Smoked Beer Can Chicken

Smoked Beer Can Chicken

Beer can chicken a.k.a drunken chicken is a fun and easy cook on your smoker or grill. You just need to make sure you have enough clearance to close the lid over a chicken that is going to be standing up. If you want to avoid knocking over the chicken while it’s balanced on a beer can, purchase a cheap beer can holder rack. These come in various sizes so you can get a single or double holder. If you are going to smoke the chicken, you can do low and slow 235F – 250F for around 4 – 5 hours. The skin will be a bit rubbery but you can sear it on high heat at the end of the smoke. For this recipe we’ll run a little hotter at 300F for about 3 1/2 hours. This makes the skin more crispy but gives enough time for some smoke flavor. If you cook this on a grill, it should be done indirectly. For flavoring, this recipe adds herbs and garlic to the beer cans. But you can use citrus or chili peppers or whatever you like.


  • 2 whole chickens
  • 2 cans of beer
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • 6 sprigs rosemary
  • 4 sprigs sage

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First, let’s get the most difficult step out of the way. Drink 2 cans of beer. Next use a can opener to remove the tops of the cans. After the tops are removed, add beer until each can is 1/4 full. Next rough cut the garlic cloves into chunks and add them and the herbs to the cans.

Next, remove the chicken from any packaging and dry off the skin with paper towels. Spray the skin on all sides with duck fat and this will help give the chicken a nice golden color. Season all sides of the skin and the inside cavity with your favorite BBQ seasoning. If you don’t have any favorites, a simple salt, pepper, garlic and paprika combo will do.

Preheat your smoker with pecan or hickory wood at 300F. You can use a lower and slower temperature (235F -250F) to get more smoke but the skin will come out less crispy.

When the chicken is seasoned, place the beer cans into the holding rack and slide the chickens over the beer cans. If you do not have a holding rack you can use a foil pan as a base and try to carefully move everything into the smoker. If you are going to use a wireless (or wired) temperature probe, stick it in at the top of the breast near the neck and push it in downward (see video).

Spray the chicken every hour with duck fat to oil those birds up like they are getting a tan at Miami Beach!

When the top of the breast meat reaches 165F and the legs and thighs are 175F, remove the chickens from the smoker and let them sit for 5 minutes. Don’t tent the chickens with foil, it will keep the steam on the skin undoing your crisping efforts. Now you can carve the chickens or pull the meat off the bones for good pulled chicken.

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