This Beer Can Chicken recipe is a fun and easy way to grill a whole chicken! It’s flavored with the best seasoning rub and then cooked with beer that makes it so juicy and tender. Learn how to make beer can chicken for your family and friends and they will love it!
Beer Can Chicken is a delicious way to prepare chicken on the grill and it’s also the best conversation starter!
When we’ve made this for friends and family it everyone talks about it for days after. They can’t get over how delicious the chicken is and they can’t stop laughing about how it looks while it cooks on the grill. I admit – it looks a little silly, but sticking a beer can in your chicken does amazing things!
Why We Love Beer Can Chicken
- First, you can cook a whole chicken this way which means you get both dark and white meat. We love both!
- Cooking a whole chicken is more delicious than just grilling boneless, skinless chicken breasts.
- The chicken sits on a beer can while it cooks which means the beer basically steams the inside of the chicken. That means the meat will be so juicy, tender and full of flavor. You won’t get sad, dry chicken grilling your chicken this way.
- The game-changer with our recipe is the seasoning rub – it’s so good! The combination of flavors gives the meat the most amazing flavor.
- While the inside of the chicken gets a beer steam treatment, the outside turns golden, crispy and so flavorful with all the seasonings. Basically, an amazing combination.
- And let’s face it – the chicken is pretty funny looking atop it’s beer can throne, don’t you think? There’s definitely entertainment value cooking it this way.
This chicken and beer can recipe is pretty easy, but there are definitely some tips and tricks for making the best beer can chicken.
Beer Can Chicken Recipe Prep
For this recipe, pick a four to five-pound whole chicken. Be sure to remove the gizzards.
Thoroughly rinse it in cold water and then pat it dry with paper towels. Drying the chicken removes the excess moisture which means the skin will brown and crisp better while it cooks.
If you buy a frozen chicken, be sure to thaw it completely. The safest way to do this is in the refrigerator so plan ahead because it will take one to two days to thaw in the refrigerator.
The next step in prepping the chicken is the seasoning rub:
- Brown sugar
- Granulated sugar
- Garlic powder
- Salt and pepper
- Smoked paprika
- Dry mustard
- Cayenne pepper
- Dried ground sage
- Olive oil
Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl and rub half of on the outside of the chicken and rub the rest of it in the cavity.
The Best Beer for Beer Can Chicken
It needs to be canned beer (not bottled) so the chicken can sit on it. I think this recipe works best with a lager like Bud Light or Coors. Lager is a lighter type of beer and there are lots of other choices so choose your favorite.
Just keep in mind that the flavors in the beer are what will flavor your chicken. The most important thing is to choose one you like to drink!
You don’t need the whole can of beer so be sure to pour off about ¼ of the can before you cook the chicken. You don’t want the beer to boil over while it’s cooking so draining some off first will prevent that from happening.
How long do you cook beer can chicken?
Once you’ve prepped the chicken and preheated the grill the chicken will take approximately an hour to an hour and a half to cook on the grill. Once you get it set-up you don’t have to do much except wait!
- Preheat your grill to 350°F.
- Place an aluminum cooking pan on the grill grates and place the beer can in the center of the pan. Place the chicken on the beer can.
- Close the grill and cook the chicken until a meat thermometer reads 165°F in the breast and 180°F in the thigh. A four to five-pound chicken will take about an hour to an hour and a half to cook.
- Try not to open the grill too much while it’s cooking. This will allow the heat to escape and it may take longer to cook it.
- When the chicken is done, carefully remove it from the pan using tongs and transfer it to a cutting board.
- Pull the beer can out using thongs (it will be very hot!). The easiest way is to have one person hold the chicken in place and another person to pull out the can.
- Let the chicken rest for 15 minutes before carving.
The chicken is so juicy and tender cooked this way – I can eat it straight off the bone! You can serve it sliced with some side dishes, but you can also shred it and use it to make salads, enchiladas, tacos – basically use it the same way you would use a rotisserie chicken.
This beer can chicken recipe is so fun and definitely a twist on your average grilled chicken recipe! I hope you have as much fun making it as we do – it’s always one of our favorite summer grilling recipes.
Other dinners you'll enjoy:
Beer Can Chicken Recipe
- 1 4-5 lb Chicken gizzards removed, rinsed and dried
- 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 3/4 teaspoon pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon dried ground sage
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 12 ounce can of beer
- 1 Large aluminum cooking pan
- Pre-heat gas grill to 350°F. In a medium bowl mix dry ingredients together for the rub. Lightly apply the olive oil on the chicken. Season the outside of the chicken with about half of the rub. Put the remaining rub inside the cavity of the chicken.
- Open the beer and pour out about a 1/4 of the can. Place the aluminum cooking pan on the grill and then place the can of beer in the center of the pan. Carefully place the cavity of the chicken over the beer can.
- Close the grill and cook until a meat thermometer reads 165° in the breast and 180° in the thigh. Cooking time will be between 1 hour and 1 1/2 hours. Using tongs carefully remove the chicken from the pan and place on a cutting board. Use another pair of tongs to grip and remove the beer can (it’s easier with two people). Let chicken rest for 15 minutes and then carve.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Beer Can Chicken is a fun and easy way to grill a whole chicken! The beer makes it super juicy and tender. Not to mention, it’s a great conversation starter.
Mel is an IT guy turned blogger and is discovering his love of cooking and photography. If you ever have Fantasy Football questions, he's your guy.