The best method for Smoked Chicken Wings (Buffalo Style) with crispy skin is to dehydrate the wings in the fridge, smoke, then sear.
Learn the tips and tricks for getting crispy skin when cooking smoked chicken wings low and slow. Check out some of our other favorite Buffalo flavor inspirations like this smoked chicken dip or these stuffed chicken breasts.
The Best Smoked Chicken Wings, Buffalo Style
My husband is from Rochester, NY, and I’m pretty sure that means it is required by upstate NY law a baby’s first food must be Buffalo Chicken Wings.
Buffalo Chicken Wings are an upstate NY original and an American pub staple. And by “Buffalo” I’m not referring to the animal, but instead Buffalo, NY, the city where these indulgent treats originated at Anchor Bar.
Fun fact, Anchor Bar was the first place we ate after getting married. True Story.
We’ve been making Buffalo style wings for years, and found the very best way to emulate the same signature style, while maintaining crispy skin, while cooking on the smoker.
Crispy skin is hard to achieve while cooking low and slow. You need heat to get that crispness. Well we have the answer and the secrets to getting smoked chicken wings with crispy skin while cooking low and slow.
How to Smoke Chicken Wings
Follow these steps for the most incredible smoked chicken wings WITH crispy skin.
- First dehydrate the wings in the refrigerator. This allows for the skin to be fairly dry before you even start the smoking process. Pat dry your wings, then place them on a baking sheet in the refrigerator for up to 3 hours.
- Next, smoke your wings at a low temperature to get that delicious smoke infusion.
- Then, right towards the end, increase the heat to at least 375 degrees (or higher) to finish them off.
- Alternatively (and not mentioned in the recipe or video) you can transfer them to a hot grill to finish them off, or place them under the broiler for a couple of minutes.
How long to Smoke Chicken Wings?
It takes roughly 90 minutes for smoked chicken wings with crispy skin on the smoker. Smoke the wings at 225 degrees for one hour. Then increase the temperature to at least 350 for an additional 30 minutes. Conditions will affect the exact time. The key is to not pull the wings until you feel that crispy skin on the exterior. You can tell by touch!
What is the Best Wood For Smoked Wings?
Fruit wood, and specifically apple or cherry is ideal for smoked chicken wings. The wood burns sweet and give a touch of smoke flavor. Mesquite or oak will have more intense smoke flavor if you want to really go big.
More Buffalo Chicken Inspired Recipes
- Smoked Buffalo Chicken Dip
- Smoked Buffalo Turkey Dip
- Grilled Buffalo Chicken Salad
- Smoked Buffalo Chicken Jalapeno Poppers
- Smoked Buffalo Chicken Pizza
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Wine Pairing for Buffalo Chicken Wings
In the wine and food pairing world, they say “what grows together goes together.” Well my two favorite things from Upstate New York (besides my husband!) are the chicken wings, and the wine. And yes, they actually do go quite well together.
Look for semi-dry Rieslings from the Finger Lakes Region of New York State for smoked chicken wings. They have lovely crisp juicy apple, peach, and apricot aromas, lively acidity, and a cooling sweetness that will refresh and cool your palate from these wings.
People are always recommending sweeter wines (like sweet Rieslings and Gewürztraminer) with Thai food. And while, yes, that works, the whole idea is that they pair well with spicy food in general (not just Thai), I say also pair them with Buffalo Wings. Try it!
Why is this so?
Because these wines have a small amount of residual sugar in them, leaving a slightly sweet and refreshing feeling that cools the palate. When your mouth is hot from spicy food, what do you want? Something to cool it. It’s the same thing that happens when you take a sip of an ice-cold beer after a bite of something spicy, which is why beer is the typical drink of choice for most wing enthusiasts.
Alternatively, these wings work fantastic with a fruity rosé!
*This recipe was originally published in October, 2013, and updated in January, 2020, with new photos. The original recipe remains the same.
If you like this recipe we’d truly appreciate it if you would give this recipe a star review! And if you share any of your pics on Instagram use the hashtag #vindulge. We LOVE to see it when you cook our recipes.
Smoked Buffalo Chicken Wings Recipe
- 16-20 Chicken Wings, or "Party Wings" as you'll sometimes find them labeled
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon coarse ground pepper
- 1 cup Frank’s Red Hot sauce
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Pat dry the chicken wings with a paper towel.
- Place a drying rack over a cookie sheet and place wings on top.
- Place into a refrigerator, uncovered, for 1-3 hours to dehydrate (3 hours being optimal). This is crucial to the end texture of the chicken. This process will prevent the wings steaming when you cook it, which creates a rubbery texture. We’re going for crispy here, trying to emulate the texture of fried wings.
- When ready to cook, preheat smoker to 225 degrees, and remove wings from fridge.
- In a large bowl, toss the wings with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
- Place wings on the smoker for one hour.
- Next, increase heat to 350 and let wings cook another 30 minutes. Conditions can change which can lead to more time. The key is to not pull the wings off until you get that crispy outside. You can tell by touch.
- Remove from smoker and toss immediately with hot sauce mix.
- Serve with your favorite ranch or blue cheese dip.
For the Sauce (prep sauce just before the wings come off the smoker):
- Bring butter and sauce to simmer (not boil!!) and remove from heat. Place into a large bowl to toss the wings in. *see notes