Beer-Can Chicken

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So I think I’ve mentioned that the July “Grilling” issue of Bon Appétit is my favorite issue of the year (followed by a close second is the Thanksgiving issue).  This July’s has already produced infamous Sriracha-Glazed Chicken Skewers and the Beer-Can Chicken recipe had been taunting me for too long.  So I decided to make it one Saturday a couple weeks ago.  

Tony and I had been running around doing errands and stopped in at our local Sprouts Farmer’s Market to pick up the ingredients for dinner (the chicken and our fave Broccoli Slaw).  Sprouts is a chain of smallish grocery stores that specialize in organic, natural and healthy products.  Which is great – we bought a Rosie Brand “sustainably farmed, free range, organic, hormone and antibiotic-free” chicken, but the recipe calls for a can of light lager beer and Sprouts had a great selection of expensive bottled craft beers, but the only beer in cans they had was 12-packs of Pabst Blue Ribbon. (Seriously?  PBR?  I know PBR has become quite the hipster beer lately with most trendy, cool bars serving it, but really? A 12-pack?  All I needed was one can!)

1/2 can PBR + 4-3-2-1 Spice Rub = 1 delicious chicken

1/2 can PBR + 4-3-2-1 Spice Rub = 1 delicious chicken

Okay, fine.  So we took our expensive sustainably farmed, organic, free range chicken and our 12-pack of PBR home.  And you know what?  This chicken is DE-licious.  Incredibly delicious. And so easy and simple.  It’s moist and tender.  The steam from the beer and the salt in the rub just lock in all the juices.  And the skin gets all browned and crisp.  In the famous words of Colonel Sanders, “it’s finger licking good”.  Literally.  We were pulling meat off the bones and licking our fingers.  Tony claimed it was the best chicken he had ever had anywhere.  I’m still torn between this and the Sriracha skewers, but we’ll definitely be making this again.  And again.

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Well, what can I say? It IS called Beer-Can Chicken!

And the PBR wasn’t so bad either.

Beer-Can Chicken

(Bon Appétit, July 2013)


1 can light lager beer

1 3 1/2- to 4-pound chicken (buy the best quality chicken you can find)

2 tablespoons 4-3-2-1 Spice Rub (recipe follows)

 Special equipment: A foil baking pan (for drip pan)


Pour out (or drink) half of beer (guess which I opted for?  Lol.)  Tip:  if you use a can opener to remove the whole top of the beer can, it’ll maximize the boozy vapors that make it to the chicken

Prepare grill for high, indirect heat and fit with grill pan (for a charcoal grill, bank coals on 1 side of grill and put drip pan on empty side; for a gas grill, leave 1 burner turned off and place drip pan over unlit burner). Add water to pan to a depth of 1/2″.

Season chicken with 2 tablespoons 4-3-2-1 Spice Rub. Place cavity of chicken, legs pointing down, onto open can so that it supports chicken upright. Place can, with chicken, on grill over indirect heat (and above drip pan). Grill chicken, covered, until cooked through and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of thigh registers 165°F, 45-60 minutes. (If using charcoal, you may need to add more to maintain heat.) Let chicken rest 10 minutes before carving. Serve with pan drippings.

4-3-2-1 Spice Rub

You can use this simple formula to sass up plenty of things that aren’t poultry, like pork, steak, or vegetables.


4 tablespoons kosher salt

3 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons sweet paprika

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper


Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.  Makes enough spice rub for two whole chickens. Double or triple the recipe and use it all summer.  Keep the leftover in a tightly covered jar or container.


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