Talk to me about beer can chicken

To put this into context, I’d heard the name “beer can chicken” a few times but didn’t know what precisely it described until it came up on a Dope thread a few days ago (don’t recall which). There I learned that the recipe calls for a beer can to be greased, opened, and shoved up into a chicken’s gutspace, where it will (1) serve as a base for the chicken to sit on the grill and (2) boil over and steam the chicken from inside.

This seemed kind of odd to me, so I asked my wife if she’d heard of it. She said it sounded to her like “bachelor food,” the kind of thing a lazy grill chef would come up with while BSing with friends. “Hey, let’s stick a beer can up the chicken’s ass! Ha ha ha!”

But in the thread, people were vouching for the tasty quality of the resulting chicken, so I had to wonder if there wasn’t something to it after all. Googling beer can chicken produced a number of variations— some called for crushed garlic to be dropped into the beer, some suggested rubbing the outside with lemon and pepper, and so on— but they all had in common the insertion of said can into said cavity, the use of indirect heat (ring of charcoal around drip pan), and the covering of the chicken with a lid or saucepan while it cooks. And all of them said it was delicious.

So I call upon the Dope’s grillmeisters to confirm that this recipe results in yummy, tender, chicken on the grill. Also, a couple of questions: Should one rub the outside of the bird with something? Oil for crispiness, or citrus for flavor? And does it matter what kind of beer one uses? One of the concerns my wife and I both had while we were discussing the idea is that “beer in a can” is almost by definition cheap and nasty. We both prefer micros in bottles, and can’t abide the typical MGD/Bud/etc that represents the beer in a can in this country.

I’m curious about the recipe, and I’d like to try it, but I’m also kind of skeptical; it just sounds so odd. But if the collective Dopership vouches for it, I’ll give it a shot. What say y’all?

I’ve had it and it’s delicious. If you don’t want to use domestic canned beer Heineken and a couple of the Mexican brands are available in cans in my supermarket.

The type of beer doesn’t really matter anyway. You’re not going to drink it and it just adds a tinge of beery flavor.

We did salt and pepper and garlic the inside and outside of the bird. The recipe I had called for the can to be half empty. Have fun. Let us know how it turns out.

I’ll vouch that it does indeed result in a very moist bird.

And the best part is, it doesn’t have to be beer, and it doesn’t have to be a can(I believe someone is making a commercial version that is basically a weighted stainless steel container to contain the liquid). You can use any flavorful liquid, and you can flavor the skin how you wish, but beer does impart a little of a hoppy taste to the chicken, almost herbal in flavor.

You can also use the oven instead of the grill. Just think of it as roasting a chicken with added moisture inserted directly into the middle of the chicken.

Now just opening a can o’ beer and slapping the bird on the grill is probably ideal when cooking out in the back yard, but there are alternatives(try starting it in a really hot oven to crisp the skin and retain the moisture, then turn the heat down and roast like normal).

I do season the beer with aromatics and rub the skin with oil to help it crisp, the flavor of the liquid gets infused throughout the chicken. I have even heard of people using tea as the liquid which sounds interesting.

My father-in-law makes beer can chicken regularly, and it is good stuff. You do need to use cheap-ass beer (the beer doesn’t so much impart its flavor to the chicken as just make it nice and moist) and I you need to, um, dispose of about 1/4 of the beer before starting. Then, using a churchkey can opener, punch 2 more holes in the top of the beer can. Use whatever dry seasoning you prefer on the chicken skin, and maybe in the cavity, and then impale the chicken on the can. The drumsticks will help it stand up – it makes sort of a tripod.

You can cook it on the barbeque, or in a 350 degree oven for up to 90 minutes – check it after the first hour, though.

Voila! But you don’t want to drink the rest of the beer from that can. :eek:

Lovely thing, the beer can. So very useful. As others have said, beer can chicken is yummy! I use Tecate as the beer, just because I refuse to have Bud/Miller/Coors in the house too often, but any cheap beer will do. Heiniken would be a waste of an adequate beer. I rub garlic over the bird, inside and out, and add a few dashes of hot sauce or Tiger Sauce to the beer. A little oil on the skin, fire up the Weber, and dinner is served! If you really want to get into it, there are books filled with different recipes, but all calling for the can.

[Randy Quaid]

Hey Clark, wanna beer?

Sorry, it’s kinda warm…

[/Randy Quaid]

Correct my thinking if it’s wrong here, but wouldn’t not opening the beer can have the added benefit of tenderizing the chicken as well?

I just made this for the first time last weekend so I thought I would chime in with what I learned. I read a bunch of recipes of the net and cribbed together my own and inevitably I made a few wrong choices.

Some recipes called for taking the entire top of the beer instead of cutting holes with an opener. They also recommended oiling the can. Let me just say it very difficult and very comical trying to get a greased chicken on to a greased can which now has an irregular opening. Use the church key.

Also some recipes called for a tall or super can of beer. We went with that but I can’t image why, also it made the chicken too close to the top of the bbq and I almost couldn’t close it.

Lastly I don’t know if it was because my grill (gas) was too hot or my bird was too small but that sucker was done in about 40 minutes, wayyy less than stated in most of the recipes.

I would definitely make it again though. Very moist and crispy skin, delicious. Oh and I threw some basil, garlic and lemon under the skin and in the can.

[Michael Caine]You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off![/Michael Caine]

Actually, Tako the Octopus on Deep Fried Live did this one as his first cooking experiment, chose the “Exotic Birds” episode

My sister makes a modification of beer can chicken with a can of ginger ale, since she’s a teetotaller. To the ginger ale, she adds additional chopped ginger, chopped garlic and a dash of chili sauce or a healthy dose of Tabasco. The chicken is dosed with salt and pepper and, if the mood strikes, some lime juice, giving the whole thing an Asian flavor.

I’m a vegetarian, so I can’t personally vouch for the goodness of this recipe, but FWIW, the carnivores in my family clamor for this dish and beg for it at all family gatherings. It’s so requested that I even acquiesced to allow my oven to be used so that my sister could make it for the carnivore contingent last Thanksgiving, and I’ll admit that it smelled pretty good, for, you know, the seared flesh of a poor, decapitated dead bird. :smiley:

Ooohh. Beer can chicken sounds tasty.

I want some beer can chicken.

Can I have some beer can chicken? Plllleeeeeeeaaaaaasssseee?

We usually toss a lemon half on top of the can and rub the skin with some sort of seasoning. I prefer to lightly coat the chicken with mayo, then really hose it with some Emeril’s Southwest Essence, but we’ve done it lots of ways.

In the future, I plan to experiment with Dr. Pepper chicken, although I do hate to sacrifice a can of something as tasty as Dr. Pepper.

Beer can chicken is very moist and yummy.

Put a couple of pieces of lemon peel in the beer for variety. Lemon pepper on the outside of the chicken, or a spice rub like Jamaican Jerk. It is best if you can get the skin off, apply the spice coating to the flesh, then drape the skin back over the thing and put it on the grill.

I tried tandoori turkey with the beer can inside, which was not successful. Very difficult to get the turkey set up correctly, and between the sealing of the tandoori coating and the beer can inside, it came out too moist - almost sloppy. Then again, I like my turkey fairly dry.

But by all means, try it with chicken. Very nice stuff.


Since Mr. Winnie will let nothing lighter than Guinness enter our home, we use Guinness for the beer can chicken. And I can testify that it comes out unbelievably good.

Side note/question: Doesn’t the burning of aluminum and inhalation of the fumes possibly contribute to Alzheimer’s? Is this not a concern here because possibly the chicken “wrapper” prevents the can from reaching the critical temperature?

Who cares, if it’s yummy? :stuck_out_tongue:

Thanks for the info, folks. Sounds like something we’ll have to try.

You’re not going to burn aluminum in a barbecue; you’re not even going to melt it. And aluminum does NOT contribute to Alzheimer’s disease.

And uh, there’s that shiny stuff too, that people use… Mainly for hats, yes, but also sometimes for cooking…

On The Splendid Table, Lynn Rosetto-Casper’s public radio food show, a guy who had written a beercan chicken cookbook was featured. He said he had a recipe for Cornish hens with pineapple juice cans. He did a turkey with (what else?) a huge can of Foster’s.