If you haven’t heard or smelled, it’s BBQ season! These Smoky Habanero Barbecue Grilled Chicken Wings are smothered in a sweet and smoky paprika BBQ sauce that packs a hot heat punch from two tiny little peppers! Make sure to grab plenty of napkins.
Jump to Recipe
This year, we took one step closer to full adulthood and purchased a barbecue. At Costco. Uhh, yeah, we are seriously rocking the mid- to late 20’s. It’s one of those ceramic ‘egg’ types, and it’s pretty badass. Thank goodness we were able to fit it in the car, only after removing all the packaging and receiving some serious help from the Costco employees.
I’m not really the griller of the house, but I’ve learned just how much this thing can do in the past couple weeks. We’ve made wings (lots of them), smoked pork shoulder, PIZZA, quesadillas… and there’s plenty more where that came from.
Currently, we’re very into cooking chicken wings. After a few rounds with our fave Stubb’s Original BBQ Sauce, we decided a homemade option was in order. A spicy one! And so, this habanero barbecue sauce was born. Combined with smoked paprika, it’s my new favorite spicy barbecue sauce.
Some extended notes on the recipe:
- Gloves are a really great idea for wearing while you cut the habaneros. We bought some kitchen gloves on a whim at Costco, and they are actually really handy (hehe) for handling raw meats and other things you don’t really want to touch, like extremely hot peppers.
- For preparation and transportation of the wings, I like the following setup (seen in the photos): Line a large cookie sheet or baking tray with two layers of aluminum foil. Ensure that the top layer of foil is longer, covering the bottom layer and as much of the sides of the tray as possible. On top of the foil, place a layer of paper towels to help soak up excess moisture from the wings. The top layer of the foil and the paper towels are removed after the chicken is placed on the grill, and then your clean tray is ready. This double layer will help ensure the raw chicken does not touch the same surface as the cooked chicken.
- Spice order: I like to do the salt first, to ensure the most salt crystals stick to the chicken surface.
- I really don’t like handling raw chicken, so I use tongs (these ones are my favorite out of the kinds I’ve tried) when I have to flip or move the raw wings.
Other great summer recipes from Project Meal Plan:
- Creamy Avocado Mint Green Smoothie
- Meal Prep Chopped Thai Salad with Easy Peanut Dressing
- Veggie Packed Greek Yogurt Tuna Salad (No Mayo!)
Smoky Habanero Barbecue Grilled Chicken Wings recipe – Crispy barbecue grilled wings smothered in smoky hot tangy habanero BBQ sauce!
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar (cider vinegar works too)
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika (plus additional for coating chicken)
- 1 teaspoon salt (plus additional for coating chicken)
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper (plus additional for coating chicken)
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil (or EVOO)
- 2 habanero peppers, stems and seeds removed, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup yellow onion, roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic (about 1 clove)
- about 2 pounds of chicken wing sections (1st and 2nd), around 20 pieces
For the sauce:
- In a small bowl, whisk together ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, worcestershire sauce, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
- Heat oil in a small saucepan over low-medium heat. When hot, add habanero, onion, and a pinch of salt. Cook for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. The onions should be translucent and the edges of the peppers turning brown.
- Add garlic, and stir immediately. Cook for about 30 seconds, then add the barbecue sauce mixture. Stir until everything is well mixed. Reduce the heat to low and let the sauce simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Toss with cooked wings immediately, or store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. The sauce can be prepared in advance and used when needed!
For the wings:
- Light the grill and let it heat up to 425 degrees F.
- Lay a couple paper towel sheets on a flat surface. Place wings in a single layer on the paper towels, and use additional paper towels to pat the wings dry (see notes for more detail on my setup).
- Gently coat the surface of the wings with salt, fresh ground black pepper, and smoked paprika. I like to apply a light dusting of each straight from the shakers, which uses about 1/2 teaspoon for each spice. Flip the wings over and repeat with the same seasonings.
- Using tongs, transfer the wings in a single layer onto the grill. Close the lid and let cook for 12 minutes.
- Open the grill and flip each wing so the other side can cook. Close the lid and let cook for another 12 minutes. The wings should be crispy and done to your preference.
- Remove the wings from the grill. Place in a bowl and toss with the prepared barbecue sauce. Serve immediately. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Wing prep setup: Line a large cookie sheet or baking tray with two layers of aluminum foil. Ensure that the top layer of foil is longer, covering the bottom layer and as much of the sides of the tray as possible. On top of the foil, place a layer of paper towels to help soak up excess moisture from the wings. The top layer of the foil and the paper towels are removed after the chicken is placed on the grill, and then your clean tray is ready. This double layer will help ensure the raw chicken does not touch the same surface as the cooked chicken. This setup is shown in the photos.
Sauce recipe adapted from Simple Barbecue Sauce from New York Times Cooking.
- Serving Size: about 5 wings
- Calories: 422 (depends on your sauciness)
- Sugar: 14g
- Fat: 18g
- Carbohydrates: 16g
- Protein: 20g
Thank you so much for checking out the Smoky Habanero Barbecue Grilled Chicken Wings (and making it to the bottom)! Be sure to use #projectmealplan on social media if you make this recipe! And follow me on Pinterest for meal inspiration every day.