Beer Roasted Chicken

This beer roasted chicken draws its unique flavor from European-style beer, orange zest, and coriander. And it’s a one-pot meal, which makes it a cinch to both toss together, forget about while it’s in the oven, and not to mention clean up afterward.

A whole cooked wheat beer roasted chicken in a deep oval baking dish.

This roast chicken takes its flavors from one of the classic European beers: Belgian witbier. This style, which often uses orange peel and coriander seeds in the beer-making process, leads to unexpectedly wonderful flavors in the final brew—flavors that also happen to pair well with roast chicken.–Ian Knauer

What's the best beer to use in this beer roasted chicken?

As noted above, this recipe was designed to use not just any old can of PBR but rather a European-style beer with subtle nuances. The brands we find to be fairly readily available include Blue Moon, Hefeweizen, and Shock Top. If those aren’t to be found in your local stores, you can opt for a lighter-style ale, such as a summer ale or even a slightly more robust Belgian farmhouse ale. You want something that has some complexity to it but isn’t overwhelmingly heavy or dark, as the beer is the foundation for the flavor of your pan sauce.

Wheat Beer Roasted Chicken

  • Quick Glance
  • (2)
  • 15 M
  • 1 H, 30 M
  • Serves 4
5/5 - 2 reviews
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Special Equipment: Kitchen string (optional)



Preheat the oven to 450°F (232°C). Adjust the oven rack to the middle position.

Tester tip: If you’ve recently had a pie or anything else spill over and create a mess on your oven floor, you’ll want to scrub that off prior to cranking the oven to this temperature. Or else be prepared to have some serious ventilation happening. 

In a small bowl using a fork or the back of a wooden spoon, work together the butter, orange zest, coriander, and 1/2 teaspoon salt until combined.

Rinse the chicken and pat it dry. Gently run your fingers between the chicken skin and the meat, loosening the skin while being careful not to tear it. Push the butter under the skin, as far over the thighs and drumsticks as your fingertips or the handle of a wooden spoon will reach. Massage the chicken skin from the outside to spread the butter evenly over the chicken. 

Season the chicken inside and out with the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and the pepper. Place the garlic and orange, cut into chunks, in the cavity. If desired, loosely tie the legs together with kitchen string.

Place the chicken in a flameproof roasting pan that’s not much larger than the chicken itself. (A large cast-iron skillet works quite nicely.) Roast the chicken, liberally basting it with some of the beer every 15 minutes, until the skin is golden and begins to pull away from the base of the drumsticks and the juice runs clear, about 50 minutes. 

Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let it rest for 15 minutes before carving.

Meanwhile, place the roasting pan over a burner and add the remaining beer. Bring the liquid to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits. Stir together the cornstarch and water in a small bowl, then stir the resulting corn starch slurry into the simmering pan juices. Simmer the gravy, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. If desired, strain the gravy.

Tester tip: If you prefer a thinner consistency to your pan sauce as opposed to thicker, then you can omit the cornstarch and water slurry. It’s not essential. It’ll simply make your accompanying sauce more like a glossy gravy.

Cut the strings from the legs, if using, and carve the chicken. Transfer the pieces to a platter and spoon the gravy over the chicken or pass it on the side. Originally published September 16, 2012.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

This is a crazy-good roast chicken that, as an added bonus, is a cinch to make. We feasted on this crisp, juicy chicken. It was divine.

I used Sam Adams Summer Ale as my wheat beer of choice. To roast my chicken, I placed it in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet and poured the beer over it, straight from the bottle, while it was cooking. After exactly 50 minutes, I pulled the golden brown chicken from the oven (checking the internal temperature with a digital thermometer to make sure it was done, which it was), transferred it to a cutting board, and got to work on the gravy. Instead of adding the cornstarch slurry, I finished the sauce with a tablespoon of butter and some salt and pepper.

This makes a lovely roasted chicken, a posh version of beer-can chicken. I used Shock Top Belgian White. The flavor of the beer was subtle in the chicken and on the skin, but more pronounced in the pan sauce. The chicken was moist and flavorful. My diners were asking for more crisped skin. The cornstarch slurry stirred into the pan juices went nicely with the roasted potatoes I made. A very nice roasted chicken that I’d make again.

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