Grilling season is here, and crispy wings are a tasty treat enjoyed both plain and with smoky sauces. However, they tend to dry out a bit and become a little finicky on the grill. Grillmasters have a trick up their sleeve to help you cook delicious grilled chicken wings.
Unthawed chicken wings are said to have some benefits on the grill. Being a smaller piece of meat, wings on the grill can easily become overcooked. If you have unthawed wings handy, it’s easier to achieve the perfect cook when the cold meets the heat.
Also, with busy schedules, many of us don’t have time to dethaw our wings before they’re ready to hit the grill. Thankfully, gone are the days of countless hours of defrosting, and now it’s time to dive into the method behind this frozen wing madness.
Is It Better to Grill Frozen Chicken Wings?
There are pros and cons when it comes to grilling the best wings. Frozen chicken wings have a particular set of challenges that cause some grill lovers to pass on this type of recipe.
First and most importantly, no one wants to consume raw chicken and risk contracting salmonella. When it comes to meat, this is not something to mess around with. There’s the misconception that grilling frozen chicken wings increases the risk of this. As long as you cook the wings thoroughly, this isn’t a problem.
When you cook unthawed chicken wings, they will require extra time to achieve a complete cook. You want to make sure the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F with an instant-read thermometer.
Then there’s the fact that some are afraid this type of wings recipe will create rubbery, chewy wings because of the additional moisture. The unthawed chicken will rapidly dethaw on the grill, creating a different texture when cooked than raw chicken that has been dethawed first. Still, the chicken doesn’t become too chewy or tough with this method if you follow the right steps.
Super Easy Clean-Up
There is also one very huge bonus to throwing unthawed chicken wings on the grates. Some find that frozen chicken doesn’t stick as much to the grill grate as dethawed chicken. This is a plus for easy clean-up, and your wings won’t lose any meat on the grill.
Overall, you should grill chicken wings based on your personal preferences and consider prep time, taste, texture, and cook time. As long as you keep an eye on the meat, your wings from frozen can still be delicious and crisp.
Steps for Perfect Frozen Wings on the Grill
Some people grill wings with a simple splash of olive oil and light seasoning. However, you can spice up your recipe to make crispy chicken wings your way. Here are the easy steps that will have you on your way to wing mastery.
First, heat your charcoal grill or gas grill to a steady medium heat, about 300-350 degrees F. Grab your unthawed chicken and some aluminum foil. Place a single layer of foil on the grill grate to create a spot of indirect heat. There’s a reason for this, and it’s important.
Because your chicken is frozen, you don’t want to place the chicken in direct heat, or else the chicken skin and meat will dethaw too quickly, creating a rubbery texture. Expect to spend more time at the grill when working with unthawed meat if you want an end product with a delicious taste and texture.
Toss your wings in a thin layer of olive oil and place them on the aluminum foil over indirect heat. Grill chicken wings for around 20-23 minutes until thoroughly done.
Flip wings halfway through to make sure you achieve an even cook. Be careful because crispy chicken skin does not indicate your meat is thoroughly cooked, so always check that thermometer!
Time to Hit the Sauce!
Once your wings are done, transfer them to a large bowl to toss with your favorite wing sauce. Wanna keep it simple? Grab some melted butter and toss wings for a few minutes until a little butter has lightly coated each chicken wing. Add a little seasoning or dry rub, and you have reached perfection.
You can also use buffalo sauce, hot sauce, or bbq sauce to your liking. Just don’t forget to grab a paper towel because this could get messy.
Voila! Now you have the best chicken wings from frozen with zero fuss or hassle.
How Is Grilling Frozen Wings Different?
The main difference between letting your wings cook thawed vs. unthawed is the amount of time and attention they need. If you plan to cook frozen chicken wings, you’ll need to grill the whole wings a lot longer, about twice the amount of time.
On the other hand, if you have thawed wings, the cooking time is significantly reduced. You can also use a direct grilling method with thawed wings, while unthawed wings need indirect heat.
Direct heat can add gorgeous grill marks to thawed meat but leave unthawed meat rubbery and unappealing. Overall, wings that are frozen require more attention and time to be perfect.
If I don’t have a grill or am short on time, how else can I cook frozen wings?
There are many easy recipes for chicken wings that don’t include a grill. You can make your chicken wings easily in a deep fryer, air fryer, or instant pot. Just keep the lid closed until your wings finish cooking. They can also be tossed in oil, spread out on a baking sheet, and cook until they are perfectly crisp and golden brown.
How can I dethaw my chicken wings if I don’t want to grill them frozen?
The refrigerator is probably the best option for dethawing your wings. If you have the time, pop them in the fridge the night before. You can also add your chicken to a bag and submerge it in cool water to dethaw slowly. Don’t use hot water because this presents a food safety issue.
Dethawing on the counter is fine, but we recommend only leaving your chicken wings out for 4-6 hours in this instance. Microwaves can be used to dethaw meat, but we don’t recommend this method unless necessary. Some have a dethawing tray, too, that makes dethawing simple.
Can I marinate my chicken wings?
Yes! A marinade is an excellent way to boost your grilled chicken wings’ natural flavor while keeping them moist. Place your chicken wings into a ziplock bag with your desired marinade.
While you’re making your grilled chicken wings, bring extra marinade to a simmer. Grill wings, then transfer the chicken wings to the simmering marinade to collect extra flavor.
Can you cook chicken wings from frozen?
Yes, absolutely. Just be mindful that you’ll spend extra time cooking to ensure your meat is cooked all the way through. Also, if you’re using unthawed chicken, make sure to cook on indirect heat to prevent the meat from dethawing too quickly.
How long does it take to grill frozen chicken wings?
Considering normal chicken wings take about 15-18 minutes on the grill to cook, frozen chicken wings will take additional time upwards of 20-23 minutes. It’s better to keep them cooking longer rather than risk consuming undercooked meat.
Is it safe to grill frozen chicken?
Yes, as long as you’re cautious while cooking. You want to make sure your meat is cooked all the way, so using a food thermometer to make sure your chicken reaches 165 degrees F will ensure your meat is done. Unthawed chicken simply takes longer to cook, and on the grill, it’s easy for your meat to look done without it actually being cooked all the way.
Grilled chicken wings can be enjoyed in many ways, whether you’re making grilled buffalo wings or opting for a bbq sauce recipe. Whether you plan to make hot wings or buffalo wings with ranch or blue cheese doesn’t matter as long as your mouth starts watering at the thought.
To make successful grilled wings, the key is to use indirect heat with a longer cook time if you’re starting from frozen. It’s always a bonus if you can dethaw your chicken, but most of us run out of time with our busy lives, so this grilling method is a great hack.
Keep an eye on your meat while following this easy recipe and enjoy delicious grilled chicken wings cooked to perfection.