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How to Grill Turkey Wings

The wing trend in the U.S. is an exciting one, with new sauces, glazes, and recipes being created all the time. While we traditionally think of chicken wings as the way to snack with friends, a turkey wing is a full-flavored alternative that handles the heat of a grill well.

Those looking for a meatier wing recipe should top off their pellet hopper and fire up the grill because turkey wings are on the menu.

What Are Turkey Wings?

Just like a chicken, the turkey wing comes from where the wing bone is attached to the breast. Since turkeys are bigger you’ll get a larger, dark meat piece that weighs between 6 to 8 ounces per serving. Turkey wings contain more calories and fat than a chicken wing. They are more filling, and you can expect to eat fewer than you would of the smaller chicken wings.

Where to Buy Turkey Wings

Turkey wings are sold wherever you buy poultry products, including most grocery stores and natural food markets. You may also like to buy them from your local butcher, who can help you select wings the right size for grilling. Look for wings with the skin still attached.

Preparing the Turkey Wings for Grilling

No matter where you buy your turkey wings, you may need to clip the wing tips. This is a bony notch at the corner of the wing that you can remove with kitchen shears. Check for any additional bones or feathers and remove them at this time.

How to Season Grilled Turkey Wings

If you choose to skip the brining process, you can simply season the wings with salt, pepper, or any additional seasoning. Some people prefer a simple seasoning blend at this point and then serve their wings with sauce when they eat them.

However, if brining is your method of choice, it’s simple to do. Just prepare to add an additional day to your cooking time.

Brine

Brining adds much-needed moisture to turkey wings as well as consistent flavor throughout the meat. Traeger’s brine from the smoked turkey legs recipe is a perfect way to bring out the best of a turkey wing.

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon of warm water
  • 1 cup Traeger Rub
  • 1/2 cup Morton Tender Quick curing salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon crushed allspice berries (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons liquid smoke

Combine ingredients in a large stockpot and bring to a boil. When all the sugar and salt are dissolved, turn off the heat and let the liquid cool to room temperature. Add 4 cups of ice and a half-gallon of cold water to the mixture. Then, place it in the fridge until you're ready to brine the turkey wings.

Place the wings into the brine and keep them in the fridge for up to 24 hours. Remove the wings, discard the brine, and rinse the wings thoroughly before seasoning.

Dry Rub

If you brine your wings well, you won’t need to dry rub, but some people prefer a little kick as well as the texture a rub brings to the wing surface. Pat dry your wings with a paper towel before placing them in a large bowl. Sprinkle your choice of rub seasoning over the wings. Then, toss the wings to coat them fully.

Sauce

Turkey wings, like chicken wings, are enjoyed best with sauce. You can baste the wings with sauce right before cooking or wait until they are fully grilled and “toss” them like you would a chicken wing.

The easiest way to sauce turkey wings is to put them into a heat-resistant bowl (stainless steel or other), drizzle the sauce of your choice over the wings, and cover the bowl with a lid or foil. Gently toss by shaking the bowl. The wings will get coated nicely.

Popular sauce options include buffalo, honey garlic, parmesan, or barbecue. Pick your favorite sauce from your grocer's shelves, or try a homemade sauce for a unique taste.

How to Grill Turkey Wings

Wings cooked on a grill benefit from excellent air circulation, especially when using a pellet grill. Turkey wings are larger than chicken wings, so set aside more time for them to cook fully.

What Wood Pellets to Use With Turkey Wings

Turkey wings are usually served with bold and tangy sauces, so using a wood that holds up well with flavor makes sense here. Hickory is always good choice, as well as pecan or even apple. If you aren’t sure which to choose from, go with a blend, like Traeger Turkey Blend for a robust flavor you won’t soon forget. It also comes with a brine kit to knock out the brining task in one easy step.

How Long to Grill Turkey Wings

The simplest way to grill turkey wings on Traeger grill is at a temperature of 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Preheat the grill for around 15 minutes with the lid closed, then set the wings inside. Close the lid and smoke the wings until they reach the proper internal temperature. Expect it to take around two hours, but possibly more for thicker wings.

The wings should be big enough to set directly on the grill grate, but if you are concerned about them sticking or falling through the grate, place them on a baking sheet. This will increase the cooking time slightly. You will end up with more moisture and less crisp than you would with a grate, however.

How to Get Turkey Wings Crispy

To get the crispiest texture, pat the wings dry before seasoning. Place them directly on the grill, instead of a baking sheet, to get the skin as nice and crispy as possible.

Internal Temperature of Turkey Wings

A proper internal temperature is the only way to know your wings are fully cooked. Use a meat thermometer at the thickest portion of the wing. It should be 165 degrees Fahrenheit. You may see a pinkish appearance to the meat, depending on the brine or sauce used. Don’t go by the look, however. The temperature is what counts.

What Goes Well With Turkey Wings?

Turkey wings, like chicken wings, are delicious on their own. Serve with a side of carrots and celery sticks, your favorite dipping sauce, and the drink of your choice.

For turkey wings that will be enjoyed as a main dish, consider pairing them with a side of potatoes like these Smoked Buffalo Fries or Roasted Sweet Potato Fries. Wings also go great with appetizers you can watch during a game, like onion rings, cheese sticks, or these soft pretzels with beer cheese dip!

Whatever you serve with your wings, just be sure to bring lots of napkins. These treats are delicious but messy.

Turkey Wings Recipes

Turkey wings are a simple dish that can be customized using a variety of rubs, spices, and sauces. Take inspiration from these other recipes to create something all your own.

Herb Roasted Turkey – While this recipe is designed for a full bird, the spices are easily adapted as a rub for your turkey wings.

Sweet Cajun Wings – Use the flavors from this chicken wing dish to spice up your next batch of turkey wings.

Roasted Serrano Hot Wings – The beer and pepper flakes put the wow factor into the brine for this wing recipe, which is easily adapted for turkey.