Inspired by Buffalo Wild Wings Asian Zing sauce, these Thai Inspired Smoked Chicken Wings are crispy, smokey, and finished in a Thai Sweet Chili and soy sauce.
While we love our Buffalo Style Chicken Wings, we do like to change up our flavor profile with wings from time to time. This recipe is inspired by two memorable wing joints Pok Pok in Portland (now closed), known for their Vietnamese sauce wings, and Buffalo Wild Wings, where Sean once had an addiction to their Asian Zing flavored wings. We take the best of all worlds; smoked crispy wings, with a sweet and savory finishing sauce.
First we like to smoke them for the flavor, get them crispy for crunch, and then finish with a flavorful sweet and mildly spicy sauce. In this case we’re using a sauce base of Thai Sweet Chili sauce brightened with a few other ingredients.
Ingredients for Smoked Wings with Thai Chili Sauce
- Chicken Wings: Specifically buy the drums and flats. If you want to save money with a little more prep time, then buy the entire wing (drums, flats, and tips) and separate them at the cartilage joint. Discard the tips or roast and use them in chicken stock. 1 pound of chicken wings, or party wings, equals 12 wings on average.
- Seasoning: Use olive oil to coat the wings and season simply with kosher salt and pepper. Use the oil sparingly.
- Thai Chili Sauce: Start with your favorite store-bought Thai chili sauce. From there add soy, fresh lime juice, grated ginger, and red chili pepper flakes. When combined it thickens and takes on the savory, sweet, and slightly spicy flavors.
The issue when smoking chicken at a low temperature is always rendering out the fat in the skin enough to get it crispy. We found that one key technique is incredibly helpful when trying to achieve crispy smoked wings. And that is to dehydrate them in the fridge.
- Pat the wings dry with a paper towel. Make sure they are dried of any excess moisture.
- Place a cookie drying rack in a large sheet pan. Put the wings on the drying rack.
- Insert the rack of wings into a refrigerator for up to four hours so the airflow in the fridge can dehydrate the wings.
- The moisture being pulled out of the skin is what will help them render.
Thai Chili Sauce
We took all that we love about the BWW sauce and made it our own with the key ingredient, being Thai Sweet Chili. This sweet sauce needs to be balanced with some savory, so we add soy. Finally we fine tune the flavor using lime for acidity and freshly shaved ginger to add a little spice note.
Feel free to add a pinch of red pepper flakes for a bit more spice if that’s your thing! Simply combine all the ingredients in a bowl, stir, and then when the wings are done, toss the wings with the sauce. That’s it, four ingredients. We make the sauce while the wings are smoking.
- Preheat the smoker to 225 degrees Fahrenheit using fruit wood like apple or cherry. Remove the wings from the refrigerator and toss them in a large bowl with the olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper.
- Place the wings on the grill grate in the smoker for one hour. The internal temperature of the wings will hover around 150 degrees.
- Increase the heat of the smoker after the hour to 375 – 400+ degrees F and continue cooking for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes the internal temperature of the chicken wings should hover near 170 – 180 degrees F and should feel crispy to the touch.
- Remove from smoker and then toss the wings immediately with the sauce and serve with your favorite sides.
Chef’s Note on Temperature – We strongly recommend using an instant read thermometer like a Thermoworks Thermapen MK4 when monitoring the internal temperature of the wings.
Frequently Asked Questions
The total process will take 90 minutes. Start for one hour at 225 degrees and then finish at 375 for 30 minutes to crisp up the skin.
Fruit wood like apple or cherry is great for wings adding a sweet flavor. If you like more pronounced wood, go for oak or hickory.
If you don’t want any spice then leave out the red chili pepper flakes. The heat level from the flakes is very mild.
It’s important to make sure the wings are dried before they go on the smoker. If they are not dry and you need to smoke them right away consider adding 1 teaspoon of corn starch to your seasoning for every pound of wings. This is how we help achieve crispy skin for our grilled wings.
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Fire + Wine Cookbook
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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.
Dehydrate Wings: Place a cookie drying rack into a large sheet tray. Pat dry the wings with a paper towel and lay out the wings on the drying rack. Place the wings into a refrigerator, uncovered for 3 hours – 4 hours.
Season Wings: After the wings have dehydrated, remove them from the refrigerator and coat them lightly with olive oil, kosher salt, and coarse black pepper.
Prep Smoker: Preheat the smoker to 225 degrees Fahrenheit using fruit wood like apple or cherry.
Smoke Wings: Place the wings on the smoker for one hour. The internal temperature of the wings will hover around 150 degrees. Then, increase the heat of the smoker after the hour to 375 – 400+ degrees F and continue cooking for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes the internal temperature of the wings should hover near 170 degrees F and should feel crispy to the touch.
Toss and Serve: Remove wings from the smoker and then toss them immediately with the sauce and serve with your favorite sides.
Calories: 817kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 55g | Fat: 60g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 11g | Monounsaturated Fat: 28g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 222mg | Sodium: 2964mg | Potassium: 660mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 741IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 54mg | Iron: 4mg
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.