The Almighty Beer-Can Chicken


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A popular method of cooking chicken in recent years both in Barbeque contest as well as backyard barbeques is the beer-can chicken. Cooking a beer-can chicken couldn’t be any easier but the results are worthwhile. This is a technique that delivers a moist, succulent chicken and flavorful chicken. It’s also a bit of a showstopper and makes a lively conversation starter as well. Is it chicken in a beer can? Close but try beer can in a chicken. The beer is used to both keep the bird flavorful and moist, and the cook happy. By the time the bird is ready to eat, the chef will not be the only one with a beer belly!

Is it safe to eat chicken that has been in contact with the ink from a beer can? When the FDA was asked this question they were not sure because they have only tested the cans as a container and not as a cooking utensil. However the ink on the cans is applied at a temperature in excess of 500 degrees while the can never get hotter then 215 degrees during the cooking process. The conclusion by most is that there is nothing harmful in using the cans.

For those cooks who still worry about possible contamination, vertical stainless steel chicken roasters are available. These roasters have their own reservoir for beer, water or your choice of liquid.

1 whole chicken
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons of your favorite dry spice rub
1 can beer

Preparing the chicken
Remove and discard neck and giblets from chicken. Rinse chicken inside and out, and pat dry with paper towels. Rub or brush the chicken lightly with oil then season inside and out with salt, pepper and dry rub.

Open a can of beer and drink half. Wait 5 minutes then drink the other half and open a second can for the chicken. Drink half of the second beer and reserve remainder of beer for the bird. Using a “church key"-style can opener, pop a few more holes in the top of the can so that the moisture will be able to escape.

With the can on a steady surface, lower the chicken onto the can. It should stand on it’s own using the legs and can as a tri-pod. Refrigerate the bird while you get your grill or smoker setup.

Preparing the grill
Whether you intend to grill or smoke the bird, the goal is indirect heat. No coals or burner directly under the chicken. Place a drip pan under where you intend the bird to sit. If you are grilling, turn the burners to medium-high on one side of your grill and place the bird on the other side.

Cooking the chicken
Continue to cook the chicken over medium-high with the grill cover on for approximately 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 hours. The chicken will be done when the internal temperature registers 165 degrees F in the breast area and 180 degrees F in the thigh. Remove from grill with tongs and move to cutting board. Be careful not to spill the beer when removing the can. Let the chicken rest for 5-10 minutes before carving. Toss the beer can out along with the carcass.

Scott Schirkofsky is the chef and owner of At Home Gourmet. You can find more recipes, cooking tips, food and beverage articles on his highly recommended website: Scott is also the owner of and


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