How to Beer Can Chicken

Beer can chicken on the smoker

Being in the BBQ world we are fortunate to see a lot of cool ideas and explore tons of methods to cooking. From watermelon chicken to pumpkin brisket, you name it, and it’s probably been done before. This brings us to a trend or method that is highly debated and people seem to lose their mind over, Beer Can Chicken!

Easy Beer Can Chicken Recipe

Chicken seasoned ready for the smoker

  • Take your favorite beer, drink half.
  • Season your Chicken - Lane's Chicken Seasoning Set
  • Insert the can from the rear into the cavity of the chicken. Leaving an inch or two to be able to stabilize the chicken.
  • Cook at a low temperature of 225-250 until the internal temperature reaches 160 in the breast/180 in the thigh and enjoy the juicy goodness.

Sounds simple, but man people have strong convictions on whether it works or not. And they are not afraid to share those beliefs and stand by them. The idea is that the beer steam adds moisture to the chicken. The legs are closer to the grill getting most of the heat and the breast is furthest away maintaining the moisture. We are not stating our beliefs on if it works or not... BUT we love to experiment so, we wanted to share our experience and hopefully, you can come to your conclusion after you give this method a try.

Beer Can Chicken, Best Beer to use?

What is the best beer to use to beer can a chicken? Well, the easy answer is, what’s your favorite beer? What’s your preference? The simple answer is to use a light lager. The light beer works excellent! We would suggest staying away from heavy hops or heavy wheat beer. Sometimes the heavier beer can leave a bitter taste on the chicken. The truth is, drink half the beer, insert the can into the chicken and put that bad boy on the smoker! Then, enjoy a beer with your friends and family while the chicken cooks. For us, at Lane’s, we enjoy the fellowship just as much as we do the food. Sharing a meal and connection are just as important to us. 

Can I use a holder instead of a beer?

Yes. You can buy a holder that will keep your chicken vertical just like the beer can does. This idea would hold to the legs close to the heat and breast furthest away maintaining the moisture. We are aware that not everyone uses adult beverages to cook with or enjoys how adult beverages taste. The key is experimenting until you find something you like. Then, pass that information on so other people can learn from our experience. That is what makes the BBQ community so special. Just because you like cutting your grass on the diagonal and your son likes cutting it on the horizontal, is one way right and one way wrong? No. We can argue all day long about semantics, but did the grass get cut? Yes! 

Does beer can chicken do anything? 

Well, here is the question up for debate. Does putting the chicken on the beer can do anything? The BBQ world seems to be split 50/50 on this question. There is no need for a heated debate. For fairness, let us all sides for a second without bias.

Change my mind on beer can chicken

Team No Steam

Some folks have a theory that the chicken has been refrigerated and so has the beer. Even though you put the chicken and the beer on the smoker the beer inside the can, inside the chicken, never gets to the boiling temperature of 212 degrees. Earlier we told you to pull the chicken at 160/180. So, if the internal temp never gets to 212, how does the beer boil to evaporate to steam the inside of the chicken? Great theory no doubt. 

Team Steam

However, there are plenty of people that say putting the beer in the chicken and that beer sits directly on the smoker at 225-250 for several hours, how can the beer not come to a boiling temp? Hence why some people use other liquids like Dr. Pepper (Ryan's Favorite). The flavors can be interesting depending on what you use. (Try Mt. Dew...wink, wink!) 

Team Vertical

Then there are those who say beer or no beer the fact that the chicken has its legs closest to the fire and the breast (white meat) furthest away. Allows the breast to retain whatever moisture it naturally has. It would also help explain if you don’t use a can of beer you still seem to get a juicy chicken from cooking it in the vertical position.

Our Conclusion 

Maybe, just maybe, it is about the fact that the chicken is being cooked low and slow in the vertical position allowing the bird to not dry out?  Maybe, just maybe, it’s about having time to slow down and hanging out with friends/family and enjoying good food. Whether you think this beer can chicken method works or not that is up to you. We hope that you keep experimenting. Try a beer, try a Dr. pepper or just try smoking a chicken in the vertical position! Slow down and enjoy life! Make those memories with family and friends that you’ll remember. 


1 comment


  • Ron Sprague

    Chili lime beer can chicken with Worcestershire marinade inside and out on the bbq, wow it’s good


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