Beer-Can Chicken

I have a pile of chickens in my freezer. I’m not complaining. It’s just that I’d like to whittle down my supply in the next month or so.

We usually don’t have much of a problem of going through at least one chicken a week during the winter. It’s been real easy to put one in the oven at noon when I’ve been home for lunch so that it’s ready in time for supper. And we never have a problem getting rid of leftovers.

But during the summer, it’s not always convenient — or practical for that matter when it’s 90 degrees out — to crank up the oven.

That’s why when I came across the following recipe for beer-can chicken on the grill, a light bulb went off in my head. I’ve fixed chicken using this procedure in the past, but it’s been quite a while. And since I don’t know exactly where my recipe for it is, this one will come in handy.

Plus, I’ll get an opportunity to use my new meat thermometer.

Beer-Can Chicken
2 whole chickens, about 4 pounds each
6 to 8 tablespoons favorite dry barbecue rub or seasoning (see note), divided
2 cans (12 ounces each) beer
Discard the giblets and fat inside each chicken’s cavity. Blot the chickens dry with paper towel.
Sprinkle each cavity with 1 tablespoon of the rub. Generously rub another 2 to 3 tablespoons all over the skin of the entire chickens. If desired, rub an additional ½ tablespoon under the skin of each chicken.|
Prepare the grill for indirect grilling. For charcoal grills, bank coals on separate sides of the grill and light. Coals are ready when covered with a light gray coating of ash. For gas grills, preheat all burners on medium-high and then shut the middle off if you have three burners or the right or left if you have two. For either grill, place a drip pan in the center just below where the chicken will be placed. Pour some water (or beer if you like) in the drip pan.
Open the beer can. Poke six or seven holes in the top of the can. Pour out the top inch or so of each beer can; put 1 tablespoon dry rub into each.
Holding the chicken upright, with the opening of the body cavity down, insert the chicken on top of the beer can. Repeat with other chicken.
When ready to cook, oil the grate. Stand the chickens up in the center of the hot grate, over the drip pan. Spread out the legs to support each chicken.
Cover the grill and cook until the chickens are tender, about 1½ to 2 hours depending on the size. If using charcoal, you may need to add more fresh coals per side after 1 hour of cooking. The chickens are done when the internal temperature of the thickest part of the breast reaches 165 degrees.
Carefully lift each chicken to a cutting board or platter, holding a large metal spatula under the beer can. Be careful not to spill the hot beer. Let stand for 5 minutes; remove from the can before carving the meat off the upright carcass.
Cook’s note: To make your own basic barbecue rub, in a small bowl combine ¼ cup light brown sugar, 3 tablespoons ancho chili powder (or favorite chili powder), 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 tablespoon paprika (if using smoked paprika — use 1 teaspoon), 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 2 teaspoons garlic powder and 2 teaspoons onion powder or 1 tablespoon minced onion.
Yield: Serves 12.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving without skin: 360 calories, 23 percent of calories from fat, 9 grams fat (2 grams saturated), no carbohydrates, 65 grams protein, 1,132 milligrams sodium, 212 milligrams cholesterol, no fiber.


3 thoughts on “Beer-Can Chicken

  1. If you really want to get that beer flavor in the birds I would offer the following, I generally soak my chickens in a few cans of beer for a few hours before I make them. I also coat the skin with olive oil. Finally it may be necessary to place a tinfoil dome over the tops of the chickens to keep the skin from burning. This is truly the best chicken ever! I enjoy the blog.

  2. A word of caution…some beer cans have a plastic-like coating on them. Be careful not to use these varieties. My wife purchased lined cans for this recipe in the past and I had to grill the chickens without the cans and drink the beer. 😉

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