The Meatwave: Barbecue & Grilling Recipes, Reviews, Tips, and Tricks

Tue Jan 28, 2014

Old Bay Chicken Wings

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Old Bay Wings

Oh how sad it is, wing month is coming to end. I could easily do a whole wing year, but alas, there are so many other things to grill and smoke that there comes a time to move on. I definitely wanted to end this special edition of the Meatwave with a bang though, which brought me to these Old Bay Wings. It's a tried and true recipe, one I developed years ago and, since then, has proven to be a faithful crowd-pleasing alternative to the standard Buffalo.

Old Bay Wings

When I first made these wings there was one thing I was not aware of though, not everyone knows what Old Bay even is. I grew up in the suburbs of D.C., and this spice blend out of Maryland was everywhere—on popcorn at the movies, fries in the food court, and, of course, liberally coated on crabs anywhere you went. It's a complex mixture of spices that includes paprika, celery salt, bay leaf, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, mace, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, cardamom, and ginger. To me, this blend evokes a sense of home and beach vacations of my youth every time I pop it open, and I don't think my spice shelf has ever been without a canister of Old Bay comfortable nestled in it.

Old Bay Wings

It's a powerhouse of seasoning, one strong enough to effectively flavor the chicken on its own, but since I'm all about building on a foundation, I took these wings further than just coating them Old Bay. I did start them off heavily with Old Bay though, but added to that, salt and baking powder (the later to help achieve a crispy textured skin on the grill).

Old Bay Wings

As those wings rested in the fridge to air dry, I put together a finishing sauce that was one part butter, one part Frank's Red Hot, and one part Worcestershire. Like Old Bay, the Worcestershire added a whole other level of complex flavor to what was a standard spicy, tangy, and rich Buffalo sauce base.

Old Bay Wings

After forty minutes on the grill over indirect medium-high heat, these wings already were looking better than the standard wing. The Old Bay gave them a beautiful reddish brown color which, mixed with the aroma of the seasoning, already had my mouth watering.

Old Bay Wings

I controlled myself though and kept from engaging in gluttony until after the wings were coated with the sauce. While the butter did add a decent thickness, this wasn't the type of sauce that clung mercilessly to the wings—it merely gave them a light coating.

Old Bay Wings

It was enough to compliment the Old Bay though—that taste of the Maryland shore dominated these wings while the Worcestershire took it further with its salty and tangy pungent flavor. The Frank's provided just the right touch of heat, while the butter gave the whole thing a richness you'd want in a stellar wing. They are certainly a fitting end to a month of great wings, and one I think will find much love at an Super Bowl bash.

Old Bay Chicken Wings

Old Bay give these wings a complexly seasoned base, while a sauce of Worcestershire, Frank's, and butter take them even further to be something really special.
  • Prep Time:
  • 10 Minutes
  • Inactive Time:
  • 8 Hours
  • Cook Time:
  • 40 Minutes
  • Total Time:
  • 8 Hours 50 Minutes
  • Yield:
  • serves 4-6


  • For the Chicken
  • 2 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 pounds chicken wings, cut into drumettes and flats
  • For the Sauce
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup Frank's Red Hot sauce
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce


  1. For the chicken: Mix together Old Bay, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Pat chicken wings dry with paper towels. Place wings in a large bowl and sprinkle with Old Bay mixture, tossing to coat evenly. Arrange wings in a single layer on wire rack placed over a baking sheet. Refrigerate uncovered for at least 8 hours.
  2. To make the sauce: Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in hot sauce and Worcestershire. Remove from heat and seat aside.
  3. Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place the wings skin side up over the cool side of the grill, cover, and cook until skins are crisp and are starting to brown, 30 to 40 minutes.
  4. Transfer wings to a large bowl. Add in sauce and toss to thoroughly coat. Transfer to a serving tray and serve immediately.


  • 01
  • Kathy says
    These ARE Awesome!!! The only thing we did differently was baste with the sauce the last few minutes, (and turned them)!
    Posted Tue, Jul 1 2014 10:37pm
  • 02
  • Brittany says
    These are amazing!!! We wanted more!! I would recommend doubling the recipe for 3lbs of chicken. I like the chicken fully covered with seasoning and the amount it called for was a bit short. You MUST give these wings a try! If your from Maryland its a MUST!!!
    Posted Sun, Jul 6 2014 7:51pm
  • 03
  • Cindy says
    AWESOME!! The only thing I do different, is no sauce added. Only because I like mine dry! But do put sauce on the side for others! thanks so much!!
    Posted Sat, Jan 31 2015 9:12am
  • 04
  • Rick says
    I've tried four of your wing recipes, and so far the family keeps voting this one to the top. I'm not so sure. It is great to have such confidence in any recipe I pick from your site. Looking forward to a "Meatwave Summer"!
    Posted Sat, May 23 2015 7:39pm
  • 05
  • Paul Cavaretta says
    Has anyone out there tried these with Srirchia in place of franks? I live in buffalo practicing for a competition in the fall. First I tried variations on Franks, but decided it might be advantageous to try something totally different since we have some of the best Franks wings here in 90% of the pizza parlors.
    Posted Thu, Jun 25 2015 6:57pm
  • 06
  • Kristie says
    Amazing good wings! We've made them twice and got rave reviews from our friends, said they were better than anything they have had in a restaurant! I'm wondering if we would achieve the same crisp skin if the baking powder were replaced with baking soda? For health reasons we are trying a SCD diet and baking powder is a no no unfortunately. Thoughts?
    Posted Thu, Sep 17 2015 10:32am
  • 07
  • Josh says
    @Kristie Baking soda can be used, but it can also give your wings an off flavor. I would give it a try without the baking powder and with the air drying, and you should still get decent enough results.
    Posted Wed, Nov 4 2015 11:44am
  • 08
  • Mary says
    Have you tried a similar version but frying the wings? My guess was to toss the old bay on the sauce instead and toss after frying??
    Posted Sat, Jun 11 2016 8:46am
  • 09
  • Lefty says
    Tried this recipe today for Super Bowl. They were way too salty! We could not eat these wings, so am glad that the recipe as stated covered only about 8 wings. These went into the stockpot after we tasted them. Pretty sure that old bay seasoning has plenty of salt already and more salt is not needed.
    Posted Mon, Feb 6 2017 12:25am
  • 10
  • Josh says
    @Lefty Sorry to hear that the recipe didn't work out for you. Perhaps you were using too much rub for too few wings--3lbs of wings should be around 20 wings, depending on their size.
    Posted Mon, Feb 6 2017 1:07pm
  • 11
  • Anita says
    Can these be baked instead of putting them on the grill?
    Posted Wed, Feb 8 2017 4:42pm
  • 12
  • Char says
    Hi Josh,

    I sent you an email about this recipe. Hope you got it. I had a question.
    Posted Fri, Mar 17 2017 4:38pm

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