Vortex grilled wings in a Weber Kettle

I’m geeking out today about a new grilling accessory called Vortex. Designed for use in any Kettle or Kamado style grill, the Vortex makes grilling super crispy wings easy! And of course it’s great for many other uses as you will see. This is Week of Wings 6 – Day 3.

Vortex – inDirect Heat grilling device

This is the Small Vortex for Akorns, Med-Large Eggs, 18.5″ and 22.5″ Weber Kettles, and Kamado Joes

Overall rating: Rated 5 out of 5 Stars – Ranking right up there with cast iron grill grates, this simple cone produces great results! A 5 Star grilling product if I’ve ever seen one. A must have.

Vortex is a cone shaped device that allows for either direct heat or indirect heat in a controlled environment.

You build your charcoal fire in the middle of the Vortex, and with the help of the domed lid of your grill, you get a nice indirect heat zone around the perimeter of the grate.

Simply put, small end up is for indirect heat, and large end up is for direct heat. The uses can get more complicated and more versatile as you will see.

But for now, we’re looking for the perfect grilled crispy chicken wing!

Great quality of build and the welded seams are tight.

The pic above is at a weird angle. The Vortex is not as tiny as it appears here, but I wanted to show off the nice welds, and quality of build of this all stainless steel device.

Hot Whang! and Hot Ass Whang! Chicken Rubs
Hot Whang! and Hot Ass Whang! Chicken Rubs.

We are grilling our wings today with Mad Hunky Brand Meat Seasonings Hot Whang! Chicken Rub. Yea, that’s a mouth full. And Rich Tirpak at MadHunkyMeats.com was kind enough to toss in a sample of Hot Ass Whang! Rub for us to try. (Read thru to the end to see how to get these rubs and many other seasonings for practically free shipping when you purchase a Vortex.)

closeup of hot whang versus hot ass whang rub - one is better.
One of these thangs is not like the other. Sort of close up of the rubs.

See what I did there? One of these thangs is better than the other. 🙂 While both rubs are top notch, we did have a favorite.

Vortex in place for indirect heat. Dead center of kettle on fire grate.
Vortex in place for indirect heat. Dead center of kettle on the fire grate.
Coals getting all hot and happy. This sucker will be a mini wing furnace soon.
Coals getting all hot and happy. This sucker will be a mini wing furnace soon.

We started our coals in a chimney and poured them into the Vortex. This little wing furnace will be cranking out the heat soon.

Wings rubbed with Hot Whang! rubs ready for the Vortex and Kettle
Wings rubbed with Hot Whang! ready for the Vortex and Kettle. Hot Whang! at top – Hot Ass Whang! at bottom.

That’s our obligatory pic of some fat wings ready to die go on the grill. There aren’t as many Hot Ass Whang! wings ‘cuz we was skeered!

Wings around perimeter - bone ends in. No need for flipping or turning.
Wings around perimeter – bone ends in. No need for flipping or turning.

Finally an action shot!

Arranging the wings around the Vortex, with bone ends in, allows the intense heat from the Vortex to circulate around the wings via the dome. There is no need to flip, turn, or just plain ol’ mess with the wings while they get all crispy and done.

You’ll notice our air temp probe is in place (shooting for 350 -375 degrees), and we use our ThermaPen to check the temps of the wings – Vortex or no Vortex, you don’t grill chicken without knowing the meat is at 165º or better when done.

Finished Hot Whang! Chicken Rub wings
Finished Hot Whang! Chicken Rub wings

These wings were savory with a nice dry crunch to them. The heat level was disappointing – Hot Whang! was not. Mild heat lovers would be happy with it though. Hot Whang! has a delicious flavor, and as a dry rub seasoning, it really does shine. Just not enough for us. Average.

Finished Hot Ass Whang! Chicken Rub wings
Finished Hot Ass Whang! Chicken Rub wings

We only had one question about these Hot Ass Whang! wings… why didn’t we make more? Of the 3 versions here, these hot little wingies stole the show. While just a bit hotter than the original Hot Whang! rub… there was so much more flavor. More sweet, more heat, and more savory goodness.

Hot Ass Whang! Chicken Rub was the big winner here.

Heat Level: Rated 2.5 out of 5 Stars – Medium to medium hot, these dry crunchy spicy wings are winners. Best dry rubbed wings so far this year!

Finished Hot Whang! Chicken Rub wings wet and sticky style
Finished Hot Whang! Chicken Rub wings wet and sticky style

These wings are the original Hot Whang! Chicken Rub with the addition of spritzing on liquid to keep them moist and sticky.

It’s a great concept – 1/2 water and 1/2 white vinegar – spritzed on about 3 or 4 times during the cook. Once near the beginning, once or twice during the cook, and a final spritz at the end of the grilling session.

The method did make for some nice, wet and sticky wings… but we decided we liked the dry rubbed better. Sticky and tacky.

Vortex grilled dry rubbed chicken wings trio
Vortex grilled dry rubbed chicken wings trio

Clockwise from top: Hot Whang! Chicken Rub, Hot Ass Whang! rub, and Hot Whang! rub done wet style with the vinegar spray.

Final Thoughts:

The Vortex is available at http://madhunkymeats.com/

If you purchase a Vortex, there is a ton of space within the Vortex and box that Rich can fill with any rub you desire. Shop around on his site, pick out the rubs and seasonings and brines you’d like to try and he’ll fit them into the box with the Vortex and you’ll only pay for shipping the Vortex.

The Vortex is available in Small (our version), Medium for 22.5″ and 26.75″ Weber Kettles, XL Big Green Eggs, Big Joe (Kamado Joe), and Large for Ceramics Only – XL Big Green Egg, Big Joe (Kamado Joe), Primo cookers.

Tell Rich HotSauceDaily sent you!

Disclaimer: We purchased this product for our own personal use and review purposes. The thoughts and opinions expressed are our own.

More Week of Wings 6

Week of Wings 6 – Day 1: Louisiana Brand Wing Kit Review
Week of Wings 6 – Day 2: Sriracha Rub on Wings
Week of Wings 6 – Day 3: Vortex Grilled Wings (You are here.)
Week of Wings 6 – Day 4: Datil Dew Inferno Wings
Week of Wings 6 – Day 5: ?

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  1. It’s 22 degrees outside and you’re making me want to pull out the grill! 🙂 I have to try this soon.

    1. Delilah, it’s pretty cold here in Maryland too! We had to squeeze in this cook on a fair day!

      I’m not one of those guys that claims they grill even in the snow.

    1. That might be something worth trying, George. But I think the flared sides of the Vortex increase the heat flow better than just a cylindrical can would.

      Thanks for the comment. I’d love to hear how the can works for you.

  2. Thanks for taking the time for this Brian! Great job on the wings… You’ll find the Vortex more versatile as you go… it IS a great tool! I’m happy you enjoyed the Whang! rubs as well. Apparently you have a little higher heat tolerance than I do… LOL! That’s fine… one can always add a bit more heat…but not take it away.

    And yes..you are right on the shipping. Why ship a box full of a little stainless steel and alot of air? LOL!

    Again..I appreciate your time and VERY thorough and professional review! – Rich

  3. Brian,

    It looks to me like the vortex would be a great tool for wok cooking on the grill. Is it stiff enough to support a wok without bending or tipping?

    1. It is indeed a very thick and strong piece of stainless steel.

      You may be onto something completely new with the Vortex!

      Let us know how that works out for you!

  4. Brian,
    I just purchased a Vortex to follow up on my wok theory. I’ll keep you posted on how it works out and what, if any, modifications I have to make to the unit.

      1. Brian,

        I got my size-large Vortex yesterday. After looking it over and verifying the dimensions, I headed off to my local Asian restaurant supply and picked up a new, made-in-Hong Kong, 14” carbon steel wok ($7.95.)

        When I put the wok together with the Vortex, the first thing I saw was the roundness of the latter was sufficiently irregular that there were gaps, i.e., air spaces, in several places. There is no need to drill additional air holes.

        Today I took off my grill top and inverted the Vortex (i.e. large end up) on the fire grate. I put in half a starter chimney load of charcoal briquettes. This gave me about 2”-3” between the top of the glowing coals and the bottom of the wok. I then proceeded to season the wok more or less following the procedures in this You Tube video:

        How professional season their carbon steel wok (sic)

        The results were not quite as quick but they really were equally dramatic. It was amazing to watch the steel turn blue then black over a charcoal fire! I don’t know how hot the wok got. When I finished the seasoning, I put in a Kingsford Grill Surface Thermometer and it buried the needle, which tops out at 650˚!

        The wok I chose sat securely down within the top ring of the Vortex. Even during vigorous stir-frying there was no slippage or tipping. It wasn’t necessary to even touch the handle except the lift, shake, or reposition the wok or food.

        In summary, the Vortex with a properly fitted wok, is THE solution to the problem of doing real Asian, high heat, stir-frying at home.

        1. Well well :{) Most pleased to hear this! I have not tried it out yet. Just too cold out!
          Thanks for playing around with it Samantha!

        2. Samantha, I am so glad you had some success with the Vortex / Wok combo.

          Thank you for sharing your experiment and experience with us!

  5. Awesome review! Appreciate the work put into a quality review. Gotta have the Mad Hunky w/ a Vortex!

    I’d LOVE to see the wok pictures

  6. The Vortex is an interesting tool. It would also be useful as a charcoal reducer for people who have oversized grills like a XL Big Green Egg. Trying to cook for 2 on that is impractical because it wastes a ton of lump coal but this would let you cook for 2 without wasting coal.

    1. Yea, I agree Chris… the Vortex would help concentrating the heat onto a smaller surface in a Kamado style grill/smoker like the Big Green Egg.

      You could think of it as a charcoal basket on turbo mode!

  7. vortex looks an awful lot like a stovepipe from Lowes why is it sOooo so expensive

    1. Hi Lynn,
      It does look kind of pedestrian, but it’s made of high quality stainless steel. And the shape is perfect for what it does. It’s a great toy to play with in your grill.

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