Propping a whole chicken on an open can of beer and slow-roasting it on the grill to make beer can chicken may seem a bit wacky, but the result is incredible. Chef Adam Perry Lang says the beer vapors do little to moisten beer can chicken; rather, the vertical position of the bird allows its juices to flow down over the breast, keeping it succulent. Plus: More Grilling Recipes and Tips

April 2005


Credit: Photo by Andrew Bui / Food Styling by Max Rappaport

Recipe Summary test

2 hrs
4 hrs 30 mins


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Rub the Garlicky Barbecue Marinade all over the chicken and refrigerate overnight, or for 4 hours at room temperature.

  • Bring the chicken to room temperature and sprinkle the Seven-Spice Dry Rub all over the skin.

  • Light a charcoal fire in a covered grill and set it up for indirect grilling: When the temperature reaches 225°, carefully push the hot coals to one side and place a drip pan filled with 1 cup of water on the opposite side. Alternatively, bring a smoker to 225°. Discard (or drink) half of the beer. Stand the chicken upright on the can, with its legs pointing down.

  • Transfer the chicken on the beer can to the grill, setting it over the drip pan and cover the grill; you'll need to cook the chicken for about 3 hours total. To maintain the temperature at 225°, replenish the charcoal with a fresh batch of burning coals every hour. Add more water to the drip pan when half of it is evaporated. After the first 45 minutes, rotate the chicken, then drain 1/2 cup of the wood chips and scatter them over the coals. After another 45 minutes, drain and scatter the remaining wood chips over the coals. Rotate the chicken again, and spray the chicken with the Cider Mop Spray. Rotate and spray the bird twice more, at 45-minute intervals. The chicken is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted in an inner thigh registers 165°. Remove and discard the beer can. Transfer the bird to a carving board; let rest for 20 minutes.

  • Remove the drip pan from the grill. Stoke the coals and spread them in an even layer. Replenish with fresh coals to make a medium-hot fire. Cut the chicken in half through the backbone and brush it all over with the diluted Sweet and Sticky Barbecue Sauce. Grill the chicken, skin side down, until lightly charred. Turn and brush it with more sauce. Continue grilling, brushing and turning until the chicken skin is crisp and glazed, about 15 minutes. Serve at once.

Suggested Pairing

A chilled beer such as Lager would be a refreshing choice.