Smoked Beer Can Chicken is the best way to cook a whole chicken on the grill. You get crispy skin while the meat stays juicy and tender.
I’m not sure how Beer Can Chicken (aka Beer in the Butt Chicken) came to be. I feel like it was a group of drinking and grilling guys who thought it would be funny. That funny experiment turned into a very tasty meal! So whoever you are where ever you are, thank you!! Beer Can Chicken is the absolute best!!
HOW TO MAKE SMOKED BEER CAN CHICKEN
- First, remove the neck and giblets from the center of the chicken (if it came with them inside).
- Brining, this step is optional. A brine adds flavor and keeps the meat tender and juicy. Brining also helps tenderize lean meats so they don’t dry out as easily when cooked. To brine, place chicken in a large bowl and cover with water. Add 1/2 cup salt and 1/2 cup sugar to water. Brine from 30 minutes to 4 hours depending on how much time you have to prepare. Store in refrigerator while brining.
- Next, you need to season the chicken very well inside and out. I like to loosen the skin, butter and season below the skin, on top of the skin, and in the cavity. If you have a favorite chicken seasoning, you can use it or what I have listed below.
- Empty the beer so that it’s half full, set the beer in a sturdy, level pan (like a disposable 9×13 aluminum pan), then slide the chicken on the can of beer.
- Cook for about 60 to 90 minutes for a 4 pound chicken over indirect heat. Be sure to test the internal temp with a meat thermometer! The safe internal temperature for cooked chicken is 165° F (75° Celsius).
- The trickiest part of this recipe is getting the chicken on and off the can. It really makes it easier if you have a friend. After you remove the bird from the grill, let it rest for about 10 minutes. To remove the cooked chicken, one person needs to hold the can with tongs while another person pulls the bird out with tongs (watch out, it’s hot!).
SETTING UP YOUR GRILL
You want to set the grill up for indirect heat. That means to push all the charcoals to one side (see the photo above) or for gas grills to turn on half of the burners.
CAN I COOK BEER CAN CHICKEN IN THE OVEN?
Yes. Yes, you can! Here’s how.
Oven Instructions for Beer Can Chicken: Heat your oven to 350°F. Assemble the bird as directed and place a roasting pan on the lower rack of your oven. Roast at 350°F for about 60 to 90 minutes for a 4 lb chicken. (You’ve really got to check the internal temperature!)
BEST BEER TO USE
When a recipe calls for beer, wine, or other alcohol use something that you would drink. That said, any beer will work if you like strong beer flavor use it.
CAN I USE SODA INSTEAD OF BEER
Yes. You can actually use any soda, Sprite, Dr. Pepper, or Coca-Cola. You can even empty a drink can and fill it with chicken broth or wine. As well, you can use a pint mason jar or even a soup can (remove the label) and fill it with stock, wine, beer, etc. They’ll all flavor, steam, and moisten the bird.
FOR LEFTOVER CHICKEN TRY THESE RECIPES
- Easy Chicken Salad
- Street Corn Chicken Tacos
- Chicken Doritos Casserole
- Cheesy Chicken Rotini
- Bacon Chicken Ranch Pizza
This Smoked Beer Can Chicken is a must-have to your chicken and grilling repertoire.
I updated this post from an earlier version published on February 6, 2013. I made new photos, updated tips, added nutrition information, and simplified the recipe instructions.
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BEER CAN CHICKEN
- ½ cup salt
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 gallon water
- Remove the neck and giblets from the center of the chicken if it came with them inside.
- FOR SMOKER: Prepare smoker by piling charcoal on one side of the grill and leaving the other side empty. Soak applewood chips or chunks in water. Remove from water and place in grill. Place a food grate on the grill. Allow to heat to about 250° to 300°. Smoking will take longer than grilling because you'll need to smoke longer at a lower temperature to get the smokey smell in the meat.
- FOR GRILL: Prepare the grill by piling charcoal on one side of the grill and leaving the other side empty. For gas grills, turn on half the burners. You'll cook the bird on indirect heat.
- FOR THE OVEN: Oven Instructions for Beer Can Chicken: Heat your oven to 350°F. Assemble the bird as directed and place a roasting pan on the lower rack of your oven. Roast at 350°F for about 60 to 90 minutes for a 4 lb chicken.
- *Whatever cooking method you use, you have really got to check the internal temperature for doneness. I like this meat thermometer.
- PREPARE THE CHICKEN: Remove chicken from brine and rinse. (Discard brine.) Pat chicken dry. Rub butter under the skin and on top of the skin. Sprinkle the salt, pepper, garlic, paprika, and onion under and on top of the chicken.
- Place a sturdy pan on the side of the grill or smoker that does not have charcoal on it so that the chicken will get indirect heat. Then, place the chicken upright onto a beer can, fitting the can into the cavity. Pull legs forward to form a tripod, allowing chickens to stand upright.
- Smoke covered with the lid, 1 hour and 20 to 40 minutes, depending on the temperature. For Grilling, it should take 60 to 75 minutes, again depends on the temperature. A meat thermometer inserted in the thigh should register 165°F.
- Remove from grill and allow chickens to rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Carefully remove beer cans and serve.