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Beer Can Chicken

Want to make something extra special this grilling season? Impress your family and friends with beer can chicken!

Thanks to a simple rub and a can of beer, this grilled chicken is ridiculously flavorful, juicy, and moist.

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The best part is that couldn’t be easier to make. There’s no babysitting required. The grill will take care of everything.

Grilled Beer Can Chicken

For a crowd-pleasing summer barbecue, look no further than beer can chicken. What are you waiting for? Fire up the grill and crack open a beer! 

Beer Can Chicken 

Beer can chicken is achieved by cooking a whole chicken over indirect heat.

The chicken is coated with a dry rub for maximum flavor and placed over a can of beer to make it moist.

The can is also used to help the bird sit upright during cooking.

Because of this unusual form, this dish is also referred to as chicken on a throne, beer butt chicken, and dancing chicken.

You can use either the grill or the oven and you’ll still get the best result: juicy, tender, and flavorful chicken.

Ingredients 

  • Chicken. A whole, 4-pound bird. Wash, discard giblets, and dry.
  • Chicken Rub. A blend of paprika, salt, onion powder, cayenne pepper, cumin, thyme, oregano, pepper, and garlic powder makes the chicken wonderfully salty, savory, and earthy with a bit of a kick. Feel free to experiment with herbs and spices!
  • Vegetable Oil. Rub it all over the chicken to help the rub stick.
  • Beer. Since you’ll be discarding (aka drinking) a quarter of the beer, the best beer is one you like. Stick to mellow-flavored beers, such as Coors, German-style, or lager. Extreme flavors, whether too bitter or sour, will badly affect the taste of the chicken.

Tips for the Best Chicken 

  • To prepare the chicken, wash it well and remove the giblets in the cavity. To ensure crispy skin, pat the chicken dry with paper towels. 
  • If the chicken doesn’t fit securely over the beer can, use crumpled up foil to help support it.
  • For a smoky flavor, add mesquite wood to the fire while preheating the grill. You can also rub a bit of liquid smoke on the bird before coating it with oil.
  • The length of cooking depends on the size of the chicken and how many you’re cooking at once. The best way to test for doneness is by using a meat thermometer. Cooked chicken has a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Don’t hit the bone when checking, as this will skew the results.
  • If the chicken skin browns too soon, cover it loosely with foil.
  • Give the bird enough time to rest before carving. A good 10 minutes covered in foil will do. This will allow the fibers of the meat to re-absorb the juices. If you carve too soon, all those flavorful juices will just ooze out from the chicken. 
  • To remove the can post-cooking, place the chicken on a cutting board by the sink. Stick a carving fork into the chicken. Using a pair of tongs, pull out the can from the chicken and into the sink.
  • You can also bake the chicken instead of grilling. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Store leftover rub in an airtight container for up to 6 months.
Beer Can Chicken with Vegetables

Ideas for Sides 

A meal isn’t complete without the sides! Serve beer can chicken with any of these dishes for an unforgettable summer feast.

  • Macaroni salad is the ultimate BBQ side dish! It’s cold and creamy, making it a fantastic pair with the hot and savory chicken.
  • Grilled corn on the cob is another BBQ staple. The grill is already turned on anyway, so you’re basically hitting two birds with one stone.
  • Pasta and greens complement chicken really well. A hearty yet refreshing pasta salad won’t disappoint.
  • For a truly filling meal, go for potatoes. Whether it’s mashed, roasted, scalloped potatoes, or oven-baked, you can’t go wrong.
  • For a light and wholesome meal, opt for vegetables. I’m talking grilled asparagus, eggplant, and zucchini. Simple yet sublime.

Can I Substitute the Beer?

The point of placing a can of beer inside the chicken’s cavity is to make it moist.

While some also claim that it steams the chicken from the inside, giving it more flavor, this theory is not yet scientifically proven.

That said, even if you can’t or don’t drink beer, it doesn’t mean you’ll miss out.

You can substitute beer for other canned beverages, such as soda. Coke, Sprite, ginger ale, and root beer all make awesome alternatives.  

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If using soda, don’t use the diet kind. Diet sodas contain artificial sweeteners that aren’t safe to consume once heated. It’s best to stick to the real thing.

Broth and wine add a nice depth of flavor as well. Canned wine is available in most stores, but if you can’t find one, just transfer it into an empty, metal can.

Metal holds up well to the heat from the grill. 

Beer Can Chicken

Servings

4

servings
Prep time

10

minutes
Cooking time

1

hour 

30

minutes

Ingredients

  • For the Rub:
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika

  • 2 tablespoons salt

  • 2 tablespoons onion powder

  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin

  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme

  • 2 teaspoons oregano

  • 2 teaspoons black pepper

  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder

  • For the Chicken:
  • 4 pounds chicken, rinsed and dried

  • Vegetable oil

  • Rub mixture

  • 1 (12-ounce) can of beer

Directions

  • Preheat the grill to medium-high heat (350 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • For the rub, combine the smoked paprika, salt, onion powder, cayenne pepper, ground cumin, thyme, oregano, pepper, and garlic powder.
  • Rub the entire chicken, cavity included, with vegetable oil. Season it, inside and out, with the rub mixture.
  • Pour out (or drink) 1/4 of the beer and place the chicken over the can, such that it sits upright.
  • Place the chicken in the middle of the grill and close the lid. Cook for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear and a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Remove from the grill, cover loosely with foil, and rest for 10 minutes. Carve and enjoy!
Beer Can Chicken

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INSANELYGOOD

Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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