How to Make Beer Can Chicken

Beer can chicken on the smoker

Beer can chicken is a popular method of cooking chicken in which a whole chicken is placed on top of a partially filled can of beer, and then cooked on a grill or in an oven. The beer can is used to prop up the chicken while it cooks, allowing heat to circulate around it evenly. The result is a juicy and flavorful chicken with crispy skin. It is an easy way to cook a whole chicken and requires minimum preparation. It is also a cost-effective option for feeding a crowd, as a whole chicken can serve several people.

How to prepare a beer can chicken

There are many variations of beer can chicken, with different flavors of beer and seasonings used to create a unique taste. Some cooks prefer to add additional ingredients to the beer in the can, such as herbs or citrus fruits, to enhance the flavor. Others might use a different type of beverage altogether, such as hard cider or soda, to give the chicken a distinct taste. Regardless of the flavors you're using, follow these basic steps to prepare your beer can chicken.

  • Choose your bird - Whether you're looking at a smaller fryer chicken or a larger roaster bird, make sure the skin is clean of red marks and cuts or tears. If your chicken comes with gizzards or any extras on the inside, you can discard those as you wish. 
  • Pack on the FLAVOR - In the video below I chose to go for a Tex-mex vibe with a mexican lager and our Fiesta Rub. You can go in countless directions with this, as chicken is a perfect blank canvas for flavor. If you want a spicy bird, check out our Nashville Hot seasoning and pour some of our One Legged Chicken hot sauce into the beer can before cooking. For a sweeter BBQ style, you can never go wrong with the Spellbound Rub!
  • Choose your brew - Any lager, ale, or lighter colored beer works best. For smaller birds, go for a standard 12 ounce can, for larger chickens, try to find a 16 or 24 ounce can for a sturdier stand. Don't be afraid to add herbs, spices, or fruit inside the can for added flavor. Make sure the can is no more than half full to start. How you dispose of the other half is up to you!
  • Fire up the grill! - Set your smoker or grill up to cook at a temperature between 300-350°F. This high of a temp will help to achieve a crispier skin and help to create steam from the beer can. 
  • Cook to temp, not time - Depending on the size of your bird, you should expect a cook time somewhere between 45 to 90 minutes. The main thing you want to monitor is the internal temperature of the breast and thigh. 160°F for the breast and between 175-195°F in the thigh is what you're shooting for. With carry over cooking, you'll get to the USDA safety zone of 165°F (74°C) in the chicken breast.

Additional tips

  • If you don't have a grill or prefer to cook indoors, you can also make beer can chicken in the oven. Just place the chicken and beer can on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for the same amount of time at the same temperature.
  • Once the chicken is done, let it rest for at least 10-15 minutes before carving. This will allow the juices to redistribute and make the chicken more tender and flavorful.
  • Place a drip pan underneath the chicken to catch any juices that may drip. This will help prevent flare-ups and keep your grill clean.

How to Smoke a Beer Can Chicken - Lane's video

Our Conclusion 

In conclusion, beer can chicken is a simple but flavorful way to cook a whole chicken, using beer to infuse flavor and moisture into the meat. It has become a popular dish for outdoor gatherings and can be prepared in a variety of ways to suit individual tastes. This classic recipe is not only easy but also delicious, proving that sometimes the simplest methods can often be the most enjoyable.

Happy Grilling!

1 comment

Ron Sprague

Ron Sprague

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

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