Deceptively simple and mostly hands-off, this smoked turkey wings recipe is perfect for the holiday season. Slow-smoked to juicy, crispy perfection, the wings make the perfect hearty appetizer or main course.
Turkey is similar to a chicken, in that they have many delicious cuts and many delicious ways to cook it, including the wings.
I typically bake turkey wings, but since getting my smoker, I’ve been a little obsessed with using any cut of protein in it. While most people typically smoke turkey breasts, I adapted my smoked chicken wings to do the wings but tweaked the cooking time and the seasonings. Let me just say that these wings are an absolute winner!
Table of Contents
Why this recipe works
- Set and forget cooking. The #1 best part about using a smoker is that it’s essentially hands-off. You leave the wings in there to do it’s thing and you only need to check it once to see if its cooked. Easy!
- PERFECT texture. I find smoking wings yields consistently perfect results every time. This simple smoking technique yields crispy skin and juicy meat (like with smoked turkey legs).
- Easy to customize. Don’t like the flavor, or do you want to make a juicier cut? Want to add your flair and make the best for your taste palette? Don’t worry; this recipe can adapt to your taste without much effort.
- Great for any occasion. Game day, Thanksgiving dinner, or a summer cookout, these wings work pretty much anywhere.
Remember, turkey wings are not small and bite-sized like chicken wings, so serve them as a main dish with a few side dishes.
Besides the turkey wings and some seasonings, there really isn’t much else needed to whip this up. Here is what you’ll need:
- Turkey wings. I love buying separate wings as they are uniform in size and easy to work with. Grocery stores typically already do this for you, but some butchers have them whole. If you get your wings from the latter, ask for them to be separated before you bring them home (the wing from the drumette).
- Olive oil. Even though a smoker doesn’t need grease or fat to cook, I like to add a touch of oil as a surefire way to ensure the spice mix sticks to the wings.
- Brown sugar. Some smoked wing recipes call for BBQ sauce, but they are a little too overpowering for turkey wings. Instead, a little brown sugar adds some sweetness AND helps with the caramelization (aka crispy edges).
- Chili powder. For the heat. This is completely optional, and if you aren’t a chili fiend like me or my family, skip it.
- Smoked paprika. For its subtle heat and smokey flavor. Please do not use standard paprika!
- Garlic and onion powder. Add some subtle flavor without needing the fresh aromatics.
- Salt and pepper. To taste.
Find the printable recipe with measurements below.
How to smoke turkey wings
With a smoker, your favorite hardwood, and turkey, learn to make the best-smoked turkey wings home.
Step 1- Prep. Gently pat the turkey wings with paper towels and brush them with olive oil.
Step 2- Season. Combine brown sugar and spices in a small bowl and season the turkey wings with the spice rub.
Step 3- Smoke. Place the wings in a preheated smoker and smoke until they reach 165°F, or for 2 hours.
Step 4- Finish in the oven (optional). Once the turkey wings are smoked, place them in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until even more crispy.
Step 5- Cool and serve. Allow the turkey wings to cool down and serve.
Now, I know not everyone has a smoker or has access to one, so I’ve tested this exact recipe in the oven and LOVE how similar the results are. Yes, it’s a little more hands-on, but the flavor is on point!
To bake, prep the turkey wings as instructed, then place them on a wire rack over a baking sheet. Next, bake at 180C/350F for 40 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165F. Turn on the broil setting for the final 5 minutes to crisp up the skin.
Recipe tips and variations
- Use a meat thermometer. USDA recommends that you smoke or grill the turkey wings till they register 165F at the meatiest part of the cut. I typically rest my wings before serving so remove them at 155-160F (the residual heat will continue cooking them).
- Keep the wing tips. Wing tips can dry after a long cook; you can trim them up and leave them for stock or soup later (I use it in either my ground turkey soup or turkey noodle soup).
- Start with dry wings. Unless you are slow cooking the wings, you must ALWAYS start with bone-dry wings. I always pat each wing down with a paper towel before adding the seasonings.
- Choose your favorite pellet. If I’m serving a crowd, I like to use mild wood chips like apple, cherry, or pecan. If it’s for myself or my family, I typically use hickory or oak, because these have a stronger smoky flavor.
Unlike chicken wings, which should typically be enjoyed fresh, leftover smoked turkey wings actually keep really how. Here is how:
To store. Place leftover wings in a sealable container and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
To freeze. For extended storage, place the wings in an airtight container and store them in the freezer for up to 4 months.
To reheat. Microwave defrost will dry out these juicy wings. Cover them with foil and reheat them in an air fryer or oven for the best taste.
Frequently asked questions
Your smoking time will vary depending on the size of the turkey wings, the type of smoker, and the smoking temperature. I used a Traeger Grills Smoker (pellet grill) and at 225F, this specific recipe took exactly two hours to smoke.
Yes! You can cook these wings up to three days in advance and just reheat them in the oven.
Not unless you want to. Because there is already the option to broil the wings at the end, there is no need to brine the wings first (doing this draws out moisture from the skin).
More delicious turkey recipes to try
- Spatchcock turkey– The easiest way to roast a whole bird in minimal time.
- Turkey pastrami– Slow smoked and better than any deli meat out there.
- Turkey drumsticks– Juicy, moist, and oven roasted to perfection.
- Turkey tenderloin– Only love the white meat? This is the turkey dish for you.
Smoked Turkey Wings
- Preheat the smoker to 225F. Use desired hardwood.
- Pat dry the turkey wings with paper towels. Brush them with olive oil.
- Combine brown sugar and spices in a bowl. Season the turkey wings with the spice mix, ensuring all sides are well coated.
- Place the wings in the smoker and smoke for two hours or until they reach an internal temperature of 165F.
- If you'd like extra crispy wings, bake them in a preheated oven at 180C/350F for 15 minutes.
- Cool the wings before serving.
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