The Secret to Grilling Beer Can Chicken

Crack open a cold one—and share with your chicken.

Beer Can Chicken
Beer Can Chicken. Photo: jdwfoto/Getty Images

The moisture and flavor of a pale beer is an ideal cooking partner for a whole chicken you want to throw on the grill. The can supports the chicken so it stands upright, allowing the bird to roast evenly while you sit back and enjoy a beer of your own.

Watch: How to Make Grilled Potato Salad

Step 1: Prep the Grill

If you're using a charcoal or wood burning grill, establish the fire on one side of the grill, leaving the other half without any open flames underneath. If you're using a gas grill, turn all of the burners on high to preheat the grill, but turn off the burners underneath the side that you will roast the chicken on before placing the chicken on the grill.

Step 2: Prep the Chicken

Remove any of the giblets of the chicken and rinse the bird thoroughly both inside and out. Pat the bird dry with paper towels and season the inside and outside of the bird generously with salt and pepper. Apply your favorite dry rub or seasoning to the bird and allow it to rest with the seasoning on for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, open a beer can and empty (or drink) half of the beer from the can. Use a can opener to remove the entire top of the beer can, being careful of the sharp edge this creates.

Step 3: Grill the Chicken

Place the beer can underneath the bird and fit the can inside the cavity, using the bird's two legs and the base of the can to create leverage so it stands upright. Transfer the bird with the beer can to the side of the grill without open flames directly underneath; cover the grill and cook the chicken for about an hour and 15 minutes, until the thickest portion of the chicken thigh registers at 165°F. (If using charcoal, you may need to add coals in the middle of the cooking process to maintain heat.) If you want to flavor the bird with barbecue sauce, during the last 30 minutes of roasting, brush the chicken with your favorite barbecue sauce a few times.

Step 4: Rest the Chicken

It is crucial to let the chicken rest for 15 minutes before carving—this prevents the chicken from losing the juices that make for a tender and succulent piece of meat. After resting, discard the beer can and serve alongside your favorite grilled sides.

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