Make Beer Can Chicken on the Barbecue

I first learned about beer can chicken (or beer butt chicken as I like to refer to it) back in 2002 when my friend Emily invited me over for a barbecue. She made the chicken on her Weber grill without using a beer can roasting stand and I noticed this was her biggest challenge, but the end result is one of the most awesome roasted chickens I have ever eaten. Today Emily is a big fan of Damn Fine Dishes and I have her to thank her for this one. This is one of my favorites ways to make chicken. It is so easy and absolutely delicious!


And The Winner Is…

It was not long after this barbecue that my roommate and I decided we would have a little barbecue Iron Chef © style. My roommate’s niece, Tanya, was coming to visit, and she was an executive chef at a large kitchen. We thought it would be fun if I squared off with her for a little barbecue competition. The rules for our competition were slightly different from the popular TV show. First, we had no limit on time. Second, we both chose and agreed upon the food to cook. I chose salmon, Tanya chose chicken. Being from the northwest, I thought I would easily take her down with the salmon, however, things turned out quite different from my expectations that day. She took the salmon competition and I beat her with my beer can chicken recipe. Tanya ended up taking my recipe home with her, and I ended up learning a few professional tips about grilling salmon, but the best thing was that it was a ton of fun.


Improving on Delicious

I did not have a beer can roaster that day so it was a challenge to keep that bird propped upon that can. These days you see these roasters everywhere and I can’t recommend them enough. Spray them down with a little nonstick spray before you use them and it will make cleaning a bit easier.

Besides using the beer can chicken roaster, I have made a few other improvements. First of all, I like to brine the chicken. Brine is a fabulous way to give it some amazing flavor and help retain a lot of juices. Next, I like to use a high-quality rub that I either make myself or I buy Tom Douglas chicken rub. Be careful however that if you brine your chicken not to use a rub that is too salty if you use one at all.


As far as the type of beer you use for your beer can chicken, that is entirely up to you. I prefer to use cheap beer when I can, and leave the good beer for drinking. I’ve also heard this method works great with water, however, I have never tested that rumor. One of these days I plan to try this with either wine or some sort
of lime soda to see what flavor comes out. It should be a fun experiment.


Finally, this recipe can be made just about anywhere. I once made it over a campfire by loosely draping foil around the chicken while I roasted it with indirect heat. It turned out beautifully and was honestly one of the best beer can chickens I have ever made. This is also great cooked on a barbecue, either gas or charcoal, and is really fun to make outside. Lastly, this is a snap in your oven at home, which is how I usually make it during colder weather.

Cooking with beer is fun!

Camping is fun!

Happy Camping!

Beer Can Chicken

Beer can chicken cooked on the grill to perfection.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 94 kcal
Author Barbara Tidwell


  • 1 whole roasting chicken
  • 1/4 c rub
  • 1 c beer (I use cheap beer)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 gal brine (optional)


  1. Prepare the fire or preheat the oven or the grill.

  2. If using brine, prepare the brine and soak the chicken in the brine for at least 6 hours, or no more than 8 hours. Rinse the brine off the chicken when done.

  3. Open the can of beer and remove about 1/4 of the beer (I like to pour it into a glass for later). Take a can opener and remove the entire top of the can. Place the beer can roaster in a roasting pan. Place the clove of garlic in the can of beer. Place the chicken over the can so that it stands up.

  4. Pull the wings behind the back or tie them down. Also tie down the legs together.

  5. Dry the chicken lightly with a paper towel, then rub the chicken with olive oil.

  6. Rub the spice mixture all over liberally.

  7. Cook at 400° to 425° F for an hour to an hour and a half. Make sure the internal temperature of the bird is at 165 degrees.

  8. Let rest for 20 minutes and carve. Serve with your favorite side.