beer can chicken resting on sheet pan
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Beer Can Chicken

Course Main
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 4
Author Justin McChesney-Wachs


  • 1 - 4 to 5 lb Whole Chicken (giblets discarded)
  • 1 tbsp Olive or Canola Oil
  • 3 tbsp Spice Rub (recipe below)
  • 1 can of beer half full
  • 2 cups Optional: apple or other fruit wood chips for smoky flavor

Spice Rub

  • 2 tbsp Diamond Kosher Salt (reduce salt if using another brand)
  • 2 tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 2 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder


  • Pat the chicken very dry with paper towels and trim off any excess fat around the openings.
  • Drizzle the entire chicken with the olive oil, which will act as a slather to help the spice rub stick to the skin.
  • Coat the chicken with your favorite dry rub and massage in. This can be done right before you cooking, or even better, the day before to infuse more flavor.
  • Place the half-full beer can on the sheet pan, then sit the chicken down right on top of it so the drumsticks reach the surface and act like a tripod with the can. Let the chicken sit out at room temperature while you prep the grill.
  • Prep the grill (preferably charcoal) for high heat indirect grilling.
  • Place the aluminum drip pan in the middle of the coal area, then carefully pour half of the coals on one side of the pan, and half on the other. Add wood chips or wood chip packet and place the cooking grate back on the grill.
  • Oil the grates and carefully transfer the chicken to the center of the grill, standing it up on the grates so the wings face the coals.
  • Cover the grill and cook until the internal temperature of the breasts reaches 160° F and the 175° F in the thighs, about 60 to 80 minutes. Verify with an instant-read probe thermometer.
  • Carefully transfer the chicken to a large cutting board or sheet pan and let rest for 10 minutes before carving and serving (discarding the beer can).


  • There will be some extra spice rub, which can be saved for next time.
  • Don’t cook based off of time. Cook based off of internal temperature of the chicken to know when it is done.