Beer Can Chicken Recipe


Any recipe that asks you to “open a can of beer and drink half” deserves a place on the menu for Father’s Day. Steven Raichlen, author of The Barbecue! Bible, made the Beer Can Chicken famous.

Famous Beer Can Chicken

Serves: 4-6
Prep Time: 30
Cook Time: 1 hr.

1 chicken (3-1/2 to 4 lbs.)
2 tbsp. barbecue rub (any brand is fine, but make sure sugar isn’t the first ingredient)
2 cups wood chips
1 can beer


1. Up to a day before you’re ready to cook the chicken, rub it inside and out with the barbecue rub, and put it back in the refrigerator. The wood chips need to soak for at least 4 hours, so put them in a bowl and add water.

2. About an hour and a half before you want to eat, drain the wood chips and wrap them in aluminum foil. Punch a few air holes in the packet. Place under the grate, right on the back burner of your gas grill. Turn all burners to high, and close the lid. If you’re a purist and using a charcoal grill, set up the coals in a ring and sprinkle with the soaked wood chips. The chicken will go in the middle with a drip pan underneath.

3. Open the beer can, and drink half. Slide the chicken onto the beer can. (I wrap my can in aluminum foil, but this is optional and completely girly.) Tuck the wings behind the chicken’s back. When the grill is hot and you see some smoke from the wood chips, put the chicken on the grill. Turn OFF the burner directly under the chicken. Yes, off. You’re using indirect heat. Direct heat will burn the chicken. On my grill, there are three burners. I keep the front and back lit and put the chicken in between.

4. Close the lid to trap the smoke and monitor the temperature. Keep it at about 450 degrees. After an hour, the chicken’s skin will be crispy and brown. Use an instant-read thermometer, and check the thigh. It should be 180 degrees.

5. Use tongs to transfer the chicken—still upright—to a serving platter. Wow your guests, then carefully use a potholder to hold the beer can while you lift the chicken off with the tongs. Carve and serve.

Shopping List
1 chicken (3-1/2 to 4 lbs.)

Other items
Barbecue rub (Check the ingredients. If sugar or brown sugar is listed first, it will burn not brown—trust me! A great rub is Gary Wiviott’s Barbecue Blend, available at The Spice House (1941 Central Street, Evanston, 847-328-3711).
Wood Chips (available at grocery and hardware stores)

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