Beer Can Chicken

By • June 23, 2014 • 22 Comments

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Author Notes: Placing a beer can into the cavity of your dry-rubbed chicken may look silly, but it may be the most flavorful and juiciest chicken you've ever made.Cara Nicoletti

Serves 4

  • 6 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon fennel, ground and toasted
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon coarse black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon mustard powder
  • 2 tablespoons softened, unsalted butter or olive oil
  • One 4-pound chicken, giblets removed
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • One 12-ounce can of beer -- drink or pour out half (lager or ales work nicely, but feel free to experiment with other beers you like)
  1. To make spice rub simply whisk together all of your dry ingredients in a medium bowl until well combined.
  2. Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel and rub it all over with softened butter or olive oil.
  3. Sprinkle dry rub all over the chicken in an even layer (you may have a little left over, save it for rubbing on other meats).
  4. Drink or spill out half of your beer, drop garlic cloves in can, and place the can inside of the chicken cavity, so that that chicken is sitting on top of it, using its legs as support.
  5. Grilling directions: Prepare your grill so that one side is hotter than the other (if you have a charcoal grill, place more coals on one side of the grill than the other. If you have a gas grill, only turn burners on on one side). The internal temperature of the grill should be 300-350F.
  6. Place the chicken, perched on its beer can throne, on the cool side of the grill. Close the grill lid and leave the chicken to cook for 1 hour — resist the urge to open the lid and check. Just leave it alone!
  7. After an hour, check on the chicken and make sure your coals don’t need refreshing, or that the temperature hasn't dropped below 300. The chicken will probably need about 30 to 40 more minutes, but insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken thigh to check the temperature. Continue cooking for 30 to 40 more minutes, checking every 10 minutes or so, until the temperature reaches 160° F.
  8. Removing the chicken from the grill can be tricky -- the beer is hot and the chicken is hot -- so be careful. Put on some oven mitts and place a cutting board next to the grill. Slide a large metal spatula under the beer can, grab the top of the chicken with a pair of tongs, and carefully transfer it onto the cutting board. Let chicken rest for 10 to 15 minutes before carving and serving.
  9. Oven directions: Heat your oven to 350° F. Place your seasoned chicken, balanced on its beer can, in a roasting pan, and place the roasting pan on the lower rack of your oven. Cook until a thermometer reaches 160° F, about 1 1/2 hours.
  10. Lift chicken off of beer can using tongs, and transfer to a cutting board. Allow the chicken to rest 10 to 15 minutes before carving.
Jump to Comments (22)

Comments (22) Questions (2)

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3 months ago Dan 99

Beer cans were never designed to survive cooking temperatures.
When you put a beer can in an oven or on a grill, you are super-heating paint on the outside and the plastic liner on the inside.
And where do the gases and vapors go? Into your food.
This is unsafe.

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5 months ago Rick

Ummm...I wasn't looking for a reason:). I was just pointing out one of the many articles written by food scientists/engineers that debunk the claims of beer can chicken aficionados as being a superior way to roast a chicken. Take it or leave it as you wish. And BTW, on the rare occasion that I drink a beer it is a very good beer and certainly wouldn't be wasted on a chicken! Take Care :)

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5 months ago Nigel

The best luck I've had for this is using tall, thin cans. Vortex, an IPA from an Astoria, Oregon, brewer does really nicely, and you can fully taste the particular hop used in the beer. There's your reason. Drink better beer!

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5 months ago Rick

Yes, I've made many a beer can chicken with good results and of course they smell wonderful, it is a roasting chicken after all! :) The science just doesn't back up the anecdotal logic and no, the beer does not add moisture to the chicken. You start with a half can of beer and end up with a half can of beer but if you're enjoying yourself that's what matters! A beer brine/marinade and a spatchcocked chicken gives better and safer results. and upright roaster even better IMHO.

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5 months ago Susan W

Actually, I measured and there were less than 2 oz of beer left.

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5 months ago Susan W

My chicken was great. I think the beer can adds moisture during roasting. I could taste the beer, so it is not a wives tale. :) I will make this again.

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5 months ago Cara Nicoletti

Cara is a butcher at The Meat Hook in Brooklyn, the blogger behind Yummybooks.com, and the author of Voracious, coming 2015.

hooray! thanks for the update, Susan

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5 months ago Susan W

I have my spice rubbed chicken sitting on a can of Oregon microbrew humming away on my gas grill at 375°. It smells amazing. I roast a lot of chickens and this one smells especially good.

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5 months ago jadams

Awesome

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5 months ago Cara Nicoletti

Cara is a butcher at The Meat Hook in Brooklyn, the blogger behind Yummybooks.com, and the author of Voracious, coming 2015.

So exciting, Susan! Let me know how you like it!

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5 months ago Rick

Use an upright roaster, ditch the can, ditch the beer. Seriously, beer can chicken is an urban legend.

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5 months ago Rick

Read this before making your beer can chicken.

Debunking Beer Can Chicken: A Waste Of Good Beer
Beer can chicken is not a good way to cook chicken. Here's why, and how you can make better roast chicken.
amazingribs.com/tips_and.../debunking_beer_can_chicken.html

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5 months ago jadams

Okay I read it..I'll try my little steel holder the next time..and drink the beer..I will conquer.

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5 months ago Susan W

Have you tried it? I disagree with you.

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5 months ago jadams

I made one the other day..mmm was not done after 2hours.that recipe stated@250 degrees.one burner one.etc..what grill temperature do you use? Any comment helpful.

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5 months ago Cara Nicoletti

Cara is a butcher at The Meat Hook in Brooklyn, the blogger behind Yummybooks.com, and the author of Voracious, coming 2015.

Hi there, sorry to hear this! It's possible that maybe your coals died or your gas grill dropped too low in temperature. It roast in the oven at 350F, so your grill should be around this temp, too. Checking the coals/internal temp of the grill after 30-40 minutes as stated will remedy this. Not sure where you got 250F from, but that could be the reason it wasn't done in time.

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5 months ago jadams

Thank you Mz.Cara..I will try it again..(it took 2.5 hours of slo cooking at low temp) the thigh was done at 165. But the breast was@150. I let it sit for 10..it wasn't bad.but yours looks so scrumptious...I now see the grill instructions for temp..LOL

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5 months ago Cara Nicoletti

Cara is a butcher at The Meat Hook in Brooklyn, the blogger behind Yummybooks.com, and the author of Voracious, coming 2015.

I hope it was still delicious--do let me know if you try again!

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5 months ago Alex Gabriel

I made beer can chicken several times, and then one day I was surfing around looking and found a website that analyzes this cooking process. What changed my mind is the notion that beer cans can have a plastic lining. Now I simply use the beer can holder and put the vertical bird on a cooking tray with beer in the tray.

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5 months ago cucina di mammina

I must try this recipe soon! I would love to meet you on my next trip to NYC, I need some advise on butchering and purchasing meats :)

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5 months ago jackie de sordi

I Made this fantastic chicken for my very italian family, the kind that thinks that anything that,s not italian food is not even worth trying. they absolutely loved it!!! Giancarla

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5 months ago Cara Nicoletti

Cara is a butcher at The Meat Hook in Brooklyn, the blogger behind Yummybooks.com, and the author of Voracious, coming 2015.

My Italian family loves it too, Jackie! So happy to hear it was a hit!