Published on November 05, 2019

bbq chicken wings on white plate

Recipe: Chicken Wings With Pumpkin BBQ Sauce

The season is here: when pumpkin takes center stage in everything from milkshakes to lattes to donuts and muffins. Here’s a different twist on this fall favorite – a barbecue sauce for chicken wings or other BBQ creations.

Chicken Wings With Pumpkin BBQ Sauce



  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • ¼ cup minced garlic
  • 2 Honey Crisp apples, peeled and diced
  • 4 cups pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin spice
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 tablespoons Cholula hot sauce (or similar hot sauce, such as Tabasco)
  • ¼ teaspoon liquid hickory smoke
  • 3 tablespoons scallions, sliced
  • Salt to taste

Pumpkin Seeds 

  • ½ pound pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon, each, salt and pepper

Chicken Wings

  • 5 pounds chicken wings                                    
  • 1 gallon canola oil                                            


  1. Dice the onion and apples and mince the garlic. Slice scallions at 45-degree angles, crosswise, to create half-inch pieces. Set scallions aside.
  2. Add the onions, garlic and apples to a large skillet and sauté until they start to soften and darken; add pumpkin spice and mix.
  3. Add the pumpkin puree, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar, honey, molasses, brown sugar and chicken broth.
  4. Let the sauce simmer for 30 minutes, then add the paprika, black pepper and hot sauce. Add salt and taste as you do. Stop when it reaches your preferred flavor.
  5. Last, add hickory smoke and puree until smooth.
  6. To prepare the seeds, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place pumpkin seeds into a large mixing bowl.
  7. Place the oil and seasonings into the bowl and toss together, then put them onto a baking sheet and spread them evenly.
  8. Roast for 15 minutes, remove from oven and stir. Return seeds to oven and bake for another 10 minutes.
  9. To prepare the wings, set a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven on the stove and add canola oil. Heat on high until oil reaches 360 degrees F.
  10. Slowly add chicken wings to the frying oil; fry for 8 minutes or until chicken wings reach internal temp of 165 degrees F.
  11. Once wings are cooked, working in batches, place 5-8 wings into large bowl, then add approximately a third-cup of sauce. Toss to coat the wings, and then repeat until all wings are sauced.
  12. Place on plate and garnish with pumpkin seeds and scallions.

Note: You can prepare the wings in advance and keep them warm in the oven until you have the sauce ready.

Recipe by Adam Schumacher, Sous Chef, Kitchen Supervisor, Avera Behavioral Health Center.

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