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Basic Beer-Can Chicken

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Created by Elizabeth Karmel,

This is the basic recipe for beer-can chicken whose origin has as man stories as there are grill cooks.

The one I like goes something like this. A barbecue pitmaster had been drinking beer—the official sanctioned barbecue circuit beverage--all day when he realized that he was going to need to eat something if he was going to last all day and into the next morning tending his slow-cooked barbecue. So, he opened his rig (a smoke-grill big enough for several whole hogs) and set his beer down on the cooking grate to get something small to cook from his cooler. He picked up a chicken and put it on top of his half-full can without noticing what he was doing. He looked for his beer, couldn’t find it and popped open another one without a second thought. That is, until he opened the grill an hour later and, lo and behold, perched on his smoker was the first beer can chicken! Regardless of the story, it is truly the best chicken any of us girls have ever tasted!


At a glance
Main Ingredient

1 4-5 pound roasting chicken, preferably Amish or Kosher
1 12-ounce can of beer
3 tablespoons of favorite dry spice rub recipe, divided
Olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly-ground pepper


Grilling Method: Indirect/Medium Heat

Remove neck and giblets and pat dry chicken with paper towels. Brush chicken all over with oil and season with 2 tablespoons dry rub or simply salt and pepper. Set aside.

Open beer can, pour out about ¼ cup of the beer and make an extra hole in top of the can with church key can opener. Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of the dry rub inside beer can. Place beer can in center of cooking grate and move legs apart so the body cavity slides over the top of the beer can. The chicken will appear to be “sitting” on the grate.

Cook chicken for 1 - 1½ hours or until the internal temperature registers 165ºF in the breast area and 180ºF in the thigh. Remove from grill and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Note: When removing from grate, be careful not to spill contents of beer can, as it will be very hot. Use a pair of locking tongs and grab the bottom of the beer can and place on a platter or cutting board to cool.

hi elizabeth3
a food fanatic and the Grill Girl from North Carolina who has seasoned, basted and tasted my way across the country. Please join me on my non-stop, culinary journey...

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