Make this beer can chicken for game day for a tender, flavorful bird

Southern Kitchen

About the recipe

Feel free to use your favorite homemade or store-bought barbecue rub, as well as your favorite canned beer, in this recipe.

This recipe comes courtesy of “The Barbecue Bible” by Steven Raichlen (Workman publishing)

Serves: 6

Hands On Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours and 15 minutes


1 1/2 cups mesquite wood chips

1 (4- to 5-pound) chicken

3 tablespoons dry barbecue rub

1 (12-ounce) can beer


About 1 hour before you’d like to begin grilling, place the wood chips in a bowl and cover completely with cold water. Let soak for at least 1 hour.

Remove and discard the fat just inside the body cavities of the chickens. Remove the package of giblets and set aside for another use. Rinse the chicken, inside and out, under cold running water, then drain and blot dry, inside and out, with paper towels. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the rub inside the body and neck cavities, then rub another 1 tablespoon all over the skin of the bird. If you wish, rub another 1 1/2 teaspoons of the mixture between the flesh and skin. Cover and refrigerate the chicken while you preheat the grill.

Set up a grill for indirect grilling, placing a drip pan in the center. If using a charcoal grill, preheat it to medium. If using a gas grill, place all the wood chips in the smoker box and preheat the grill to high. When smoke appears, lower the heat to medium.

Pop the tab on the beer can. Using a “church-key”-style can opener, make 6 or 7 holes in the top of the can. Pour out the top inch of beer, then spoon the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of the dry rub through the holes into the beer. Holding the chicken upright, with the opening of the body cavity down, insert the beer can into the cavity.

When ready to cook, if using charcoal, toss half the wood chips on the coals. Oil the grill grate. Stand the chicken up in the center of the hot grate, over the drip pan. Spread out the legs to form a sort of tripod, to support the bird.

Cover the grill and cook the chicken at 250 degrees until fall-off-the-bone tender and the internal temperature reads 165 degrees, about 2 hours. If using charcoal, add 10 to 12 fresh coals per side and the remaining wood chips after 1 hour of cooking.

Using tongs, lift the bird to a cutting board or platter, holding a large metal spatula underneath the beer can for support. (Have the board or platter right next to the bird to make the move shorter. Be careful not to spill hot beer on yourself.)

Let stand for 10 minutes before carving the meat off the upright carcass. (Toss the beer can out along with the carcass.) Serve.


Per serving: 487 calories (percent of calories from fat, 45), 60 grams protein, 2 grams carbohydrates, trace fiber, 24 grams fat, 179 milligrams cholesterol, 144 milligrams sodium