Beer Can Chicken
Get ready for a tender, falling-off-the-bone whole chicken that's moist on the inside and crispy on the outside when you make this beer can chicken.
I grew up with four younger brothers, and if you told them you were going to insert a half-drunk beer into the butt of a chicken and grill it, I think they would actually get interested in cooking.
Joking aside, this is a brilliant way to roast a chicken, on the grill or in the oven. Yes, the chicken looks rather ridiculous on its beer can perch, covered with an herb rub and half-ready to salute you.
But hear me out. While the chicken is dry roasting on the outside, the inside is being bathed with steamy beer, keeping the chicken meat wonderfully moist.
Video: How to Make Beer Can Chicken
Beer Can Chicken
The result is tender, falling-off-the-bone meat, encased in salty, herby, crispy skin.
What follows is a basic method for beer can chicken (also known as beer butt chicken for obvious reasons).
Seasonings for Beer Can Chicken
We're using just some olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme on the chicken, which we believe brings out the best in the chicken's flavor. You can easily experiment with your favorite spice rub, or even use wine or root beer instead of a standard beer.
How to Cook Beer Can Chicken in the Oven
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare the chicken as directed in Steps 2 and 3. Place the chicken in a large roasting pan that is big enough to hold the chicken and the juices that come out while cooking. Cook for 13 to 15 minutes a pound, until the breast reaches 165°F and the thigh reaches 170°F.
Alternate Beer Can Chicken Holders
You don't have to use a can to make this chicken. There are holders that you can purchase — search for "beer can chicken holder" — that both hold the chicken upright and have a can-shaped middle that you can pour beer (or other liquid) and take the place of a can.
You can also use a can from vegetables or beans. Take the lid off the can, empty the contents, remove the label, and pour beer (or other liquid) into the can.
Can You Make This Without Beer?
Sure, you can make this without beer. Try these ideas.
- Soda: Substitute a half-full can of soda such as cola, lemon-lime, or ginger ale for the beer.
- Alcoholic or non-alcoholic cider or juice.
- White wine: Pour it in a beverage can or an empty vegetable can.
- Baked beans: Take the label off the can, open the can and use it instead of beer. Once the chicken cooks, bring the chicken juice soaked beans to a boil in a pot on the stovetop and serve them as a flavorful side dish.
Alternative Rubs for Beer Can Chicken
Try our BBQ Rub recipe, Dry Rub for Chicken, or the rub from our Santa Maria Tri-Tip.
What to Serve with Beer Can Chicken
- German Potato Salad
- Southern Cornbread
- Easy Stovetop Baked Beans
- Twice Baked Southwestern Sweet Potatoes
- Grilled Corn on the Cob
Beer Can Chicken
Oven Instructions: You can also roast a chicken this way in the oven. Just place it as directed on an open half-filled can of beer, sitting up, in a roasting pan on the lower rack of your oven. Roast at 350°F until done (about an hour fifteen to an hour and a half for a 4-pound chicken).
For an alcohol-free version of this recipe, use an open can of baked beans (remove the label) instead of the beer. The chicken juices will run into and flavor the baked beans, which you can then use as a side dish for the chicken.
1 (4-pound) whole chicken
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or other vegetable oil
1 (12-ounce) can beer, room temperature, opened and half-full
1 tablespoon kosher salt or sea salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon black pepper
Prepare the grill:
If you are using charcoal, put the coals on one side of the grill, leaving another side free of coals. If you are using a gas grill, fire up only half of the burners.
Season the chicken and rub it with oil:
Remove neck and giblets from cavity of chicken, if the chicken came with them. Mix the salt, pepper, and thyme in a little bowl, and rub it all over the chicken. Rub the chicken all over with olive oil.
Lower chicken onto half-filled beer can:
Make sure the beer can is open, and only half-filled with beer (drink the other half!) If you want, you can put a sprig of thyme (or another herb like rosemary or sage) in the beer can.
Lower the chicken on to the open can, so that the chicken is sitting upright, with the can in its cavity.
Grill on indirect heat:
Place the chicken on the cool side of the grill, using the legs and beer can as a tripod to support the chicken on the grill and keep it stable.
Cover the grill and walk away. Do not even check the chicken for at least an hour. After an hour, check the chicken and refresh the coals if needed (if you are using a charcoal grill).
Keep checking the chicken every 15 minutes or so, until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 165°F.
The total cooking time will vary depending on the size of your chicken, and the internal temperature of the grill. A 4-pound chicken will usually take around 1 1/2 hours.
If you don't have a meat thermometer, a way to tell if the chicken is done is to poke it deeply with a knife (the thigh is a good place to do this), if the juices run clear, not pink, the chicken is done.
Carefully transfer the chicken to a tray or pan:
I say "carefully" because the beer can, and the beer inside of it, is quite hot. One way to do this is to slide a metal spatula under the bottom of the beer can. Use tongs to hold the top of the chicken.
Lift the chicken, beer can still inside, and move it to a tray. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes. Carefully lift the chicken off of the can. If it gets stuck, lay the chicken on its side, and pull out the can with tongs.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 69g||88%|
|Saturated Fat 18g||91%|
|Total Carbohydrate 1g||0%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||2%|
|Total Sugars 0g|
|Vitamin C 2mg||10%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|