Honey Bourbon Grilled Chicken Wings

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Take Grilled Chicken Wings to the next level with an amazing Honey Bourbon BBQ Sauce Glaze. The wings are crispy and the 20-minute sauce adds a sweet and savory flavor perfect for your next tailgating party or wing night.

Honey Bourbon Grilled Chicken Wings on a platter

If you’re a chicken wing fanatic (hi!) and constantly looking for new wing sauce flavors to add to your rotation then you need to keep reading! This sauce is not only finger licking good, it’s ridiculously amazing on chicken wings. These particular wings are cooked on the grill (not baked or deep fried) for that crispy grilled texture and slightly smoky bite, then finished in our Honey Bourbon BBQ Sauce for incredible flavor. You won’t be able to stop eating these crispy and irresistibly flavorful wings!

Ingredients for Honey Bourbon Wings

  • Wings – Look for “party wings” or chicken wings (flats and drums). Ideally make sure the wing tips are removed so you don’t have to pay for that extra weight. The tips don’t grill well. Just use the flats and drums. A general rule of thumb is that every 1 pound of wings yields 12 wings.
  • Seasoning – We keep it simple with salt, pepper, and garlic. Then mix corn starch into the seasoning as well. You can also opt for our more savory chicken wing rub.
  • BBQ Sauce – We are using our Honey Bourbon BBQ Sauce, detailed below. It’s a combination of ketchup, bourbon, honey, apple cider vinegar, and dried spices like mustard powder, garlic powder, onion powder and kosher salt.
  • Optional Sides – Ranch is great with these Honey Bourbon Wings, but we won’t judge if you go with blue cheese instead. Carrots and celery are always the classic accompaniment.

Dehydrate the Wings (Important Step!)

To achieve grilled (or smoked) wings with crispy skin, one important prep tip is that the wings need to be DRY. This is especially important if the wings are wet or moist when you remove them from the packaging.

  • It’s easiest to do this is to lay the wings out on a cookie drying rack inserted onto a sheet pan (see below).
  • Pat dry the wings with a paper towel. Then lay them out on the drying rack and place them in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours uncovered.
  • Then you can remove them, season them and put them on the grill.
raw chicken wings on a cookie sheet dehydrating

How long should you leave wings in the refrigerator to dehydrate? We find 4-hours is a good duration. If you wanted to do overnight that’s fine too, if it makes for easier preparation.

Chicken Wing Season

Our go-to wing seasoning is simply kosher salt, coarse black pepper, and granulated garlic, or a classic SPG seasoning. We use 2 tablespoons of seasoning for every 1 pound of wings and then add corn starch to the mix to help mimic the deep fried texture and help them crisp up.

Why Corn Starch?

Mixing corn starch with the seasoning aids the wings in crisping up. Some recipes will call for baking powder, but the first ingredient of baking powder (and the actual ingredient that helps with the chemical reaction) is corn starch. So we recommend just using corn starch.

Plan 1 teaspoon of corn starch for every 2 tablespoons of seasoning to achieve crispy skin when grilling chicken wings.

Honey Bourbon BBQ Sauce

Combine all the ingredients into a small sauce pan on medium heat, stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat and continue to simmer for 20 minute occasionally stirring. It’s best to make this sauce as the grill warms up as you want the Honey Bourbon Sauce to be warm when you mix with the finished grilled wings. You can also make the sauce in advance, then warm it up before tossing it with the grilled wings.

You can read more details about modifications in our Honey Bourbon BBQ Sauce Recipe.

How To Grill Honey Bourbon Chicken Wings

After you have dehydrated the wings and seasoned them it’s time to grill them.

  1. Prepare Grill: Preheat grill using two-zone method, or direct/indirect. Target 400 degrees Fahrenheit as internal cooker temperature.
  2. Grill Direct: Place the wings on the grill grate over direct heat. Close the lid. Monitor closely and rotate the wings around the direct grate to take into account any hot spots. This will avoid burning the wings as the fat from the skin will create flare ups. After a few minutes over direct heat, and when you like the color of the wings, move them all to indirect heat and close the lid. Total direct grill time for the wings should average 6 – 8 minutes total.
  3. Grill Indirect: Continue to grill indirect until the internal temperature of the wings reaches 175 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit as read with a good instant read meat thermometer. The skin should be crispy.
  4. Toss with Sauce: As soon as the wings are done, place them in a large bowl and add 1 cup of the Honey Bourbon BBQ sauce and toss together. Serve immediately. If you want additional dipping sauce feel free to use our homemade buttermilk ranch recipe.

When are the chicken wings done? We like to cook chicken wings to an internal temperature of 175 – 180 degrees Fahrenheit. This allows them to crisp up and the meat to have a nice texture. You can read more in our article all about the proper internal temperature of chicken.

Honey Bourbon Wings on a serving platter with a side of Honey Bourbon BBQ Sauce

Tools

A good set of long tongs is critical to prevent burning your arms and hands. A high quality instant read thermometer, like the Thermoworks Thermapen One, is key to taking the proper internal temperature of the wings quickly.

Troubleshooting

  • If your grill is too hot (over 450 degrees F) then the chance of the wings scorching or burning is high. Control the temperature and keep at or around 400 degrees if you can. Otherwise if your grill gets too hot then start the wings on the indirect side of the grill and then finish over the direct heat to add some color.
A hand holding a Grilled Honey Bourbon Chicken Wing

More Chicken Wing Recipes

We have a variety of wing recipes, from smoked wings to the original grilled Buffalo wing recipe. Here are a few more favorites. You can also check out other appetizer ideas in our round up of Tailgating Recipes.

About Vindulge

About Vindulge

Mary (a certified sommelier and recipe developer) and Sean (backyard pitmaster) are co-authors of the critically acclaimed cookbook, Fire + Wine, and have been creating content for the IACP nominated website Vindulge since 2009. They live in Oregon on a farm just outside Portland.

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grilled chicken wings on a plate.
5 from 1 vote

Honey Bourbon Grilled Chicken Wings

Crispy grilled chicken wings finished with a homemade Honey Bourbon BBQ Sauce. A delicious chicken wing sauce to add to your wing night rotation.
Prep: 2 hours
Cook: 15 minutes
Servings: 24 wings

Ingredients 

Honey Bourbon BBQ Sauce

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup bourbon
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon mustard powder
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon granulated garlic, (or garlic powder)
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder

Optional Sides

  • ranch or blue cheese
  • celery sticks
  • carrot sticks

Instructions 

  • Prep Wings: Place a cookie drying rack inside a sheet pan. Place the wings on the cookie drying rack and pat dry with a paper towel to remove all moisture. Place wings in the refrigerator, uncovered, for 2-4 hours to let them dehydrate.
  • Prepare Grill: Preheat grill using two-zone method, or direct/indirect. Target 400 degrees Fahrenheit as internal cooker temperature.
  • Season Wings: In a small bowl combine the SPG seasoning and corn starch, mix together with fork. Remove the wings from the refrigerator and place them in a large bowl. Toss the wings with the seasoning until coated.
  • Grill Direct: Place the wings on the grill grate over direct heat. Close the lid. Monitor closely and rotate the wings around the direct grate to take into account any hot spots. This will avoid burning the wings as the fat from the skin will create flare ups. After a few minutes over direct heat, and when you like the color of the wings, move them all to indirect heat and close the lid. Total direct grill time for the wings should average 6 – 8 minutes total.
  • Grill Indirect: Continue to grill indirect until the internal temperature of the wings reaches 175 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit as read with a good instant read meat thermometer. The skin should be crispy.
  • Toss Wings in Sauce: In a large bowl add the finished grilled wings as soon as they come off the grill and then add the sauce. Toss the wings until they are all fully coated. Serve immediately.

Honey Bourbon BBQ Sauce

  • Simmer: In a small sauce pan over medium heat combine all ingredients, stir to combine, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and continue to simmer for 20 minutes.

Notes

Sauce: You can find more details on the sauce and modifications in our Honey Bourbon BBQ Sauce recipe.

Nutrition

Calories: 69kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.04g | Cholesterol: 16mg | Sodium: 138mg | Potassium: 64mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 76IU | Vitamin C: 0.3mg | Calcium: 14mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Appetizers, big game appetizer, dinner
Servings: 24 wings
Calories: 69
Keyword: grilled chicken wings, grilled wings, honey bourbon glaze, honeybourbon BBQ sauce
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Vindulge

About Mary


I'm Mary, a wine/food/travel writer, Certified Sommelier, mom of twins, former vegetarian turned BBQ fanatic, runner, founder of Vindulge, and author of Fire + Wine cookbook. Thanks for stopping by!

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