Beer Can BBQ Chicken

David Olson
"A Bachelor And His Grill"
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Beer Can BBQ Chicken
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedInShare on StumbleUponPin on Pinterest

We can only imagine that the first time beer can met chicken, it wasn’t exactly a willing union. Like most pairings that seem odd – think Kanye and Kim Kardashian, or, more relevant to our little corner of the Interwebs, bacon and maple syrup – we have to assume that it was a chance encounter that set this winning combo on its path to culinary deification.

Perhaps someone was using a whole bird in a sort of “kabuki theatre of the mind,” and decided to prop up said chicken on the can of Old Style that he was holding in his hand.

Whatever the genesis, there’s nothing simpler, and more flavorful, than this set-it-and-forget-it recipe that produces a succulent, juicy – and a little tipsy – chicken.

Beer Can BBQ Chicken

Prep Time: 8 hours, 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Total Time: 9 hours, 45 minutes

Yield: 4

Serving Size: --

Calories per serving: --

Fat per serving: --


  • 1/3 cup salt
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 6 12-ounce beers (or non-alcoholic beers), divided
  • 1 3-pound whole chicken, giblet package removed
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ancho chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons celery salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon granulated onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional for basting


  1. In a 6-8 quart container, dissolve salt and sugar into the water. Stir in 4 cans of beer. Immerse chicken in the brine, cover and refrigerate for 8-24 hours.
  2. Remove chicken from brine, thoroughly rinse inside and outside under cold water, and pat dry. Discard brine.
  3. Place the chicken back in the refrigerator for 1 hour, uncovered, to additionally dry the skin.
  4. Pulse the brown sugar, chili powder, paprika, celery salt, black and white peppers, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, dry mustard, cumin and cinnamon in a food processor to create the rub.
  5. Preheat the grill to medium, 300-400°F.
  6. Drizzle the chicken with olive oil inside and out, then liberally massage the BBQ dry rub into all portions of the chicken.
  7. Allow at least 20 minutes for chicken to rest at room temperature.
  8. Open a beer, drink or discard 1/2 of the contents, then slide the chicken cavity onto the beer can. Enjoy the last beer yourself while you grill.
  9. Set the chicken on the grill over indirect heat, balancing bird on the beer can and spreading the legs like a tripod to steady the bird.
  10. Close the lid and grill for 1 hour and 15 minutes, lightly basting every 20-30 minutes with olive oil.
  11. Remove from the grill when the internal temperature of the breast reaches 165°F, the thigh reaches 180°F, and the juices in the thigh run clear.
  12. Using tongs on the bird and a spatula under the hot beer can, carefully transfer chicken to a tray or pan.
  13. Allow the chicken to rest and reabsorb juices for 10 minutes before removing beer can.
  14. Discard beer, season additionally to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper, slice and serve.


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