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Smoked Chicken Wings with Sage Butter Sauce

smoked chicken wings with garlic sage butter

Slide this plate over, they’ve got crispy wings drenched in a sage butter sauce. Simple to make with very few ingredients. The aromas of the fried sage and chipotles will grab your shirt and pull you in. Good luck resisting.

smoked chicken wings with garlic sage butter

Food memories from the grill

Fall reminds me of the smell of roasted chicken in the oven, something on the stove with spices and herbs, and a warm glass of cider. Turning those memories into something I can create on the grill is always a fun challenge. These smoked chicken wings were the perfect vehicle to drench in a warm sage butter sauce, sparking my nostalgia. Also, they taste incredible.

Keeping it simple and savory

As soon as it starts to cool off I’m running to the store to buy fresh sage and sticks of butter. The combination of that crunchy herb adorning anything that’s been touched by butter is just pure magic. Boiling a box of pasta and mixing it with a ridiculous amount of garlic sage butter is not beyond me. It shouldn’t be beyond you either.

Spending time on my website you’ll find that I’m not the biggest sugar-user in barbecue. I do enjoy BBQ rubs and sauces that are sweet, however, my palate keeps pointing me to the savory side. Anything with roasted garlic, charred flavors, or chiles will probably get me excited. Take note of this in case you ever decide to cook for me!

wings and butter with sage
Yeah, you see that butter back there.
pouring butter over the wings
Pour it on! Don’t be shy!

Grilling and Saucing

These are simple wings, let’s get that straight. We simply need to smoke the wings and make the sauce while they are cooking. Let’s break down a few important tips for success.

Dry-brine for the crispiest skin

Brining is the process of adding flavor into the meat, allowing it to be seasoned within and remain juicy. We want crispy skin for these wings, so we’ll use the dry-brining method. Keep the water in your drinking glass!

Season the wings generously and allow them to rest, uncovered in your fridge, for a few hours or up to overnight. The moisture from the salt will diffuse back into the wings and create a much more dry exterior. This is perfect for the crispiest skin off the smoker.

Don’t skimp on the sauce

This recipe makes plenty of sage butter sauce, which you’ll likely be licking off of the plate. May I suggest a side of toasty bread?

Start with room-temperature butter to avoid splatters. The cold moisture from the fridge will cause this, and also prompt the butter to burn easily. I also recommend using a light-colored pan when cooking with butter. This will help you see if you’re browning or burning the butter.

Melt the butter over medium heat and once it starts to foam and sizzle, add in the smashed garlic. The garlic will start to toast up nicely, and that’s when you drop in the sage. This herb doesn’t take long to crisp up. Remove the leaves when you see they are fried and crispy, set them aside. We will be eating those of course!

Turn off the heat of the stove and stir in a touch of honey and Worcestershire. This sweet and savory combo ties in the sauce to the wings, giving you that extra bump of desire as you’re eating.

crispy sage and butter with wings

This is the way, but there are other ways.

Don’t be afraid to grill these wings instead of smoking. You’ll add another dimension of smoky, bitter char from the coals, but the sweet flavors of honey and brown sugar come to the rescue and round out the profile.

This sauce is even more amazing if you’re patient enough to brown the butter, the process of simply cooking it a bit longer to crisp up the milk solids before you add in the garlic and sage. Just make sure you use that light-colored pan that I recommended before, there’s a fine line between browned and burnt butter.

Sage isn’t the herb for everyone, so try other herbs such as fresh rosemary. Just be mindful that herbs release a lot of power into butter with their flavors, so don’t overdo it.

Don’t want to make your own seasoning? Pick up the High Caliber blend from Reload Rubs & Seasoning. Their smokey chipotle garlic rub is delicious and works well with this recipe.

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smoked chicken wings with garlic sage butter

Smoked Chicken Wings with Garlic Sage Butter

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Slide this plate over, they’ve got crispy wings drenched in a sage butter sauce. The aromas of the fried sage and chipotles will grab your shirt and pull you in. 

  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: 3-4 1x


  • 2 lb chicken wings
  • 3 to 4 tbsp of Homemade Chipotle Seasoning
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 68 leaves of fresh sage
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Homemade Chipotle Seasoning

  • 1/2 tbsp chipotle powder
  • 1/2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp chile powder (or cayenne for optional heat)


  1. Mix all of the ingredients for the Homemade Chipotle Seasoning. Taste and adjust.
  2. Take the wings out of the fridge and make sure to pat them dry. Apply the seasoning generously. Place the wings on a baking sheet with a wire rack, and set in the fridge, uncovered for at least 1 hour, up to 4. This allows the seasonings to penetrate and will help create a crispy skin.
  3. Pellet Smoker: Set your temperature for 225°F. Smoke the wings for 45 minutes, then turn the heat up to 325-350°F and cook until the chicken is at least 165°F internal temperature, about another 20-30 minutes.
  4. Offset or Kamado Smoker: Set your temperature to 300-325°F and smoke until the internal temperature is 165°F, approximately 50-70 minutes.
  5. Melt the butter in a small saucepan on medium heat. Once the butter starts to sizzle and foam, add the smashed garlic to the butter. Take the leaves of sage and drop them in the butter, frying for a couple of minutes on each side until they are crispy. Remove the leaves and set aside. Turn the heat off, and stir in the honey and Worcestershire sauce.
  6. Pour the butter sauce over the wings and top with the crispy sage.


Making the sauce only takes about 5 minutes, so I wouldn’t recommend making it ahead of time. 

  • Author: Brad Prose
  • Prep Time: 60 minutes
  • Cook Time: 60 minutes
  • Category: Chicken
  • Method: Smoking
  • Cuisine: BBQ
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