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Want to make the best dang chicken you’ve ever eaten? Try a beer can chicken on the grill. It’s pretty simple. You first cover the chicken with your favorite spice rub. I use Steven Raichlen’s basic BBQ rub of brown sugar (1/4c), sweet paprika (1/4c), pepper (3tbs), sea salt (3tbs), garlic powder (2tsp), onion powder (2tsp), cayenne pepper (1tsp). Then, you shove a can of beer (you can also use a soda) up the chicken’s butt with half of the liquid left inside. Poke extra holes in the top of the can and put a few spoons of your rub inside the liquid. The bird is then placed on the grill, resting tripod-style, on the base of the can and its two legs. And yes, it does look like it’s sitting on the toilet, and yes, your guests, your kids will get a good laugh out of how goofy it looks (but they won’t be laughing after they start eating).

Place the chicken on one side of the grill with the opposite side burners on (i.e. indirect heat). Cook for about 1-1/2 hours, or until 180-degrees internal. You’ll need to turn the chicken around every 1/4 hr so so that it cooks evenly. Some people like to use a drip pan underneath to catch and revaporize all of the liquid. Also: If you’re concerned about the aluminum can and its paint, etc., you can use a soup-type can with the paper label removed (just make sure it’s the kind that doesn’t have a white plastic lining).

Note: Some people stuff the neck cavity of their chicken with meats (sausage) or fruit/vegetables (onion, apple). To me, this diminishes the chimney effect that the beer can method is designed to take advantage of. The organic chickens I get usually have a big skin flap at the neck. I use that to close off most of the hole so that all of the juices don’t vent away.

Below is one Instructable for beer can chicken. There are others and lots of other resources online about it. Everyone has their own variation.


Beer Can Chicken

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture, including the first book about the web (Mosaic Quick Tour) and the Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Building Robots. He is currently working on a best-of collection of his writing, called Borg Like Me.


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