Grilled Beer Can Chicken: A Fun Twist on Whole Chicken Grilling

Grilling a whole chicken is always a crowd-pleaser, but have you ever tried making beer can chicken? This unique method involves inserting an open can of beer (or any other beverage of your choice) into the chicken cavity before grilling. As the beer or liquid heats up, it releases steam, ensuring even cooking and keeping the chicken moist and tender. The sight of a chicken sitting proudly on a can is guaranteed to make everyone smile. Some even call it “Dancing Chicken” or “Drunk Chicken.” Intrigued? Let’s dive into the details of this delicious recipe!

Beer can chicken sitting on a can of beer on a grill.

What You’ll Need

To get started, gather the following ingredients:

  • A whole chicken: A young chicken weighing around four to five pounds works perfectly for this recipe.
  • Can of beer (or any other similar-sized can): The beer serves as the base for the cooking liquid, but you can experiment with different beverages, such as soda or apple juice.
  • Apple juice, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar: These ingredients blend with the beer to create a flavorful spray that prevents the chicken from drying out.

A soda can, a beer, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and brown sugar on a kitchen counter.

For the beer can chicken rub, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • Brown sugar: It adds a touch of sweetness and forms the base of the flavorful rub.
  • Paprika: This ingredient adds color and a sweet, smoky taste.
  • Kosher salt and black pepper: They bring all the flavors together and enhance the taste of the rub.
  • Garlic powder: It contributes a nutty, pungent flavor.
  • Onion powder: Another essential ingredient that adds a sweet oniony note.
  • Cayenne pepper: This ingredient adds a bit of heat, kick-starting the flavor. You can substitute with red pepper if desired.
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Beer can chicken rub ingredients including garlic powder, paprika, and brown sugar.

Let’s Get Cooking!

  1. Start by combining all the ingredients for the beer can grilled chicken rub in a small bowl. Mix them well and set aside.
  2. Pour half of the beer or other liquid from the can into a spray bottle. Add the apple juice, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Shake well to create the spray.
  3. Spray the can with non-stick cooking spray and carefully slide the chicken over the beer can. Alternatively, if you have a vertical beer can chicken holder, place the can into the holder and slide the chicken over it.
  4. Apply the rub liberally all over the chicken, including inside the cavity. Make sure to work the rub under the skin whenever possible. Let the chicken marinate for at least 30 minutes at room temperature. For maximum flavor, you can marinate it for up to 24 hours, refrigerating it during that time.

A whole chicken sitting upright on a beer can, covered with a savory rub.

  1. Prepare your grill for direct grilling by heating it to 375 degrees F. If using a different type of grill, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for direct grilling and preheat the grill to the same temperature.
  2. Place a small drip pan on the grill grates to catch the drippings and place the chicken in the center. Close the grill lid and cook for approximately 15 minutes or until the chicken starts to brown all over. Respray the chicken with the prepared spray and close the lid.
  3. Continue cooking for approximately 45-60 more minutes, respraying the chicken every 15 minutes or so. The chicken is ready when the internal temperature of the thighs reaches between 160-165 degrees F. Use an instant-read meat thermometer to check the temperature, inserting it into the thickest part of the thigh without touching the bone.
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Poultry sitting upright on a grill with smoke rising.

  1. When the chicken is cooked to perfection, carefully lift it off the grill using heavy-duty oven mitts and place it in a large pan or dish.
  2. To remove the chicken from the can, it’s best to have two people for safety. One person should hold the beer can with kitchen tongs while the second person grasps the bird in the neck cavity with another pair of tongs and pulls it off. Alternatively, you can hold the bird with heavy-duty oven mitts or a clean kitchen towel.
  3. Give the chicken one final spray, cover it loosely with foil, and let it rest for a minimum of 10 minutes before carving and serving.

Beer can chicken being grilled on a grill.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do I need to make openings in the can?
A: Yes, it’s important to use a beer opener or can opener to create several openings at the top of the can. This allows the steam to escape during cooking.

Q: Can I use a different beverage instead of beer?
A: Absolutely! You can use any carbonated beverage or even apple juice as a substitute.

Q: Can I make this recipe on a different type of grill?
A: Yes, you can prepare this recipe on any charcoal, pellet, or gas grill with a lid, as long as the lid is deep enough. In a pinch, you can even fashion a makeshift lid using a large piece of aluminum foil.

Q: Is it possible to cook beer can chicken in the oven?
A: Yes, you can cook beer can chicken in the oven as long as the bird fits. However, keep in mind that you won’t achieve the same smoky grilled taste.

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Explore More Chicken Recipes

If you’re a fan of grilled chicken, I have several other delightful recipes using the Big Green Egg on my blog that you might enjoy. From glazed chicken to teriyaki marinade and spatchcock chicken, there’s something for everyone. You can find all of my chicken recipes here.

Grilled chicken is undeniably delicious, and beer can chicken takes it to a whole new level. The combination of juicy meat, smoky flavors, and the fun presentation is a winning recipe for any gathering. So, grab your favorite grill and join in on the beer can chicken fun!

★ If you make this recipe, please leave a comment and give it a star rating. I would love to know how you liked it!

Thank you so much for visiting Rowdy Hog Smokin BBQ!