If you’ve never had Beer Can Chicken, you should start now, particularly with a few tips I’ve included here. Whether on the grill or in the oven, this cooking method results in really juicy meat and 360* of crispy skin. This method of cooking chicken became popular in the 1990s, but it’s still legit, in my opinion, despite what Wikipedia says about it (haters). Don’t call it a comeback!
The variations here are endless. I most recently prepped a chicken by marinating it in 2 cups of milk kefir (feel free to sub plain yogurt or a can of coconut milk), 1 tablespoon of kosher salt, and 3 tablespoons Tandoori seasoning (make your own or buy one).
You’ll even be happy keeping this incredibly simple – just rinse your chicken and pat it dry with paper towels. Give it a spray of coconut oil (or whatever cooking spray you like/have), and season it generously with salt and pepper, seasoned salt, or anything with the words “chicken” or “poultry” seasoning in the title.
This is optional, but well worth it. I’ve owned a few junky injectors in my life, but I finally found one worth owning. The single greatest tip I ever received about injecting meat is this “use a liquid you wouldn’t mind tasting when warm”. This primarily means don’t use beer, or anything that tastes really gross if it’s warm. Better options: juice (apple, orange, pineapple), stock (chicken or vegetable), or even soda (but not diet!!). I used ginger beer in my tandoori marinated chicken, which was one of the better ideas I’ve had lately. Here’s another pro tip: put some of whatever seasoning you’re using IN the liquid you inject.
- Marinate in soy sauce, garlic, and ginger & inject with pineapple juice.
- Season with fajita or taco seasoning, inject with lime juice and garlic.
- Season with this John Henry’s chicken tickler seasoning, inject with apple juice (and more seasoning!).
Beer Can Chicken
- 1 whole chicken, rinsed and patted dry, seasoned as you like
- 1 12oz can of beer
Preheat your grill on high. I have a gas grill with three burners, and I turn on all three to get it nice and hot. We are grilling this chicken over indirect heat, so once your grill is hot, turn off the middle burner, or if you’re using charcoal, spread the charcoal into a ring around the edge of your grill. Read more about indirect grilling methods here.
Open the can of beer and pour out 1/2 (drink it). Sit the chicken down over the beer can like it’s a chicken puppet. It should stand up comfortably, using the legs like little kickstands. If this causes you grief, buy one of these.
Carefully transfer your beer/chicken puppet gizmo to the grill. You can also do this in the oven – you’re shooting for about 375* no matter the cooking vessel. The chicken is going to take about 90 minutes start to finish, depending on all sorts of factors, so use that as a guide. Give it a quarter turn every 15 minutes, but keep the lid closed otherwise (if you’re doing this in the oven you don’t need to turn it that often, maybe once or twice depending on how even your oven cooks things).
I highly recommend buying one of these instant probe thermometers – oh, I know that one is really expensive. This is an almost as good substitute. Use it to temp your chicken in the breast, the thick part of the thigh, and in the leg. You’re aiming for at least 160*.
Once the chicken is done, carefully transfer it to a cutting board and bring it inside. Let it rest for at least 20 minutes, then use two pairs of tongs, a towel, a friend, or whatever else you need to pry the beer can out of the chicken (I recommend doing this over the sink, don’t ask how I know that). Carve it up and enjoy!