Secret Wing Sauce Recipe and Big L’s Wing Competition

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Slowpaddle was invited to our friend Big L’s chicken wing cookoff.  While the three of us have done many cooks together for large groups over the years, this was the first time we’ve been in competition as a team since forming Slowpaddle earlier this year.  We came, we cooked, we ….. We’ll get to the results later.  Five sauces, and four rubs for 9 total entries into 3 categories with judges awarding 1st-3rd place in each and a crowd voted People’s Champ!  Overall, it was an incredibly fun day of Brews and BBQ, hanging with friends, and on a beautiful Fall afternoon.  

Big L is a guy with a huge heart, who loves to host his friends and family over great food and good fun.  He’s got something on the grill for just about every summery holiday (Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day), hosts a pre-Christmas beer exchange, and holds an annual chili cookoff every Super Bowl Sunday.  He’s done everything from smoked cheese to whole hogs stuffed with sausage.  Speaking of sausage, pre-COVID we held an annual sausage making day, (to return this year) sometime between Turkey Day and Xmas, with excessive quantities to fill up the freezers and numerous varieties like German Brats, Spicy Italian, Greek Loukaniko, the bitey Too-Much-Garlic and the crowd pleasing Chicken-Bacon-Ranch.  Big L likes to smoke! 

So when we got the invite, it sounded like a great time, as well as, a good opportunity for Slowpaddle to get some good photo and video content.  We brewed up a couple batches of Hazy IPA to test out the new Phantasm powder and Thiolized yeasts (see the article Thiols) and prepped some rubs and sauces for the event.  Big L makes some fine wings, and he and I make a similar Buffalo-Ranch style sauce, so we knew he was gonna bring his A-game and we had to step up to compete.  Not only that, I LOVE smoked wings!!! 

DISCLOSURE:  Slowpaddle is a member of several affiliate programs including Amazon, Pit Barrel Cooker, Camp Chef, and MoreFlavor!.  By using the links provided in our blogs, articles, pages, videos, and social posts, you are supporting our work!  When you make a purchase using our links, we may receive compensation from the retailer, and at no additional cost to you.  We thank you for your support.  

Now our original plan was to have one Slowpaddle team, but a last minute cancellation, and Big L’s pressure to compete, convinced us to enter as 3 entries–but still working together.  We needed a Planning Meeting, which involved gathering at Slowpaddle East (SPE), grilling up some tester-wings on the Camp Chef Pellet grill and simulating the competition day experience with some brews.  I was told to bring the Agenda, so fortunately, I had just kegged our control batch  IPA for the Thiols experiment – now known as The Agenda IPA!  Love it when things fall into place, especially when those “things” are beers and that “place” is my glass!  Super pleased with the outcome of The Agenda IPA! We also still had some of the Extract Brew Heady Topper Clone (video soon), a can of the Crispy Boi Mexican Street Korn Czech Lager, and Braun chipped in some findings from his recent trip to New England that included Treehouse and Maine Brewing, two of our favs!  It was a very productive planning session and the cherry on top: the Pens opened up the NHL season with a win! 

Its gameday. Sportin’ my new Chicken Daddy shirt (check out our Gear Page) and Bluffton BBQ hat and the team armed with an Bug-A-Salt rifle and a hundred Slowpaddle coozies to hand out, we were ready for battle.   The streets were blocked off for our tent, 80 lbs of whole wings were semi-thawed (not ideal, but we worked through it), and the Pit Barrel Cookers were rolling smoke!  The Cook was on! 

Pit Barrel Smoker x2


We had my PBC and we borrowed Big L’s (he was using a Traeger pellet grill).  We fired ‘em both up and started on thawing the wings the rest of the way. 

Categories were Best Sauce (we took this to mean traditional), Best Rub, and Best Wing (which we took to mean most creative).  L’s PBC was cooking pretty hot and that batch of wings were cooked super fast!  We tossed 5 Judges wings in some Spicey Asian sauce, plated them on the foam trays lined with a collard green leaf and garnished with a red sweety pepper.  Next up 5 Umami style dry rub, and 5  jalapeno ranch sauced wings to complete our first three entries.   After that, we split the remaining wings between the two barrels and opened up the airflow by removing the lids to get the final 30 Judges wings done.  First was the aforementioned Buffalo-Ranch style sauce.  This has been my go-to for a few years, and it gets tons of compliments.  If interested I’ll include the recipe at the end of the article.   

Next up we rubbed down some wings with a mix of my base meat rub, Hidden Valley Ranch powder, turbinado sugar (aka Sugar in the Raw), and our secret weapon MSG powder.  Typically I would use kosher salt instead of MSG, which makes for a tasty wing rub, but you know… we wanted to step it up with something unconventional. 

For the creative entry, I made a Thai peanut sauce inspired wing sauce.  I started out sauteing some whole peanuts, garlic cloves, and onion quarters in olive oil.  I strained it, then added peanut butter, sesame oil, soy sauce, ground ginger, meat rub, and fish sauce.  After everything melts and blends together, I added rice vinegar to thin the sauce to a good consistency for painting onto wings.  I’ll probably continue to tweak this as it’s a newer recipe, but I’m fairly happy with the results so far.  

Thai Peanut Sauce inspired wing sauce being brushed on


30 wings down, 15 more to go!  Another friend of ours makes Fife’n’Good Hotchi sauce.  It’s based on his Grandmother’s kimchi recipe, and is absolutely fantastic on chicken!  So Hotchi on the wings was an ez call.  Next up, buffalo-ranch rub!  We still had one entry left with no real plan for it– cuz remember we were originally only going to enter 2 sauces and a rub as one team.  At the planning meeting, when I showed up with a jar of MSG powder, we joked that we should make an all MSG wing.  So we did.. Lol!  On top we sprinkled just enough meat rub to give it some color, and we boxed up our final entry and got back to work to serve the People!  

What Sauce/Rub/Creative combination would you have gone with?  If you grill your wings or make your own rubs and sauces, we’d love to hear about it in the comments!  

Now 80 lbs of wings is a lot of food.  But these were pretty big wings to start with; and for grilling wings, using the whole wing is preferred– so each whole wing is two of what you would get in a restaurant.  There were 5 judges, 3 categories, 7 teams, that’s 105 whole wings, or 210 wing sections!  There wasn’t a whole lot of wing-count left. If I have one complaint about the event, it’s that too many wings went to the judges — who obviously were not going to consume the entire 42 wing sections they were EACH served. 

We needed a plan.

So the Slowpaddle Team huddled and we decided to make all of the rest of our wings for the People’s Choice with our tried and true recipe – the Buffalo-Ranch sauce: The Agenda!  (Yes, we’re just naming everything “The Agenda” from now on). 

The Agenda: a buffalo ranch wing sauce

All day we had been substituting wing requests with beer and wing-rub flavored popcorn.  This created some good will, but you can’t vote for a wing you’ve never tasted…. We needed to get some meat into the mouths of the voters!   With both Pit Barrels blazing, we crisped up our remaining ration as fast as we could.  The PBC’s were so hot I had to wear gloves to paint on the sauce or even flip them with tongs.  But we gotta ‘er done, and the People were fed!  Now it was time to enjoy a home brew and grab a few bites to eat for ourselves.  

Finally the time had come to announce the winners.  I did get to try Big L’s Blue Cheese Ranch and Parmesan sauce, which was excellent, but we were so busy cooking we didn’t really have an opportunity to check out the competition.  We had gotten a lot of really great feedback, but you never know for certain if maybe people are just being polite or not.  We had no idea what to expect.  

Big L took center stage in the open garage with mic in hand, and awards on display.  He went through the categories, placing medals around the necks of 3rd, 2nd, and 1st place winners for each of the 3 categories.  Slowpaddle did well, sweeping the dry rub category and in total taking 2 firsts, 2 seconds, and a 3rd place medal.  Then came the BIG announcement!

Big L, host of Big L’s First Annual Wing Competition

The prestigious First Annual Big L’s Wing Competition People’s Choice Award and People’s Champion Belt!  I mean medals are cool, but a professional fighting style belt?  That’s pretty freakin’ awesome!   The energy of the crowd grew in anticipation.  The tallied results were walked up to the announcer.  And with incredible enthusiasm and pride, Big L proclaimed the Inaugural People’s Champ to BE!!!!!!

Well I’m not really sure how exactly it happened.  But after some magnificent self-adulation from our gracious host, a few beers and a few more beers, lots of dancing, a full night’s sleep, and then a recount, this was the final result:


The People's Champ
Slowpaddle strapped with the People’s Championship Belt

Slowpaddle’s Award Winning Buffalo-Ranch Wing Sauce: AKA The Agenda Sauce

  • 1 shot of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • Half an onion

Saute and then strain solids from the oil

Buffalo Ranch Wings on the Pit Barrel Cooker
Buffalo Ranch Wings on the Pit Barrel Cooker

To the flavored oil add:

  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • 2 shots of worcestershire sauce
  • 1 shot of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 shot of ketchup
  • 1 shot of dijon mustard
  • 1 shot of fish sauce
  • 2 shots Hidden Valley Ranch powder (whisk in)
  • 1 shot thyme
  • 1 shot of Meat Rub (you can sub equal parts paprika/cumin/chili powder)
  • 12 oz Frank’s Red Hot (or your fav) hot sauce


For best results smoke the full wings low and slow around 225F for an hour and then crank up the heat to get them crispy.  A little flavor seasoning sprinkled on early in the cook is nice, but they won’t need any extra salt–there is plenty of salt in the sauce and ranch powder.  When the wings are crispy golden brown on both sides, paint on the sauce, letting it get just a tiny bit of char.  If they’re the best wings you’ve ever had, let us know in the comments!  

If you want to know more about any of the recipes or equipment or techniques, please ask!  We’re happy to share secrets here, our goal is to build a collaborative community for us to all get better! 

If you got value out of this article, please let us know in the comments!

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DISCLOSURE:  Slowpaddle is a member of several affiliate programs including Amazon, Pit Barrel Cooker, Camp Chef, and MoreFlavor!.  By using the links provided in our blogs, articles, pages, videos, and social posts, you are supporting our work!  When you make a purchase using our links, we may receive compensation from the retailer, and at no additional cost to you.  We thank you for your support.  


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