What Is “beer Can Chicken”?

Have you ever heard of the culinary phenomenon known as “beer can chicken”? If not, get ready to have your taste buds tantalized. This increasingly popular grilling technique involves inserting a can of beer into the cavity of a whole chicken before cooking it. As the chicken cooks, the beer inside the can steams, infusing the meat with incredible flavor and moisture. The result? A succulent, juicy chicken with a hint of hoppy goodness. So, are you ready to elevate your grilling game and try your hand at this delightful dish? Let’s dive into the world of “beer can chicken” and discover why it has become a must-try for backyard chefs everywhere.

What is ‘beer can chicken’?

Beer can chicken, also known as beer butt chicken or chicken on a throne, is a popular method of cooking chicken where the bird is placed on a opened can of beer and roasted on a grill or in an oven. This unique cooking technique infuses the chicken with moisture and flavor, resulting in a tender and juicy meat with a slightly smoky taste.


Beer can chicken is a cooking method that involves placing a whole chicken, typically seasoned with various spices, on top of an open can of beer. The beer can acts as a stand, holding the chicken upright and allowing it to cook evenly from all sides. As the chicken roasts, the beer evaporates and imparts its flavors into the meat while also keeping it moist.


The origin of beer can chicken is debated, but it is widely believed to have originated in the southern United States, specifically in the region known for its barbecue traditions. It is said that the technique was born out of the desire to find a way to cook chicken on a grill without it becoming dry and tasteless. Over time, beer can chicken has gained popularity and has become a staple at backyard barbecues and cookouts across the country.

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To prepare beer can chicken, start by choosing a whole chicken that is around 3-4 pounds in weight. Remove any giblets from the cavity and pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Season the chicken generously with your choice of spices and herbs. Popular seasonings include salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and thyme, but feel free to get creative and experiment with different flavors.

Cooking Method

The traditional method of cooking beer can chicken involves grilling, but it can also be cooked in the oven. If grilling, preheat the grill to medium-high heat and create an indirect cooking zone by turning off the burners on one side of the grill. Place the beer can, filled with your choice of beer or other liquid, in the center of the grill. Carefully lower the chicken onto the beer can, ensuring it is balanced and stable. Cover the grill and cook for approximately 1.5 to 2 hours, or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).

Seasoning and Flavoring

The beauty of beer can chicken is that you can customize the flavors to your liking. While a simple salt and pepper seasoning can yield delicious results, you can experiment with different spices and herbs to add depth and complexity to the flavor profile. Some popular options include smoky paprika, cayenne pepper for a bit of heat, or even a marinade or sauce applied to the skin before cooking.

Equipment Needed

To make beer can chicken, you will need a few essential pieces of equipment. First and foremost, you will need a grill or an oven to cook the chicken. A charcoal or gas grill works best, but an oven with a roasting rack can also work well. Additionally, you will need a can opener to open the beer can, a pair of tongs to handle the chicken, and a meat thermometer to ensure it is cooked to perfection.

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Safety Precautions

When cooking beer can chicken, it is important to take some safety precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable cooking experience. Always handle the chicken and the hot grill or oven with caution, using oven mitts or heat-resistant gloves. Be mindful of the hot liquid inside the beer can, as it can cause burns if spilled. It is also crucial to use a food-safe thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken to ensure it is fully cooked and safe to consume.

Serving Suggestions

Once the beer can chicken is cooked to perfection, it is time to serve and enjoy. You can serve the whole chicken as a centerpiece, allowing your guests to carve their desired portions. Alternatively, you can carve the chicken beforehand and present it on a platter. Beer can chicken pairs well with a variety of side dishes, such as roasted potatoes, grilled vegetables, or a fresh green salad. Don’t forget to provide extra barbecue sauce or a homemade dipping sauce for added flavor.

Variations and Enhancements

While the traditional beer can chicken recipe is delicious on its own, there are endless possibilities for variations and enhancements. One popular variation is to use different types of beer or other liquids, such as cider or broth, to add unique flavors to the chicken. You can also experiment with different spice rubs, marinades, or glazes to create your own signature beer can chicken recipe.

Benefits and Drawbacks

One of the main benefits of cooking beer can chicken is the moist and flavorful meat it produces. The beer can acts as a steaming agent, creating a steamy environment inside the chicken, which helps to keep it juicy and tender. The high heat of the grill or oven also helps to crisp up the skin, resulting in a delicious texture. However, it’s worth noting that beer can chicken does require some time and preparation, so it may not be suitable for a quick weekday dinner. Additionally, using a can of beer may not be ideal for those who prefer to avoid or cannot consume alcohol.

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In conclusion, beer can chicken is a fun and flavorful cooking method that yields impressive results. Whether you’re hosting a backyard barbecue or simply looking to switch up your usual chicken recipes, beer can chicken is sure to be a hit. With some basic equipment and a bit of creativity, you can enjoy a juicy and delicious whole chicken infused with the flavors of your choice. So grab a can of beer, fire up the grill, and get ready to enjoy this unique and tasty way of cooking chicken.