These crispy Buttermilk Brined Grilled Chicken Wings are spicy, golden brown chicken wings – packed with flavor and grilled to perfection! These wings are so easy to make and perfect for game day!
When it comes to chicken wing recipes, we love everything from sticky and sweet to spicy and hot, deep fried, air fried or crispy smoked chicken wings! It’s really a guilty indulgence that we can come back to over and over!
A recipe rarely sends me over the top. Especially a simple one like chicken wings. But whoa. This Buttermilk Brined Grilled Chicken Wings recipe just did that. They are almost as easy as my delicious smoked chicken thighs.
I decided to make smoked chicken wings for a football party the other day and I set out to jazz up some buttermilk-marinated chicken at a friend’s house while we waited to see who was making it to the next playoff game. Well, no one really cared who was even playing in the game once I pulled these wings off the grill. They were that freaking good.
What you need to make this recipe:
- Chicken Wings – you’ll need 3 pounds of chicken wings for this recipe but you can adjust this for the size of the crowd you’re feeding. Just make sure you adjust the buttermilk marinade and spice quantity too!
- Seasonings – you’ll use an ultra-flavorful blend of cumin, salt, chili powder, ground black pepper, and red pepper flakes.
- Buttermilk, Hot Sauce, Pickle Juice, and Lime Juice – these ingredients make up a flavorful, spicy, and tangy marinade for the chicken.
How to make buttermilk brined grilled chicken wings
Pat the wings dry and set them aside. Whisk together the seasonings. Add ½ the seasonings into the buttermilk, then add in hot sauce, pickle juice, and lime juice.
Place the chicken into a container or Ziplock bag and add the buttermilk mix. Let that sit for 6-8 hours in the fridge.
When you’re ready to cook, prep the grill, and remove the chicken from the brine. Sprinkle ¼ of the remaining seasoning over the chicken.
Place the chicken on the grill, cover, and cook for 10-12 minutes. Flip and cook for another 7-10 minutes, moving the wings as needed.
Once the wings are cooked, remove them from the grill and place them in a bowl. Add the remaining seasoning and hot sauce, then toss to coat. Serve with ranch or blue cheese.
Because wings are small, they don’t take long at all to cook! I cook them for an initial 10-12 minutes, flip and rotate them around the grill, then cook them for another 7-10 minutes.
This amount of time is perfect for tender chicken, crispy skin, and a subtly smoky flavor.
Soaking chicken in a buttermilk brine results in more tender and more flavorful chicken!
Why? The acidity in buttermilk breaks down the skin and the meat for a more tender texture and a crispier crust. This breakdown also allows the seasonings to work their way further into the meat so there is flavor all the way throughout!
Yep. And it’s super easy! All you have to do is build a smoker packet (or use a smoker box.)
For these wings, I turned a traditional gas grill into the perfect smoker by making a smoke box out of aluminum foil. To build a smoker packet, I laid down a piece of aluminum foil and placed a handful of dry chips in the center. I wrapped it, much like you would a burrito, folded the edges over, and pinched the ends shut, leaving a pocket where the air/smoke could escape.
After that, I tossed that baby on the grill and let it sit for 20 minutes! Now don’t tell me a gas grill can’t smoke. For more information on how to use a gas grill with wood chips, check out my full article with more in-depth info.
Tips, tricks, and notes for this recipe
- If you marinate the chicken in a Ziplock bag, set it into another dish so you can easily clean up any leaks that may happen. You don’t want a big mess in your fridge!
- Cook on medium-hot fire. This is low enough that there aren’t big flare-ups but high enough that you will get that crispy skin.
- Before you flip, give the wings a little nudge. If the skin sticks, they need longer to cook. If they move easily, they are ready to be flipped.
- When you flip, move the wings around the grill a bit (front to back/back to front) for even cooking.
- Temp the chicken off of the heat of the grill for an accurate reading. I use an instant-read thermometer, like a Thermopen, to temp all of my meat.
What to serve with grilled chicken wings
Serve these buttermilk brined wings with ranch or blue cheese for dipping…and with napkins! 😉
I love to serve these grilled wings as part of an appetizer spread for parties! Here are a few of my favorites:
- Bacon-Wrapped Smoked Chorizo Stuffed Jalapeño Poppers
- Philly Cheesesteak Fries
- Deep-Fried Macaroni and Cheese
- Pull-Apart BBQ Chicken Bread
How to store
These chicken wings are definitely best right away…and I would be shocked if you had leftovers. BUT, if you do, they will last in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
To reheat, thaw in the fridge if frozen, then warm in the oven at 325ºF for 15-20 minutes.
More Delicious Wing Recipes
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Buttermilk Brined Grilled Chicken Wings
- Wood Chips
- 3 lbs. chicken wings
- 4 tbsp. Paprika
- 1 tbsp. cumin
- 1 tbsp. Salt
- 1 tsp. Chili Powder
- ½ tsp. ground Black Pepper
- ½ tsp. Red pepper Flakes
- 4 cups Buttermilk
- 4 – 6 tbsp. Hot Sauce
- 2 tbsp. Pickle juice
- 1 tbsp. Lime juice
Marinate the Chicken in Buttermilk
- Pat the chicken wings dry. Set aside.
- Whisk the paprika, cumin, salt, chili powder, black pepper, and red pepper flakes together in a bowl.
- Whisk 1/2 of the spice mix into the buttermilk.
- Add the hot sauce, pickle juice, and lime juice.
- Place the chicken in a large resealable container, or a large Ziplock bag and add the buttermilk mix.
- Let the chicken sit in the buttermilk 6 to 8 hours in the fridge. If you are using a Ziplock bag, be sure to place it in another dish, no need for leaks.
Grill the Chicken
- When ready to cook, prepare your grill for smoking, with a temp of arond 350 F.
- Remove the chicken from the buttermilk brine and allow excess liquid to drip off.
- Sprinkle ¼ of the remaining seasoning blend over the chicken, coating evenly.
- When the grill is hot, arrange the chicken wings in an even layer over the grate.
- Allow them to cook with the lid closed, 10 – 12 minutes.
- When the chicken pulls easily from the grate, flip and rotate the wings as needed to avoid burning or flare-ups.
- Cook until the skin is crispy, another 7 – 10 minutes, moving the wings as needed to cook evenly.
- The wings are done when they read a temperature of 165 degrees F with an instant-read thermometer.
- Remove the wings from the grill and place them in a big bowl. Add the remainder of the seasoning and a little hot sauce if you dare and toss the whole bowl to coat. The seasoning will stick to the hot chicken wings.
- Serve with ranch or blue cheese on the side. And napkins.
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The flavor in this recipe is pretty good but I felt like after taking them off the grill, the chicken skin was rubbery. I think it has something to do with the chicken being wet instead of using a dry rub. Is there a remedy for this?
When you remove the chicken from the brine, you can pat off excess liquid. For these wings, I pat them really dry (or let them lay on the wire rack over a baking sheet in the fridge for an hour) and coat them well again with the spices. Then really flip and rotate them a lot while grilling, on and off direct heat, to crisp up the skin. I will say, in the last year, I have been using my air fryer a LOT for extra crispy wings and loving it – I have a few recipes for that worth checking out Pickle brined wings
and garlic parm wings.
What kind of hot sauce do you use in this recipe?
Hi there Jenn, Depends on what you like or what you can have (Diet). I use a few dashes of Cholula, Franks, Tabasco, or for a fun twist, try Primal Kitchens Buffalo Sauce
Ca n I use oven instead of grill m
Hey thee. Yes, you absolutely could make these in the oven or even an air fryer.
can these brine over night?
Yep, but I try to keep mine to 8 hours max.
So still cook with some of the buttermilk on and pat then dry ?
Hey Jack, remove them from the buttermilk and let the excess liquid drip off before sprinkling more seasoning on them and putting them directly on the grill.
Second time I’ve made these. They were a big hit with the family and friends for Super Bowl weekend.
Rock out, Mike. Day made!
What temperature do you smoke these wings at and how long?
Hey there Cindy, I run my grill at around 350 for chicken wings and always cook chicken to 165 degrees F internally (love my themopen for checking meat)
The recipe sounds delicious. I’m going to try them tomorrow. Thanks!