The art of grilling a whole chicken with a can of beer stuck up its butt originated in southeast Texas. It is pure genius, because the added moisture from the beer ensures the juiciest chicken you will ever have.
I spent a fair amount of time reviewing recipes, before I came up with this variation using many of the key spices based on my signature pulled pork rub. I use a 22″ Weber® kettle grill. If going this route, ensure that the bird you choose is small enough to fit under the domed lid, when closed. And don’t make your fire too hot. Slow and low is the way to go.
I can definitively say there isn’t a better bird. The skin will crisp to perfection due to the alcohol in the beer, and the infused flavor is simply amazing.
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. fresh-ground black pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tbs. onion powder
2 tbs. smoked Spanish paprika
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. thyme, ground in a mortar
1 tbs. ancho chili powder
2 tbs. packed brown sugar
For the Chicken:
1 whole fryer chicken with giblets removed
1 12-oz. can of beer
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1 garlic clove, mashed
2 tbs canola oil
1/2 small potato or onion
Mesquite wood chips (about two handfuls) soaked in water for at least three hours
Disposable aluminum pie pan
Steel “beer can chicken” support trivet (available at many specialty cooking stores)
1/4 cup water
Prepare the dry rub ingredients in a small mixing bowl and set aside. You’ll use most of it for this recipe.
Thoroughly rinse the chicken in cold water, including the chest cavity. Pat dry and let stand to warm up in a baking dish so that it is not ice cold before you throw it on the grill. Rub 2 tbs. canola oil over the skin of the bird, ensuring it is completely coated. Next, apply the rub to the skin and chest cavity.
Prepare your grill with enough charcoal for a medium-hot fire. When ready to grill, divide and move the white-hot coals to either side of the coal grate, leaving the center clear for indirect heat.
Pop the can of beer and pour off or drink half (I wholeheartedly recommend drinking it.) Add 1 clove crushed garlic and the juice of 1/2 lemon to the can.
Place the pie pan on the center of the grilling grate. Quickly place the can of beer in the support trivet and slide the bird’s cavity over the can ensuring it is seated evenly on the trivet. Place the bird and trivet on the pie pan in the center of the grilling grate. Place 1/2 onion or small potato in the neck opening to seal it off. Next add 1/4 cup water to the pie pan (this will help prevent flare-ups) and cover with the kettle cover (leave it vented half way.) And here’s the challenge – if your bird is small enough, it will allow the cover to seat properly with just enough clearance for grilling. If not – well you’ve got a big ol’ mess because it’s either going to tip over, or you’ll have to proceed to Plan B and use your oven.
Grill covered for about 1 hour, adding mesquite chips to the coals after 1/2 hour, until the skin is crispy golden-brown and the internal temperature of the breast measures 165° F.
Carefully remove the bird with a long grilling fork (spear it under the breast bone) and transfer to a covered roaster pan. Let stand for ten minutes before serving.
Recipe cooking time shown is for a 22″ Weber® kettle grill. Your cooking time will vary. Experimentation is mandatory – on some grills the time will be closer to 1.5 hours at 375° F.
Ensure you wash your hands and disinfect your counter top after handling poultry. Enjoy!