I have a fun summer chicken wing recipe to tell you about today!
Wings, for me, usually designate football season.
They’re typically doused in buffalo sauce and dipped in blue cheese or ranch dressing. I also love mine with extra celery! And I love a lightly breaded chicken wing. They are absolutely one of my favorite fall treats!
As much as I adore that classic buffalo wing, I wanted to explore some other options for serving wings, especially in the summer. Specifically, using the grill to cook them! No deep frying or cranking on a hot oven in the middle of summer.
This recipe is so fun and SO flavorful. It’s kinda crazy how such simple ingredients can add so much pizzazz to the humble chicken wing. It’s magic.
When we traveled to Italy a few summers ago, we started our trip in Rome. We were on a mission to eat the best cacio e pepe in Rome, since it’s one of the city’s signature dishes. We ordered it at every cafe and restaurant and devoured it happily every time. To be honest, I don’t think we had a BAD version at any of our stops.
Cacio e pepe is one of the simplest ways to make a flavorful pasta dish. The main flavors are lots of freshly cracked black pepper and pecorino romano cheese (the cheese of Rome!). Pasta is cooked and then tossed with those ingredients, along with the magic of some pasta cooking water, and before you know it, a luxuriously creamy and flavorful sauce forms. It’s SO simple but unbelievably delish.
I wanted to take those same flavors and use them on a chicken wing. And I have to say, these wings came out even better than I was expecting. Dan and I devoured them. In record time. I’m sorta happy no one was watching.
The key to these wings is the brine! It adds significant time to the recipe, yes, but it also adds significant flavor and moisture to the wings! It’s so, so worth it. Brining the wings ahead of time basically guarantees that you can’t overcook them. OK, not really, but it does make it really hard to overcook them because it makes them INCREDIBLY juicy. Which is why it works so well for a super hot grill.
Once your wings are brined for a few hours, crank up your grill and create two zones of heat. This is easier than it sounds. If you’re using a gas grill, turn on half the burners and leave the other half off. The cooler side will still get hot and will serve as an indirect heat source. The side with the burners cranked on is your direct/super hot zone. Both serve an important purpose!
(And if you’re working with charcoal, I have instructions for that as well in the recipe below).
We are going to start by grilling the wings on the indirect/cooler side of the grill – this will essentially cook them through but without giving them much color on the outside. Once they’ve reached a proper internal temperature, shift them over to the direct/super hot side of the grill and let them crisp up for a couple minutes per side.
Probably easier than you thought, huh?
I am no grill aficionado, but even I can do this.
After the wings are cooked through and crisped up on the outside, we toss them in a simple but super flavorful sauce: melted butter, garlic, lots of black pepper, pecorino romano, and some fresh parsley. Essentially, the same things that make the famous pasta so delicious.
Toss the wings in the butter sauce, garnish with a little more cheese and parsley just before serving, and then DIG IN. Just be prepared: once you start, you won’t be able to stop.
I can personally attest to this. Again, I am so relieved no one was watching.Print
Grilled Cacio e Pepe Chicken Wings
- Total Time: 4 hours 45 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
These Grilled Cacio e Pepe Chicken Wings are an awesome summer alternative to the classic buffalo wing. No deep frying or hot oven required for these! Buttermilk brined, then grilled until crispy, and tossed in an incredible butter sauce reminiscent of the classic cacio e pepe pasta dish…these are addictingly delicious!
To Brine the Wings:
- 2 lbs chicken wing pieces
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 3 garlic cloves, smashed
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
For Cooking and Serving:
- Canola or grapeseed oil, for brushing on the grill
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 garlic cloves, grated or pressed (we want very fine pieces of garlic)
- 1 teaspoon coarsely cracked black peppercorns
- 1 cup of finely grated pecorino romano cheese
- ⅓ cup fresh parsley, chopped
- Salt and additional black pepper, to taste
To Brine the Wings:
- Place the chicken wings in a large bowl and pour over the buttermilk. Add in the garlic cloves and salt and stir everything around a bit to combine.
- Cover the bowl and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours (and up to overnight!).
- Remove the chicken wings from the brine just before cooking.
For Cooking the Wings:
- Preheat the grill. We want to create two zones of heat on the grill – to do this, light only half of the burners on a gas grill. This will create a hot zone and an indirect heat zone. If using a charcoal grill, apply the same technique by placing the charcoal on one side of the grill to create a section that will not be as hot. Preheat the grill for at least 20 minutes before you grill the wings.
- Brush the grates of the grill with oil.
- Place the wings straight from the brine onto the cooler part of the grill (the indirect heat side). Grill for 5 minutes on the first side, flip, and then grill on the second side for 5 minutes more. Depending on how your grill cooks, you may need to increase the cooking time by 1-3 minutes on each side. Use a meat thermometer to monitor the internal temperature. We want an internal temperature of 165°F.
- Once the wings are cooked through, move the wings over to the hot zone of your grill. Char them until they are crispy and blackened in spots, about 2 minutes per side.
For Serving the Wings:
- While the wings are grilling, heat a medium saucepan over medium heat and add the olive oil and butter.
- Once the butter is melted and hot, add the garlic and peppercorns, stirring or swirling the pan constantly to prevent them from burning.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in half of the cheese and parsley. Taste the mixture and add salt, as needed.
- As soon as the wings come off the grill, place them on a large rimmed baking sheet covered in foil. Pour the butter sauce all over them evenly, turning them to evenly coat.
- Sprinkle the remaining cheese and parsley over top. Grind a little bit of black pepper over the wings and serve!
I highly recommend the brining step in this recipe. The wings easily dry out on the grill without it (which is why chicken wings are usually deep fried – keeps them moist). That said, the steps of the recipe are otherwise simple and straightforward; it just requires a little bit of extra time accommodation for the brining time!
- Prep Time: 4 hours 30 minutes (inactive brining time)
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Category: chicken
Keywords: grilled chicken wings recipe, cacio e pepe chicken wings, cacio e pepe sauce, brining chicken wings, easy chicken wing recipe
Could I air fry the wings instead of grilling? They look so good but don’t own a grill!
I absolutely think you can! That said, I don’t have any insight to offer because I haven’t tried that method. I’d Google how to air fry wings and then follow those steps. I THINK the brining and sauce would both work with that method. Let me know if you try it! 🙂