Saturday, April 11, 2015

Naked Cajun Wings

These wings are similar to dry Memphis style ribs - they use a highly seasoned dry rub and no sauce.  The recipe works whether you cook the wings low and slow on a stick burner - or - hot and fast on a kamado grill.  While I really enjoy grilled wings with a Buffalo sauce, I like these dry style wings for something different and you can always serve sauce on the side.

Sauce Free Cajun Chicken Wings are spicy, flavorful, smoked first and then grilled on a Big Green Egg kamado grill

These were actually just an afterthought last weekend.  On the way home from our last BBQ contest last year, the door on "the Warthog" broke.  We had Curtis Mobile Welding (great service, reasonable prices if you're in the Knox/Blount area, shoot me an email if you need his number) come out and rehab the pit last week.

After he was done, I had to do some touch up paint and reseason those areas.  I figured that once I already had the cooker up and running from reseasoning, I might as well throw some wings into it.

Warthog, offset smoker, stick burner

It's simply wings seasoned with my Cajun rub.  I usually use this on beef but hadn't tried it on wings before.  Turns out it works well.  I thought these were quite spicy by my wife and adult son thought they were just slightly hot.  If you are heat adverse (what chile heads call "a big weenie"), I'd start with a half teaspoon each of the peppers and then increase to your tolerance. 

Cajun seasoning recipe, Cajun dry rub recipe, Cajun BBQ rub recipe

If you are smoking the wings low and slow, I like to use hickory wood.  When cooking them on a grill, I am usually happy with just the smoke from the coal, it is wood after all and poultry doesn't need a lot of smoke.  

Naked Cajun Wings

  • 2 1/2 pounds chicken wings
  • NMT Cajun rub
  • spray butter
  1. Cut wings into drummettes and wingettes (discard or save the tips for stock).  Season liberally with the Cajun rub to cover all sides. Note:  The NMT Cajun rub recipe will give you a bit more than you need, you'll probably only use about 2-3 tablespoons of it. 
  2. Low and Slow:  Place wings in your smoker at 225°F and cook for 2 hours.  Spritz the wings with the spray butter.  Flip them and spritz the other side. Continue cooking the wings until they reach an internal temperature of 180°F, about 1-2 hours.
  3. Hot and fast:  Set up your grill for indirect cooking and preheat to 375°F.  Place the wings on your grill, cover and cook for 30 minutes.Spritz the wings with the spray butter.  Flip them and spritz the other side. Continue cooking the wings until they reach an internal temperature of 180°F, about 20-30 more minutes.
  4. Remove and serve with your favorite accompaniments.  That's a fancy word for "other stuff". 
So why 180°F instead of 165°F?  I just like my dark meat cooked all of the way through and in my experience, a wing isn't going to dry out until North of 190°F. 

seasoning chicken wings
Like my fancy shaker?  They now sell lids with shaker holes already in them for Mason jars but in a pinch I'll go old school and just drill some holes in a metal lid. 

Seems weird having the stick burner fired up for just a handful of wings but like I said, it was already burning anyway.

Chicken wings on a smoker
Feel free to spritz more than once, especially in the 3-4 hour cook low and slow. 

Seasoned chicken wings, grilling chicken wings,
Seasoned and ready to go on the Egg.  See? There is one of those bought shaker lids.
wings on a big green egg, kamado wings,
My indirect set up for the Egg was a spider rig, 13" stone, and a drip pan with an Adjustable Rig. You could do a plate setter instead with the same result. Or you could just do these indirect on a kettle style grill.
Grilled chicken wing recipe, Cajun grilled chicken wing
One of the advantages of dry style wings is you get a crispier skin.

I haven't tried this recipe cooking the wings over direct heat but since there is no sugar in this rub, that should work just fine as well.


  1. I'm a big fan of spicy but sauce-free wings. I enjoy the crispy skin. I'm getting ready to buy my first smoker (Weber SM). This recipe is going to have the honor of my first venture into smoked meat. Thanks for posting this.

  2. Man that dry rub sounds good! I like the idea of serving dry wings but still having sauce on the side. That will make everyone happy. They look tasty Chris.

  3. While I'm a fan of any wing, I do have to admit that dry rub are my very favorite! These look perfect, Chris!

    What kind of wings do you buy in the market? Since we have close to the same shops available I'm curious. I go to Kroger mostly and I've bought Perdue and the Heritage brand, but the wings sometimes are dinky. Working with good meat is half the battle so just curious about what you buy.

    1. Kim - These were fresh wings under the Greenwise label at Publix. Normally I buy the large pack of Tyson wings at Sam's Club.

  4. The crispy skin is what makes a good wing so good. No need to fry. Thanks for the reminder that you can't do sugar if you want these babies to come off the grate clean. Totally forgot. ha

  5. I'm digging the non-sauce wings. I'm a girly girly and don't particularly care for "messy."

  6. Could I use the rub to bake my wings ?

    1. Sure. You won't get the smoke obviously but the flavor profile still works.

  7. What do you put in your water pan?

    1. Usually just water. I don't find that putting apple juice or other liquids provide any detectable benefits.

  8. What should I preheat my grill to if cooking over direct heat?

    1. Hi Ryan. It depends on the set up but when I do wings direct on a Big Green Egg, I use a raised cooking grid and grill them about 350f.


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