Beer Can Chicken is a summer classic. If you’ve never tried making it before then this long weekend is the time to try! The result is seriously some of the juiciest BBQ chicken you’ll ever eat. And the leftovers make for a great summer sandwich filling!Jump to Recipe
Beer can chicken has gotten some flack in the last few years, and honestly, I don’t really get why. It’s a fun way to cook a whole chicken, and the results are yummy. Isn’t that what we all want from a day of BBQ?
The history of beer canning chickens isn’t old or particularly fascinating unfortunately. I was hoping that in my research, I would find that it was a long used tradition with fun quirks. But it seems to only have started in about 1995, in the US. Just one fun BBQ cook in the south, and a can of beer.
A More Fun History
My desire for a more interesting history was likely spawned from a Neil Gaiman short story called The Sunbird. It’s from his collection of short stories called Fragile Things, that I highly recommend. In The Sunbird, a culinary club realizes that they’ve eaten through every delicacy the world has to offer, and don’t know what to do now. When a shabby, older member of the group suggests they venture to Egypt to find and eat the extremely rare sunbird. He says it’s the most exquisite thing they’ll ever eat, and that it must be cooked in the traditional style that it has been prepared for thousands of years. And if you can’t see where this is going, that traditional method is on top of a beer can. It’s a wonderful story, and should probably just replace the real history of beer can chicken.
The Right Tool For The Job
Before I had ever cooked beer can chicken myself, I was always concerned about the chicken falling over on the grill. Or that the fat from the chicken would drip into the coals and cause flare ups. So wasn’t I delighted when I discovered Beer Can Chicken Roasters! These things are a great addition to your BBQ tools. It’s very simply, a drip tray with a cage on it that holds the bird in place with the can resting in the drip pan. No flare ups, and no birds falling over.
For an extra juicy chicken, brining it overnight can bring that little bit extra. I’ll include a simple brine recipe below. After the brine, you pat the chicken dry, and coat it in a nice dry rub. If you don’t have time for the brine, you can skip it, and just do the dry rub. The beer will keep the chicken nice and juicy.
If you’re looking for another great recipe for the BBQ this summer, try this Cedar Plank Salmon recipe. Trying out these fun recipes is a great way to make a summer in quarantine a little better. Happy Grilling!
Beer Can Chicken
- 1 Whole 3-4lbs Chicken
- 3-4 tbsp Cajun Spice Blend Recipe below
- 1 355ml Can of Beer Use your favourite type
Optional Brine (Brining takes 24hrs)
- 2.5 L Water
- 1/2 cup Koscher Salt
- 1 Lemon quartered
- 8 sprigs Thyme
- 6 sprigs Oregano
- 6 Bay Leaves
- 5 Crushed Garlic Cloves
- 1/4 cup Honey
- 2 tbsp Peppercorns
- Combine all brine ingredients in a large pot. The pot should be able hold the brine and the whole chicken.
- Bring the brine up to a boil, then remove from heat, and allow to cool fully.
- Once the brine is cooled fully, add the chicken. Store in the fridge for 24hrs. After 24hrs, remove the chicken and pat dry completely.
Beer Can Chicken
- Prepare your grill, by bringing it up to about 400F. If you're using a coal barbeque, you will need to make sure that the coals can stay hot for over 45 minutes. Or you will need to stoke the fire throughout. Keep the heat on one side, so that you can use the indirect heat to cook the chicken on the other side.
- Pat your chicken dry. Rub the dry rub all over the chicken. Make sure it gets into all the nooks and crannies.
- Prepare your beer can roaster. Open your can of beer, and drink about 1/3 of the can. Place the can into the roaster and stand the chicken up on the roasting rack.
- Place the roaster with the chicken on the indirect heat side of your grill, with the breasts facing away from the heat. Close the grill and cook for about 20 minutes. Open the grill and rotate the chicken so the breasts are facing the heat. Close the lid, and grill for another 20-25 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the thigh reads 165. Or until the juices from the thigh run clear.
Cajun Spice Mix
- 3 tbsp Smoked Paprika
- 2 tbsp Salt
- 2 tbsp Garlic Powder
- 1 tbsp Black Pepper
- 1 tbsp White Pepper
- 1 tbsp Onion Powder
- 1 tbsp Oregano
- 1 tbsp Cayenne
- 1/2 tbsp Thyme
- Combine all spices in a bowl. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 months in a cool dry place.