Food & Drink

Sweet and Spicy Sea Island Wings

Chef Kardea Brown’s game-day treat for a crowd

Photo: THE WAY HOME / HarperCollins Publishers

The South Carolina chef Kardea Brown grew up around the foods and flavors of home cooking on the Sea Islands. “When I saw my mother at the stove, basting and tasting—especially on Sundays—I could sense, even as a little girl, that she was in her element,” she writes in her new cookbook, The Way Home: A Celebration of Sea Islands Food and Family with over 100 Recipes. “Natural-born food lover that I am, I knew Ma’s smothered turkey wings, fried chicken, shrimp and grits, and other dishes—the divine and delicious results of her hours-long meditations—were well worth the wait. I loved to watch and learn.” Here, she shares the sweet and savory Sea Island Wings, perfect for game day or a long weekend.


  • Sea Island Wings (Yield: 6 to 8 servings)

    • 1 cup hot sauce

    • ½ cup molasses

    • 4 tbsp. (half stick) unsalted butter

    • 2 tbsp. packed light brown sugar

    • 1 tbsp. kosher salt

    • 2 tsp. garlic powder

    • 2 tsp. smoked paprika

    • 2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

    • ¾ cup olive oil, plus extra for oiling the grill

    • 3 lbs. whole chicken wings

    • ½ cup thinly sliced scallions (cut on a bias), optional

    • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley leaves, optional


  1. Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat.

  2. Mix together the hot sauce, molasses, and butter in a small pot over medium heat. Cook until combined, about 3 minutes, then set aside.

  3. Whisk together the brown sugar, salt, garlic powder, paprika, and pepper in a small bowl. Whisk the oil into the dry mixture, creating a loose rub. Set a quarter of the mixture aside to use for basting.

  4. Slather the wings with the remaining rub. Brush the grill grates with a little olive oil, then place the wings on the grill. Cook, covered, for about 10 minutes, then baste with the reserved rub. Flip and baste with any remaining rub and cook for another 15 minutes.

  5. Transfer the wings from the grill to a large bowl and toss with the hot sauce mixture. Transfer to a platter and sprinkle with the scallions and parsley, if using.

Excerpted from THE WAY HOME by Kardea Brown and reprinted with permission from Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Copyright 2022.