How to Grill Chicken Wings on Charcoal Grill: Easy Steps & Tips

Discover the art of grilling succulent chicken wings on a charcoal grill with our easy-to-follow guide, ensuring perfectly cooked and flavorful results every time.

The sizzling sound of chicken wings on a hot charcoal grill is music to any BBQ lover’s ears. There’s something about the smoky flavor and crispy skin that makes it irresistible.

But, grilling chicken wings can be a bit tricky if you don’t know the right techniques. Fear not, my fellow grillers! In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about grilling chicken wings on a charcoal grill – from seasoning to cooking times and temperatures.

So fire up your grill and let’s get started!

Choose the Right Wings

how to grill chicken wings on charcoal grill easy steps amp tips

When it comes to grilling chicken wings, choosing the right type of wings is crucial. You want to select fresh and high-quality meat that will cook evenly on the grill.

Avoid using frozen or pre-cooked wings as they tend to dry out quickly and may not absorb flavors well.

If you’re buying whole chicken wings, make sure they are trimmed properly with no excess fat or skin flaps hanging off them. Alternatively, you can buy pre-cut wingettes (the smaller part of the wing) which are easier to handle on a grill.

Another important factor in selecting your chicken is whether it’s organic or conventionally raised. Organic chickens have been fed an all-natural diet without any antibiotics or hormones added – resulting in healthier meat that tastes better when grilled.

What Type of Wings to Use

You want to make sure that you’re using fresh and high-quality meat for the best results. There are two types of chicken wings: drumettes and flats.

Drumettes are plump, meaty pieces with a single bone running through them. They have more meat than flats and tend to be easier to eat since they can be held like a handle.

Flats, on the other hand, have two bones in them with less meat compared to drumettes but offer more flavor due to their skin-to-meat ratio.

Both types of wings work well on a charcoal grill; it all depends on your preference as both will cook differently due their size difference.

Prepare Your Grill

First, clean the grates with a wire brush and remove any debris or leftover food from previous cookouts. Next, oil the grates using a paper towel dipped in vegetable oil or cooking spray to prevent sticking.

Once you’ve cleaned and oiled the grill grate, it’s time to light up your charcoal. You can use either lighter fluid or chimney starter for this step; however, we recommend using a chimney starter as it is safer and produces less smoke.

Fill up the chimney starter with charcoal briquettes (or lump charcoal if that’s what you prefer) until they reach just below its rim. Place some crumpled newspaper at its bottom before lighting them up from underneath.

Let them burn for about 15-20 minutes until they turn grayish-white on top before dumping them onto one side of the grill grate creating two heat zones – direct heat zone over coals and indirect heat zone without coals beneath where wings will be placed later on during cooking process.

Charcoal Selection

The two most common types of charcoal are lump and briquettes. Lump charcoal is made from natural hardwood and burns hotter than briquettes, making it ideal for searing meat quickly.

On the other hand, briquettes are made from compressed sawdust and burn longer at a lower temperature.

For grilling chicken wings on a charcoal grill, we recommend using lump charcoals as they provide high heat that’s perfect for achieving crispy skin while keeping the meat juicy inside. However, if you prefer low-and-slow cooking or want to save some money in your pocketbook by using less fuel during long cook times then consider using briquette coals instead.

Lump Charcoal Vs Charcoal Briquettes

There are two main types of charcoal: lump and briquettes. Lump charcoal is made from natural hardwood, while briquettes are made from compressed sawdust and other additives.

Lump Charcoal:

  • Burns hotter
  • Produces less ash
  • Provides a smokier flavor

Charcoal Briquettes:

  • Burn longer
  • Produce more ash
  • Are cheaper than lump

While both options have their pros and cons, many BBQ enthusiasts prefer using lump charcoal for its superior heat output and authentic smoky flavor. However, if you’re looking for an affordable option that burns longer with less maintenance required during cooking time – then go with the traditional briquette.

Create Two Heat Zones

This technique allows you to sear the meat over high heat and then move it to a cooler area of the grill for indirect cooking. To achieve this setup, pile up your charcoal on one side of the grill and leave an empty space on the other side.

This way, you can control how much direct or indirect heat is applied to your chicken wings during grilling.

The dual-zone cooking method ensures that your chicken wings cook evenly without burning or drying out too quickly. It also gives you more flexibility in terms of timing since you can adjust how long each wing stays over direct or indirect heat depending on its size and thickness.

Grilling Wings Using the Dual Zone Cooking Method

This technique involves creating two heat zones on your grill, one for direct heat and another for indirect heat.

To set up the dual zone cooking method, you’ll need to arrange your charcoal or briquettes in a way that creates two distinct areas of temperature. One side of the grill should have all of the hot coals while the other side should be empty or have fewer coals.

Once you’ve created these two zones, place your seasoned chicken wings over indirect heat first to allow them to cook through without burning. After about 10-15 minutes, move them over direct heat so they can get crispy and charred on both sides.

Marinate or Season Wings

While some people prefer to marinate their wings overnight, others opt for a quick seasoning just before grilling. Marinating involves soaking the meat in a mixture of herbs, spices, and liquids like vinegar or citrus juice to tenderize and infuse flavors into it.

On the other hand, seasoning involves rubbing dry ingredients such as salt, pepper, garlic powder onto the surface of your chicken wings. This method is quicker than marination but still adds plenty of flavor.

Whether you choose to marinate or season your chicken wings depends on personal preference and time constraints. If you have enough time on hand (at least 2 hours), we recommend going for marinade as it will give more depth of flavor while also making them juicier.

How to Season the Meat

Seasoning is an essential step in grilling chicken wings as it adds flavor and enhances their taste. There are many ways to season chicken wings, from dry rubs to marinades.

If you prefer a dry seasoning method, mix together salt, pepper, garlic powder or onion powder with paprika or chili powder for a spicy kick. You can also add some brown sugar for sweetness if desired.

For those who like marinades that penetrate deep into the meat fibers of the wing and infuse them with flavor throughout cooking process; try using soy sauce mixed with honey mustard or hot sauce combined with olive oil as they both work well on grilled chicken wings.

No matter which seasoning method you choose – be sure not overdo it! Too much seasoning can overpower your dish and ruin its natural flavors.

Do You Have to Marinate Them?

It’s not always necessary. If you’re short on time or don’t have any marinade ingredients on hand, you can still grill delicious wings without marinating them.

One option is to season the wings with dry rubs or spices before grilling. This will give your chicken a flavorful crust while keeping the inside juicy and tender.

Another alternative is basting your grilled chicken with sauce during cooking for added flavor and moisture retention.

Ultimately, whether or not you choose to marinate your chicken wings comes down to personal preference.

Oil the Grill Grates

This step ensures that your wings won’t stick to the grill and will have those beautiful char marks we all love. You can use a paper towel dipped in vegetable or canola oil and rub it over your hot grates using tongs.

Alternatively, you could use a silicone brush for more even coverage.

Remember not to overdo it with oil as too much of it may cause flare-ups which could burn your chicken wings before they’re fully cooked. Once you’ve oiled up your grates, let them heat up again for about five minutes before adding any food.

Place Wings On Grill

Make sure you oil the grates before placing them to prevent sticking. Place each wing on the grill with enough space between them so that they cook evenly.

It’s important not to overcrowd your grill as this can cause uneven cooking and may result in undercooked or burnt wings.

If you’re using a dual-zone cooking method, place your chicken wings over indirect heat first for about 10-15 minutes per side until they are golden brown and crispy. Then move them over direct heat for an additional 5-7 minutes per side until fully cooked through.

Time and Temperature

The ideal temperature for cooking chicken wings is between 375°F to 450°F (190°C to 230°C). If the heat is too low, the wings will not cook evenly, and if it’s too high, they may burn on the outside while remaining raw inside.

The cooking time of your chicken wings depends on their size and thickness. On average, you should grill them for about 20-25 minutes until they reach an internal temperature of at least 165°F (74°C).

However, this can vary depending on how hot your grill is.

To ensure that your grilled chicken wings are cooked perfectly every time without burning or undercooking them; use a meat thermometer to check their internal temperatures regularly. This way you’ll know exactly when they’re done without having to cut into them.

Grill Temperature

If your grill is too hot, you risk burning the skin and leaving raw meat inside. On the other hand, if it’s not hot enough, your wings will take longer to cook and may dry out.

To achieve perfect grilled chicken wings on a charcoal grill, aim for a medium-high heat of around 375-400°F (190-205°C). You can use an instant-read thermometer or simply hold your hand about six inches above the grate – if you can only keep it there for three seconds before pulling away due to heat discomfort then that’s just about right.

Remember that charcoal grills tend to have hotter spots directly over coals than areas further away from them. So make sure you create two zones with different temperatures as we discussed earlier in this article.

Cook Time/How Long Do You Grill the Wings

How long do you grill chicken wings on a charcoal grill? The answer depends on several factors such as the size of the wings, heat level of your coals, and desired doneness.

As a general rule of thumb, chicken wings take about 20-25 minutes to cook over medium-high heat. However, this can vary depending on whether or not they are bone-in or boneless.

Bone-in chicken takes longer to cook than boneless because bones act as insulators that slow down cooking times.

To ensure even cooking and prevent burning or undercooking one side while waiting for another side to finish grilling; flip them every five minutes until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). Use an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of each wing without touching any bones for accurate readings.

Flip and Rotate

This ensures that they cook evenly on all sides and prevents any burning or undercooking. Use tongs to gently turn the wings over every 5-7 minutes, making sure each side gets equal time facing down towards the heat source.

Rotating is also essential for even cooking. Move your chicken wings around so that they are not always in one spot over direct heat – this will help prevent flare-ups and ensure a more consistent temperature throughout.

Remember not to overcrowd your grill as this can cause uneven cooking due to lack of airflow between pieces of meat. Give each wing enough space so that air can circulate freely around them.

Check for Doneness

Undercooked chicken can be dangerous and ruin the entire meal. The best way to ensure that your wings are cooked through is by using a meat thermometer.

Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of each wing without touching any bones or gristle.

The internal temperature should reach 165°F (74°C) for safe consumption, according to USDA guidelines. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, look out for other signs of doneness such as clear juices running from the meat when pierced with a fork or knife.

Internal Temperature of Grilled Chicken Wings

The internal temperature of your grilled chicken wings should reach 165°F (74°C) before you take them off the grill. This ensures that any harmful bacteria present in raw meat is destroyed, making it safe for consumption.

To check if your grilled chicken wings have reached this temperature, use a meat thermometer and insert it into the thickest part of each wing without touching bone or gristle. If you don’t have a thermometer, cut into one wing at its thickest point and ensure there’s no pink flesh visible.

It’s essential not to undercook or overcook your grilled chicken wings as both can result in dry and tough meat that isn’t enjoyable to eat.

Sauce Options

The options for sauces are endless, and you can choose from sweet and tangy BBQ sauce or spicy buffalo sauce. You can also try something different like honey mustard or teriyaki glaze.

If you’re looking for a classic option, then BBQ sauce is the way to go. It pairs perfectly with grilled chicken wings and adds a smoky sweetness that everyone loves.

For those who prefer heat in their food, buffalo wing sauce is an excellent choice as it provides the perfect balance of spice and tanginess.

Honey mustard is another popular option that adds just the right amount of sweetness without being overpowering while teriyaki glaze gives your wings an Asian-inspired twist.

Glaze or Dry Rub

You have two options: glaze or dry rub. A glaze is a sweet and sticky sauce that you brush onto the wings during the last few minutes of cooking.

It caramelizes on the grill, creating a deliciously crispy coating that complements the smoky flavor of charcoal-grilled meat.

On the other hand, a dry rub is a blend of spices and herbs that you sprinkle over your chicken wings before grilling them. The seasoning penetrates into every nook and cranny of each wing for maximum flavor impact.

Both methods can be used together or separately depending on personal preference. If you’re feeling adventurous, try experimenting with different flavors such as honey mustard glaze or spicy Cajun dry rub.

No matter which method you choose, adding an extra layer of taste will take your grilled chicken wings from good to great!


How do you cook chicken wings on a charcoal grill?

To cook chicken wings on a charcoal grill, season them with salt and pepper, arrange around the grate’s perimeter, and grill over indirect medium-high heat with the lid closed for 20-25 minutes, turning occasionally until no longer pink at the bone.

How long does it take for chicken wings to get done on the grill?

Grilled chicken wings typically take 20-25 minutes to cook, with 14-20 minutes of indirect heat and 3-4 minutes of direct heat; however, the size of the wings may affect cooking time, and using a meat thermometer is recommended for accuracy.

How do you prepare chicken wings before grilling?

To prepare chicken wings before grilling, let them sit in a brine for a couple of hours, then pat dry before seasoning and cooking.

Do you grill chicken wings covered or uncovered?

Grill chicken wings covered over direct medium heat, turning once or twice, until browned on both sides.

What temperature should the charcoal grill be maintained at for optimal chicken wing grilling?

The optimal charcoal grill temperature for grilling chicken wings should be maintained at around 350°F (175°C).

What is the best method for marinating chicken wings prior to grilling?

The best method for marinating chicken wings prior to grilling is to immerse them in a mixture of your preferred seasonings and sauces for at least 4 hours or overnight for optimal flavor.

Which charcoal type (lump or briquettes) provides the best flavor and heat control for grilling chicken wings?

Lump charcoal provides the best flavor and heat control for grilling chicken wings.