Whether it was a state fair that first introduced these delicious smoked snacks to your palate or a trip to visit family right after wild turkey season, smoked wings are some of the very best turkey you’ll ever eat.
If you’ve thought about making them yourself but aren’t sure where to begin, you're in luck – we're sharing our easy DIY smoked turkey wings recipe with you and giving you all of the knowledge you need to get great results.
Turkey Wings: What They Are, Where to Get Them, and How Much You Need
Just about everyone knows that chicken wings are awesome. They are so good that entire restaurant franchises are built around chicken wings. Now, imagine a plate of chicken wings, only bigger. That’s the draw for turkey wings. They offer a bigger bite, a more meaty flavor, and they are just as easy to make.
Finding turkey wings can be challenging since not all grocery stores will carry them regularly. In fact, you are more likely to find turkey breast or turkey legs than you are to find turkey wings. We don’t know why this is a fact, but it tends to be the case.
Your best bet is to start out at your favorite butcher counter and ask for turkey wings. If they don’t have them on hand, there is a good chance they can get them for you. If not, there are a number of really reliable online stores that sell turkey wings and will ship them right to your door.
Unlike chicken wings, you won’t need to buy a massive bag of wings to feed your family. Since they are significantly bigger than chicken wings, you can count on two to three wings per person. Most stores will sell them in packages of two to four wings, so plan accordingly.
Prepping Turkey Wings for Smoking
Turkey wings get the same treatment as chicken wings before smoking. Start by cleaning and sanitizing the cutting board you plan to use and ensuring you have a sharp knife. Turkey wings are in three parts – the tip, the wingette, and the drumstick – just like a chicken wing. Feel the joint between the drumstick and the wingette and cut between with the knife.
A trick to getting it right is to lay the wing on the cutting board so the skin side is down. Feel with your fingers along the joint between the drumstick and wingette until you feel two prominent ridges. Place the knife along the first ridge parallel to the drumstick and apply pressure. The knife should slice through the cartilage easily.
Next, position the knife between the tip and the wingette nearly perpendicular to the wing section and apply pressure. Again, the knife should slice right through. If you hit the bone, reposition the knife.
Try to avoid getting frustrated and hacking through bone as this can leave bone fragments in the meat that are not pleasant to bite into.
The purpose of separating the wing portions is to ensure proper cooking throughout. If you try to smoke the wings whole, you’ll end up with some undercooked areas and others that are overcooked.
Smoking Turkey Wings Recipe
The best way to smoke turkey wings is to use a dry rub. Our favorite one to use is our Bearded Butcher Blend Chipotle seasoning. It gives the turkey wings the perfect combination of spice and smoke flavor and goes great with lighter wood smoke like applewood.
If you are using a dry rub, you can apply the seasoning immediately before cooking.
You can also use a wet rub or brine, but be sure to let the wings rest for at least four hours in the refrigerator to allow the flavor to penetrate.
Preheat your smoker to 250 degrees and ensure you have clean smoke before putting the turkey wings in the smoker. We smoke ours right on the stainless steel grill grate.
Smoke the wings for about an hour to an hour and a half until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the drumstick or wingette reads at least 165 degrees. We usually let it go to about 172 degrees to make sure it is perfectly cooked.
For even more delicious flavor, warm up some Bearded Butcher Blend BBQ Sauce in a small saucepan and use a brush to coat the wings about half an hour before they are done. The sauce adds flavor and juiciness to the wings, making them as delicious as they are messy.
Let the wings rest for about 15 minutes once they come out of the smoker and serve them hot. We like to have some barbecue sauce and maybe a little ranch dressing available for dipping, but don’t reuse the same sauce you used for basting since it can be contaminated.
That’s all there is to making amazing smoked turkey wings at home. The entire process takes less than two hours and results in a satisfying, delicious meal everyone will enjoy.
- Turkey wings, separated, two to three per person
- Bearded Butcher Blend Chipotle Seasoning
- Optional: Bearded Butcher Blend BBQ Sauce, salt, pepper, or chili flakes to taste
- Preheat smoker to 250 degrees
- Coat turkey wings in seasoning and rub thoroughly
- Place wings in smoker directly on grill grate
- Smoke for 1-1½ hours until internal temperature is at least 165 degrees
- Baste wings with warm BBQ sauce 30 minutes before they reach the final temperature
- Rest for 15 minutes and serve with barbecue sauce, ranch, or your favorite dipping sauce
Making turkey wings at home is a great way to bring the smells and flavors of the state fair home and they offer a larger, tasty way to enjoy wings. You can also use these same steps to smoke turkey legs for another satisfying meal.