If you have not grilled a whole chicken standing upright on a beer can, you are missing a real treat! It is like rotisserie chicken but not as greasy tasting. Basically you take a beer can (feel free to substitute a pop can) 1/2 full of liquid, place it in a large open end of the chicken and cook it standing on end. The chicken cooks from the inside out, if done properly, the skin will be crispy and inside of the chicken will be tender and juicy.
First you need a whole chicken. We grill beer can chicken all the time, and most of the time we will do 2 at a time, they are that good.
You will need to butter the skin otherwise it may become rubbery I cut about an eighth of a stick of butter, and while holding the wax paper end rub it all over the chickens skin. This will also get you a golden brown bird that photographs well.
Then apply your favorite rub, poultry seasoning or you can just salt and pepper the outside get under the skin where you can, and a little inside the cavity of the chicken. The butter will help it stick
That’s it for the chicken preparation now open a can of your favorite liquid refreshment (we’re talking about beer). You need to get rid of half of that beer somehow I suggest drinking it, but to each his own. Open the beer dispose of about half of it.
I highly recommend using a chicken stand here. There are many grill beer can chicken stands on the market. If you don’t use a stand, the chicken is basically unstable on the grill and may fall over. Place the beer can in the holder and slide the chicken onto the can. If you want the can and stand may be sprayed with PAM for grilling (Never use Pam on your grill grates). I have never had one stick to the inside of the chicken but you never know.
I suggest placing a drip pan under where your chicken is going to stand on your grill to collect the drippings. This will save you a lot of cleanup and/or flare up in the future. Place the chicken on the stand over indirect medium heat. If the heat is coming from one side of your grill, you may need to rotate the chicken at some point.
This is a great use of a remote thermometer just stick your probe in the chicken, and then you can just walk away. It will tell you when it’s done; if you don’t have a remote or external thermometer I would suggest checking the temperature after about an hour to an hour and a half and then about every 15 minutes to half hour after that. Even with a drip pan under the chicken. I suggest keeping an eye on your grill, because if these juices dump you are going to have a three-alarm fire on your hands and some crispy chicken.
Beer substitutes: For those who don’t want to use a beer can any pop can will do, simply fill the can half full of water, and add some garlic powder, just because it smells so good. While cooking just be sure not to use a liquid that contains a lot of sugar, it may burn if boiled down.
As for can selection: There’s no need to make sure that it’s a tight fit if using a stand. Try to avoid cans with a lot of paint on the outside the paint may chip away when hot. Also, recently some beer manufacturers have started lining their cans, this means there’s a plastic lining inside, and you don’t want to place that over high heat. If plastic burns, the fumes may be toxic.
When you know how to grill beer can chicken you will never look at whole chickens at the grocery store the same way.
Is a Certified Food Safety Professional, KCBS member and has over 10 years experience in the food service industry.
“I have experienced some of the best food this country has to offer and nothing is better than the food that comes off my grill!”
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