Smoked Beer Can Chicken: Easiest Recipe For The Best Taste!

Chicken is surely one of the favorite choices of BBQ dishes, next to beef, lamb, pork, etc., due to its rich nutrition. Most importantly, it tastes really good when paired with spices or vegetables!

If the usual recipes with this type of meat make you boring, why not try the new recipe – smoked beer can chicken? Jump into the next section to know more about this recipe!

Smoked Beer Can Chicken

It takes 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours to smoke – Image source: Flickr

The History And Nutrition Facts 


In fact, it is difficult to determine when and where this dish appears. It can wander in certain lands for decades before becoming as popular as it is today.

Many people believe that it originated in the American South when they discovered some similarities in cooking styles. Others believe that it comes from a certain country with strong hobo culture.

Steven Raichlen, a culinary author, contributed to the dish’s international ubiquity. In 1996, he started promoting it when he first saw the dish prepared at the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest.

Today, this dish is popular worldwide, and in each region, you may notice a difference in taste or way of preparation. In addition to the United States, it is popular in Latin American countries, Europe, and Asian countries such as China. 

Apart from the original name, people also call it Drunken Chicken, Chicken on the Throne, Beer in the Butt Chicken, etc.

Nutrition Facts

We can look at the nutritional content of this dish to see if it’s right for you. This is calculated per serving:

  • Calories: 127.0 kcal
  • Cholesterol: 66.8 mg 
  • Sodium: 66.9 mg 
  • Potassium: 204.0 mg
  • Saturated Fat: 0.8 g 
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.7 g 
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 0.9g
  • Carbohydrate: 0.3g
  • Protein: 21.6g

Overall, it carries a fairly high nutritional content. If you’re on a diet, consider it carefully before giving a try.

How To Make Smoked Beer Can Chicken 

The Ingredients

The overall information:

  • Preparation time: 30 minutes
  • Cooking time: 3 hours 30 minutes to 4 hours
  • Smoking temperature: 230°F
  • Meat finished temperature: 165°F
  • Recommended wood type: Hickory

Take out your paper and pen to take notes of what you need. Although you can substitute ingredients with similar flavored varieties, we still recommend that you prepare the classic ones to achieve the fullest and most original taste. 

These ingredients and recipe below are for about 4-pound whole chicken. If you make more or less than this, adjust the amounts according to the ratio.

  • A whole chicken
  • 12-ounce beer can or other drinks you prefer. Drink or pour half of it.
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 6 tbsp dark brown sugar 
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika 
  • 1 tbsp chili powder  
  • 1 tbsp red pepper flakes 
  • 2 tsp garlic powder 
  • 1 tsp fennel, ground and toasted 
  • 2 tbsps kosher salt 
  • 1 tbsp coarse black pepper 
  • 1/2 tbsp mustard powder 
  • 2 tbsps softened, unsalted butter or olive oil 


Before cooking, you may need to spend a bit of time preparing the seasoning mixture and the preliminary processing of the bird.

Prepare The Chicken

Take out the neck, the giblets, and anything else that was put inside the cavity. Rinse the chicken well to eliminate any lingering grime from its skin. 

Also, check out this recipe for soaking the bird in salted water overnight. It gives a rich flavor and makes its skin more crispy.

Mix a gallon of cold water with a cup of kosher salt. If you have brown sugar, add 1 cup (which is optional). Keep stirring it well until the mixture is completely dissolved.

Pour the reconstituted solution into a glass container or any non-reactive container. If salt water is not enough, you must add more according to the above ratio.

You must put the chicken in this mixture for at least 4 hours. But best, leave it on for 8 to 12 hours or overnight. After that, rinse it thoroughly with water and pat the bird dry with a paper towel.

Make Seasoning Mixture

  • Peel and smash the garlic 
  • Grind and toast the fennel
  • Mix the spices
  • You can put them in the blender to ensure they are smooth so they can penetrate it easily.


  • Preheat, the smoker to 230°F 15 minutes before smoking

Steps To Cook

For Smoker

  • Pour half of the beer into the can, add the garlic cloves, and set the can into its cavity so the bird’s legs support it.
  • If you have a charcoal grill, prepare it such that one side is hotter than the other by adding additional coals to the hotter side. 
  • On a gas barbecue, turn on one side of the burners. The grill inside ought to be between 300 and 350 °F.
  • Place the chicken on the cool side of the grill atop its beer can throne. Avoid the temptation to open the grill lid to check on the bird during the first hour of cooking. 
  • After an hour, check the chicken and ensure the temperature hasn’t gone below 300 or that your coals need to be refreshed. 
  • Put a meat thermometer into the thickest portion of the thigh to check the temperature; the bird will likely require another 30 to 40 minutes to cook. 
  • Check the temperature approximately every ten minutes for the next 30 to 40 minutes of cooking, or until it reaches 160° F.
  • Because the beer and the chicken are hot, taking the bird off the grill can be challenging. Place a cutting board near the grill and don some oven mitts. 
  • Grab the top of the bird with a pair of tongs and carefully move it onto the chopping board by sliding a sizable metal spatula beneath the beer can. 
  • Before carving and serving, let the chicken rest for ten to fifteen minutes.

For Oven

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 
  • Put the beer can-balancing spiced chicken in a roasting pan, then set the roasting pan on the bottom rack of your oven. 
  • Cook for about 1 1/2 hours, or until a thermometer registers 160° F.
  • Using tongs, remove the bird from the beer can and place it on a cutting board. 
  • Before cutting, let it rest for ten to fifteen minutes.

Useful Tips 

To help you complete this dish and avoid common mistakes, we have compiled many tips in this article. They are drawn from our own experiences and other cooking lovers.

  • The best way to spread the spices evenly on the inside and outside is to rub them together with your hands. Remember to wash your hands thoroughly before doing this.
  • This recipe is for reference only, and you can still replace it with other similar flavors, as long as they can be combined and are not harmful to health.
  • When seasoning chicken, use a sharp knife to remove the skin from the meat. Then marinate this inner skin.
  • Do not immediately carve the bird after removing it from the grill or the oven. Before carving, let it sit and rest for at least 15 minutes. It will remain juicy and moist if you do this.
  • To determine whether your chicken is fully cooked, use a meat thermometer.
  • Place a grill or oven thermometer on the smoker rack and check the cooking temperature from time to time if you’re not sure the smoker’s thermometer is accurate.
  • It takes two individuals to extract the beer can from the chicken in the simplest way. One person holds the can with tongs while the other grabs the bird with paper towels that have been crumpled up or a clean towel and pulls it off.
  • You can use soda instead of beer, such as ginger ale, citrus soda, or even root beer.
  • Make sure you finish the beer or consume half of it. This is necessary to create steam within the container to cook the chicken.
  • Make certain that the chicken is dry. When you smoke it, this will help it develop a crispy skin.
Smoked Beer Can Chicken

Dry the bird’s skin before smoking can make it more crispy – Image source: Flickr

Things You May Not Know About It 

Although beer butt chicken smoker is popular in many countries, there are myths about it that many people don’t know. Don’t miss the interesting information!

Beer Can Chicken Can Be Dangerous

As we all know, canned drinks such as beer or soft drinks are usually advised to store in a cool place and avoid high temperatures. The increase in temperature can cause the pressure they can increase; the biggest risk is causing an explosion.

For the pit boss beer can chicken, this is lightened a bit once the can has been opened. However, another danger comes from the can.

The outside of beer cans has not been tested for such use and is therefore not approved for food contact. The ink used for the labels has not been tested for toxicity or carcinogenicity when heated.

The can, though tested, is safe to drink at room temperature. Cooking them up at a high temperature is completely different in terms of the temperature and pressure to which they are subjected.

Furthermore, the tests did not prove whether the chemicals were absorbed into the chicken during cooking. At high temperatures, the emulsifier bird fat can change the composition of the heated ink or the aluminum material of the can, which is an unanswered question.

Beer Can Chicken Can Lead To Overcooked Chicken

The can and beer may transport some heat to the inside of the bird, but the thermodynamic concerns raise doubts about how much. Not much asserts “Debunking,” which goes on to highlight a discrepancy between the temperature of the bird’s innards (165 degrees F) and how much heating the exterior need to reach that temperature (180 to 190 degrees F).

Beer canning has the advantage of being a far more forgiving cooking method than either indirect grilling or spit roasting. Nota bene: beer canning is for you if you frequently overcook poultry.

Steaming Beer Won’t Keep The Chicken Moist

Many believe that smoking with beer is a fantastic way to increase the bird’s moisture. Beer, which is obviously a liquid, will undoubtedly keep the bird moist.

Although not entirely accurate, this assumption may be correct. We can say that roasting it from beer cans tastes moister than most traditional roast ones.

When cooking, some people might have forgotten about evaporation. Many people believe that the beer gets absorbed into the chicken; however, there is also a significant quantity of evaporation.

The bird must also be placed parallel to the grill of the smoker. This is necessary to cook the chicken evenly on all sides. However, it also results in a loss of water and moisture inside it, which results in less luscious meat.

Smoked Beer Can Chicken

Beer doesn’t significantly enhance the bird’s moisture – Image source: Pxhere

Beer Can Prevent The Maillard Effects

Reducing sugars and amino acids interact in the Maillard reaction, an organic chemical process, to create a complex brew of chemicals. It is this reaction that gives browned food its distinct flavor and scent. The French scientist Louis Camille Maillard is honored by having his reaction named after him.

Regarding the assertion that the beer can stops the Maillard effect, sometimes known as tasty browning, from taking place inside the cavity, 

The finest feature of a roast bird is, of course, its dark, crisp skin, and beer canning gives you all the crisp skin you could ever want because of its vertical posture and the fact that the skin on the back roasts just as well as the skin on the breast.

Choose The Smoker And Fuel 

Smoker Type

Which is the best smoker type for this dish? Should you make the beer can chicken on pellet grill?

Each type of smoker has its advantages, and we will suggest the four most popular and best for this recipe. Considering your needs and requirements, consider which is most suitable for you.

Charcoal Smoker

When it comes to the fuel that enhances flavor, charcoal and wood pellets frequently tie. This typically requires more setup, child care, and cleanup than electric or gas ones.

In most charcoal smokers, the food is suspended above the coals, and a chimney and air dampers at the top draw heat and smoke across the meal. To successfully smoke with charcoal, one must regulate the flow of smoke and air. 


  • Create a deep smoky flavor
  • Various sizes and types
  • Get an authentic smoker ring.


  • Take time to care and clean
  • Need to prepare the charcoal before cooking

Charcoal smoker is ideal for original taste – Image source: Wikimedia

Gas Smoker

Gas smokers, like electric smokers, don’t produce smoke naturally. Hence wood chips are required to impart the smokey flavor. Most gas smokers are constructed in the “cabinet style,” with the chimney and dampers at the top and the burner and vents at the bottom. 

The gas is transferred from the bottle to the cooking area via a manifold. Then, as it emerges from the burner valves, it is lit.


  • Simple to use and clean
  • Easy-to-control temperature
  • Fast preparation


  • Can’t produce wonderful taste as pellet or charcoal type
  • It can be dangerous to use in a poorly ventilated area

Electric Smoker

With certain higher-end types of electric smokers, you can control the temperature and time through a Bluetooth app and then get a beer while the work is done.

Instead of using combustible fuel, electric smokers use a heating element to produce heat. The smoke arises from wood chips that are hung above the heating element because no actual combustion occurs.


  • Convenient and easy to use
  • Requires no fuel
  • Consistent temperature and can be controlled remotely


  • Can’t get the “real” smoky flavor
  • It can’t create an extreme crispy taste

Pellet Smoker

A rather high-tech mix of an oven and a smoker are pellet smokers. They combine the superior convenience of an electronic smoker with the added smoky flavor of real combustion.

Its ability to serve as an oven, grill, and smoker makes it an all-in-one cooking appliance, one of its many wonderful advantages. Pellet smokers use built-in thermometers to maintain a constant temperature for the best flavor; the tasty beer can chicken pit boss smoker, for example. 


  • Best flavor with a woody taste
  • Versatile for multi-purpose
  • Easy to clean after use


  • Cost you more than Charcoal one
  • Wood pellet isn’t easy to find

Which Fuel Should I Use?

And to make the beer butt chicken smoker, it’s essential to choose the fuel. The fuel type will be fixed if you use a smoker that runs on gas, electricity, or charcoal. However, for wood uses such as pellet one, the type of wood you use will give a different smoky taste.

  • Apple: It has a mellow flavor and is sweet and mild. Expect several hours of smoking because the taste of apple smoke takes some time to saturate the meat.
  • Cherry: It will bring you a mild and fruity taste. When Cherry is combined with another hardwood, like hickory, the two flavors complement one another to provide a wonderful outcome. 
  • Oak: The traditional choice for smoking meat is oak. It will often give a medium to strong flavor but is not overbearing.
  • Hickory: It has a bacon-like flavor and is substantial, salty, and sweet. However, use caution because too much hickory flavor may make your meat taste more bitter.
  • Maple: For a light, sweet and mild smokiness, Maple is a great choice. It will produce a more subdued smoke flavor and is one of the mildest smoking woods.


Can We Replace Beer With Others?

Even though you know this is a beer can chicken, can you substitute this drink for something else? In some special cases, you don’t have a beer or are allergic to it.

Generally, beer and bird combine to make smoked beer can chicken Traeger. Still, the actual allure of this method is that because the chicken is perched atop an aluminum can, its fluids run down rather than pooling around it as they would in a baking dish or roasting pan. The outcome is its skin that is crispy all over.

It doesn’t matter what’s in the can as long as it has flavor. You can choose a half-full can of lemon-lime soda or even a half-full mason jar of chicken stock when she is sober. Try a can of Dr. Pepper if rich and caramel flavors are more your style. 

If you’re against beer but not against alcohol, you can step things up by removing the soda from the can and replacing it with aromatic white wine, lemon juice, orange peel, and rosemary. However, you could simply put those ingredients in a wine can today.

What Should I Serve This Dish With?

What should you use with beer can chicken on pellet smoker to have a wonderful dinner? 

Here are a few suggestions that will help you. Pick out one or a few of your favorite dishes to accompany your BBQ party:

  • Mac and cheese: This is the quintessential American side dish and goes superbly with everything from fillet steak to beer can chicken. And you shouldn’t miss the Jalapeno Mac and cheese recipe, which is creamy, filling, and cozy.
  • Garlic potato salad: It is a traditional, summery side dish that tastes delicious, either hot or cold. You will roast sweet and tiny potatoes till they turn crisp and fluffy, and cover them with lots of garlic oil & vinegar, herbs, etc.
  • Marmite roast potatoes: These roasties will win a well-deserved spot among your favorite side dishes thanks to the Marmite, which contributes to the roasties’ golden color and umami depth of flavor. 
  • Mexican street corn coleslaw: With the delicious combination of sweet charred corn and salty, tangy feta cheese, this Mexican street corn salad is smoky, creamy, and sweet.
  • Greek salad: Simply chop the cucumber, tomatoes, and red onion, then combine them with the feta cheese and olives. You can garnish a salad with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and either fresh or dried oregano. 
Greek salad will balance the taste of smoked chicken - Image source: Flickr
Greek salad will balance the taste of smoked chicken – Image source: Flickr


You’ve got the best smoked beer can chicken recipe. Remember, the seasonings in the recipe above can all be changed to suit your family’s taste. As mentioned above, the original taste is always worth trying.

Don’t forget to check the tips to finish this simply and conveniently. Furthermore, it would be better if this is served with additional ones.

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