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Crispy chicken wings

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I did some wings last night in my MES for the 1st time. The taste was outstanding , but I was wondering if there was any way to get the skin crispy in the smoker? I know I could throw them on the grill at the end. Would leaving them in in the smoker longer crisp them or just dry them out? I did them for 2 hours at 260 degrees. I also heard rubbing the skin with mayonnaise before smoking will help get them crispier. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
post #2 of 15
Deep fry them if you want crispy skin.
The fat will render out cooking low and slow and the skin will have a nice bite thru texture.
But if you really want them crispy... deep fry them
post #3 of 15

Like Squib says... fry them... and if you want to be an outdoor occation , get a small Gas Fryer. Bass Pro has one on sale for like $29 . :biggrin:


Have fun and . . .

post #4 of 15

Gberger, after reading your post I realized that this article may help I think I posted this somewhere but it has since been edited so I hope you don't mind the long read.


This article was written October of 2011 and has been recently updated.

Crispy Skin

The term crispy skin is a bit subjective, but lets get it straightened out right now, for the sake of this article I will be referring to a 
clean bite through as "Crispy Skin" but not to be confused with a deep fried type of skin. What I find acceptable as "Crispy Skin" is if the skin can be taken off the chicken and eaten by itself and has a clean bite through without pulling off the chicken with no gummy or nasty bits.

I have been reading a lot of posts lately about folks asking what temps to cook their chicken at, I have always said 225° - 250° , more recently I have been cooking closer to the 250° - 275° mark. The general consensus is that by cooking at 300° to 325°, the skin will crisp up better which is true to a degree, but you loose the benefits of the "Low and Slow" type of cooking to render some of the fat.

If I want to cook at the higher temps, I'll use my grill and cook over direct heat.

By cooking "Low and Slow", fat renders in the skin and the result is a neat bite thru of the skin with no fat or gummy texture, it however is not the same type of crispy like you would get from cooking by a higher direct heat, its more of a paper like texture, sorry that's the only way I can describe it.

I also see a lot of folks insisting on 165° max temp for wings, drums and thighs, DON'T GET HUNG UP ON 165°, this is not for a skinless chicken breast, there's plenty of fat to keep these guys succulent, trust me!
I don’t worry about the internal going above 165° on Thighs and Drums, I will even take my Beer Can Chix way up as well. I don't check internal temps and it would be a safe guess to say the internal temp is at or above 180°.

I have been dabbling with rendering via Sous Vide machine then deep frying, the results are amazing, click here to read about that. If your one that does not like fatty or gummy wings, I urge you to read the article.
A hybrid type of cook would be to render cooking Low and Slow for 1-1/2 - 2 hours then grill over direct heat or deep fry.


So with that said, everyone has their preferred method, I just want to make sure I am not misinforming anyone.

Before I get into this article, I do want to mention that there was an unforeseen problem with this test.
The unforeseen problem was that I was making apple butter in a Dutch oven during the test and as you will see from some of the photos the placement of the Dutch oven was a bad choice for this chicken test. After doing similar cooks the only hindrance the DO made was that the times were a bit longer, more recent cooks the times are slightly less than what is written here. So please bear that in mind.

All this was done on a Reverse Flow using wood as fuel, White ash and cherry, no wind, ambient temperature was about 75° low humidity.

Before we get started I wanted to note a few tips that may give you better results.

Thighs were not trimmed but I strongly recommend doing the following,

  • Pull back the skin on the bottom of the thigh and cut off the excessive fatty skin and pull the skin back underneath.
  • Air dry uncovered overnight in the refrigerator.
  • Prick the skin with a fork or sharp knife and slowly pour boiling water over thighs right before cooking.

Since I originally wrote this article in October of 2011, I have reconfirmed a lot of this article over and over again, this article has been edited to be more up to date.

Lets get started,

I took a flat of Thighs and a flat of drums and split each flat in half, each half was seasoned as follows, these thighs were huge.

First Batch was slathered with the following

  • Olive Oil
  • Rosemary
  • Basil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

The second batch was as follows

  • My Pork Rub dry

They were then placed on the Reverse flow alternating each row. Smoked at 225° using white ash for several hours followed by cherry.

After 2 hours the drums with the rub could be eaten the skin was starting to crisp up nicely, the thighs on both still had very fatty skin and the drums were fatty but not as much as the slathered thighs.
I broke it down as follows for easier explanation

2 hours in: (1-1/2 hours)

  • Dry Rub Drums - Acceptable skin
  • Slathered Drums - Unacceptable skin slightly fatty
  • Dry Rub Thighs - Unacceptable skin slightly fatty
  • Slathered Thighs - Unacceptable skin very fatty

3 hours in: (2 hours)

  • Dry Rub Drums - Skin was not fatty, most of the fat was rendered, clean bite
  • Slathered Drums - Acceptable skin
  • Dry Rub Thighs - Acceptable skin with some fatty areas
  • Slathered Thighs - Unacceptable slightly fatty


Now I don’t really like going over 3 hours but due to the fact of the placement of the Dutch oven, I had to.

4 hours in: (3 hours)

  • Dry Rub Drums - Skin was awesome, bites are clean into skin
  • Slathered Drums - Skin was awesome, bites are clean into skin
  • Dry Rub Thighs - Skin was awesome, bites are clean into skin with little fatty areas
  • Slathered Thighs - Acceptable skin

But as I mentioned before, these results were skewed because of the Dutch oven placement however it does give me an answer to the crisp/fatty skin dilemma.
After I removed the Dutch oven the temps in the chamber jumped 50°, the DO was really affecting the air flow and it didn’t dawn on me until I remove the DO and the temp jumped and the chicken was starting to sizzle.

Estimated times for a proper cook in parenthesis.

Four hours is a bit too long especially for the drums.

As far as the flavor goes the slather really, really permeated into the whole piece of chicken, but I prefer the rub.
The texture of the meat was ok after 4 hours but better at the 3 hour mark.

I am sure if the DO was not hindering air flow, that the skins on all 4 would be acceptable or above acceptable at about 3 hours.

A few things folks could try is to:

  • Use a dry rub as opposed to a slather or oil for lower temps. (oils do better at higher temps)
  • Trim the really fatty skin off the thigh before smoking.
  • Render in a Sous Vide machine at 170 for a few hours
  • Deep fry the thighs and drums first
  • Deep fry the thighs and drums after 2 hours on the pit
  • Cook at higher temps, I like the idea of cooking at 225° to 250° because that way I can cook multiple things at once, If I want to cook my chicken at 325° I’ll just toss it on the grill.
  • After smoking crisp up skin on a grill.
  • Broil in the oven
  • Remove thigh skin and pan fry
  • For RF users, Place skin side down on the reverse flow plate after 1 hour till the skin crisps up, just make sure your RF plate is clean.

I just wanted to make sure my posts were accurate and that what I am posting does not steer someone in the wrong direction. Its easy for someone to have a successful cook and can’t remember the exact method, temps or times then make an uninformed post.
I was getting so paranoid that I was missing something because I seem to be the odd man out.

Experiment for yourself and see what works for you, hope this helps someone!


Now for the pictures:

  • Dry Rub

  • Slather.


  • Slather top and Dry Rub below.


  • OK everything is ready, time to feed frank.



Notice the Dutch oven, its sitting directly on the Reverse flow plate, restricting the flow under the chicken.

The heat is traveling over top of the DO and directly out of the stack, I had a raging fire with all vents open and I topped out at 250°, that should have been my first sign something was wrong.

Oh, by the way that's "apple butter" in the DO.




  • The Sun was in a bad position for photographs.






  • Slathered thigh.


  • Rubbed thigh.

  • Time to remove the thighs and drums from the pit.


  • Vacuum sealed.



post #5 of 15

Looks very good! thumb1.gif

post #6 of 15

Hello SQWIB.  WOW!!  WHAT A GREAT "HOW TO"!!  If folks can't make crispy smoked chicken after that then????  Thanks for the repost!  Keep Smokin!


post #7 of 15

The MES will not  achieve high enough temps to crisp chicken skin . Either flash fry after smoking or finish on a hot grill. I have tried for years on my MES and the only way the skin would get close to crispy was the chicken dried out first,

post #8 of 15
My smoker will crisp the skin....I have a Smokin-it #2......but even then I will some times finish them quick on my infrared grill.
post #9 of 15

wings,  I fund if you cook them at a lower temp they do not get crispy ,  smoke fo 30 min then raise to 350 and cook for another  35 to 45 min then add sauce and cook another 5 to 10 ,

post #10 of 15

I have had very good results smoking them at 300-325. But the best result was smoking them for 1.5 - 2 hours, them fry them them.  Best of both worlds! 

post #11 of 15
Originally Posted by stickyFingers View Post

I have had very good results smoking them at 300-325. But the best result was smoking them for 1.5 - 2 hours, them fry them them.  Best of both worlds! 

Agreed. The smoke, then fry combo is my favorite.
post #12 of 15
I find that if you place the chicken on a wired rack with paper towels covering them, and place it the refrigerator (bottom selve) overnight. The results are that the moisture in the fat would be rendered. This would make the chicken easier to crisp in a shorter time and with out frying.
post #13 of 15

We usually just grill chicken pieces and everyone seems happy.

post #14 of 15
wings are really the perfect meat to be able to cook/smoke at a higher temp, they are encased by fatty delicious skin that will crisp up nicely at higher hear while keeping the meat moist and bubbling inside. I set my weber kettle for indirect cooking, I keep the temp between 325 and 375 and cook until the skin is nice and crispy and the joints move freely. I prefer whole wings and I use those wire racks to hang them in the grill. Poultry takes smoke so easily that a couple small wood chunks is all you need.
post #15 of 15

thats some great looking wings there WOW


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