the best results for crispy skin and helps to prevent dry chicken wings too but it is up to you to choose your preferred method.

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How to Brine Chicken Wings

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place a wire rack on top this. Then, arrange the wings on the rack.

The reason that you do this is so that air can circulate all over the wings. This helps to dry out the skin and ensure that it is as crispy as possible.

Sprinkle the chicken wings with the kosher salt or the dry rub. Press into the skin. Then, flip them over and repeat the action.

Place in the refrigerator for a few hours, overnight, or until the skin is completely dry to the touch.

Smoked Crispy Chicken Wings Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4lbs of chicken wings
  • 1.5 tbs. of chili powder
  • 1.5 tbs. of smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp. of black pepper
  • 1.5 tsp. of kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. of garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. of onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. of cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. of cayenne pepper
smoked Crispy Chicken Wings

Method

Step 1

In a small bowl, combine the ingredients of the dry rub and mix well.

Pat the chicken wings dry with some paper towels.

Line a baking tray with foil. Place a wire rack on top. Arrange chicken wings on top.

Sprinkle the dry rub and press into the skin. Flip the wings over and repeat.

Place in the refrigerator uncovered for 1 to 4 hours or overnight.

Step 2

Preheat the pellet smoker to 225 degrees F.

Step 3

Arrange the chicken wings on the Pit Boss pellet grill grates making sure to leave a little bit of space between each chicken wing.

Close the lid and smoke until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F. This may take up to 2 hours or a little longer.

Step 4

Turn the heat on the Pit Boss pellet grill up to 450 degrees F.

Close the lid and smoke until the internal temperature reaches 165 F, flipping the wings over in between.

Take off the heat and rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Choosing Your Chicken Wings

Your first order of business is ensuring that you have the right chicken wings for this dish. Now, cooking wings on a Pit Boss pellet grill can be rather tricky.

This is because wings don’t have much wings on the bone to begin with. This is why I would pay close attention to what you are buying. For the best and juiciest smoked chicken wings, look for larger and plumper wings.

I would argue that fresh is key here as well.

Another thing – always buy wings with the skin on. Not only do they get wonderfully crispy during the smoking process but they also help to maintain moisture. If you want, you can remove the skin after cooking the wings on a Pit Boss but not before.

Should You Cut the Wing Tips?

I know that some people are divided on this subject. Some leave the tips on and others prefer chopping them off. Is there a right move?

I would argue that this decision should depend on two things. First, do you like extra crispy bits on your wings? Second, what temperature are you smoking the wings at?

Chicken wings on the grill

The main reason that people trim the wing tips is because there is virtually no meat on this section. As such, it cooks faster, often burning before the rest of the portion is cooked through.

If you don’t like crispy or slightly burned sections, then you should definitely trim these off beforehand.

Prior to doing this, though, you should consider the temperature that you will be smoking your wings at. If you will be sticking to 225 F on the temperature dial as I have, then there is less of a chance that the tips will become overly crispy or charred.

However, if you are planning on smoking the wings at a higher temperature, then there is a greater risk of this happening. As such, a trim may be best.

Can Baking Powder Give You Crispy Skin?

You may have heard of a trick where baking powder is combined with the seasonings and applied to the surface of the chicken. This is meant to give you crispy chicken wings. So, is this a trick that you should try?

I find that dry brining the chicken wings and then turning the pellet grill up to a higher temperature at the end of cook work wonders for producing crispy smoked chicken wings.

If you want, though, you can certainly try this trick for yourself – it can’t hurt. Just remember to use baking powder and NOT baking soda for this recipe. The two are not interchangeable here.

You can add about 2 tablespoons of baking powder per 4lbs of smoked chicken wings.

What are the Best Wood Pellets?

The main benefit of smoking wings on a Pit Boss is that you get to use wood pellets. Which ones should you use?

I find that the best option for this pellet grill recipe is pecan wood. It adds a touch of sweetness that balances out the spices in the rub. What’s more, it lends a distinctively BBQ taste to the dish.

Of course, you may have your personal favorite to use with your pellet grill and I would certainly tell you to use that. My only advice here would be to pay attention to the flavor profile of your rub.

Always choose a wood that matches or complements the other ingredients in the dish. This way, you create a more overall cohesive taste.

A small note – I would be wary of using stronger tasting woods like hickory or mesquite here as they can be quite overpowering. You should be especially careful of using these woods if you are new to smoking or haven’t tried smoking chicken or chicken wings before.

In case that you do decide to go with these woods, I would suggest using only half a handful or so and making up the rest with pecan.

Pellets briquettes wood

Choosing Your Pellet Grill Smoking Temperature

If you have checked out various recipes for smoked chicken wings, then you will have undoubtedly discovered that each one has a different temperature recommendation.

These can start at 225 F and go all the way up to 350 F! Now, what is the temperature that you should be going with?

Personally, I tend to stick with 225 F when making wings on a Pit Boss. As mentioned, this particular portion has very little meat on the bones. As such, the higher the heat, the greater the risk of drying out your wings.

This is why I wait until the very end to turn up the temp on my pellet grill. I suggest that you do the same.

If you do decide to speed things up, I would advise you to keep a close watch on the internal temperature of the wings. At a higher temp, they can easily cook in under an hour. As such, you need to monitor them carefully to ensure that they don’t get burned.

Arranging the Wings on the Grill

A lot of people imagine that because wings don’t take long to cook that they can be piled up on top of one another haphazardly. However, this isn’t the case at all.

If you want your wings to cook evenly then it is important to arrange them in a single layer. If you are cooking for a crowd, then make sure to smoke the wings in batches. This means that you will need to start smoking earlier than anticipated.

The other thing that you should do is to leave a little bit of space between each chicken wing. This way, the heat can properly circulate, cooking the entire wing at the same time.

Smoking According to Internal Temperature

It doesn’t matter what you are preparing on a pellet grill – always track the internal temp via a meat thermometer. However, this piece of advice is especially important to follow when making smoked chicken wings.

This is because these have only small amounts of meat on them. Not to mention, these sections are pretty tiny to begin with. Thus, the key to smoking them to perfection is paying attention to the internal temperature.

According to the USDA, only once chicken wings reach 165 F are they safe to eat.

When checking the temperature of the wings, make sure to insert the probe into the thickest part of the meat. It should not touch the bone as this area tends to get hotter faster and will provide a false reading.

Make sure to raise the temperature of the Pit Boss once the wings hit 160 F. And, even while searing, keep watch over the temperature and take them off the heat the moment they are done.

Should You Flip the Wings?

When you grill wings, you are pretty use to flipping the meat every so often to ensure that each side is cooked properly.

Now, with smoking, this isn’t necessary since the lid is closed and the heat fills up the cooking chamber, cooking the meat from all sides at once.

The only time that you will need to start flipping is when searing the wings. I would suggest doing this every two minutes until they have reached the appropriate internal temperature or when you are satisfied with the grill marks on each side.

Resting Your Smoked Wings

Yes, you do need to rest chicken wings too before serving them. The good news is that you don’t have to wait too long. Take them off the heat and set down on serving trays or disposable aluminum pans.

Then, let them sit for up to 10 minutes before handing them out. This may seem like a short time but don’t skip this step even if you are tempted to.

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Lemon Pepper Wings

Adding Sauce to Your Wings – Yay or Nay?

As you will have noticed, I haven’t mentioned anything about sauce in this recipe. This is because these smoked crispy chicken wings don’t need any – they are perfect and delicious just the way that they are!

Of course, you are free to drizzle on your favorite sauce or some hot sauce on them. Before you do, though, I would suggest taking a bite first. You may find that you like these wings just the way they are!

If you are serving a crowd, don’t toss the wings in any sauce, either. Instead, offer a store bought or homemade option that people can add if they wish to.

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Wrapping It Up

If you were trying to figure out how to make Pit Boss chicken wings, you now have a complete guide! Use this and the recipe to turn out the best ever smoked chicken wings. Go on and give it a try!

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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