If you’ve ever wondered how to make beer can chicken, our secret ingredients will give you a crisp, golden, and quite delicious chicken every time!
Happy Father’s Day!
How are you celebrating the fathers and father figures in your life today?
I’m glad that we got to spend a weekend with my Dad not to long ago. He came up north for the weekend to help my brother move apartments, and we got to host the two of them during the move. It was a great visit and the weather was perfect for moving and for grilling!
Tim’s Dad is a master grill-er. It’s not uncommon to see him grilling in the snow before Easter and keeping the coals going all the way through Halloween. Maybe one of these years he’ll even grill a turkey for Thanksgiving!
I am very glad that Tim learned the grilling art from his Dad, because when it comes to outdoor cooking, I am clueless. I’ll get the meat ready, but then everything is in Tim’s hands.
Which means I got to get all up in this chicken’s everything, and find a way to perch it on a can of beer so it wasn’t steaming straight out the poor chicken’s neck. While Tim got to stand over warm coals “checking the chicken” and getting all smoky.
But that’s ok.
The chicken and I had fun. (If you can call it that.) And, the golden glorious-ness that emerged from under the black dome was well worth every chicken-covered minute.
How To Make Beer Can Chicken
Since our grill doesn’t have a particularly high lid, we ended up creating a ring of hot coals and setting the chicken in the middle of them, right on the bottom grate of the grill.
Our 6 lb chicken took 1 1/2 hours to cook, which is what we saw in other recipes for a 4 lb chicken.
This lead us to believe that cooking the chicken surrounded by coals creates a hotter cooking area. If you are using a smaller chicken, be sure to start temping it out at around 1 hour. You are looking for 165 degrees Fahrenheit in the thickest part of the breast and thigh.
I did get Tim a nifty can holder specifically for beer can chicken for Christmas last year, so we didn’t have to worry about the can tipping over. But, our chicken seemed to stand fairly solid, even without the holder, so if you don’t have one, go ahead and give it a try. With the holder, we were able to cock the chicken slightly so that the top of the can rested about halfway up the breast, otherwise the top of the can was right under the neck hole, meaning any beer-y steam would waft right out of the chicken.
Seasoning Your Chicken
Last (but definitely not least), you will see that the instructions call for you to rub the herbs under the chicken’s skin.
Yeah, it may sound gross.
Ok. It is a bit.
And maybe impossible.
Actually, not at all.
But, what it does to season the meat is INCREDIBLE.
If you’d like detailed instructions on how to do this (and why we never cook a bird without doing this) check our our Turkey Roasting Guide.
Just look at how that bird transformed in an hour, and turned even more golden delicious during the final cooking time!
Beer Can Chicken
- 1 (6 lb) whole chicken, giblets and neck removed
- 1 (12 oz) can beer (any cheap beer will do)
For the Rub
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 1 Tbsp onion powder
- 1 Tbsp thyme
- 1 Tbsp rosemary
- 1 Tbsp marjoram or oregano
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- Preheat the grill.
- While the grill is warming up, mix together the rub spices. Then, carefully separate the skin from the chicken, starting at the base of the breast (as described in This Post). Season the inside cavity and under the skin of the chicken with the rub.
- Take a large swig out of the beer, to give the liquid a bit of room to breathe. Then set the chicken on the can (using a beer can chicken holder, if you have one). Make sure the chicken will stand by itself on your counter, before attempting to stand it on the hot grill grates.
- Once the coals are hot, create a ring with the ashy coals on the bottom grate of your grill. Carefully place the chicken on the hot grate. Tilt the chicken so that the top of the beer can comes about halfway up the cavity.
- Cover the grill and cook over medium-high, indirect heat for 1 hour, undisturbed.
- After an hour, check the chicken and test the temperature at the thickest part of the thigh. It should read 165F and the juices should run clear when the chicken is done. If you haven’t reached temperature yet, return the lid to the grill, and continue cooking for another half hour.
- Once the chicken has reached 165F, remove the chicken and the can from the grill (using oven mitts). Set aside to let the juices settle for 10 minutes before carving. (This is the perfect time to grill up some veggies to complete your meal!)
If you liked this recipe, here are some similar dishes you may enjoy!
Sarah is co-owner of Curious Cuisiniere and the chief researcher and recipe developer for the site. Her love for cultural cuisines was instilled early by her French Canadian Grandmother. Her experience in the kitchen and in recipe development comes from years working in professional kitchens. She has traveled extensively and enjoys bringing the flavors of her travels back to create easy-to-make recipes.