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Barbecued Beer-Can Chicken

This classic recipe is a hit for summer cookouts.

How to make the perfect Barbecued Beer-Can Chicken from Hobby Farms

Smoky, spicy, crispy but juicy—it may be the best chicken you ever taste. The beer can is placed inside the chicken’s cavity and acts as a stand and steamer. The skin becomes crispy while the beer keeps the meat moist on the inside. The spicy barbecue seasoning will leave the bird looking delectable and tasting even better.


Spice Rub:

  • 2 T. paprika
  • 1 T. salt
  • 1 T. black pepper
  • 1 T. cayenne pepper


  • 2 T. packed light brown sugar
  • 2 T. white vinegar
  • 2 T. beer
  • 1 T. hot sauce

Beer and Chicken:

  • 2 (12-ounce) cans beer
  • 4 bay leaves, crumbled
  • 2 whole chickens, rinsed and dried (3 to 3 ½ pounds each)
  • 4 cups wood chips

Mix paprika, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper in bowl. Loosen the skin on the chickens by sliding your fingers underneath on the breasts and thighs. Massage the spice rub into the skin, under the skin and inside the chicken. Use a skewer to poke the skin to release as much fat as possible. For the glaze, stir brown sugar, vinegar, beer and hot sauce together in a medium bowl. Add a little spice rub. Add 2 tablespoons beer.

Use a can opener to punch holes in the top of the beer cans. This releases the maximum amount of steam from the can. Soak wood chips in water for 15 minutes. Place wood chips in an aluminum tray and place on center burner of a gas grill. Turn all burners to high and close lid; keep closed until wood chips start to smoke, about 15 minutes. Leave center burner on high and turn off all other burners.

Place chickens (on beer cans) on center grate and balance using the drumsticks. Cover and grill until skin is well browned and crisp, about 40 to 60 minutes depending on the grill. Brush with glaze, cover and grill until thigh meat reaches 170 degrees on a meat thermometer, about 20 minutes longer. Wearing oven mitts, transfer chickens (still on cans) from grill to cutting board and let stand for 10 minutes. Pull chicken off the cans by holding the can while inserting tongs into the cavity and lifting the chicken from the can. Carve, serve, enjoy!

Try more Kentucky-style chicken recipes!

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Barbecued Beer-Can Chicken

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Reader Comments
Saw someone eating this at a restaurant in Napa, Ca. recently. The chicken looked really moist and delicious. Will have to make a point of trying this recipe.
Beth, Skillman, NJ
Posted: 8/24/2013 11:48:50 AM
It does sound weird but it looks pretty good.
Galadriel, Lothlorien, ME
Posted: 8/15/2013 10:33:04 PM
In my opinion, the tastiest way to cook chicken. If you haven't tried it, you've just got to make a point of it!
I like adding herbs, chopped onion and garlic into the beer can. As it boils, it flavors the beer and steam that cooks the inside of the chicken and keeps it really moist. I'm getting hungry!
Chuck, Reno, NV
Posted: 1/11/2012 2:51:04 AM
I can't wait to try this. It sounds so good.
Julia, Tampa, FL
Posted: 6/17/2010 6:27:57 AM
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