Beer Can Chicken

January 10, 2011

I made Beer Can Chicken on a Charcoal Grill last September. Inexplicably, the Cook’s Illustrated recipe yielded 4 times the amount of spice rub necessary to make the one chicken. Not realizing that I was only supposed to use 3 tablespoons, I accidentally made the chicken inedibly hot. It was one of my lowest-rated recipes; receiving only 2-1/2 stars. But today I corrected the problems (I used the correct amount of spice rub) and it came out much better. 3-1/2 stars. The exterior of the chicken was perfectly seasoned (up around 4-to-4-1/2 stars), but still, the interior of the chicken was a little bland, and even needed salt.

Flavorful, but simple meal.

The appeal of this recipe is that it requires minimal effort; and I mean minimal. Just mix together the spice rub, loosen the skin of the chicken and apply the rub. Stand it vertically on a beer can and roast in the oven for about 1-1/2 hours. Let the chicken rest for 15 minutes before carving.


  1. Chris Kimball’s recipe yields enough spice rub for 3 to 4 chickens. He recommends storing the extra, but I pared the recipe down for one chicken. I don’t have any extra cupboard space.
  2. The spices didn’t penetrate into the interior of the chicken, rather it was just a little more than skin deep. Next time I will work all of the spice rub under the skin, and let the spice rub sit on the chicken for 2 hours.
  3. While Chris Kimball recommends a 12-oz can on beer, I used a tall-boy beer because that’s what I had on hand. The chicken stood well out of it’s juices, but requires extra care when taking the temperature. Either a 12-oz or 16-oz can will work.
  4. I used my cheap baking sheet (good ones were still dirty from cookies). It warped, but fortunately not enough to tip the chicken over.

Rating: 3-1/2 stars.
Cost: $7.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess?  Low.
Start time 4:30 PM. Dinner time 6:45 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. The descriptions of how I cooked it today are given below:

Spice Rub:
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1/2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoons ground celery seed
1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoons cayenne pepper

1 whole chicken (about 4 to 4-1/2 pounds)
1 can beer (12-ounce)
2 bay leaf
Large disposable aluminum baking pan (13 by 10-inch)

  1. Combine all the spice rub ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Pat the chicken dry and work the skin over the breast free. (next time will work the skin free from the entire chicken).
  3. Massage the spice rub all over the chicken directly onto the meat. Sprinkle at most one tablespoon of spice rub over the skin. Let the chicken sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. (will increase to 2 hours)
  4. With oven rack on lowest position, preheat to 350-degrees for 20 minutes.
  5. Open the beer and drink about 1/3 of the can (1/4 cup). With a churchkey open two more holes in the top of the beer can (there will be three holes total).
  6. Rip the bay leaves a few times and add into beer can. Slide the chicken over the can so that the drumsticks reach down to the bottom of the can and the chicken stands upright.
  7. Place the disposable aluminum pan over a baking sheet, then place the chicken (sitting ontop of the can) in oven with the breast-side facing outward.
  8. Bake at 350-degrees until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh shows 175 degrees. About 85 minutes.
  9. Using two wad of paper towels, keeping the can upright, transfer the chicken to a platter or tray; let chicken rest for 15 minutes on it’s beer can throne.
  10. Carefully lift the chicken off the beer can and place onto a platter or cutting board. Dump the remaining beer and discard or recycle the can.
  11. Carve the chicken and serve.

Vertical chicken standing in my (dirty) oven.

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