Juicy Beer Can Chicken (Beer Butt Chicken)


Beer can chicken (AKA beer butt chicken) is a fun and flavorful way to cook a whole chicken. Whether you make this beer can chicken recipe on the grill or in the oven, it easy to prepare and even easier to cook! 

This beer can chicken recipe calls for a whole chicken, a simple chicken dry rub, and a can of light beer.

beer can chicken oven in roasting pan.

The Most Flavorful Beer Can Chicken

Beer can chicken is seriously one of our favorite things to make. We love it on the grill and in the oven. Since you cook a whole chicken on top of a can of beer, the end result is both white and dark meat that is so juicy and tender.

What is beer can chicken?

Beer can chicken is a method of cooking chicken where you place the cavity of a whole chicken on top of a can of beer. It can be cooked in the oven or on the grill. 

Is beer can chicken and beer but chicken the same thing?

Yes! Beer butt chicken is just another name for beer can chicken. 

Why should I make beer can chicken?

By cooking your chicken on top of a can of beer, you actually infuse the chicken with moisture so that it doesn’t dry out.

beer can chicken sitting in white pan.

What You Need

  • Whole Chicken: first things first, get yourself a whole chicken that is around 3-4 lbs. Make sure to leave the skin on, but to remove any innards.
  • Dry Rub: a delicious dry rub is used to flavor this chicken. It’s a sweet and smokey dry rub and so delicious. If you have either our chicken dry rub or chicken seasoning on hand, you can use that instead!
  • Whole Chicken: first things first, get yourself a whole chicken that is around 3-4 lbs. Make sure to leave the skin on, but to remove any innards.
  • Dry Rub: a delicious dry rub is used to flavor this chicken. It’s a sweet and smokey dry rub and so delicious. If you have either our chicken dry rub or chicken seasoning on hand, you can use that instead!
  • Butter: butter is used in between the meat and the skin so that the skin comes out nice and flavorful and crispy. It’s serioulsy a dream.
  • Olive Oil: olive oil is used on the outside of the bird to help the spices stick and to help further crisp up that skin.
  • Light Beer: and last but not least, the star of the show – light beer! Any kind of light beer should work well for this recipe. We’ve used Michlob ULTRA, Spotted Cow, Coors Light, you name it. Just make sure to pour a little bit out before you stick the chicken o top.

What can I use instead of beer?

Don’t have beer or want to avoid the alcohol? Try the following:

  • N/A Beer
  • Ginger Beer
  • Coke/Pepsi
dry rub in glass bowl.

Top Tips for Perfect Beer Can Chicken

Beer Can Chicken Rub – Be Generous: you’ll notice that this beer can chicken recipe calls for a decent amount of dry rub. That’s because we not only want the chicken to end up super flavorful, but it will help create a delicious crispy skin. Try our chicken seasoning or chicken dry rub instead.

Get Under the Skin: whatever you do, don’t skip rubbing butter and dry rub between the meat and skin. It adds so much flavor!

Higher Heat: lots of beer can chicken recipes on the internet cook their beer can chickens at a lower heat. However, we love how ours turned out at 425ºF.

Keep Chicken Upright: you can either try and balance your chicken on its own legs or you can use a handy dandy beer can chicken holder. Either work.

Cook Until 165ºF: in order for chicken to be safely consumed, one must cook it until the internal temperature reaches 165ºF. We use a digital meat thermometer and highly recommend one!

meat thermometer

Try it!

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We swear by using a meat thermometer when cooking any cut of meat. The Thermapen is our go-to meat thermometer that works every time.

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chicken on cutting board.

Beer Chicken — Oven vs. Grill

Good news for you! Cooking chicken on a can of beer works in both the oven and the grill! Here are a few tips for both methods.

Oven

Roasting your beer can chicken in oven is simple because you can do it year-round. Here are a few pointers:

Prop Chicken Upright: sometimes beer butt chicken can be tricky. We propped our chicken up using its own legs like a kickstand, but you can also buy an inexpensive beer can chicken holder off Amazon.

Don’t Forget a Baking Sheet/Roasting Pan: whatever you do, don’t forget to put your chicken on top of something so that it can catch the juices and fat! The last thing you want is a mess on the bottom of your oven.

Grill

Beer can chicken on the grill is also easy to make and comes out nice and juicy on the inside.

Indirect Heat: we recommend grilling your bird over indirect heat. That simply means heating one side of your grill so that you can place the chicken on top of indirect heat (so the flames don’t actually touch the bird). It will make sure there are no grease fires and cook the chicken more evenly.

Charcoal or Gas? You can use either a charcoal grill or a gas grill. We have a gas grill and find that it’s much easier to control the temperature. 

raw chicken on cutting board.

FAQ

What kind of beer is best for beer can chicken?

The best kind of beer for beer can chicken is light beer such as Coors Lite, Miller Lite, and Busch Lite.

How long does it take to smoke beer can chickens?

Beer can chickens take around 4 hours at 275ºF to fully cook.

What temperature beer can chicken?

Cook your beer can chicken in the oven at 425ºF for 1 hour.

Do you need a beer can chicken holder?

You do not need a beer can chicken holder to cook beer can chicken. Just make sure to prop them up in the oven or grill using their legs.

beer can chicken on roasting pan.

Got Leftovers?

Storage

Store leftover chicken in an airtight container for up to 3-5 days.

whole chicken in pan.

Juicy Beer Can Chicken Recipe

Follow this beer can chicken recipe for ultra juicy and flavorful chicken! We’ll give you directions for both the grill and oven.

Prep:15 minutes

Cook:1 hour

Total:1 hour 15 minutes

Fat 13

Carbs 12

Protein 52

Ingredients

  • 3-4 lb. whole chicken
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1.5 tablespoons garlic powder
  • ½ tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter softened
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 can light beer

Instructions 

  • Preheat your grill or oven to 425ºF. If you’re using a grill, leave one side of the burners off so that you can grill over indirect heat.

  • Remove any innards (giblets) from the chicken and pat the chicken dry with a paper towel. Set aside.

  • Prepare the spice rub. Add the brown sugar, garlic powder, salt, pepper, dried thyme, paprika, chili powder, and red pepper flakes to a bowl and mix together until combined. Set aside.

  • Place the chicken on a plate or cutting board and separate the chicken skin from the meat. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the dry rub in between the skin and chicken meat and massage all the spices into the meat.

  • Next, rub the softened butter in between the skin and meat of the chicken.

  • Drizzle the olive oil on the outside of the chicken and then carefully sprinkle the rest of the chicken dry rub all over the chicken and massage the dry rub into the chicken skin. Be sure to massage the dry rub into every nook and cranny of the chicken.

  • Open can of beer and pour out (or drink!) around 1/4 of it. If you’re cooking your chicken in the oven, place it on a large baking sheet.

  • Carefully place the open cavity of the chicken on top of the beer can. You may need to find a balance where the chicken can stand without support. Sometimes balancing the chicken legs on the baking sheet works well.

  • Finally, scrape any excess dry rub from the plate or cutting board that may have fallen off the chicken and sprinkle it over the chicken.

  • Oven instructions: Place the baking sheet into the oven and roast for 45 minutes. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature and continue roasting until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the chicken reaches 165ºF. Ours took around 1 hour.

  • Grill Instructions: Place the beer can chicken on the grill over indirect heat. Close the grill and cook for 45 minutes. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature and continue grilling until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the chicken reaches 165ºF. It should take around 1 hour.

Tips & Notes

  • This recipe was updated on August 5, 2021. For the original recipe CLICK HERE.
  • Beer Can Chicken Holder: we’ve found that sometimes it’s hard to balance your whole chicken on the grill, so using a beer can chicken holder like this one can be super useful!

Nutrition facts

Calories: 359kcal Carbohydrates: 12g Protein: 52g Fat: 13g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 8g



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