Wingstop’s New Hot Honey Dry-Rub Is A Walloping Win For Wings Fans

Dry rub wings don’t get any respect. People are quick to praise buffalo, love a teriyaki glaze, can’t get enough of BBQ sauce, and wax poetic over the citrusy and tropical bite of a Mango Habanero, but offer a person wings and show up with something “dry rubbed” and you’ll see the light instantly leave their eyes. As a result, dry rub wings always take a back seat to their saucier counterparts on menus. Look no further than Wingstop and Buffalo Wild Wings, which each have over 10 sauced wing varieties but just a handful of dry rub options.

Outside of those big specialty wing chains, you’re lucky to find even a single dry rub option at your local joint. Even the mighty flavor combination of lemon and pepper is a rarity on appetizer menus and pizza spots. That needs to change. Dry rub is just as flavorful as sauced wings, and while you don’t get that same pungent smell or the intense heat, there are a number of benefits:

  1. The skin on your fingers won’t be stained at the end of your meal, or smell like whatever sauce you had for hours after you’ve finished eating.
  2. They’re much crispier. Sauced wings can get soggy if they aren’t tossed right.
  3. They’re generally healthier. Dry wings rely less on sodium and sugars to get their flavors across, offering a simpler wing that still delivers big flavor.
  4. They reheat better. Your sauced wing is never going to taste as good as when it was fresh, a dry rub reheated in a toaster oven will at least be in the ballpark of what you experienced when it was fresh.

Luckily, change is in the wind! Wingstop has added two dry rub options to their menu, bumping up the count from three flavor options to five. One of them, Lemon Garlic, is a simple combination of Garlic Parmesan and Lemon Pepper seasoning — it’s fine but it’s more of a remix of two existing flavors than an original.

The other new flavor, Hot Honey Rub, is a game changer. Available for a limited time for the duration of the summer, Hot Honey Rub is Wingstop’s first new dry rub (not counting the remixed Lemon Garlic flavor) in years, and it’s easily one of Wingstop’s top five flavors, sauced wings included. Here’s why it works and why you need to order it next time you get a hankering for wings.

REVIEW: Hot Honey Rub

Dane Rivera

The reason dry rub wings generally take a backseat with people over their sauced counterparts is that dry rubs can come across as simpler, which is easy to confuse with boring. The Hot Honey Rub is definitely not boring, it combines the spicy and slightly fruity notes of cayenne pepper with the earthy and complex notes of ancho chilis for a strong smack of heat that really gets your salivary glands working.

As good as that is, the flavor’s strong suit is the honey and how it balances out the heat without being distracting. It’s never overpowering or overly sweet like hot honey sauce tends to be. In this dry rub form, it instead adds a gentle floral lift and some subtle sweetness to the aftertaste that makes the experience remarkably satisfying.

Dane Rivera

The flavors are in perfect lockstep here, and it hits the Goldilocks zone between spicy and sweet that pays equal respect to both sensations in a way that I can’t imagine ever tasting boring, even 10+ wings deep.

The Bottom Line:

Hot Honey Rub offers the best of both worlds. It’s the great equalizer between sauced and dry-rubbed wings. It offers the spicy kick and full flavor you expect from a saucy wing with all of the benefits of dry rub. It’s crispy, flavorful, and complex, whether you’re reheating it or eating it fresh.

Still, need sauce? That’s what dip is for!

Find your nearest Wingstop here.