In this recipe inspired by a pickleback shot (a shot of whiskey followed by a chaser of briny pickle juice), chicken wings are first brined in pickle juice then tossed in a blend of spices and baked until tender. I recommend planning about 4 wings per person as an appetizer and doubling it as an entrée. While I bake these wings, I also provide instructions below for both grilling and smoking the wings.
Brining chicken helps to impart salt throughout the meat while also keeping it tender and moist as it cooks. Chicken can be brined in all sorts of mixtures from buttermilk to salt water. I use pickle juice as an easy and flavorful brine in this recipe. While you can quickly brine the wings in an hour, I recommend letting them sit in the brine overnight for the best flavor.
Add the chicken wings to a large mixing bowl and toss with the pickle juice. Cover and refrigerate, brining the wings in for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.
When ready to cook, drain the wings and pat dry with paper towels, returning the wings to the mixing bowl.
In a small mixing bowl whisk together the bourbon, honey, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, chili powder and cayenne until combined.
Pour the spice mixture over the wings and toss to combine.
Heat oven to 400ºF (200ºC). Place a wire rack inside a baking sheet. Arrange the wings in an even single layer and bake until cooked through, about 35 minutes, turning halfway through baking.
Arrange the wings on a large platter and serve with pickles.
Heat a charcoal or gas grill to about 400ºF (200ºC). Arrange the chicken wings on the grill grates and grill until cooked through, flipping every 3 to 5 minutes for about 15 to 20 minutes total (internal temperature should be about 170ºF (77ºC).
Set the smoker to 225ºF (107ºC). Arrange wings on the smoker and smoke until the internal temperature of the wings reaches 160ºF (71ºC), about 1 hour. Remove the wings to a platter and increase the temperature to 400ºF (200ºC). Return the wings to the smoker and continue to cook until browned in spots, about an additional 5 minutes.
If you enjoy this pickleback chicken wings recipe, give these other chicken wing recipes a try and follow me on Instagram for more updates:
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