Smoked Frozen Chicken Wings

by | Mar 17, 2023 | Barbecue, Grilling, Smoker | 0 comments

What if some guests are coming over impromptu and you need to defrost the meat within a few hours? 

Fortunately, if you have a smoker, then you can use it to get rid of the ice as well as smoke the chicken. It is important that the meat is cooked thoroughly and safety is not risked for the sake of getting the job done fast. 

Remember – meat is perfectly cooked when smoked low and slow, so the more time you spend on it, the better it will come out. 

Eating raw meat can cause food poisoning or worms in the stomach, so always defrost the chicken properly before you grill it. If you’ve never smoked frozen chicken wings before, this article shall be discussing the most beginner-friendly way to do it if you are having a hard time. 

Read on to know more!

How To Defrost Frozen Wings?

Frozen chicken wings are far more difficult to coat with a rub as they don’t have the moisture needed to make the seasoning stick.

Chicken wings get thawed within the smoker and the crispy exterior will be done faster while the insides will take longer to cook. If you put the chicken on to grill right after taking it out of the freezer, the meat can become overcooked and tough to eat. 

The simplest method to defrost frozen wings is to simply let them thaw at room temperature. 

Depending on the size of the cuts, it can take around 30 minutes up to a few hours. The other, easier way to defrost the meat is to put it in the microwave. Simply put it in the machine and let it do its job. If you do not have an automatic one, set the temperature at about 20 – 30% of its highest one. 

Remember, once frozen chicken has been microwaved to thaw, it needs to be cooked right away. Germs thrive at temperatures between 40 and 140 °F (4.4 and 60 °C), which microwaves generally cook poultry to, so it’s only safe to eat for some time. 

How To Smoke Frozen Chicken Wings

Taking into account all the variations that result from being frozen, here’s how to smoke frozen chicken wings efficiently without sacrificing flavor for finishing up on time. 

The process mainly consists of three major steps – defrosting the chicken, putting the rub on it, and then finally grilling. If this is your first time doing it, the following is an easy but flavorful way to smoke frozen chicken wings.

1. Thaw The Chicken

Before you get to smoking the chicken wings, you’ll have to thaw them first properly. They may lose the frosting on the exterior, but the insides can still be frozen, so remember to take them out only when you’re going to cook them for sure. 

Taking them in and out of the freezer may lead to the meat losing its shelf life earlier. You cannot expose raw meat to the temperature outside for too long. 

To thaw the meat, simply let it sit outside for a few hours before you cook it. 

2. Preheat The Smoker

Once the whole chicken has been thawed, it is time to smoke it. For this, you need to heat the smoker and prepare it for cooking the chicken wings. Even pellet grills, charcoal smokers, and offset smokers can be used for this. 

All you have to do is make sure that you start at a lower temperature and slowly crank up the heat. 

You can start by letting the smoker heat up to 300 Degrees Fahrenheit before you put any of the chicken in. 

3. Prepare The Chicken With a Rub

While your smoker is trying to reach the desired temperature, you can work on preparing the rub. Only start this process when your chicken pieces have separated from each other as it makes smoking quite hard. 

Seasoning also doesn’t stick well to frozen chicken, so make sure it’s dry. However, if you are in a hurry, this problem can be overcome by simply covering the chicken wings with oil. 

After this, you can apply the rub or seasoning you have prepared and keep it in the smoker. Remember that if the meat absorbs too much moisture, then it will take even longer to cook and can even become rubbery. If you are looking for the smoky flavor only, there’s also the option to not add any seasoning at all. 

4. Smoke The Wings

Once the internal temperature of the smoker has reached 300 Degrees Fahrenheit, it is time to smoke the wings! 

Simply place the chicken wings directly on the grill if your smoker allows it or put them on a tray covered with aluminum foil. Then, close the lid so that you can keep the moisture locked and avoid opening it for around 1 hour while the wings are cooking. 

After the time is up, turn over the wings onto the other side and let the cook so that both sides are evenly cooked.

If you plan to smoke wings often, consider investing in a wire rack as you can easily take out the tray and flip the chicken over without losing any moisture. Next, put the wings into the smoker again and wait about an hour again to let it continue cooking. 

5. Give The Final Touches

Once the time is up, do a temperature check on one of the smaller chicken wings. If the internal temperature is about 160 Degrees Fahrenheit, I suggest giving the final touch that will bring out the smoky flavor.

This final step is to raise crank up the smoker to about 450 Degrees Fahrenheit for the last 15 to 20 minutes of cooking. You might not get this perfect temperature in a charcoal smoker, so you can compensate by turning up the heat. Doing so will help the skin dry up and also give your smoked chicken wings a natural, warm color. 

Your wings shall be done by now and once you remove them from the smoker, do a quick temperature check again and see if the meat is done well (160 – 165 Degrees Fahrenheit). The problem with meat is that it may look done on the outside, but the same cannot be said about the interior. Hence, people who do a lot of BBQ also invest in mechanical thermometers. 

Once the internal temperature is right, and the wings have cooked fully, it is time to serve the snack and enjoy the meal!

Tips To Smoke Chicken Wings

The key to smoking chicken wings well is to go low and slow. If you have the time, you can even start at 250 Degrees Fahrenheit to preheat the meat and then raise it. 

Since this is a common tip most people know, the following are a few others that have personally helped me out! 

  • Instead of getting raw meat directly from the butcher, you can get ‘party-style’ chicken wings instead. They are already cut up into smaller pieces and can save you a lot of time with cleaning the meat.  
  • If you like your smoked chicken wings juicy and full of flavor, you can consider brining them with a sauce instead of seasoning. It works well with the smokiness that comes from the heat and will also help it stick to the chicken.
  • Chicken wings are served best with greens like celery or carrots as the texture of both these foods are complementary to each other. 

Related Questions

1. Can You Smoke Chicken Wings Directly?

You cannot smoke chicken wings directly as without thawing, it is difficult for the seasoning to stick to the skin. There will be no flavor absorbed and you won’t be able to follow recipes as the smoking time will be completely different for frozen chicken wings as there are no proper instructions for the same. 

2. How Long To Smoke Frozen Chicken Wings At 225 Degrees?

The internal temperature at which wings are safe to eat is 165 Degrees Fahrenheit, which can be reached after one hour of smoking at 225 Degrees Fahrenheit. However, it really depends on the size of the meat – bigger wings will require more. 

3. Can You Overcook Smoked Wings?

All meat can be overcooked, and the same is the case with smoked wings. If the internal temperature of the meat goes above 165 Degrees Fahrenheit, your meat can turn rubbery and super chewy. 

Final Thoughts 

What better way to throw a party than to serve a delicious plate of smoked chicken wings? 

Now that you know how to cook frozen chicken without thawing them, you can have a professional snack ready in moments and leave them amazed. After all, who wouldn’t like a meal of hot BBQ chicken wings served with the goodness of home cooking?




Colin has been grilling, smoking, and barbecuing in his yard for as long as he remembers.  His favorite dish is pork belly smoked on his favorite offset smoker. Read more about Colin here.


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