Jun 122013

Beer Can Chicken on the Grill

You guys you guys you guys, I’m leaving for South America on Sunday! THIS SUNDAY! If anyone has any last minute tips about Peru or Ecuador, please let me know! I’m really excited about this trip but getting vaccines and everything has kind of been a pain–literally. I might have had an allergic reaction but won’t find out until I get an allergy test done tomorrow morning. Eek!

Anyway, beer can chicken! Yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like. Chicken…on a beer can…on a grill. And it’s delicious.

Two weekends ago, some friends and I drove up to Willits (about 2.5 hours north of San Francisco) and stayed the weekend at a quaint little cabin nestled between giant trees on a 380 acre plot of land. No service (at least for us AT&T folks), no computers, and no city noise. I love weekends like these!

We had three cars drive up so each car was assigned to cook one meal that weekend. Our car got Saturday night dinner so after an intense game of 20 questions during the drive, we decided to make grilled beer can chickens for our main entree. My friends have made this dish in the past during our annual Tahoe trips but this is the first time Nicole and I got to experience this cooking method first hand. It’s so easy!! And the chicken always comes out moist and delicious.

You basically just get whole chickens, rub the skin with a good amount of butter, salt, and pepper, and then let it sit on a beer can (that’s about 3/4 full) for an hour and a half with the lid closed. Like so…

How to Make Beer Can Chicken

While the chicken is cooking, you can prep the rest of your meal. We also made roasted veggies, pesto pasta, fruit salad, and beer bread! The beer bread was a big hit, and the best part about the chicken and bread recipes is that you can use cheap beer to make them. I’ve used IPAs for the beer bread in the past and it really does add a great flavor. However, if a strong beer taste isn’t what you’re after, stick to the light, cheap beers to steam your chicken. You won’t regret it!

They come out looking awesome…

Beer Can Chicken

We even threw on some corn on the cob (also rubbed with butter, salt, and pepper) about 20 minutes before the chicken was done. Highly recommended–grilled corn is really tasty!

This recipe is very minimal and easy to make. The prep time is pretty quick and then you can just sit and relax while it cooks. Plus you can easily add your favorite fresh herbs or spice rub to it if you’d like. If you’re planning to grill soon (maybe 4th of July weekend?), this is a great recipe that feeds a good number of people. For even larger groups, double the recipe (like we did) and make it a party by adding some Spicy Jalapeño IPA burgers and a few hearty loaves of beer bread.

Now, what should I pack for my South America trip?? Happy grilling!

P.S. This blog was in the “Top 10 Food Bloggers of June” list made by The Huffington Post yesterday! Woo hoo!

Beer Can Chicken on the Grill
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4-6
  • 1 Whole medium-sized chicken, with the giblets removed
  • 2-3 Tablespoons of butter (depending on how big your chicken is)
  • 1 Can of beer
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Optional: Things to stuff it with such as sprigs of rosemary or thyme.
  1. Heat the gas grill on medium heat.
  2. Rinse the entire chicken with cold water, inside and out, and then pat it dry with paper towels.
  3. Spread the butter generously over the entire outside (skin) of the chicken.
  4. Then season it with salt and pepper (or any other spices/rubs you like!).
  5. Open the beer can, pour about 1/4 of the liquid out, and then with a sharp knife, puncture a few more holes at the top. This will allow more steam to get through to the chicken.
  6. Optional: you can stuff the chicken with fresh herbs at this time.
  7. Place the beer can on the grill and then gently lower the chicken onto the can so that it can sit by itself. You may have to cut the chicken a little so that the can fits properly.
  8. Once the chicken is stable, close the grill lid and let it cook for about 1.5 hours (check around 1 hour though because the amount of heat can vary on different grills).
  9. When the chicken is cooked all the way through and the juices run clear, removed the whole thing (chicken and beer can) from the grill.
  10. Let the chicken sit for about 10-15 minutes to preserve the juices.
  11. Then cut up the chicken and serve!!
PRO TIP #1: You can also add a little bit of the spices/rubs into the beer can so that more flavor steams into your chicken. PRO TIP #2: Don't place the chicken directly over a hot flame (especially if you're using a charcoal grill) as this will burn the bottom of the chicken too quickly.


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  7 Responses to “Beer Can Chicken on the Grill”

  1. Yum. I love all food when beer is involved. Bring a big pashmina with you! I wore mine as a skirt, shirt, head wrap, blanket, and towel. Also, Toms are really great for city walking because they are comfy and you can throw them in the wash right after. You guys are going to have a blast. I am so jealous!

  2. Yes! Food + Beer = Always Amazing! I’m definitely going to make this for our Father’s day BBQ this weekend. Safe travels, Steph! You ladies are going to have so much fun :)

  3. Congrats on Huff Po!!! Also, beer can chicken, YUM. Amanda’s advice about a pashmina is great too. I have a circle scarf from American Apparel that is awesome for traveling as a blanket, pillow, scarf, dress, etc!

  4. Thanks for your suggestion guys! I have now packed…4 scarves!! haha Too many? We’ll see. :)

  5. My Mom has been making this bread for as long as I can remember — it’s one of our family’s most requested dishes. My Dad and I have been known to fight over the heel of the loaf (I know, there are two, but still…) Mom just uses Old Milwaukee beer because that’s what Dad drinks, but DH wants me to try making bread with different “gourmet” beers, like berry weiss, etc. What’s funny is, I can’t stand beer, but I love this bread. A real classic, thanks so much for sharing.

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