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Beer Can Chicken Recipe

Updated on August 31, 2008
beer can chicken, still on the grill
beer can chicken, still on the grill

Though it appears rather ridiculous at first glance, beer can chicken surprisingly yields some of the moistest, best tasting, and most appealing chicken you can prepare. Give this simple grilling method a try for a bird dripping with juice and sporting a beautifully brown crispy skin.

Beer can chicken is by far my husband's favorite way to prepare a bird. He says of it:

"The idea of cramming a half-empty can of beer into a chicken's cavity and then roasting it standing upright does not sound particularly appealing. The first time I witnessed the curious event, I was skeptical. My doubt vanished when the chicken was brought in from the grill--beautifully browned and absolutely bursting with juice. The meat was tender, juicy, and filled with flavor. For something that seems to embody blue-collar, lowbrow cooking, it could sure beat any haught cuisine chicken any day for sheer eating pleasure. But for the sake of good appearance, it is more palatable to present the bird without the butt-end of a charred Pabst tallboy sticking out of its rear."

Beer Can Chicken Recipe

makes one whole chicken


  • 1 whole small hen
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, quartered
  • 1/2 lemon, quartered
  • 1/2 pink lady apple, quartered
  • 12-16 oz. can "lawnmower beer," half drunk
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp ground mustard seed
  • 4 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp ground red pepper
  • vegetable shortening
  • dry rub *

* Our dry rub usually consists of brown sugar, salt, red pepper, black pepper, and paprika.

Preparation Instructions:

1.) Open and begin drinking beer as you chop the veggies and gather the ingredients.

2.) Once the can is reduced by about half, drop in the bay leaves, red pepper, mustard seed, and cider vinegar.

3.) Prepare the chicken by removing the giblets, wash the bird, and then pat dry with paper towels. Stuff the cavity with as much of the onion, lemon, and apple as will fit--try to use equal amounts of each. Follow that with the beer can. To get the can in, set it upright in an ovenproof frying pan or small roasting pan and lower the chicken onto it. Arrange the chicken and its legs so that it will sit sturdily on the can (they actually make wire holders that provide a secure base for making Beer Can Chicken).

4.) Rub the outside of the chicken with shortening. Use your fingers to carefully separate the skin from the meat beneath and rub shortening under the skin. Use whatever dry rub you prefer and liberally coat the bird. Our dry rub usually consists of brown sugar, salt, red pepper, black pepper, and paprika. (My husband insists that this step should include "Open and drink another beer.")

5.) Prepare the grill for indirect cooking. Make sure that there's room for a chicken that is standing upright and not directly over the heat. My husband likes to start off with a generous bed of charcoal to one side of my long barrel grill, then add a few sticks of cured oak. Once the charcoal is white and the oak is forming coals, then it's time to cook. Close the grill and adjust the vents so that the temperature hovers between 300 and 350 (a lower temp for a slower cook time is fine but harder to achieve with charcoal). Fill the roasting pan beneath the chicken with water to keep it extra moist. (Again, "Open and drink another beer.")

6) Cook for 45 minutes to an hour. Refill the roasting pan with water as needed. The internal temperature of the chicken should measure 165 degrees Fahrenheit (75 degrees Celcius) when done. When you poke the chicken, it should trickle clear juice.

7) Tent the chicken loosely with foil and allow it to rest for about five minutes. Carve and serve with a good sopping sauce. Enjoy!

beer can chicken, ready to be carved
beer can chicken, ready to be carved


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    • profile image

      Jim powell 7 years ago

      Nice Recipe, and nicely wrote too, definately one to try.

    • Japemwellows profile image

      Japemwellows 7 years ago from 5ifth Dimensi0n

      Haha awesome! I've never heard of this before, certainly going to try it though.

      Nice hub Melissa, bookmarked!

    • Gymbo profile image

      Gymbo 8 years ago

      Ive heard about beer can chicken but have never tried. Is it as good as it sounds?

    • TamCor profile image

      Tammy Cornett 8 years ago from Ohio

      This sounds fantastic, so I bookmarked it--thanks for sharing! :)