Get ready to impress your friends at your next fall tailgate party with these mouthwatering Grilled Chicken Wings with Cider Barbecue Sauce. This recipe, courtesy of renowned chef Matt Jennings, guarantees that your wings will be the star of the show. Unlike traditional deep-fried wings, these are grilled to perfection, resulting in a tender and flavorful bite. The wings are marinated overnight in a spiced citrus juice, which not only tenderizes the meat but also adds a burst of flavor. With a tangy apple cider and molasses barbecue sauce on the side, every wing deserves a dip. Whether you’re a football fan or just love a good wing, this recipe is sure to be a hit. So fire up the grill and get ready for a touchdown of flavor!

Grilled Chicken Wings with Cider Barbecue Sauce

The Best Chicken Wings to Make For Fall By Matt Jennings

From time to time we offer guest blogs on This one comes from a chef that we at admire greatly, Matt Jennings, author of Homegrown: Cooking from My New England Roots. His restaurant Townsman in Boston garners significant acclaim for its bold, New England-inspired flavors. We think you’ll see why when you try his recipe below for Grilled Chicken Wings with Cider Barbecue Sauce. Matt, an avid football fan, knows from experience that they’ll make you a winner at any tailgate party this fall.

The Secret to Perfectly Grilled Chicken Wings

I’m going to let you in on a secret: contrary to what every sports bar in America asserts, the best chicken wings don’t come out of the deep fryer, but off the grill. These wings are marinated overnight in spiced citrus juice, which tenderizes and flavors the meat, and the sugar in the marinade caramelizes when the chicken is cooked. Though the wings are flavorful enough on their own, serve them with a tangy apple cider and molasses barbecue sauce alongside, since every wing deserves a dip. Because the marinating and sauce-making are done ahead (and because wings are crowd-pleasers for adults and kids alike), this is a great recipe for a party.

Marinating the Wings Overnight

To achieve maximum flavor and tenderness, it’s best to marinate the wings overnight. For this recipe, you will need 2 1/2 cups fresh orange juice, 1 cup pineapple juice, 3/4 cup fresh lime juice, 1/2 cup rice vinegar, 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons kosher salt, 8 garlic cloves (smashed), 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 tablespoons shoyu (white soy sauce), 2 sprigs oregano, 2 sprigs thyme, 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns, 2 lemons (halved), 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (toasted and ground), and 5 1/2 pounds chicken wings (wing tips removed). In a large pot, combine the orange juice, pineapple juice, lime juice, vinegar, 1/2 cup of the salt, smashed garlic, brown sugar, shoyu, oregano, thyme, peppercorns, lemon halves, cumin, and 2 cups of water. Bring the mixture to a boil and then let it cool to room temperature. Pour the marinade into a gallon-size zip-top plastic bag or a large bowl, add the chicken wings, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

Preparing the Grill for Grilling the Wings

Before grilling the marinated wings, you need to prepare your grill. Whether you’re using a gas or charcoal grill, it’s important to preheat it to medium-high heat for direct grilling. This will ensure that the wings cook evenly and develop a nice char. Take the time to clean the grill grates and oil them to prevent sticking.

Grilled Chicken Wings with Cider Barbecue Sauce

Creating the Salt and Spice Mixture for Seasoning the Wings

For extra flavor and seasoning, you’ll want to create a salt and spice mixture to coat the wings before grilling. In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of salt, 1 tablespoon of freshly ground black pepper, and 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Remove the chicken wings from the marinade, lay them on a rimmed baking sheet lined with paper towels, and blot them dry with more paper towels. Sprinkle the wings with the salt mixture on all sides, ensuring that they are evenly coated.

Grilling and Cooking Time for Perfectly Charred Wings

Once your grill is preheated and your wings are seasoned, it’s time to start grilling. Place the wings on the grill and grill for about 20 minutes, turning them often to ensure even cooking and to develop a nice char on all sides. Keep an eye on them and adjust the heat if necessary to prevent any burning. The cooking time may vary depending on the size and thickness of the wings, so it’s always a good idea to use a meat thermometer to ensure they are cooked through. The internal temperature should reach 165°F (74°C).

Grilled Chicken Wings with Cider Barbecue Sauce

Garnishing with Fresh Cilantro Leaves

To add a pop of freshness and color to your grilled chicken wings, garnish them with fresh cilantro leaves. The bright and aromatic herb complements the flavors of the wings and adds a touch of visual appeal. Simply sprinkle the cilantro leaves over the wings before serving to enhance the overall presentation.

Gathering the Ingredients for the Cider Barbecue Sauce

In addition to the delicious grilled wings, you’ll want to make a tangy and flavorful cider barbecue sauce to serve alongside. For this sauce, you will need 1 cup apple cider, 1 cup ketchup, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup molasses, 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper to taste.

Grilled Chicken Wings with Cider Barbecue Sauce

Combining the Elements of the Barbecue Sauce

To make the cider barbecue sauce, simply combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened slightly and the flavors have melded together. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and black pepper, if needed.

Serving the Barbecue Sauce alongside the Grilled Chicken Wings

Once your cider barbecue sauce is ready, transfer it to a serving bowl or small dipping cups. Arrange the grilled chicken wings on a platter and serve the sauce alongside as a dipping sauce. The tangy and slightly sweet flavors of the sauce will complement the smoky and caramelized flavors of the wings, creating a winning combination.

Grilled Chicken Wings with Cider Barbecue Sauce

Choosing the Right Chicken Wings for Grilling

When it comes to choosing chicken wings for grilling, it’s important to select high-quality wings that have been properly trimmed and cleaned. Look for wings that are meaty and free from excess fat and skin. If necessary, you can trim any excess fat or remove the wing tips before marinating and grilling.

Trimming and Cleaning the Wings before Marinating

Before marinating the wings, take the time to trim any excess fat and remove the wing tips. This will ensure that the wings cook evenly and have a more appealing appearance. Additionally, give the wings a quick rinse under cold water to remove any residual blood or debris. Pat them dry with paper towels before marinating.

Drying the Wings before Grilling

To achieve a crispy and charred exterior on your grilled chicken wings, it’s important to dry them thoroughly before grilling. After removing the wings from the marinade, lay them on a rimmed baking sheet lined with paper towels and blot them dry with more paper towels. This will remove any excess moisture and allow the wings to develop a nice caramelized crust on the grill.

Properly Seasoning the Wings for Maximum Flavor

To enhance the flavor of your grilled chicken wings, it’s essential to season them properly. In addition to the marinade, create a salt and spice mixture to coat the wings before grilling. This will add an extra layer of flavor and seasoning to the wings. Be generous with the seasoning, ensuring that each wing is evenly coated for maximum flavor impact.

Serving the Grilled Chicken Wings as Party Appetizers

Grilled chicken wings are the perfect party appetizers, as they are crowd-pleasers for adults and kids alike. Whether you’re hosting a tailgate party, a backyard barbecue, or a casual gathering with friends, these wings will be a hit. Serve them on large platters or in baskets, accompanied by plenty of napkins. Encourage your guests to dig in and enjoy the finger-licking goodness!

Pairing the Grilled Wings with Other Tailgate Favorites

When serving grilled chicken wings at a tailgate party, it’s always a good idea to offer a variety of other tailgate favorites to round out the menu. Consider serving classic accompaniments such as potato chips, coleslaw, cornbread, and baked beans. These dishes will complement the wings and provide a well-rounded and satisfying meal for your guests.

Presenting the Wings with Dipping Sauces and Dressings

Take your grilled chicken wings to the next level by offering a variety of dipping sauces and dressings for your guests to enjoy. Alongside the cider barbecue sauce, consider serving creamy blue cheese dressing, tangy ranch dressing, or spicy buffalo sauce. These options will allow your guests to customize their wing experience and add an extra layer of flavor.

Adding Sides and Accompaniments to Complete the Meal

To transform your grilled chicken wings into a complete meal, add some delicious sides and accompaniments. Consider serving crispy french fries, grilled vegetables, roasted sweet potatoes, or a refreshing salad. These additions will provide a variety of textures and flavors, ensuring that everyone’s taste buds are satisfied.

In conclusion, if you’re looking for the best chicken wings to make for fall, look no further than these Grilled Chicken Wings with Cider Barbecue Sauce by Matt Jennings. Marinated overnight in a flavorful citrus juice and grilled to perfection, these wings are a crowd-pleaser for any tailgate party or gathering. The tangy apple cider and molasses barbecue sauce adds the perfect finishing touch. So fire up your grill, gather your ingredients, and get ready to enjoy the ultimate fall chicken wings. Your guests will thank you!


I'm Cooking Master, your culinary guide on Cooking Planet! With a passion for cooking and a deep appreciation for the diverse flavors and techniques scattered across the globe, this website is where I share my knowledge and experiences. From baking delectable treats to grilling mouthwatering dishes, I aim to inspire your cooking endeavors. Join me as we embark on a gastronomic expedition, exploring the realms of roasting, boiling, frying, and more. From Asian delicacies to European classics, African delights to American favorites, let's unlock the secrets of cooking around the world together. Discover the vast and appetizing world of Cooking Planet!