Smoked pastrami chicken wings will surprise you with a burst of flavor.
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Smoked Pastrami Chicken Wings

Kick your chicken game up a notch with Smoked Pastrami Chicken Wings – a blend of juicy chicken with the bold flavors of smoked pastrami. This flavor bomb explodes as you bite through crispy skin, coated in bold spices, to reveal the savory meat inside. Get ready for your friends to stand up and take notice, because these smoked wings are going to impress everyone.

What Exactly Are Pastrami Chicken Wings?

Picture this: tender chicken wings infused with the robust essence of pastrami. These wings take the classic smoked wing to a whole new level with a spice blend inspired by the king of deli meats. We’re talking black pepper, coriander, mustard, fennel, and much more —all coming together to create a symphony of flavors that’ll make your taste buds dance around.

Chicken wings are brined in a bold, savory mixture for 48 hours to soak up all of the flavors before hitting the smoker. Yes, they absolutely taste like the classic pastrami you’d expect. Now you just need an ice-cold beer and some napkins.

Related: Check out our other Chicken Wing recipes while you’re at it!

These smoked pastrami chicken wings are incredibly flavorful.

Why Aren’t Pastrami Chicken Wings Red?

Unlike traditional pastrami, these chicken wings do not have a deep ruby-red color on the inside. Chicken meat is white, but beef is red and typically used to make pastrami.

Curing the meat creates compounds that turn pinkish when heated. It’s amplified more with the natural red colors in beef.

Trust me, these pastrami wings have ALL of the flavors you’d find with a generous slice of brisket pastrami.

Here’s an extremely detailed article that discusses cured meat colors and the scientific compounds if you want to get nerdy with me.

How to Make Pastrami Wings

Start with the star of the show — chicken wings. It doesn’t matter if you buy the fully-assembled party wings, or if they are split into drums and flats. Bigger chicken wings work best here, as there is more meat to soak up the savory brine.

Pastrami Brine

Crafting a delicious brine is essential for this recipe. Brining chicken wings doesn’t require much work, but it does require a specific ingredient. One that you’ll also find in traditional Brisket Pastrami.

  • 2 quarts ice water ( 8 cups)
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • ¼ cup pickling spices
  • 3 bay leaves
  • ½ cup coarse kosher salt
  • ½  cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Prague #1 curing salt
Let's use these ingredients to make a brine for the pastrami wings.

IMPORTANT: Make sure you are using curing salt #1. Curing salt #2 is for dry curing, not for wet brines. It contains a different level of ingredients and is not interchangeable.

Boil the water and pour into a bowl with the rest of the ingredients, mixing to dissolve the salts and sugar. Whisk together and combine with the ice water, which will quickly cool off the brine.

Make sure the brine has cooled at least to room temperature, otherwise the chicken will start to cook. It’s not time for that yet!

Add the chicken wings to the brine, making sure you use a large enough container.

Brine the wings in the fridge, covered, for 48 hours. You may stir them around as needed if you have some floaters. It helps to ensure they are submerged.

Don't let the chicken wings float to the top of the pastrami brine.

Pastrami Rub: Spices & Aromatics

Stick with the classic pastrami flavors or… get adventurous and try something new. If you’re at Chiles and Smoke, you likely want something a little more bold.

Don’t worry, I’ve got options for both.

Traditional Pastrami Rub

Here is my go-to recipe for a classic crust on pastrami. Toast up the whole spices and throw them into a spice grinder, combining them with the rest of the ingredients.

  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon whole yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder

Firecracker Pastrami Rub

This recipe is derived from my Firecracker Brisket recipe in the Chiles and Smoke Cookbook (it’s the cover image). Trust me, this combo is poppin’ with flavors. Try it and come back to let me know what you think.

  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon Szechuan peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon whole yellow mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoons gochugaru flakes
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
Use your preferred pastrami seasoning on the wings after they are removed from the brine.

Desalinate the Wings before seasoning

This step is critical unless you want super salty pastrami wings!

Rinse the wings off after removing them from the brine. Soak them in cool, plain water for 2-4 hours. Doing so will release excess salt from the brine, balancing out the flavors.

Pat Dry and Season the Wings

Use paper towels to pat the wings as dry as possible. Grind up the spices and season your wings generously.

Allow them to rest in the fridge uncovered for at least an hour, which will dry them out again.

You may also add a little oil to the wings before seasoning, which helps the seasoning stick and promotes additional browning. This is an optional step.

Smoke the seasoned pastrami chicken until crispy.

Smoke the Wings Til Crispy

Heat up your smoker to 250°F and smoke for 1 hour, which builds a strong smoke flavor.

Crank up the temperature to 350°F and crisp up the skin, cooking the pastrami chicken wings until they are around 180-185°F. These smoked chicken wings will be juicy and should easily tear off the bone when you eat them at this temperature.

Grill the Pastrami Chicken Wings

Smoke is the key to the pastrami flavors, but don’t let that stop you from eating something delicious.

If you don’t have a smoker, you can still make this recipe. Fire up your gas grill and cook them on medium heat, flipping often until they are crispy.

If you have a charcoal grill, you should add some hardwood chunks to the charcoal for extra flavor. It’s worth the extra effort!

Make sure you have some tasty sides and sauces for the pastrami chicken wings.

Serving Suggestions

Enhance your smoked chicken wing platter with sauces, sides, or condiments. We’ve got a few suggestions for you:

Smoked Pastrami CHICKEN WINGS RECIPE

These smoked pastrami wings are a journey through layers of flavor that’ll leave you craving more. So fire up that grill, gather your friends, and get ready to feast like never before. At Chiles and Smoke, we’re here to bring people together with bold flavors, using spice and flames to ignite the food and friendships.

If you try this recipe, please consider leaving an honest review below. You can also find more content by following Chiles and Smoke on InstagramYouTube, and Facebook.

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Smoked pastrami chicken wings will surprise you with a burst of flavor.

Smoked Pastrami Chicken Wings

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Kick your chicken game up a notch with Smoked Pastrami Chicken Wings – a blend of juicy chicken with the bold flavors of smoked pastrami.

  • Total Time: 2 Days
  • Yield: Serves 3-4 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • 3 pounds of chicken wings
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil

Brine

  • 2 quarts ice water ( 8 cups)
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • ¼ cup pickling spices
  • ½ cup coarse kosher salt
  • ½  cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Prague #1 curing salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 bay leaves

Pastrami Seasonings

Use either of these recipes, depending on your flavor preference.

Traditional Pastrami

  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon whole yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder

Firecracker Pastrami

  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon Szechuan peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon whole yellow mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoons gochugaru flakes
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions

  1. Prepare the brine. Pour 2 quarts of ice water into a large non-reactive container (plastic preferred). Boil 2 cups of water, and add the pickling spices, salt, sugar, and curing salt to a large bowl. Pour the boiling water over the spices and whisk to dissolve the salts and sugar. Add this warm mix to the ice water, along with garlic and bay leaves. Stir to combine and cool to room temperature.
  2. Brine the wings for 48 hours. Make sure the brine has cooled to room temperature and add the wings into the brine. Place a plate or weight on top of them if they are floating. Set the container in the fridge for 48 hours to brine.
  3. Desalinate the wings. After the brining time, discard the liquid and rinse the wings gently with cool water to remove the spices. Soak the wings in fresh water for 2-4 hours, which removes excess salt.
  4. Prepare the pastrami spices. Grind up the peppercorns and seeds using a spice grinder, and combine with the rest of the ingredients.
  5. Season the wings. Remove the wings from the water and pat them dry with paper towels. Rub the wings with a little oil, and season generously with the pastrami spice blend. Allow them to rest for at least an hour.
  6. Smoke the chicken wings. Heat up the smoker to 250°F and smoke the wings for an hour. Crank up the temperature to 350°F and continue to cook, crisping up the skin. Remove the wings when they are around 180-185°F and allow them to rest for a few minutes before serving.
  • Author: Brad Prose
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Brine Time: 48 Hours
  • Cook Time: 90 minutes
  • Category: Chicken & Poultry
  • Method: Smoking
  • Cuisine: Appetizer, Chicken Wings
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