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Grilled Chicken Wings with Maple Bourbon Sauce

A rimmed baking sheet with 18 grilled chicken wings with maple bourbon sauce.
Here, you brown the wings first over direct heat without any sauce. That’s when the skin gets crispy. Then you move the wings over indirect heat, where it is safe to layer on the sweet sauce without the threat of it scorching.
Jamie Purviance

Prep 30 mins
Cook 45 mins
Total 1 hr 15 mins
Entrees
American
3 to 4 servings
738 kcal

Ingredients 

For the chicken wings

  • About 3 pounds chicken wings and/or drumettes
  • Extra-virgin olive oil

For the spice rub

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the maple bourbon sauce

  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon chipotle chile powder

Directions 

Prep the chicken wings

  • Brush the wings very lightly with oil.

Make the spice rub

  • In a small bowl, stir together all the ingredients.
  • Coat the wings evenly with the rub and let them sit on a rimmed baking sheet at room temperature while you make the sauce and heat the grill.

Make the maple bourbon sauce

  • In a small saucepan over high heat, combine all the ingredients and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 12 to 15 minutes.

Grill the chicken wings

  • Prepare the grill for direct cooking and indirect cooking over medium heat (350° to 450°F | 176° to 204°C). Brush the grill grates clean.
  • Grill the wings over direct heat, with the lid closed as much as possible, turning once or twice, until the skin turns sorta crisp, 10 to 12 minutes.

    TESTER TIP: Keep a careful watch while grilling as the fat dripping from the wings may cause flare-ups that could incinerate your wings in seconds.

  • Move the wings to indirect heat and lightly brush on all sides with the sauce.
  • Continue to cook, with the lid closed as much as possible, until the wings are cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes.
  • Serve the wings straight from the grill with ample napkins.

Notes

Buffalo sauce variation

If you prefer chicken wings that pack more heat than sweet, swap the maple bourbon sauce for Buffalo sauce. In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup hot sauce, such as Frank’s Red Hot or Crystal, 5 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon white vinegar, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (optional), and salt to taste. Cook as directed above, occasionally brushing the wings with the Buffalo sauce after moving them to indirect heat.