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Beer Can Chicken

Posted by Jim Guldin on 24th Apr 2014


  • 1 (4-pound) whole chicken
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 can beer
  • 1 tray of water
  • 1 good chunk (1" x 2" x 4 ") of wet hickory or mesquite
  • 1 pair of tongs
  • 1 16" dowel or a 1-piece shotgun cleaning rod

The "Rub":

  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp black pepper

Remove neck and giblets from chicken (I grill 'em separately in a foil wrap with a touch of olive oil.)On with the main dish:

Fire up the grill, set up for medium indirect heat. Put the hickory or mesquite in a small bucket of water.

Mix the "rub" ingredients together in a small bowl.

Rinse chicken inside and out, and pat dry with paper towels. Rub the outside of the bird completely with olive oil. Sprinkle 1 tbsp rub inside the cavity, and rub the rest over the outside of the chicken. Set aside.

When the grill is ready, add the soaked wood to the coals.Prepare a small tray of water to put on the lower grate beneath the bird.

Open the can of beer and take several gulps so that the can is 2/3 full.Punch a few extra holes in the top of the can with a church key.

Place the beer can on the grate over the tray of water, not directly over the coals.Stick your index or middle finger into the neck cavity of the chicken (the top as shown in this photo), and dexterously lower and push the big cavity of the bird over the can of beer, balancing the bird like a tripod. This can be tricky... but a "wide stance" on the bird and keeping the can flat on the grill works best. Don't let the bird topple over; adjust the legs to help prop up the bird.

Lower the lid of the PK;it should contact the upper part of the bird, which will help keep the bird from falling over.Cook the chicken over medium indirect heat (i.e. no coals or burners on directly under the bird), with the grill cover on, for approximately 1 to 1.25 hours, or until the thigh juice runs clear when stabbed with a sharp knife.

Remove from grill as follows:Stick the dowel or the shotgun cleaning rod down the neck cavity into the can of beer, to pin the can to the grill.Grab the bird as best you can with the tongs (I usually put one side of the tongs into the cavity and the other on the back of the bird). Pull up on the bird while holding down the beer can.

Let rest for 10 minutes before carving. Enjoy!

If you Google 'beer can chicken' you'll find lots of similar recipes, and even a rack to help balance the bird.