Smoked Lemon Pepper Wings

Tangy, spicy, and crispy, these lip-smacking smoked lemon pepper wings will have you going back for more.
Smoked lemon pepper wings

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WARNING! These smokey, tangy wings are highly addictive!

If you’re anything like me, you’re always looking for the next best wing flavor. These smoked lemon pepper wings are a real crowd pleaser and come with a huge flavor profile. 

I’ll show you how you can make crispy, delicious smoked lemon pepper wings with your own simple flavor-packed rub and sauce.

Fresh or Frozen?

When buying wings, you want to get fresh, not frozen, as the texture and flavor will be much better. 

Whenever I purchase wings, I always get the whole wing, then cut the chicken wing into the drum and the flat.

raw wing cut into 3 parts on wooden chopping board

They are easy to cut apart, and you save quite a bit of money for two minutes of extra work. Use a good sharp chef’s knife when separating them.

How to get crispy skin when smoking chicken wings

Have you smoked chicken wings before only to be disappointed by rubbery skin?

When wings are cooked at a low temperature, the fat in the skin doesn’t get a chance to render and go crisp, resulting in the dreaded leathery texture.  

There are a couple of things you can do to ensure you get the crispiest skin. 

First off, add a bit of cornstarch to the rub. Cornstarch helps dry out the skin, which means less moisture and crispier skin. Be sure to toss it in with your seasoning, mix it well, then get a nice even coating all over those wings.

The other thing you can do is place your chicken on a wire rack in the fridge for a few hours.

This helps the wings dry out. The less moisture there is, the crispier the wing will get. 

Time and temp for smoked wings

It should take around one hour to cook these wings smoking at 275°F. 

Wings are safe to eat when the internal temperature is 165°F, but because of the higher fat content, they taste best cooked to 175-185°F. 

wings on grill with thermapen reading 182 degrees
If you don’t already have one, an instant read thermometer is one of the best investments you will ever make.

After an hour, the wings will be cooked, but I like to finish them with a 5-10 minute grill over direct heat to ensure that the skin is nice and crispy.   

How to make smoked lemon pepper wings

1. Fire up the smoker

Preheat your smoker to 275°F.

For this cook, I used my Kamado Joe with apple wood which compliments the lemon profile of the rub. Any smoke wood will work for chicken. 

One large wood chunk is all that is needed for this cook.

smoker set up with small flame
smoker set up with burn charcoal and piece of unburnt wood

I place my wood chunk next to the burning coals – not directly in them. This helps produce a cleaner, better-tasting smoke profile. I also like to give the wood chunk a few minutes to burn until the heavier smoke dissipates. 

If you find that wood chunks produce too much smoke, you can use wood chips and just put a few handfuls in as needed.

Also, feel free to mix it up and try two kinds of wood at once and customize it to your liking. 

2. Prep your wings

Separate your wings by removing the drums from the flats and discarding the wing tips (or you could freeze them to add to stock at a later date).

whole raw wing on wooden chopping board
Place the wing skin side down and cut parallel to the length of the drum.
raw wing cut into 3 parts on wooden chopping board
Then, stretch out the flat, find the ridge between it and the wing tip, and cut through.

Coat your wings with a binder, like hot sauce or olive oil. This helps the rub stick better. 

two white bowls with rub ingredients in one and cornflour in the other
Combine the rub ingredients and coat your wings evenly. 

You can cook your wings straight away or, as I mentioned above, season and let them sit in the fridge for a couple of hours to dry out, this also helps to let the rub set in.

raw wings coated in rub in a bowl
You want a nice course grind on the pepper to give nice hits of peppery heat.

3. Smoke the wings

Once your smoker is stabilized at 275°F, place your wings directly on the grates and close the smoker.

raw wings on grill
Don’t overcrowd the grill. Make sure you give your wings a bit of space between each piece.

After 30 minutes, it’s time to give them a flip. Let them smoke for another 30 minutes to infuse that delicious smoky flavor. 

cooked wings on the grill

4. Make the wing sauce

I used a whole head of roasted garlic. To do this, cut the top off the garlic, pour over some olive oil, and then cook for 30 minutes.

If you put the garlic on the roast when you put the wings on, it will be ready when you need to make the sauce.

You can also substitute for 2 tsp of garlic powder or 1 tbsp minced garlic.

Add all your ingredients into a pan and cook them down slowly until the butter is fully melted. Stir well and set aside. 

5. Grill over direct heat

Once your wings have been smoking for an hour they are almost done. I like to hit my wings with 7-10 minutes of direct heat to crisp up that skin. Flip them every 2-3 minutes to prevent them from burning – you want to be able to taste that smoky flavor! 

Once they reach about 185°F internal temp, pull them off.

The great thing about chicken wings is they are hard to overcook. You can pull them off at 165°F or get them crispier and cook them longer. They will still come out juicy and delicious, I promise! 

6. Sauce the wings

To finish, place them in a large bowl, pour in your sauce, and toss the wings until they are fully coated.

lemon sauce being poured on cooked wings
For more bold flavor, top the wings with more zest, lemon juice, and fresh cracked black pepper.

These wings are so good! Sit back, grab yourself a cold one and enjoy them with someone who loves wings as much as you. 

If you’re looking for more wing inspiration, check these out:

Smoked lemon pepper wings

Easy Smoked Lemon Pepper Wings

5 from 9 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 3
Calories: 720kcal
Author: Nick Nesgoda


  • 3 lb whole chicken wings
  • 1 tbsp hot sauce or olive oil as binder
  • 1 lemon for serving


  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper cracked
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch


  • ½ stick unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp hot sauce
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 lemon medium size, juiced
  • 1 head roasted garlic Slice top off a head of garlic, pour 1 tsp of olice oil then cook for 30 minutes at 400°F.


  • Preheat the smoker to 275°F.
  • Separate the wings into drums, flats and tips. Discard the wing tips.
  • Place drums and flats in a bowl. Pour in hot sauce and mix making sure they all have a light coating of the binder.
  • Season the wings with the lemon pepper rub ensuring they are all evenly coated.
  • Place the wings directly on the grates then close the lid and let them smoke for 30 minutes.
  • While wings are smoking, roast a head of garlic for the wing sauce. Slice top off, pour 1 tsp of olice oil then cook for 30 minutes at 400°F.
  • After 30 minutes of smoking, your wings should be developing a darker color. Flip them and let them smoke for another 30 minutes.
  • After they have been smoking for 1 hour, cook them over direct heat for 5-10 minutes to help crisp up the skin.
  • Once the internal temperature of the wings reaches around 185°F its time to pull them off.
  • Place them in a bowl, pour in your sauce and give them a good toss to coat.
  • Garnish with extra lemon zest and black pepper.

For the rub

  • Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix until well combined.

For the lemon pepper sauce

  • Squeeze the garlic out of each clove, then add the rest of the ingredients to a pot and cook on low until the butter is fully melted.


Calories: 720kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 46g | Fat: 55g | Saturated Fat: 21g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g | Monounsaturated Fat: 20g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 229mg | Sodium: 1884mg | Potassium: 482mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1177IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 63mg | Iron: 3mg
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