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How to Make Beer Can Chicken

Updated August 1, 2019
Use this popular technique to make tender, fall-off-the-bone chicken—perfect for summer nights that call for easy grilling.

What’s our best secret to succulent summertime chicken? A can of beer, of course! The steam from the beer and the savory rub keep the meat tender and flavorful, and all you’ll need to make it happen are a few simple tools and a working grill. 

What you’ll need:

  • Ingredients for our Basic Barbecue Rub
  • 1 whole chicken (4 to 4 ½ lb)
  • 1 can (12 oz) beer or nonalcoholic beer
  • Small bowl
  • Ovenproof meat thermometer
  • Gas or charcoal grill
  • Tongs
  • Carving knife
  • 13x9-inch pan
  • Metal spatula
How to:

1. In small bowl, mix rub ingredients. Fold wings of chicken across back with tips touching. Sprinkle rub inside cavity and all over outside of chicken; rub with fingers.


2. Pour out ½ cup of beer from can. Holding chicken upright with larger opening of body cavity downward, insert beer can into larger cavity. Insert ovenproof meat thermometer so tip is in thickest part of inside thigh and does not touch bone.


3. Heat gas or charcoal grill. For two-burner gas grill, heat one burner to medium; place chicken with beer can upright on unheated side. For one-burner gas grill, place chicken with beer can upright over low heat. For charcoal grill, move coals to edge of firebox; place chicken with beer can upright on grill rack. Cover grill and cook 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes or until thermometer reads at least 165°F. Using tongs, carefully lift chicken to 13x9-inch pan, holding spatula under beer can for support.


4. Let stand 15 minutes before carving. Remove beer can; discard. Serve and enjoy!


Expert Tips: 

  • Always be sure to rinse chicken inside and out under cold running water and discard chicken giblets prior to use. 
  • Chicken giblets can also be saved to make a tasty gravy, stock or soup if not discarded.