For this beer can chicken, a whole chicken is massaged with a seasoning blend of garlic, chili, and onion powder, salt, and pepper and then plonked on a beer can and cooked, low and slow, over indirect heat on the grill. Simple, juicy, perfect.
Yeah, we know, we’re about 15 years late with this beer can chicken recipe. Although better late than never when we’re talking about a recipe that turns out such shatteringly crisp chicken skin yet tremendously moist chicken meat the likes of which we’d never before seen. If you’ll excuse us, we’ve got some chickens to cram on cans…–David Leite
Beer Can Chicken FAQs
Yes, you can! To make beer can chicken in the oven, arrange the chickens, side by side, in a roasting pan after you situate them on their beer can perches. Carefully slide the roasting pan on the bottom rack of the oven and roast at 375°F (191°C) until the internal temperature of the chicken registers 165°F (74°C) on a meat thermometer, 45 to 70 minutes, depending on the size of your chickens.
Go with classic bbq and picnic foods here, like easy potato salad, baked mac and cheese, Autumn coleslaw, grilled corn on the cob, or Appalachian cider baked beans. If you’re aiming to keep it a little healthier, try a fresh vegetable salad, like this colorful succotash salad, or grilled vegetables like asparagus, kale, or broccolini.
Sure. Simply replace the beer with apple juice or non-alcoholic cider.
Use something that you enjoy drinking, but there’s no need to spend a lot on it. An easy drinking lager will work well here.
Beer Can Chicken
- About 2 cups wood chips (preferably hickory or pecan)
For the dry rub
- 3 tablespoons Diamond Brand kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
For the beer can chicken
- Two (12-ounce) cans beer, hard cider, even sparkling wine
- Two (3 1/2- to 4-pound) chickens
Make the dry rub
- Combine all the dry rub ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
Make the beer can chicken
- Place 2 cups wood chips (we prefer hickory or pecan but by all means don't use a soft wood like pine) in a 6-by-6-inch or 7-by-7-inch aluminum pan. Douse with 1/3 of the beer, wine, or cider from both cans (about 4 ounces or 1/4 cup total). Let soak for 1 hour.
- Massage the chickens with the dry rub. There’s no need to be perfect here, but the more evenly the rub is applied, the more perfectly seasoned the skin that you’ll be fighting over.
- Arrange the charcoal on one side of the grill and light it. Once the coals are almost ready, drain the wood chips and place them in the foil pan directly over the charcoal.
- Place each chicken on top of a beer can, firmly pressing so that the beer can fits inside the chicken, and set each chicken in an empty foil pan. Place the birds on the other side of the grill from the wood chips and charcoal. Cover the grill and let it do its thing until the internal temperature of the chicken registers 165°F (74°C) on a thermometer, 40 to 60 minutes, depending on the size of your birds and the temperature of your grill.
- Use a pair of tongs to grab the can and another pair to grab the bird, and pull the bird off the can. Be careful, as there will be steam coming from the cans. Put the birds on a cutting board and let rest for 20 minutes.
- Carve or pull off the meat and devour.
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Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
If I have to pour a perfectly good beer anywhere other than into my mouth, I’m glad it was over this beer can chicken. Man, was this juicy. And who doesn’t love the look of a headless chicken propped up on a beer can?
While the beer is the key to the moistness, the rub provides the real flavor. This recipe makes a lot of rub, but you should slather it on generously. If you don’t like your meat salty, cut back a bit on that.
I took the simpler, faster route and roasted this hen in the oven. I couldn’t decide between cider and beer, so I kind of split the difference and used a summer shandy. I poured 1/3 of said shandy into the bottom of the pan and stuffed the can with the remainder up the chicken’s back end.
Admittedly, I did have a little trouble keeping it standing when I was putting the pan in the oven. It’d help to have a rack or a stand of some sort to anchor the can. In the end, I don’t think the type of brew matters too much, as it’ll provide moisture and emit a bit of a beer smell, but the beer taste itself is super subtle.
It took about 1 hour and 5 minutes to roast at that low a temp (why so low?). It probably could’ve gone longer and gotten browner.
I haven’t made beer can chicken in many years, so this was a blast from the past! We loved it. I made the chicken in the oven because I couldn’t find small enough chickens to stand up in my gas grill and still close the top, which was a shame because I had hickory wood chips and would have preferred to make them on the grill.
I sat the chicken on the beer cans and placed them in a roasting pan on the bottom rack of my 375°F oven with a little water in the bottom of the pan to prevent grease splattering all over the oven. After 65 minutes, the chicken was done to perfection—nice crisp skin and yummy meat.
I decided to try this beer butt chicken recipe in the oven. I place the soaked chips on the bottom rack of the oven and the chickens on the following rack. The hands-on time soaking the chips, mixing the spices, rubbing the chickens, and mounting them on the beer cans was about 12 minutes. The cooking time in the oven actually took closer to 70 minutes (but as ovens can differ from one another, I’d simply keep an eye on them), so my total time ended up being 2 1/2 hours due to waiting for the chips to soak, prep time, as well as cooking time.
The end result though was splendid. I cannot recall ever having had a chicken with such a golden and gorgeous, not to mention tremendously crisp and tasty, skin and with such moist meat. Even the breasts were juicy and packed with taste.
The contrast between the crispness of the skin and the tenderness of the meat was simply outstanding. I cannot wait to try it again, but this time on the grill or even perhaps on the smoker.
Originally published June 14, 2015
Do u leave beer in the can? John
John, believe me, I am not one to waste beer, but yes, you do leave it in the can. What happens is that the warmth from the grill causes some of the liquid to evaporate and head north into the chicken, infusing it with moisture while it’s on the grill, which then in turn keeps it from drying out. Or that’s the supposed science behind it. Just crack open a different beer to sip while you wait for this beauty to be done.
I adore beer can chicken. BUT the liner in those cans is not healthy, so invest in one of those roasters to avoid a chemical exposure you hadn’t bargained for and the skin will still be crisp.
Excellent suggestion, thank you, Leslie B.