Beer-Can Chicken

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There's quite a bit of lore surrounding beer-can chicken, and for good reason. The steam from the brew flavors the meat and keeps it moist. The can props the chicken up, so it roasts evenly--no scorching, no flipping, no stressing. We're believers.


Special Equipment

  • A foil baking pan (for drip pan)

Recipe Preparation

  • Pour out (or drink) half of beer.

  • Prepare grill for high, indirect heat and fit with grill pan (for a charcoal grill, bank coals on 1 side of grill and put drip pan on empty side; for a gas grill, leave 1 burner turned off and place drip pan over unlit burner). Add water to pan to a depth of ½ inch.

  • Season chicken with 4-3-2-1 Spice Rub. Place cavity of chicken, legs pointing down, onto open can so that it supports chicken upright. Place can, with chicken, on grill over indirect heat (and above drip pan). Grill chicken, covered, until cooked through and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of thigh registers 165°, 45–60 minutes. (If using charcoal, you may need to add more to maintain heat.) Let chicken rest 10 minutes before carving. Serve with pan drippings.

Wing tip

  • Use a can opener to remove the entire top of the beer can (pour out half). It'll maximize the boozy vapors that make it to the chicken.

Nutritional Content

4 servings, 1 serving contains: Calories (kcal) 340 Fat (g) 3.5 Saturated Fat (g) 1 Cholesterol (mg) 160 Carbohydrates (g) 3 Dietary Fiber (g) 0 Total Sugars (g) 2 Protein (g) 64 Sodium (mg) 1140Reviews SectionIf you only know one grilling recipe, make it this one. Dead simple and amazing every single time. There's plenty of room to play around and little room to go wrong.CaseySullSan Francisco07/04/20I made this recipe on a gas grill, I missed the part about taking the entire can top off...oops!However, the recipe was great! I cooked the chicken over the heat as opposed to indirect heat. It came out perfect. I am not someone that follows a recipe to a tee, I more use it a a guideline so the chicken was on the grill for about an hour and rested for 10 min.AnonymousConnecticut12/22/19OK, so having finished the recipe and eaten it all, here are my thoughts:This rub is very tasty and the chicken moist and delicious.However, the time allotted was not enough to throughly cook a bird in a small range of the suggested weight.That said, I take some responsibility. My chicken was on the verge of still being frozen when I applied the rub, abd for whatever reason I put the chicken to the right side of the grill, and ran the leftmost two burners, while leaving the right one off. That meant the heat wasn't even around the bird. Had I put it in the middle, with the left and right burners on, that would have probably gotten it done closer to under an hour.In the end, I wound up taking the mostly-cooked chicken apart, off the grill, determining it needed some more time and direct-grilling the pieces. This left them a little more carboniferous, but still very good.My main issue here is still the weird directions around the pan of water, which then becomes a dripping pan. The instructions around the "grill pan" which is later called a "drip pan" are confusing. For that reason I'm leaving this one at three stars. Tasty bird, but the recipe needs more attention to details, or maybe some pics. Thanks!Benjamin SingerToronto06/25/18This is preliminary as I'm still cooking, but my bird is reading nowhere near cooked temps after an hour on indirect, with two gas burners on high -- and my BBQ thermometer reading 500 (likely inaccurate though).Also I'd love to know if anyone has tried, as suggested, serving it with drippings from a pan that was filled with a 1/2-inch of water to start. Isn't that kind of gross?

Beer Can Chicken

Elise founded Simply Recipes in 2003 and led the site until 2019. She has an MA in Food Research from Stanford University.

Is it just me, or is beer can chicken a boy thing?

Look, 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.

How to cook smoked beer can chicken

This is the easiest way to make our favorite chicken recipe in the Kamado Joe Grill smoker.

1. Remove the packet of giblets from the chicken cavity. Pat the bird dry with paper towels.

2. Season the whole chicken inside and out with the rub. Press the rub onto the outside of the chicken, too. (Don’t forget the wing tips.) Allow it to sit for at least an hour in the refrigerator.

3. Open the beer and empty half of it into the smoker's drip pan.

4. Pour the chicken marinade to the top of the beer can.

5. Shove the can into the chicken body cavity. Place chicken upright onto the beer can chicken stand if you're using one.

6. Set up your smoker for indirect heat. Use wood chips, chunks, or logs to set up a good level of smoke.

Electric smokers use pellets. I chose Jack Daniels Wood Pellets, but you can use hickory, apple, mesquite, or other woods that go well with chicken.

7. Maintain a smoker temperature of between 225 and 275 degrees F. (I set my smoker for 250 degrees.)

8. Set the chicken on the grill on the beer can base, and cook for three hours. If you don't use a dripping pan full of beer and water to “steam” the chicken, baste with more chicken marinade every half hour.

9. When the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F (about three to four hours), test for doneness by inserting a knife tip into the thickest part of the thigh. If the juices run clear, the chicken is done to medium.

Note: the FDA recommends cooking to 185 degrees F. Many people find this overcooks and dries out the chicken, so use your best judgment.

10. Remove the chicken from the smoker. Place the chicken on a solid surface, like a cutting board. Let the chicken rest for 20 minutes to let the juices “set.” Carefully remove the beer can. (It will be very hot!). Slice and serve.

11. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Prepare grill for indirect medium heat (350°F to 375°F). Preheat grill by turning all burners to medium. Turn off burner(s) on one side of grill.

Rub chicken with oil. Rub cavity with 1 tablespoon of the Chicken Seasoning. Sprinkle remaining Chicken Seasoning evenly over surface of chicken.

Remove about 2 ounces of beer and poke 2 holes in top of can. Hold chicken upright (legs pointing down) and insert opened beer can into cavity. Stand chicken in upright position on unlit side of grill. Position legs to best support chicken (similar to a tripod). Close lid.

Grill chicken 1 1/2 hours or until cooked through (internal temperature reaches 165°F in the thigh). Remove chicken from can before serving.

What is Pellet Smoker Beer Can Chicken?

Admittedly, pellet smoker beer can chicken stands out for its unusual name alone.

But what exactly is this strange not so delicate delicacy?

Beer can chicken involves cooking chicken over indirect heat.

A dry rub is used to flavor the outer skin. A half beer can is put inside the chicken to keep it propped up and maintain its moistness while it cooks.

The result is a moist bird with a rich, smokey flavor and a thick dark skin. Most think it is absolutely mouth-watering.

Smoker Beer Can Chicken

Beer can chicken or in our home “sprite chicken” is one of our families family meals! It’s seriously SO delicious!

Here are some of our families other favorite ways to eat chicken:

Sheet pan Kung Pao chicken | chicken mozzarella and prosciutto bundles, | cornflake chicken tenders.

Are you sick of cooking things inside the house? Looking for a new way to use your smoker instead of cooking racks of ribs or pork butts?

This chicken recipe is so so yummy! They are so good that I love to cook 2 chickens at a time so that I can use the leftovers to use for other recipes or to just eat plain.

This recipe creates the juiciest chicken that is so flavorful!

Here are my favorite chicken stands

Prepping the chicken for the Traeger

If frozen you need to thaw out completely

Thaw it in the fridge 24 hours per every 5 lbs

If fresh then you need to check the chicken to make sure there is nothing inside the chicken

Sometimes they are in a bag in the center of the chicken I just usually throw it out for this recipe.

Trim the excess fat on the chicken if there is any

Rise the chicken inside and out and pat down with a paper towel

How to make beer can chicken

  1. After you have followed the steps above and have the chicken all ready to go
  2. Grab a beer can chicken rub and rub it all over the chicken
  3. Then grab your beer can chicken stand
  4. Open up the can of beer, sprite, or Fresca and place the can open in the stand
  5. Then place the chicken (which has been rubbed down) on top of the can
  6. Set the Traeger to 350 degrees F, close the lid and let it preheat for 15 minutes
  7. Place the chicken stand (with the chicken on it) on a sheet pan and then place it on the Traeger and cook the chicken for 60-70 minuets or until the chicken reaches 165 degrees F internally.
  8. Then remove from the grill and let sit for 5 minutes and then slice the chicken and serve

What can I do with the leftovers?

If you have leftover meat carve it off the bones and place in an airtight container. Place the meat in the fridge and use for up to 4 days.

Got Leftover Chicken?

Have you ever made “beer can” chicken in our chicken bakers and wondered what you could make with the leftovers? Well, we have an answer for you. This article will provide you with a few recipes on what you can cook with your leftover chicken that are great for packing for lunch or reheating for dinner.

This article has the best of both worlds. It provides a chicken recipe to bake in your Clay Coyote chicken bakers, and then provides four leftover recipes to try! Those four are chicken tacos, creamy chicken alfredo, chicken stir fry, and a chopped southwest chicken salad. Yum!

This is one of my recent favorite dishes: chicken salad sandwiches. With the leftover chicken, you can create an easy dish that will give you lunch for a few days. You can eat it on a croissant or sandwich bread, over a lettuce mix, or eat it straight out of the container.

Need to spice up the good old mac and cheese recipe? Add in some of your leftover chicken! Shred up the chicken, pop in the microwave for about a minute to heat up, and stir in with your mac and cheese. This also works well with other pasta dishes like chicken alfredo, pasta salad, or pasta with some olive oil and mixed vegetables.

If you are a fan of Mexican food, you can use your leftover chicken to make tacos, enchiladas, and quesadillas. You save time by already having the meat cooked, so these are great recipes when you are in a time crunch.

These recipes may be quick and easy, but they definitely don’t lack in flavor! Don’t have a chicken baker yet? Visit the Clay Coyote in Hutchinson, MN to get your one-of-a-kind chicken baker! We’re open everyday, Monday-Saturday 10-5pm and Sunday noon-4pm. They come in four different glazes so there’s sure to be one that fits your style.


  1. If making the rub:
    1. Combine all the ingredients in a jar, twist the lid on airtight, and shake to mix. Store away from heat or light for up to six months. Makes about 1/2 cup. Enough for 4 to 6 racks of ribs.
    1. Remove and discard the fat just inside the body cavities of the chicken. Remove the package of giblets, and set aside for another use. Rinse the chicken, inside and out, under cold running water, then drain and blot dry, inside and out, with paper towels. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the rub inside the body and neck cavities, the rub another 1 tablespoon all over the skin of the bird. If you wish, rub another 1/2 tablespoon of the mixture between the flesh and the skin. Cover and refrigerate the chicken while you preheat the grill.
    2. Set up the grill for indirect grilling (see below) placing a drip pan in the center. If using a charcoal grill, preheat it to medium.
    3. If using a gas grill, place all the wood chips in the smoker box and preheat the grill to high then, when smoke appears, lower the heat to medium.
    4. Pop the tab on the beer can. Using a "church key" style can opener, make 6 or 7 holes in the top of the can. Pour out the top inch of beer, then spoon the remaining dry rub through the holes into the beer. Holding the chicken upright, with the opening of the body cavity down, insert the beer can into the cavity.
    5. When ready to cook, if using charcoal, toss half the wood chips on the coals. Oil the grill grate. Stand the chicken up in the center of the hot grate, over the drip pan. Spread out the legs to form a sort of tripod, to support the bird.
    6. Cover the grill and cook the chicken until fall-off-the-bone tender, 2 hours. If using charcoal, add 10 to 12 fresh coals per side and the remaining wood chips after 1 hour.
    7. Using tongs, lift the bird to a cutting board or platter, holding the metal spatula underneath the beer can for support. (Have the board or platter right next to the bird to make the move shorter. Be careful not to spill hot beer on yourself.) Let stand for 5 minutes before carving the meat off the upright carcass. (Toss the beer can out along with the carcass.)

    Excerpted from The Barbecue! Bible 10th Anniversary Edition. © 1998, 2008 by Steven Raichlen. Workman

    Recipe Summary

    • 1/4 cup kosher salt
    • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
    • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
    • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
    • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
    • 1 teaspoon black pepper
    • 2 (3 1/2- to 4-lb.) whole chickens
    • 2 (12-oz.) cans beer (such as Modelo Especial)

    Stir together salt, brown sugar, cumin, coriander, paprika, and pepper in a small bowl. (If necessary, remove giblets from chickens, and discard or reserve for another use.) Sprinkle skin and cavities of chickens with salt mixture. Chill, uncovered, at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours.

    Preheat a gas grill to medium (350°F to 400°F) on 1 side. Open beer cans pour out 1/2 cup beer from each can. (Drink the poured-out beer, or reserve for another use.) Working with 1 chicken at a time, hold chicken upright with cavity facing down, and insert 1 opened beer can into cavity. Pull legs forward to form a tripod, allowing chicken to stand upright.

    Place chickens upright on unoiled grates over unlit side of grill. Grill, covered with grill lid, until the skin is crispy and a thermometer inserted in thickest portion of thighs registers 165°F, about 1 hour, 40 minutes. Remove from grill rest 10 minutes. Carefully remove cans cut chickens into quarters.

    Beer Can Chicken Recipe

    It’s beer can appreciation day, and here at Weber we truly appreciate the beer can. This recipe is a favorite at the restaurant and is simple to recreate at home on your Weber Grill. Try it out if you like juicy and flavorful chicken!

    You can use Weber’s Beer Can Chicken rub or make the rub from scratch using the following ingredients.

    1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves

    ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    1 whole chicken, about 4 pounds, neck, giblets, and excess fat removed

    2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

    1 can (12 fluid ounces) beer, at room temperature

    ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

    In a small bowl mix the rub ingredients.

    Lightly rub the chicken all over with the oil. Season the chicken inside and out with the rub. Tuck the tips of the wings behind the chicken’s back.

    Prepare the grill for indirect cooking over medium heat (350° to 450°F).

    Open the beer can and pour out about half the beer. Put the rosemary, garlic, lemon juice, thyme, and red pepper flakes into the beer can to add flavor to the steam. Using a can opener, make 2 more holes in the top of the can. Place the beer can on a solid surface. Place the chicken cavity over the beer can.

    Transfer the bird-on-a-can to the grill, balancing the bird on its two legs and the can, like a tripod. Grill over indirect medium heat, with the lid closed, until the juices run clear and the internal temperature registers 160° to 165°F in the thickest part of the thigh (not touching the bone), 1¼ to 1½ hours. Carefully remove the chicken and can from the grill (do not spill contents of beer can, as it will be very hot), and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes (the internal temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees during this time). Lift the chicken from the beer can and cut into serving pieces. Serve warm.

    The above recipe comes from Weber’s New Real Grilling Cookbook by Jamie Purviance, which can be purchased here.