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Beer Can Chicken

Insert an open can of beer into the cavity of your bird and cook it upright on a grill. This dish makes for great conversation, with people always asking about how you got such tenderizing results without sacrificing flavor or moisture! This iconic recipe has been inspiration behind many other barbecued meats including pork spareribs which we affectionately call “cutlets.”


  • 1 1/2 cups mesquite chips or chunks, soaked in cold water to cover for 1 hour and drained
  • Grill setup for Indirect Grilling


  • 1 large whole chicken (4 to 5 pounds)
  • 3 tablespoons of your favorite dry BBQ rub or our Memphis Rub
  • 1 can (12 ounces) beer
  1. After removing any fat from inside the chicken, remove its giblets and set them aside for another use. Rinse your bird in cold running water before drying off with paper towels to make sure to remove any residue. Then sprinkle 1 tablespoonful worth (or more!) of rub on the inside cavity walls; sprinkle the additional tablespoon of rub on the outside of the bird making sure to rub it in well.
  2. To get the most delicious flavor possible, you need to use some wood chips of your choice and let them sit for at least 30 minutes before using. If using gas grill – turn on all burners high heat once smoke appears reduce setting to medium. For Charcoal Grills preheat for medium heat.
  3. After you pop the tab on your beer can, use a “church key” style opener to make 2 or 3 holes in the top of the can. Pour out half of the beer and add an additional tablespoon of BBQ rub to the can of beer. While holding the chicken “neck up” sit your bird over the beer can, inserting it into the cavity.
  4. When you’re ready to cook, put half the wood chips on top of your charcoal. Brush and oil the grill grate then stand up what will be one chicken breast in center of it with its feet on either side so that they form a tripod-like structure (the beer can will be third leg).
  5. Grill the chicken 1 ½ hours on a covered grill until it’s fall-off-the bone tender. Add remaining wood chips 1 hour into the cook along with 10 – 12 coals if necessary.
  6. Remove the bird from its cooking liquid with tongs and hold it over a cutting board or platter while you carve into it. I would recommend removing any bones before consuming so they don’t make their way back into your dish! Once removed, allow 5 minutes for resting time then dig in ASAP because this is one tasty meal!


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