Tender, falling off the bone chicken meat with a tangy, flavorful skin is the result of a can of beer, a homemade sauce, and some time in the grill. You'll love how easy it is to make this beer can chicken and how it turns out EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
Want to make this without using beer? You can! See common questions:
There is something so quintessentially summer about making beer can chicken on the grill. The combo of the grill, the beer, the constant dripping of grease, the barbecue sauce, the licking of fingers, and the delicious smell all scream summer-time. BBQ season is HERE!
I love making beer can chicken because it is easy, unique, and delicious. Best of all I have plenty of time to do other things while the chicken is cooking up. Getting some cauliflower potato salad, baked beans, and margaritas made up WELL in time. The chicken comes off and a glorious bbq is done.
With the size of my family sometimes you'll find 2 or 3 of these chickens on the grill at a time. Why not? Heck, the chicken works great for leftovers! If you are making 1 why not make 2?
key Ingredients for beer can chicken:
- Beer. Use a light beer like a lager for beer can chicken so your chicken doesn't take on too strong of a flavor from the beer. Yes, you can absolutely swap out the beer for a soda or seltzer.
- Whole Chicken. A whole chicken around 3 pounds is ideal for grilling.
- Barbecue Sauce. The recipe for homemade barbecue sauce I'm using is absolutely delicious. You need to try it! However, if you are in a hurry go ahead and sub your favorite barbecue sauce. Whatever you choose to use make sure you have plenty to slather on when you put the chicken on the grill AND for basting later in the process.
- Spice rub. Don't skip the rub. Using a rub on the chicken before it even hits the grill is key for a flavor explosion from tender meat and crispy skin. Again, use your favorite seasoning spice, if you like. But PINKY SWEAR you will give this recipe a try. I promise it will be worth it!
Common questions about making beer can chicken:
What beer is best for beer can chicken?
- A mild beer that isn't strong in flavor works best for beer can chicken. Lagers are the most popular choice. However, use what you have on hand, any beer will work just fine.
What can I use instead of beer for beer can chicken?
-A can of soda or seltzer water works, as well. Just be sure to choose something without a strong flavor that you don't want your chicken to absorb.
I don't have a beer can chicken stand, can I still make beer can chicken?
-Absolutely! Just use care to insert the beer and stand it upright on the grill. Watch the top of the chicken when you close the grill cover. I didn't have a stand for most of the times I've made beer can chicken and it worked just fine.
How do I get the chicken off of the beer can?
-Oh gosh do I feel you! I made many messes before I figured out that the simplest method is to bring it into the kitchen, next to the sink, and use a tong to hold the chicken and gently pull the can. Set the can into the sink and the chicken on a platter. Be gentle and patient, too much force can make a mess!
how to make beer can chicken:
- Bring your grill up to 350 degrees and maintain that temperature.
- Make up your spice rub and give that chicken a good rub in it.
- Insert beer can into chicken to make it stand up. If you have a specialty stand, awesome! If not, just use care to insert the beer and stand it upright.
- Make up your BBQ sauce.
- Lower the grill temp to 300 degrees.
- Brush chicken with bbq sauce and place back into the grill to continue cooking until the temp reaches 165 degrees.
- Baste and cook, if needed, until the temp is reached.
- Baste once more and let the chicken rest.
While the chicken gets all the barbecue sauce slathered on and the skin crispy and flavorful, the beer is doing its work of steaming that meat on the inside.
The end result of this beer can chicken recipe?
- tender meat
- crispy, tangy skin
- super flavorful EVERYTHING
- easy clean-up
- oohs and aahs from everyone around
- 2 cans lager beer or other mild beer
- 1 whole chicken
For the spice rub:
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp garlic
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp paprika
- ½ tsp pepper
For the BBQ lathering sauce:
- 1 cup ketchup
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 2 tbsp molasses
- 1 tbsp worcheshire
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- Heat grill to 350 degrees. You will need to maintain this temp and provide a place for the chicken with indirect heat.
- Combine brown sugar, chili powder, oregano, garlic, onion powder, paprika, and pepper. Rub on the chicken to evenly coat.
- Insert beer can into chicken to make it stand up. Place into the grill for 1 hour on indirect heat.
- Add ½ cup of beer, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, molasses, worcheshire, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer for 5 minutes.
- Lower grill to 300 degrees.
- Brush chicken with ¾ of the bbq sauce and place back into the grill for 45 minutes.
- Check to see if the internal temp has reached 165 degrees. If not, brush the chicken with more sauce and return to the grill for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Repeat brushing the chicken and grilling for 15 minutes until the temp reaches 165 degrees.
- When 165 degrees is reached brush the chicken one last time, turn off the grill, and let rest for 7 - 10 minutes before removing from the heat.
Sides to serve with beer can chicken:
- the BEST Cauliflower Potato Salad (low-carb, Paleo)
- 5 Ingredient Ham Pasta Salad
- the easiest [ever!] Grilled Mexican Street Corn
- easy Green Pea Salad with bacon
- Red Onion Watermelon salad
- easy Marinated Tomato Salad (great for garden produce!)
- Sweet and Spicy Margaritas
- Fresh Rhubarb Pie with a crumble top
- Rhubarb Margarita