Beer Can Chicken Recipe For the BBQ

Beer can chicken recipes are a dime a dozen.  That’s because its a great BBQ meal, and can be prepared many different ways.  I don’t think beer can chicken was born from camp fire cookery or a drunken stupor some Saturday night.  Whoever came up with the concept, must have taken notice of some European cooking tricks. 

Beer can chicken is must be simple to put together, manageable with respect to tooling and hardware, and most important of all, has to taste great, or better.  Some say it doesn’t matter what kind of beer you use, or the quality of the chicken.  Some people also say that $8 bottle of wine is better than a $45 Barolo.  Yup… some do.  I believe the quality of your product is the sum of the parts, in this case, good beer and good chicken.  My recipe calls for the following two components, chicken / beer combo, and rub recipe.

Beer Can Chicken Recipe For the BBQ

The Best Beer Can Chicken Recipe Ever

  • Small steel or cast iron frying pan
  • 1  4 lb Grain fed, free range chicken (dead)
  • 1 tall can of Moretti beer
  • 1 good charcoal smoker or good pellet smoker

Drink a couple of big gulps from the can, whatever it takes to knock it down by roughly half.  I find that its not effective having a full can of beer. A half can does just as good a job as a full one, if not better. It heats up faster and steams the bird more effectively.  After taking your obligatory gulp, using a dull or sharp knife, puncture the soft sides of the can in a half dozen places around the upper empty part of the can. Make sure the chicken is as dry as possible on the outside, as you will be smoking this chicken and that always works best on a dry bird. A small chicken will have a hard time fitting over a noble can of beer.  A big chicken doesn’t fit properly over a small can of beer.  You need a 4 lb chicken, and a tall beer can, that way they support each other. A truly symbiotic relationship. Using the rub recipe below, liberally sprinkle the inside of the bird so that it is well covered. Then use the rub on the outside. Sprinkle it over the bird and rub it in.  In some cases, you can use a sharp knife and score the skin deeply enough so the flesh is cut. You can then rub the spices into the cuts. This gives you extra flavour.

The Best Beer Can Chicken Rub Recipe

  • 2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp garlic salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp sea salt fine ground
  • 1 tbsp ground sage
  • 1 tbsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp chile power
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 3 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1 tbsp ground anchoor hot chile pepper of some kind

The photo of this noble grain fed bird does not show any scoring with the knife.  As a rule, I do do that. Its up to you. I place the beer can with holes on the sides in the middle of my blue steel frying pan.  I then gently place my delightfully rubbed and spiced bird on top of the beer can. You can buy specialized hardware to do these types of things. You can pour in scotch, wine, grappa, ice wine, apple cider, whatever you think will complement the chicken.  In this recipe, its simple, cheap and uncomplicated, so I don’t use it. In fact I don’t own one. This bird is at attention, just begging to be smoked. It has been placed on a delicious Moretti beer can. Obviously, use any beer you want from a dark stout to a light beer. Whatever flavour turns your crank.

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I used a charcoal Kamado smoker.  I fired up the charcoal, got it to about 400F, shut the bottom draft so it was barely open, top daisywheel so it was %75 open and just let it fly at 400F for the first half hour.  I then shut the bottom draft so it was almost shut and closed the top draft wheel so it was %75 closed and brought the temperature down to 225F.  I did this until the bird was done. Roughly an hour and a bit. Take it out, remember to use oven mitts on that frying pan, otherwise you’ll have a permanent red tattoo that will hurt BIG TIME. This beer can chicken recipe is a basic recipe. There are other assorted variations that you can use to make it your own.  Some reckless souls like to drape the naked bird in bacon, oil drizzed prosciutto ham, smear it with pesto and pureed sun dried tomato’s. The list is endless. Remove, let sit for 5 minutes, then carve, or tear apart with your teeth and bare knuckles.  Don’t forget that natural smoke from lump charcoal leaves a red color in poultry and other meats.  If you are concerned about the “doneness” of your beer can chicken, use a thermometer and check the internal temperature, typically taken from inside the meat of the thigh, or deep inside the breast near the front of the bird.  I have added a photo of a charcoal kettle type BBQ.  Here I have the coals concentrated on one side. This is because the grill grates are too low and close to the coals.  I would put the hot coals on one side and the chicken over to the side during the cooking process.

The beer can chicken recipe, I can only imagine evolved out of a drunken stupor, despite what I wrote above. While not unique, it offers a great opportunity to moisten and flavour a bird over a heat source. Preferably a charcoal or wood pellet BBQ heat source. Preferably indirect heat. Meaning if you are using a kamado smoker, use your place setter to deflect the heat, if you are on a wood pellet smoker, your good to go. The rub recipe is open to interpretation and change. This is a basic one, much more good stuff can be added.Try this out. Love to hear back from you. A beer can chicken recipe is only as good as its feedback! Keep your coals hot

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