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Grilled Beer Can Chicken

Grilled Beer Can Chicken standing up in a cast iron skillet, with a smiling woman in the background
This post is brought to you by Wholefully partner brand Meijer.

Recipe At-A-Glance

Paleo, Gluten-Free

1 hour, 30 minutes

Beer Can Chicken looks a little silly while cooking, but it results in the most flavorful and juiciest chicken you've ever had!

The first time I saw someone stick a can inside a chicken and cook it, I’m pretty sure I doubled over laughing. I mean, is it not the most ridiculous-looking thing on the planet? It’s a chicken. Standing up. On a beer.

But then I took one taste, and I didn’t care how silly it looked while cooking—that was a dang good chicken! By cooking the chicken on a can of your favorite beer (or hard cider—like I do here—or honestly, any liquid in a can), you not only keep the chicken moist and juicy, but you also get to impart all kinds of delicious flavor into every meaty bite. You also get to drink half a beer while you’re cooking (it’s part of the recipe!), which I’m not mad about.

You can follow this method in the regular ole oven, but I highly recommend taking out the top rack of your grill (if you have one) and trying it in there. The combo of the smoky flavor from the grill plus the beer and my sweet and spicy dry rub makes for a chicken that you just can’t stop eating.

Overhead shot of cut-up grilled chicken on a wooden cutting board

Of course, how good your final product turns out depends entirely on how high-quality your chicken was to begin with. That’s one of the reasons I love to hit up the Meijer meat department!

MY OTHER RECIPES
Meijer carries a wide range of super high-quality meat. You can get grass-fed beef, wild-caught fish, and organic, non-GMO, free-range chicken, like this whole chicken I used here from Katie’s Best Chicken. Just like with Meijer’s commitment to partnering with local Midwestern farms when it comes to fresh produce, that commitment to Midwestern farms extends to their meat department, too. Katie’s Best Chicken is a local Indiana company, which makes me a happy Hoosier! Katie’s Best organic chicken thighs, organic breasts, and organic whole fryers are in frequent rotation in our house—and I’ve always been super happy with the quality and the price.

Ingredients for Beer Can Chicken - whole chicken, spices, lemon, beer can, cast iron skillet

I love that there are affordable, high-quality meat options for my family at my “regular” grocery store—no having to hit up a specialty store. Meijer is one-stop shopping at its finest! You can grab everything you need for this recipe in one spot. Grab your Katie’s Best Chicken, then head over to the spice aisle and load your cart up with all the organic True Goodness spices you need to make your spice rub. Heck, you can even head over to the outdoor section and pick up a brand new gas grill if you’re feeling really devoted to your Beer Can Chicken.

While you’re there, I also recommend picking up a cast iron skillet if you don’t already have one (they are sold in the camping section at my Meijer store, FYI). A 10″ or 12″ skillet works perfectly to hold up your beer can chicken and collect all the drippings so your grill doesn’t become a (literal) hot mess. Any oven-proof skillet, baking sheet, or grill pan will work, but, like so many things in the kitchen, a cast iron skillet is the perfect tool for the job here.

Grilled Beer Can Chicken standing up in a cast iron skillet

Before we dig into the recipe below, a word on the spice rub—it’s flipping delicious. It requires a number of different herbs and spices, but you can make it up in bulk (in fact, the ratio below will give you more than you need just for one chicken) and sprinkle it on all kinds of grilled meats, seafood, and veggies.

I would recommend not actually rubbing in your spice rub. Just like our skin, chicken skin has pores, and when you actually rub in the spices, you are closing up those pores. Not a big deal when you’re cooking in the oven, but when you’re cooking over a flame, you really want that smoky, open-flame flavor to permeate the chicken. So no closing up those pores! Just give your chicken a very liberally sprinkling of the “rub” and be done with it. No worries, you’ll still have plenty of great flavor!

Side angle shot of cut-up grilled chicken on a wooden cutting board

If you’re not interested in using beer or hard cider here, this method works beautifully with juices, wine, soda, or even just water. Just save a clean aluminum can and fill it halfway up with whatever liquid you want to use. Happy grilling!

 

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Grilled Beer Can Chicken


  • Author: Cassie Johnston
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: 1 whole chicken
  • Category: Entrees
  • Method: Grilling

Description

Beer Can Chicken looks a little silly while cooking, but it results in the most flavorful and juiciest chicken you’ve ever had!


Ingredients

For the Dry Rub:

For the Chicken:

  • 1 large Katie’s Best organic whole fryer chicken (approximately 3-4 pounds), gizzards removed
  • 1 lemon, sliced in half
  • Olive oil or avocado oil
  • 1 can of beer, cider, soda, or juice

Instructions

  1. Mix together all the ingredients for the dry rub in a small bowl.
  2. Place the whole chicken on a baking sheet, and rub all over with the lemon halves (make sure to get in all the nooks and crannies). Discard the lemon halves.
  3. Liberally sprinkle the dry rub on the chicken—making sure to get in all the nooks and crannies. Do NOT rub the spice mixture in (see the notes).  You will likely have some rub left over. Place the chicken, uncovered, in the fridge to marinate for at least 30 minutes, up to overnight.
  4. When ready to cook the chicken, preheat a gas or charcoal grill to about 375°. Make sure to turn off the middle burner of the gas grill or divide the hot charcoal into two piles on the edges of the grill—you want to cook the chicken over indirect heat.
  5. While the grill preheats, liberally drizzle both sides of the chicken with olive oil or avocado oil.
  6. Open your can of beer, cider, soda, or juice, drink about half of it, and then carefully wiggle the whole chicken on top of the beer. Really wedge it in there. Place the chicken on a small baking sheet, cast iron skillet, or other grill-proof pan to help collect the drippings (unless you want to do some serious post-grilling clean up). Use the chicken’s legs to help prop up the chicken.
  7. Place the chicken in the middle of the grill, close the lid, and cook for about one hour and 15 minutes for a four pound bird, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°. Check on your chicken occasionally during the cooking time, but don’t open the grill lid too often—it’ll release all the heat.
  8. Once cooked, remove chicken from grill and let rest for 10 minutes before carving. Carefully remove the beer can from the chicken cavity and discard. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Tallboys are less than ideal for this, because the height of the can makes it to where you can’t use the chicken’s legs for stability. Stick to a 12 ounce can.
  • Even though this is called a dry “rub,” I recommend not rubbing it in. Rubbing it in clogs the pores of the chicken skin, which doesn’t allow any of the gloriously smoky flavor from the grill into the chicken. Just sprinkle it on.
  • If your chicken is bigger or smaller, adjust your cooking time accordingly (you’ll probably want to go off of temperature instead of time anyway).
  • You can use whatever liquid in the can makes you happy. I’ve used half cans of sparkling water, juice, and I’ve even filled an empty can with wine before with good results!
  • To cook this in the oven, preheat to 375° and remove the top rack. Roast chicken in oven for about one hour and 15 minutes for a four pound bird, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°

Keywords: entrees, grilling, chicken

This post is brought to you by Wholefully partner brand Meijer.

This post is brought to you by Wholefully partner brand Meijer.

All opinions are entirely my own. Want to be a sponsor? Let’s work together!

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3 comments

Leave a Comment

  • Deborah SAYS

    My son calls this Drunken Chicken. I’ve never had it though. I can’t use any sugar in cooking. Hubby is diabetic. ?

    • Cassie SAYS

      You could leave out the sugar in the dry rub, and then use water in an empty can. :) It’ll sill turn out great!

  • Ruth SAYS

    I’ve seen this cooking method a few times now and you’ve convinced me! We look forward to trying this out :)

    And such cute, fun, spunky music for the video – loved it!

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