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Insanely tasty chicken wing recipe, dry rubbed, then hickory smoked to perfection.  And don't forget the homemade bourbon bbq sauce! #chickenwings #wingrecipe #smoked #smoker #smokedchickenwings #bourbon #bbq #crispy
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4.71 from 27 votes

Bourbon BBQ Smoked Chicken Wings

Hands down, the BEST way to cook chicken wings. Dry rubbed, smoked to perfection, basted with a bourbon bbq sauce, then charred until crispy!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time2 hrs 45 mins
Total Time3 hrs
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Keyword: bourbon bbq sauce, chicken wing recipe, chicken wings, smoked wings
Servings: 6 servings (as an appetizer)
Calories: 631kcal




  • 1/2 medium sweet yellow onion , finely minced
  • 5 cloves garlic , finely minced
  • 1/2 cup bourbon (use a good quality)
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp liquid smoke
  • 1/2 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • a few dashes of hot sauce (optional)



  • Add a drizzle of olive oil to a saucepan over MED heat.  Add onion and garlic and cook about 5 minutes.  Add in bourbon and continue cooking about 3 minutes.
  • Add tomato paste and whisk to break it up.  Add all remaining sauce ingredients and whisk to combine.  Increase heat to MED-HIGH and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to MED-LOW or LOW and simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
  • Pour sauce through a fine mesh sieve to strain out onion and garlic pieces if you like a smooth, glossy sauce.  Set aside and cool.  Store leftover bbq sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.


  • Pat chicken wings dry with a clean paper towel.  Add wings to a large mixing bowl and toss with vegetable oil.  Add rub and massage into the wings, making sure each wing is coated.  
  • Add hickory wood pellets to hopper.  Turn on smoker, open lid and set to the SMOKE setting.  Heat on SMOKE, with the lid open, for 5-10 minutes, until very smoky.  Add chicken wings to oiled grill grates, set smoker to 250 F degrees.  Close smoker lid and smoke for 2 hours 30 minutes, or until chicken wings reach an internal temperature of 165 F degrees.  Use an instant read meat thermometer to insure accurate cooking temperatures.
  • Change smoker setting to HIGH and baste chicken wings on both sides with bourbon bbq sauce.  Cook wings for 5 minutes, then flip them over and cook 3-5 minutes on the other side.
  • Select SHUT DOWN on smoker and remove chicken wings to a foil or parchment lined plate or baking sheet.  Let rest 5-10 minutes.  Turn smoker off and unplug it.  
  • Eat wings as is, or brushed with additional bbq sauce.  Dip in blue cheese or ranch dressing and serve with celery and carrots for a traditional experience.


For extra crispy chicken wing skin, there are two options. 
  1. First, lay UNCOOKED chicken wings on a baking sheet and refrigerate, fat side up, uncovered for several hours or overnight.  This dries out the skin which allows it to crisp more.  Cook as directed. 
  2. Secondly, you can bring the cooked wings inside and blast them under a super hot broiler for a few minutes.
** Recipe developed and tested using a Traeger wood pellet grill.  If using another brand, use your discretion when it comes to settings, as they will likely not be exactly the same as mentioned here.


Calories: 631kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 125mg | Sodium: 1642mg | Potassium: 753mg | Sugar: 37g | Vitamin A: 855IU | Vitamin C: 9.1mg | Calcium: 68mg | Iron: 3mg