How to Grill Chicken Wings

Learn how to grill chicken wings, plus an easy, great-tasting sauce to go with them.

When I was a kid, there was always a stash of chicken wings in the freezer. My mother would buy a bag whenever we went to Costco or the local deli, and the result was a frozen surplus that could feed the family (or a small army) on any given night.

My mom’s chicken-hoarding habits have stuck with me throughout the years. Whenever I see a sale on chicken wings, I buy them in bulk and freeze them for later. Turns out, knowing how to grill chicken wings is a valuable skill, and buying in bulk is a smart way to save money at the grocery store. Thanks, Mom!

My favorite way to enjoy a batch of grilled chicken wings is to slather them in a rich, tasty sauce. A quick and easy Buffalo-style hot sauce is perfect, or try any of our chicken wing sauce recipes. As long as there are a few napkins around, it’s fine to get a little messy!

Follow along as Taste of Home food editor Peggy Woodward drums up her best tips for a super easy grilled chicken wing recipe. Feel free to size the recipe up or down to suit your needs: Grilled wings are perfect for summer parties, cookouts and potlucks.

How to Grill Chicken Wings Perfectly


Grilled Chicken Wings ingredients laid out on a white wood surfaceTMB Studio

  • 2 pounds chicken wings
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

For the sauce:

  • 1/3 cup Louisiana-style hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup butter


Step 1: Prep the chicken wings

prepping the chicken wings in a large bowl tossed in cornstarch salt and pepper for grilled chicken wingsTMB Studio

Most frozen chicken wings are already separated into wingettes and drumettes, which makes everything much easier. In that case, skip ahead to Step 2. However, it’s great to get fresh wings if you can.

When you purchase fresh chicken wings you’ll usually get the whole wing, which has three sections: The tip, the wingette and the drumette. There is little meat in the tip, and it easily burns, so it’s best to remove that. Using a sharp, thin knife, cut through the joint between the wing tip and wingette. If you move the joints, it will be easy to see exactly where to cut. Then, moving the joint between the wingette and drumette, you’ll see where to slice to separate them. Discard the tips (throw them away or reserve, freeze and use for stock later).

Place remaining wing pieces in a large bowl, add the oil and toss to coat. Combine the cornstarch, salt and pepper in another bowl, then sprinkle over the wings and toss to coat.

Step 2: Clean and grease your grill grates

Take the extra time to clean and oil your grill grate. It’ll prevent the chicken from sticking. The quickest way to clean grill grates is to turn up the heat to burn off the gunk, let it cool and then scrub it down with a sturdy grill brush (or clean the grill with an onion half, because apparently that’s possible!).

Once clean, brush the grill rack with oil. If oiling a hot grill, moisten a paper towel with cooking oil and use long-handled tongs to carefully rub it over the grill rack, moving from back to front. Be aware there will be a brief moment of flare-ups, so be sure to observe proper grilling safety tips during this step.

Step 3: Grill the chicken wings

chicken wings cooking on grillTMB Studio

If you’re using a gas grill, bump the flame up to medium heat, place the chicken on the grill rack and cover with the grill lid. Grill for 20 to 25 minutes, using tongs to turn the meat occasionally until it begins to turn golden brown.

If using a charcoal grill, you can gauge the temperature by holding your hand five inches above the cooking grate. If you can keep it there comfortably for 5 to 7 seconds, it’s at medium heat.

Step 4: Make the sauce

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the hot sauce, vinegar and garlic powder. Whisk in the butter until it’s nice and melted. Set the sauce aside.

Step 5: Check for doneness

The single safest way to ensure chicken is cooked to perfection is to check its internal temperature with an instant-read meat thermometer. Chicken wings should register at 165°F. Once the wings have reached the correct temperature, remove them from the grill.

Step 6: Sauce up the wings and serve

chicken wings in large bowl tossed in sauceTMB Studio

Place the chicken wings in a large bowl, add the sauce and toss to coat. Your crispy-on-the-outside, tender-on-the-inside chicken wings are ready to serve.

Set them out on a platter with more sauce on the side if there’s extra. I always find it refreshing to pair barbecue chicken with crunchy celery and carrots, and a cool, creamy dip.

Tips for Grilling Chicken Wings

Grilled Chicken WingsTMB Studio

Should you marinate chicken wings for grilling?

This recipe doesn’t call for a marinade, but we have plenty of chicken wing recipes that do. One way to ensure a good crisp chicken wing, however, is to remove all moisture. That’s why a dry rub works best, so the skin gets nice and crispy. And before you put on any oil or seasoning, make sure to pat the chicken wings dry.

How else do you get crispy chicken wings on the grill?

The key to getting crispy chicken wings on the grill is to cook them over direct heat. That means they’re directly over the flames, which crisps the skin as the chicken cooks. You can move the wings to the indirect side of the grill after browning the skin if you’re worried about burning or charring, but that direct heat in the beginning is important to create a crispy exterior.

Keep in mind that grilled chicken wings will never be as crispy as deep-fried chicken wings because they aren’t cooked in hot oil. That said, they’ll have a smoky flavor and a satisfying texture if cooked properly, so we think it’s worth the trade-off!

How long should you grill chicken wings?

Chicken wings are pretty small when compared to thighs or drumsticks, so they don’t take as long to cook. It should only take about 20 to 25 minutes to cook chicken wings all the way through. Be sure to keep the lid closed during the cooking session to trap the hot air inside the grill and help the chicken cook more quickly.

How do you grill chicken wings on a charcoal grill?

Start your charcoal grill by using a charcoal chimney or one of these grill starters. When the coals turn white (or glowing red) and no longer emit smoke, spread them evenly throughout the grill. We like to position them in the center of the grill, allowing the edges of the grill grate to become an indirect heat section, if needed.

Add the grill grate and lid. Keep the lid closed until the grill reaches 350°. If your grill lid doesn’t have a thermometer, use the hand test method: Hold your hand five inches above the cooking grate. If you can hold it there comfortably for 5 to 7 seconds, the coals are at medium heat.

Add the chicken to clean grill grates and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, turning occasionally so each side becomes golden brown.

How do you grill chicken wings on a gas grill?

To cook chicken wings on a gas grill, set the burners to medium-high and close the lid. When the grill reaches 350°, adjust the burners as needed to maintain the temperature inside the grill. If your gas grill has multiple burners, it’s a good idea to set one of the exterior burners to low in case you need to move the wings to indirect heat.

Add the chicken to clean grill grates and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, turning occasionally so each side becomes golden brown.

How do you know when wings are done on the grill?

The best way to know when chicken is finished cooking is by using an instant-read meat thermometer. Chicken wings should register 165° when they’re cooked through. If you don’t have a thermometer, or you’re having a hard time getting a proper reading because the wings are so small, cut into the chicken wing. The meat should be white and opaque, and the juices should run clear.

If you’re geared up for more grill time, be sure to check out our best barbecue recipes:

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Nicole Doster
Nicole is the Content Director of TMB's Strategy and Performance team. She oversees the brand's shopping and trend editorial teams and assists with content planning across Taste of Home, Family Handyman, Reader's Digest, The Healthy and Birds & Blooms. With over seven years of experience writing and editing in the food and home space, she enjoys sharing cooking tips, recipe picks and product recommendations that make life a little easier. When she's not hunched over her laptop, she's either practicing latte art or fixating on her latest DIY home renovation.