Beer can chicken

Some of the most delicious chicken you’ll make.

What’s better than beer can chicken? Three beer can chickens, duh. The most amazing thing about beer can chicken is that it’s not a novelty; the chicken actually comes out quite delicious. If you have never eaten beer can chicken this is a great opportunity to learn how to make it. And, if you are a seasoned pro at this dish read on and find out how one man tackles this classic recipe to feed a family and friends.
I documented my brother-in-law, Big George, making this feast last Fourth of July. He has a couple of shortcuts that seem to work very well. The chicken is always moist and the skin is always crispy. Enjoy.

1-3 whole chickens (somewhere around 3 1/2 pounds each)
1/2 cup of BBQ rub
a few handfuls mesquite wood chunks

1 charcoal grill large enough to cover an upright chicken (a classic Weber Kettle will do just fine)
1 aluminum drip pan
heavy-duty aluminum foil
1 pair of long tongs
1 pair of BBQ mitts
an instant-read meat thermometer.

Step 1
indirect heat fire setup

Set up your grill for indirect heat. Place a drip pan in the center of the charcoal grill. This is a good time to soak your woodchips in water. Light your charcoal with a chimney starter. After the briquettes are lit, pour them around the drip pan. If any fall into the drip pan, remove them with a pair of tongs and place them along the outside. Add some unlit briquettes around the perimeter of the drip pan and allow them to light.

Step 2
Rinse and clean your chicken(s) inside and out and pat dry. Don’t forget to remove the gizzards and neck bone.

Step 3
beer can with extra holes

Pop open a can of beer for each chicken. Quality doesn’t matter here; domestic suds will do just fine. Empty out about a third of the beer and dispose of the beer however you see fit. Punch a couple of holes on the top with a church key can opener and sprinkle some BBQ rub in the beer can.

Step 4
secret seasoning
Big George likes to Konriko’s Jalapeño All Purpose Seasoning

positioning the beer can

positioning the beer can

balance it on the grill

one last seasoning
A little last-minute garlic powder always seems to help.

Sprinkle the skin of the chicken(s) liberally with your favorite BBQ rub. And shove the prepared can of beer up the chicken’s butt. Stick it far enough up there so that you can form a tri-pod with the two legs and the can of beer. The can should always remain upright. Place the chicken(s) onto the grill over the drip pan. If you are barbecuing more than one bird, position each one of them so that they don’t touch each other too much and that they are not over the direct heat. Create two envelopes with some heavy-duty aluminum foil for your wood chunks. Add your wood, seal and perforate the outside of this envelope several times with a fork or a knife. Place each of these envelopes over the direct heat.

Step 5
Check your bird(s) in about fifteen minutes and make sure that there aren’t any areas that are getting crispier than others. After about 70 minutes take the temperature of your birds in the thickest part of the thigh with your instant read thermometer. When your birds get in the range of 170-175 degrees, they are done. Remove the chicken from the grill with your tongs and let it rest (about 10-15 minutes), trying not to spill any of the remaining beer. Removing the can from the butt is a bit tricky a little twist helps, but most importantly is to hold the bird steady while you take it out. Throw away the beer cans and serve the chicken.

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10 thoughts on “Beer can chicken”

  1. Hi there…Thanks for the nice read, keep up the interesting posts about cajun seasoning recipes..what a nice Wednesday .

  2. Pink dark meat is “smoke ring”, a natural result from prolonged exposure to smoke. Plug chicken neck with an onion, apple, etc. to trap the steam/spice mix from the beer can. If you buy just the metal ring from the Weber rotisserie accessories (approx. $39.00, order direct from Weber), the ring will give you 8″ of additional height, so that you can also make beer can turkey. After 1 hr. of cooking, baste the fowl using clear apple juice, in a plant mister. This method leaves your originally applied rub intact.

  3. I found the beer can to be a little tippy so I purchased a ceramic beer butt container with a wide base. Now you don’t have to worry about the three point stance and the chicken won’t tip. Secondly, try using 1/4 – 1/2 of a beer and filling the can or what ever container you use with your favorite bbq sauce. When the bird is done the sauce that’s in the container can be used to pour over a side of rice or dipping the chicken.

  4. Here’s the rest of my question (see, above).

    When I bbq smoke half chickens, the dark meat stays pink. It is done, opaque, comes off the bone, juice is clear, tastes cooked and is done. But often my guests question whether the dark meat is done simply because it is pink, particularly near the bone.

    I cook this chicken in an oil drum with the lid down and give it total of 60-70 minutes. It comes out dark golden brown/slightly reddish. It tastes great. It is quite moist. I start the chicken skin down then after about 30 minutes I turn it over and spritz it with a basting liquid (my rub dissolved in apple juice).

    Anyone have this result – done dark meat looking pink (it looks like ham)? Seems like folks want tha dark meat to look gray.


  5. I first heard the legend of beer can chicken when chicken was 39 cents a pound – regular price. The above illustrated recipe is inviting. Maybe I’ll finally give beer can chicken a try now that the days are getting longer and warmer.

    Since I cannot figure out how to find a bbq chicken “chat room”, I’ll just post my question here, if you don’t mind.

    When I bbq
    I smoke overnight rubbed chicken halves in my oil drum, with a modest pile of mesquite over in the left end of the drum adjacent to the air intake vent. I lean a piece of “flavor wood” (plum or oak) on the edge of the mesquite. The flavor wood smokes and fills the drum with flavor. I start the chicken halves skin down flat on the grate but not over the mesquite. I close the lid and come back in 30 minutes

  6. expand your horizons! the flavoring from the beer is noticable if you use a strong enough brew. shinerbock, or other brews with strong flavor work really well, but so far i’ve found the most interesting flavors to come from wine coolers poured into the beer can: margarita, green apple, etc… doctor the margarita cooler with some extra lime and you add tons of flavor (plus you can use the limes to plug the chicken)

  7. The can and its ink never get hot enough to melt. This is not like throwing a can in the fire but bringing a can up hot enough to simmer. Cajun seasoning added to the rub is the best! Go Steelers!

  8. BBQHubby — the ink definitely does NOT come off, nor does the can flake. Us beer cognescenti (like my brother-in-law :^) know that those damn cans are made to take a helluva beating and still be able to tell the consumer what brand they’re swilling. Believe me: you can use any beer (or beer can) in this recipe with confidence!

  9. Im curious if the ink of the can or the can itself will affect the taste of the chicken doesnt the ink of a can flake off after intense heat???

  10. I challenge other food bloggers to give aidto those who worked in the food industry and made New Orleans so flavorful:

    New Orleans Hospitality Workers Disaster Relief Fund A fund has been established to benefit employees of the hospitality industry of the Greater New Orleans area who have experienced hardships because of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. Contributions may be sent to:

    New Orleans Hospitality Workers Disaster Relief Fund
    Greater Houston Community Foundation
    4550 Post Oak Place, Suite 100
    Houston, TX 77027
    Call 713-333-2200 for additional information


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