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Beer Can Chicken Recipe

This oddly named and drunkenly conceived recipe produces the tenderest, most flavorful chicken you're ever likely to encounter.


  • 1 large whole chicken (approx. 4 to 5 pounds)
  • 3-4 tablespoons of your favorite dry barbecue rub
  • 2 six-packs of beer


  1. Keep one six-pack of beer in the refrigerator or on ice. Take out the other 6-pack, set aside one can of beer, then open the others, pour them into frosted mugs or steins, and distribute them to your guests — being sure to keep one for yourself.
  2. Remove and discard the fat from the chicken body cavity. Do whatever you want with the giblets, but remove them, too. Rinse the chicken thoroughly inside and out under running water, drain, and blot dry.
  3. Sprinkle 1 T of the dry rub inside the body cavity, and rub another 1 T on the skin. Cover and place in the refrigerator while you prepare the grill.
  4. Set up your grill for indirect grilling:
    Light the coals. When the coals are blazing red, use tongs to transfer them into 2 piles on opposite sides of the grill. Let the coals burn down until they're covered with a thin layer of gray ash. Set the drip pan in the center of the grill, between the mounds of coals. Place the food on the grate over the drip pan, and cover the grill. You will need to add about 10 to 12 fresh charcoal briquettes to each side after about an hour of cooking. To add a smoky flavor, add 1 to 2 cups or 2 to 4 chunks of presoaked wood chips to the coals just before starting to cook, and add wood chips again when you add more coals.
  5. If using a charcoal grill, wait until the charcoals provide a medium heat. If using a gas grill, place all the wood chips in the smoker box and preheat the grill to high; when smoke appears, lower the heat to medium.
  6. Open the beer can by pulling the pop tab, then use a "church key" type can opener to make half a dozen additional holes in the top of the can. Pour out about an inch of beer (drinking it is encouraged), then drop the remaining dry rub through the holes into the beer. Hold the chicken upright, with the opening of the body cavity down, and stick the beer can up into the chicken's body cavity.
  7. If you're using charcoal, put half the wood chips on the coals. Oil the grill grate, then place the chicken on the center of the hot grate, standing upright, over the drip pan. Spread the legs outward to help support the chicken.
  8. Cover the grill and cook for about 2 hours. If you're using charcoal, add 10 to 12 fresh coals on each charcoal pile, and add the remaining wood chips after 1 hour.
  9. The chicken should be so tender it's almost falling off the bone. Using tongs, very carefully remove the chicken to a platter or cutting board, supporting the beer can with a metal spatula held underneath the chicken.
  10. Remove and discard the beer can (including any remaining beer). Break out the other 6-pack of beer from the refrigerator while you let the chicken stand for 5 minutes.
  11. Carve and serve with your favorite side dishes.
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