Grilled veggies are a healthy accompaniment to barbecue wings.

How to Cook Barbecue Wings Over Indirect Heat

by Zora Hughes

Perfectly grilled barbecue wings don't happen by chance. Grilling any type of meat requires proper preparation of the grill as well as choosing the right grilling method. You can only do indirect cooking with a charcoal or gas grill that has a cover. With this method, the grill acts very much like a convection oven -- the heat swirls around the inside of the grill, cooking the wings from all angles.

Prepping Chicken Wings

Remove the wing tips using kitchen shears.

Rinse the wings under cool water and pat dry completely with paper towels.

Season or marinate the wings to your taste. This could be as simple as sprinkling the chicken with salt and pepper, or letting them marinate in a vinaigrette or spicy marinade for several hours before grilling. If you choose, you can also create a basting mixture or a barbecue sauce to brush on the wings as they cook.

Preparing the Grill

Place a drip pan in the center of a charcoal grill, and then pour the coals on either side of it. Heat the coals to medium, about 325 to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place wood chips on top of the hot coals on a charcoal grill. If you are using a gas grill, turn one side of the grill on high until smoke appears, and then reduce the heat to medium. Put wood chips in a smoker box or foil pouch, and place the box or foil as close as possible to the flame.

Brush and oil the grill grate just before you are ready to cook the wings.

Grilling the Wings

Place the seasoned or marinated chicken wings on the grill, over the drip pan and away from the hot coals on a charcoal grill. On a gas grill, place the wings on the side of the grill that is not turned on. Cover the grill.

Baste the wings with barbecue sauce or other basting mixture after the wings are cooking for about 15 minutes, then more frequently as desired. You can flip the wings halfway through or continuously during the cooking process to get grill marks on both sides; however, when cooking with indirect heat, flipping often isn't necessary.

Cook the wings until they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit at the thickest point. It should take roughly 30 to 40 minutes with the indirect grilling method.

Items you will need

  • Chicken wings
  • Kitchen shears
  • Charcoal
  • Paper towels
  • Wood chips
  • Seasonings, to taste
  • Basting sauce
  • Grill brush


  • Flip or don't flip the wings at your own discretion. Some barbecue experts feel it is not necessary to flip wings or other meat when using the indirect method of grilling, while others feel it is the best way to ensure perfectly grilled meat.


About the Author

Based in Los Angeles, Zora Hughes has been writing travel, parenting, cooking and relationship articles since 2010. Her work includes writing city profiles for Groupon. She also writes screenplays and won the S. Randolph Playwriting Award in 2004. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in television writing/producing and a Master of Arts Management in entertainment media management, both from Columbia College.

Photo Credits

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