Your New Favorite Chicken Wings from the Neelys

The NFL playoffs are within sight, so now’s the time to acquire and perfect a recipe for chicken wings. We recommend you try one from the Memphis BBQ masters, Pat and Gina Neely, the beloved husband-and-wife team behind Down Home with the Neelys. Their new cookbook, The Neelys’ Celebration Cookbook, is all about finding the perfect dish to celebrate good times, whether it be the Fourth of July…or a football game.

Pat’s Sweet and Spicy Grilled Wings

Pat says: I absolutely love making my smoky grilled hot wings. Gina calls me the grill master: I’m a grill king and a wingman. There is nothing better than wings with a smoky grilled flavor mingling with a sweet, spicy, and creamy dipping sauce. One of the best things about living in Memphis is that we can grill year-round, even on a 35-degree day (which is the normal temperature on Super Bowl Sunday). Grilling wings can be completed in a 10-minute period outside, so even if it’s chilly out, you can stand it!


3 pounds chicken wings, cut at the joint, washed, and dried well
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons lemon-pepper seasoning
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup hot sauce, preferably
1 tablespoon apple-cider vinegar
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons sliced green onion, for garnish (optional)
1 scant cup smoky blue-cheese dipping sauce (recipe follows)

Toss the chicken wings with the oil, and sprinkle with lemon-pepper seasoning, salt, and chile powder in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and leave the bowl in the fridge for 30 minutes, letting the flavors marry together while you prepare the grill.

Heat your grill to medium-high direct heat, using charcoal. Once it’s hot, grill the wings for 7 to 9 minutes per side, until crisp and completely cooked through.

Combine the butter, mustard, honey, hot sauce, vinegar, chile powder, Worcestershire, salt, and pepper in a large saucepan set over medium heat. Taste for seasoning, and add more chipotle if you want it spicier. Allow the sauce to come to a simmer.

Once the sauce is simmering, cut the heat and add the wings, and toss thoroughly in the sauce. Remove to a large platter, sprinkle with green onion, and serve with the smoky blue-cheese dipping sauce.


1/4 cup crumbled Danish blue cheese
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons apple-cider vinegar
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mash the blue cheese with a fork into the buttermilk and sour cream in a small bowl, thoroughly breaking it up. Pour in the vinegar, paprika, and green onion and mix well. Season with salt and pepper, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, so the flavors can marry.

Excerpted from The Neelys’ Celebration Cookbook by Pat and Gina Neely, with Ann Volkwein. Copyright © 2011 by Pat Neely. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher, but if you like what you taste, buy the book or the eBook!