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World's Best Lemon Wings

World's best?  Well, I guess you'll have to decide for yourself, but I think you'll agree that, at the least, they are awesome.  The chicken comes out crunchy on the outside, juicy on the inside, and the flavors penetrate right to the bone.  Grilling is my choice for these, but I've included notes on how to do them under the broiler as well.  I've been perfecting this recipe for a long, long time, and I think I finally got it just right!

Classic Lemon Sauce  
4  cloves garlic finely minced
1 cup fresh lemon juice
cup olive oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Asian Lemon Sauce  
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons finely minced ginger
1 cup fresh lemon juice
cup olive oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon Sambal Olek (see notes)
cup diced scallion greens
Other Stuff  
1 recipe classic brine
a bunch of chicken wings, split at the joint, tips discarded (see notes)

Prepare brine solution and chill. Put wings in a one gallon, re-sealable plastic bag along with the brine and allow to marinade in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Discard brine and rinse the wings with fresh water.

On a cutting board sprinkle a little salt on the minced garlic and mash together to form a paste. Heat the oil and garlic (and ginger if making the Asian Lemon Sauce) together in a sauce pan over low heat for a couple of minutes to allow the garlic to become very aromatic.  Combine the oil mixture with the remaining ingredients in a glass baking dish (or bowl) and set aside.


Prepare your grill for indirect cooking (see notes) and grill wings turning occasionally, so as to brown evenly.

When wings have about 15-20 minutes left (total grilling time should be about an hour) remove them from grill and roll them around in the lemon sauce and return to grill. After another 10 minutes baste the wings again with the lemon sauce.

When the wings are ready coat them one last time with the lemon sauce and serve.


If using the broiler, instead of the grill, I've found these guidelines work fairly well.  The trick is to keep the wings on the lowest level of the oven.  This allows the wings to cook through without becoming too blackened on the outside.  Note that all broilers perform differently so watch the wings closely (it's okay to leave the oven door ajar to keep an eye on them) so they cook evenly and don't char excessively.

Cover a baking sheet with foil and place the wings on a rack sitting on the baking sheet.  Depending on how your broiler performs you may need to rearrange the wings after about 15 minutes.  Move the wings from the center of the of the rack to the outside while moving the ones from the outside to the center.

Broil for an additional 5 minutes then turn the wings over and return to the oven.

After an additional 10 minutes (the wings should have been in the oven for a total 30 minutes), coat the wings with the lemon sauce as described above and return to the oven.

Broil for an additional 5 minutes then coat the wings again in the lemon sauce and turn them over.  Return to the oven.

Broil 5 minutes longer then remove from the oven, coat with the sauce and serve.


  1. This recipe works equally well for chicken thighs and drumsticks.  Just adjust cooking times accordingly.
  2. This amount of hot chile sauce will make the wings moderately spicy.  Adjust according to your own preferences.
  3. Sometimes indirect grilling cuts back too far on grill space.  You can make more room by grilling directly.  Just make sure that the fire isn't too hot or the wings will char before they have cooked through.



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