Beer Can Chicken

For this beer can chicken, a whole chicken is massaged with 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.

Two beer can chickens sitting on cans of beer in aluminum tray, a tray of smolder wood chips nearby

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… Originally published Jun 14, 2015.Renee Schettler Rossi

How To Make Beer Can Chicken In The Oven

Apartment dwellers and grill phobes, rejoice! Beer can chicken can also be made in the oven, rather than the grill, for year-round beer can chicken indulging. Just check out the instructions for the oven variation found beneath the recipe.

Beer Can Chicken

  • Quick Glance
  • Quick Glance
  • 25 M
  • 1 H, 45 M
  • Serves 8
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Special Equipment: About 2 cups wood chips (preferably hickory or pecan)


  • For the dry rub
  • For the beer can chicken


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 1 can beer up each chicken’s back end 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.

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    Beer Can Chicken in the Oven Variation

    • 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 thermometer, 45 to 70 minutes, depending on the size of your chickens.

    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.


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      1. 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 purported science behind it. Just crack open a different beer to sip while you wait for this beauty to be done…

    1. 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.

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