Grill-Roasted Beer Can Chicken

I’ve heard of beer can chicken all the way back to my college days, but never imagined actually using the technique myself. That is until I saw it on ATK; it looked so easy, and the result certainly looked delicious. The theory behind this is that the beer steams the interior cavity keeping the chicken moist. Because it is vertically roasted, there is no flipping required. It’s all just unattended grilling time. With busy fall schedules in full swing, that’s exactly what I want for this midweek meal.

Very moist and flavorful; but the seasoning portion of the recipe is problematic.

Recipe is here. Soak the wood chunks for an hour, then start a full chimney starter about 30 minutes later. Mix spice rub (cut the recipe down by three-quarters, i.e. use 2 tablespoons of paprika instead of 1/2 cup). Work skin free from chicken and apply spice rub below skin and inside cavity. Apply any remaining spice rub on-top of skin. Drink 1/4-cup from 12-ounce beer can, and open two more holes in top. Sit the chicken vertically onto beer can. Put disposable aluminum pan in center of BBQ and pour coals evenly on both sides. Sit chicken in middle of the grill over the pan, which will catch any drippings. Cover and roast until the thigh meat reaches 175-degrees; between 1 and 2 hours depending upon the size of the chicken. Let rest on beer can for 15 minutes, before carving and serving.


  1. Unfortunately, the recipe yields 1 cup of spice rub, about 5 times the 3 tablespoons required for making one chicken. I cut the recipe in half (and used a 7 pound chicken), but there was still much to much spice rub.
  2. The recipe calls for a 3-1/2 pound chicken, but I used a 7-pound chicken. Unfortunately, I used 6 tablespoons of spice rub, which was a mistake. The chicken was way too spicy; inedible from my kid’s perspective. Hot, hot, hot like jerk chicken.

I find it extremely wasteful for the recipe to yield 5 times more spice rub than required for one chicken. I would much rather measure out what I need today, than store this specialized mix in my undersized pantry. I can go no higher than 2-1/2 stars, but this is at least partially based upon my error, not entirely the fault of the recipe. As cooked, there was no depth of flavor; only extreme heat.  I’d estimate this recipe could be 4-stars once the spice rub issues are resolved. It’s ease makes me want to try again; I’ll post again next time I try.

Rating: 2-1/2 stars.
Cost: $6.50.
How much work? Very Low.
How big of a mess?  Low.
Started: 4:45 PM.  Ready:  7:00 PM.

Chicken still resting on it's beer can throne.

6 Responses to Grill-Roasted Beer Can Chicken

  1. Malena says:

    HI! I was wondering if you’ve got any cupcake recipe. My dad and me tried to make some, but they burned down.

  2. […] made Beer Can Chicken on a Charcoal Grill last September. Inexplicably, the Cook’s Illustrated recipe yielded 4 times the amount of spice rub […]

  3. Julie says:

    Was going to make the spice rub and thought this must be a misprint . So much paprika and so little salt. Chris has never let me down before. This just doesn’t seem right. Will go with common sense today. Interesting idea doing a year with atk

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