How To Brine Chicken Wings For Smoking & Grilling

Every product is independently reviewed and selected by our editors. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you.

Once I went to a family gathering and had the honor to taste a bowl of the best, most delicious, perfectly seasoned, and most importantly, tender as-silk chicken wings of my life! 

Even I, a person with six years of cooking experience, couldn’t pull out a chicken wing as flawless as that! So, I immediately rushed over to the cook, apparently my sister-in-law, and asked what spell she used on those chicken wings! 

And then I realized, indeed cooking is an art, and there’s no limitation to improve your dish better than you ever did. 

I guess you all are under the suspense of what she actually told me. Well, her secret magic spell is “Brining chicken wings.” Are you wondering what that is even? Well, I asked the same and got to know the formula of how to brine chicken wings!

Things To Have For Brining Your Chicken Wings

Chicken Wings: To brine chicken wings, you need chicken wings, right? So, make sure you have your preferred quantity and the wings are defrosted before you start brining.

Here is another guide on the best place to buy raw chicken wings you can go for. 

Salt: You can use any salt you want. It can be regular, kosher, or table. But make sure the salts don’t contain any additives, or else it’ll degrade the brine quality. 

However, it’s better if you choose kosher salt as it doesn’t have any iodine and is perfect for brining. 

Sugar: Sugar is optional, but it beautifully works for making crispy skin while smoking and BBQ. It enhances the flavor as well. 

Cider Vinegar: Vinegar works as a strong cooking acid. It also helps to make the protein-breaking process faster when mixed with saltwater. 

Container: Use a plastic or stainless-steel container for preparing the brine and soaking the wings in the liquid. The size will be depending on the number of your chicken wings.

How To Brine Chicken Wings – Step-By-Step Process

Now it’s time to apply the magic trick to your chicken wings and make them taste perfectly juicy to please your appetite. 

  • Measure your water

It’s an important step because it will decide your brine’s consistency. You should take the water depending on the number of wings you’re planning to cook. 

Excess water will soften the wings, and less water will make them dry. So, at first, take 2-cup of water and measure if the amount is suitable for the chicken wings and then add or reduce if needed. 

  • Measure the salt

Usually, people take the amount of salt based on the 1:6 ratio. However, it doesn’t always work very great as different salts have different weights and crystal contents on them. 

So, it’s better to measure the amount by 10 ounces of salt for a one-gallon water quantity. 

Now, decide how much water you’re using for preparing brine and measure the amount of salt. For example, six cups of water will require one-third cup of table salt.

  • Mix salt, water, and sugar

Now, as you’ve figured out how much salt and water are needed for your brine, it’s time to mix them. 

You can use an equal amount of sugar in the brine relating to salt. Or you can also reduce the amount depending on your taste.

You need to make sure the sugar is completely dissolved and keep stirring the water until it happens. Sugar helps to create pretty brown skin all over the chicken wings. 

  • Add your spices

It’s an optional step, but it will surely help you to stand out from the rest. Add your favorite spices, such as black pepper, red pepper, white vinegar, etc. Take one tablespoon of all the peppers and two tablespoons of vinegar into the solution. 

  • Put the wings

Take the bowl of brine and place your chicken wings into that. Move and mix all of them properly so that all the parts get covered with the brine evenly. 

Put the bowl inside the refrigerator. The freezing time is 4-hours if the wings have skin on it. And if not, then 2-hours is fine.

  • Now, dry them

After the brining is done, put out the wings from the bowl. Rinse all the brine properly so that no extra salt or spices are clinging to the wings. Leave them for 1-2 hours, and then they are ready to be cooked!

Teste these best ranch dressings while enjoying smoked chicken wings

How To Dry Brine Chicken Wings

Don’t think that you can only wet brine your chicken wings. Because there’s an option for doing dry brine too. Dry brines are generally used for large pieces, such as a whole turkey or brisket, etc. 

Dry brine is similar to wet brine, and the only difference is you don’t use water or any other type of liquid in it. Here, the brine is applied directly to the skin.

To make a dry brine:

  • Mix salt and all the spices in a bowl.
  • Avoid any spices that are in a liquid form.
  • Apply the mixture on the wings with your hand or a brush.
  • Put the wings into a freezer just the way you would do with a wet brine.

After the wings get properly marinated, rinse the dry brine off with water. And they’re ready to ride your smoker!

How Long Can You Brine Chicken Wings

The time duration depends on the wing’s size and whether it has skin on it or not. Chicken wings are already tiny. So, there’s not much need to brine it for a long time. Two hours is enough to do the work.

But if you’re going to use the brine for big things, such as turkey or brisket or any other large pieces of meat, then you would need to brine them for four hours or more. 

Also, if the chicken wings or whatever you’re planning to cook has skin on it, then keep them on the brine for longer than you would usually do because it takes time to penetrate the skin and get inside the core. 

But if there’s no skin, then the usual time maintenance is enough for a perfect brining!

What Happens If You Brine Chicken Too Long

Many misunderstand that the longer you keep the chicken wings in the brine, the better will be the result. But it is entirely absurd.

You need to remember that brine is basically made of salt. And when you keep your chicken wings in the brine for longer than they should be, then the wings get oversalted. Thus, the taste will be completely destroyed.

Just think of the brining process. Whether we apply a wet or dry brine, we always rinse it off from the skin after a certain period. 

So that the extra salt or spice gets removed, it means you always need to get rid of the excess saltiness. But that won’t happen if you keep them for too long. 

There’s always room for improving the taste by adding seasoning to the chicken wings before cooking them, and that’s what should be done. 

Also, too much wet brining makes the meat too soft, which becomes difficult to cook afterward. So, you better avoid it and keep track of the time. 

Chicken Wings Gets Too Salty After Brining – What Should You Do?

If you still have managed to make the chicken wings too salty, don’t get upset because there’s always a way out of everything. 

Your chicken wings can get too salty for basically two reasons. You have brined the chicken for a long time due to the failure of keeping the time track. Or maybe you have added more salt to the solution than you’re supposed to. 

In that case, you have to take a bowl of water and soak the chicken wings in there for a minimum of one hour or more. 

This process will take the clean water inside the chicken, and the excess salt residing on the flesh will come out. However, prevention is always better than cure. 

So, to avoid this mess, the next time, add less salt at first and taste if there’s any need for more. Also, try adding sugar. It will help to reduce saltiness.

Wet Or Dry Brine – Which Is The Right Way

It’s a common argument about whether to use wet or dry brine. Both of them are made with almost the same ingredients, except there’s no liquid in dry brine. 

Also, they both are renowned for enhancing the taste of your cooking. Then which one to choose?

Dry brines are surely easier to do and create less mess. But as there’s no liquid, it will only enhance the seasoning taste and won’t make the wings soft. Wings cooked with dry brines are crispier. 

On the other hand, wet brines must have water, fruit juice, cola, or beer in it, and other spices and herbs. Unlike dry brine, the wet process is done to make the meat juicy and soft after cooking. 

However, people usually dry brine their food when dealing with big things, such as turkey, brisket, or something like these. 

Because putting them onto a bowl of wet brine and reaching all the parts equally is tough to handle. Dry brine is a savior in that case. 

It would be better if you try them both for your dishes and make your own judgment on which one pleases you the most!

What To Do After Brining

Cooking requires a lot of hard work and patience, and you can’t lose it while brining it as well. Never make the mistake of cooking the chicken wings immediately after brining. Otherwise, all the effort will be of no use.

Always rinse off the brine from the wings and pat it dry. Then leave the wings for a few hours. However, instead of leaving them alone, you can add some seasoning to them. The marinating will enhance the taste after cooking even better. 

Why You Should Brine Chicken Wings

Let me clarify one thing first. Brining chicken wings isn’t mandatory, and you can still have your wings without brining. 

We only do this to make the wings taste different and better. But the benefits of brining chicken wings are more than you ever think. 

Brined meat doesn’t get dried out quickly. It means you can feel the delicious soft moisture with every bite. The salt breaks the meat’s protein, and the water doesn’t get lost while cooking the wings. Hence, the wings remain juicy and soft. 

The salt also helps to season the meat better and lets the other spices enter the meat easily. That’s why to get a win-win result in every way, you should brine your chicken wings. 

Types Of Brine You Can Do

There are different types of brine, depending on the style of your cooking. Each style requires different brine. To enhance the taste of your chicken, you must follow the variance. 

Brine chicken wings for grilling

Everyone wants a piece of meat that is lean to cut after grilling, which is really tough to get. In that case, brining would be of great help. 

You can just use the standard saltwater brine or maybe add some of your favorite spices to it. You can use a change in the liquid, too, such as beer or cola. They won’t do any injustice to the taste of your chicken wings. 

Brine chicken wings for frying

The taste of fried chicken is hard to improve. But brining is made for doing wonders. The classic saltwater is always applicable, but a change in the plans can do better. 

Use buttermilk or pepper juice and mix with salt and other spices. The brining will improve the seasoning on the fried chicken wings, and the taste will definitely feel better. 

Brine chicken wings for roasting or smoking

Roasting or smoking chicken wings don’t have much difference from the other two mentioned above. However, brining helps to enhance the brownish color on the wing’s skin which is the most preferable in a roasted or smoked chicken. 

In that case, using sugar is a must if you’re using your brine for roasting or smoking the chicken wings because sugar is the one that gives that color over the skin.

What Is Brining Chicken Wings

You may start to think that brining chicken wings is a fancy thing to do, but, in reality, it’s not. This process indeed makes chicken wings taste better than ever. 

But brining is basically a mixture of salt and water and soaking your chicken wings into that mixture is all you have to do. 

This saltwater mixture is the most popular type of brining, but you can also try dry brine, using different liquids such, cola, beer, vinegar, fruit juice, etc., depending on your taste and skill. 

Can You Brine Without Salt?

If you want to use a salt substitute, then it’s okay. But brining with no salt doesn’t work. 

Because salt is the main ingredient of brine and it is what breaks down the protein of the meat so that it remains moisturized and creates an easy entrance for seasonings. So, no matter what, you need to add at least a little beat of sugar into the solution. 

Can you brine chicken with regular salt?

You can actually use any kind of salt you want for brining chicken wings. Let it be a regular salt or kosher salt. Anything would do the work. 

However, the quantity will vary. The amount of regular salt you should use with 4 cups of water will become different when you use kosher salt or other kinds of salt.  

Is it worth brining chicken wings?

Indeed, it is. Who doesn’t like to have a perfectly seasoned, juicy taste over every bite of their chicken wings? 

This is what brining does to the wings. Brining is just that “something is missing” ingredient which makes everything perfect. 

What is the ratio of salt to water for a brine?

The primary ratio is one tablespoon of salt into one cup of water or 100gm salt per 250L water. It’s better to use a little amount at first and taste if the saltiness seems fair so that you don’t end up adding too much, which you may regret later.

Does brining chicken wings make a difference?

It surely does. Most of us find it hard to cut or bite a piece of meat or chicken wings after frying, grilling, or roasting. But brining makes everything juicy and delicious, no matter which style of cooking you choose. 

Do you rinse chicken wings after dry brining?

Yes, you always have to rinse the chicken wings after brining. Whether it’s wet or dry bine, the rinsing process is mandatory.

Does brining chicken wings make it salty?

No, it doesn’t unless you use too much salt in the brine solution or rest the chicken wings with brine for longer than you’re supposed to do. If everything is done correctly, there’s no chance for chicken wings to get salty. 

Can you use regular table salt for brining?

Yes, you can use regular table salt or any other type of salt of brining, as much as you are actually adding some salt in it because that’s compulsory. 

Can I use ice cream salt for brining?

Ice cream salt is another name for coarse salt or kosher salt. And it’s perfectly fine to use this salt for brining. 

Can I reuse brine?

Yes, you can reuse your brine unless it has food on it. Otherwise, cross-contamination will occur, which is definitely not desirable. So, if the brine is clear and seems perfect, you can give reusing a thought. 

Can you brine frozen chicken wings?

Yes, you can, but that wouldn’t be a wise decision. For the occurrence of osmosis through brining, the meat must have fluids inside. 

But frozen chicken wings don’t have that. As a result, you may end up in an uneven brining, more in the exterior, less in the interior. It can still be eaten but won’t feel that much good. 


Cooking is nothing but creativity and takes a lot of effort. However, it’s always fun to know some tips or tricks that turn the final result better than you would have imagined. It is what I felt after learning the process of “How to brine chicken wings.” And trust me, my chicken wings are now everyone’s favorite! I hope it’ll work for you too, and you’ll be able to use more of your creativity to turn things way better than I have explained here! Happy brining!

Leave a Comment