Beer Can Chicken
Beer can chicken is probably one of the most requested meals in my house by my husband. He absolutely loves it, and I’ve been making it for him since we’ve been together. So it is definitely a staple in my meal rotations. It’s a fun, easy, and flavorful meal to make.
Plus, it is one you can experiment with, changing flavor combinations up. Such as the type of beer used, the brand of barbecue sauce, the seasoning you use on the skin. It’s a fun meal to try new things with. I’ve done this many times until I came up with what is the family favorite.
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My husband and I affectionately refer to this recipe as beer butt chicken, because the can goes… well you know where. Lol. The first time I had ever made this for him, he was a bit confused and I had to just be blunt about it. You take a can of beer and stuff it up the chicken’s butt, the liquid boils up and out and flavors it from the inside out. From there on, we’ve called it beer butt chicken.
I start with my whole chicken. My preference is Foster Farms brand, but you can use any chicken. I also try to pick a chicken that is 5-5.5 pounds in weight. Weight changes the cooking time, which is why I always aim for one in that range. Then you need the next most important ingredient. Beer. Any type works, as long as it is in a can. The brand is your choice. Next comes the barbecue sauce. My preference is Jack Daniels traditional number 7 sauce, but you may have a preference of your own.
Safe Chicken Handling
Chicken handling… I put mine in an empty and clean sink to open the packaging. That way if there is any excess liquid in the package, it’s staying in the sink and not spreading germs all over my counter tops. Then I pull out the inner organs, the heart and liver. Usually these are in a separate package and just stored inside the chicken.
It may not always be the case though and you have to just pick them out yourself. Some people cook them, some discard them. It’s all a matter of preference. I then rinse my chicken and pat the skin dry with a paper towel. Rinsing it removes many surface germs, and patting the skin dry means it will brown and crisp up easier. Who wants flabby chicken skin? Part of what makes beer can chicken so amazing is the crispy skin!
This part can be a bit tricky, because I don’t exactly measure my beer to barbecue sauce ratio. I take the beer can and open it, transfer the majority of the beer into a glass, and put some barbecue sauce into the can. You want to end up with a ratio of 3/4 beer, 1/4 barbecue sauce in the can.
The reason I take most of the beer out of the can initially is I also add seasoning to this mixture. Unfortunately, adding things like salt to beer causes it to foam up and overflow out of the can if there’s too much liquid inside. I’ve found removing most of it, then adding the barbecue sauce tempers it to where you can add spices without any issues.
If the can overflows, I usually end up just throwing it away and starting completely over again. I am not a fan of wasting things, especially food, so I found the easiest way to avoid it. Once I have added the seasonings (which I will talk about in a moment) I add a bit more barbecue sauce in and fill the rest of the can back up with the beer. Everything will mix as it heats up in the oven and mix accordingly.
I personally love this beer can chicken recipe because beer is a natural moisturizer. Who likes dry chicken? I’m not a fan. The idea is that everything in the can heats up, boils up and out of the can, flavoring the chicken from the inside out. Therefore, it doesn’t dry up and become rubber.
Beer Can Chicken Seasonings
McCormick chicken seasoning, 1 teaspoon
Garlic Salt, 1 teaspoon
Celery Salt, ½ teaspoon If you are wanting something with less salt, use celery seed instead of salt.
Herbs de provence, 1 teaspoon (I love the Italian kind of flavor this gives) and any other fresh herbs you want. You can substitute dried herbs, but I always recommend fresh when you have them available.
Rosemary. The rosemary I don’t really measure. It’s more, to taste kind of a preference. I always recommend fresh, as the flavor is much more concentrated. If you are using dried, I would crush it up a bit in your hands before putting it in the beer can. This allows the natural flavors of the rosemary to come out more.
You can also add a variety of other fresh herbs to go inside the can. I made it with a bay leaf, a sprig of thyme, and a little basil tonight. Everything fits in the can, there is no separating it out once the chicken is done. It stays contained in the can, and I love that part.
Once the seasoning is done
Once I have everything mixed up and ready to go, I put the chicken onto the can and set it upright in a baking dish. This can be a bit awkward, but just be patient with yourself. You want the chicken to sit on the can. The top of the can is inside the chicken, and that is what will hold it upright. This holds the chicken up, prevents the can from spilling, and ensures the liquids are properly distributed during the cooking process.
There are can holders you can buy specifically for this meal, and I have one. This is my favorite. I’ve done it without it before though, and it isn’t exactly necessary.
It’s nice for clumsy cooks in the kitchen, which I’ve had some very near accidents a time or two without that. They aren’t expensive at all, and just make things easier. I always recommend it.
Once my beer can chicken is ready to go, I spray the skin down with a small amount of Pam cooking spray. Then I take a barbecue type seasoning and apply it to the skin. This gives it an amazing flavor and crispy texture.
Let the chicken rest!
I cook my chicken at 400 degrees for roughly an hour, but sometimes it can take longer. Note, the chicken is tall, especially sitting up on a beer can and in a baking dish. You may need to move the oven rack down a notch, even two before putting the chicken in otherwise it will not fit. It should be white on the inside, not pink, and the juices run clear. You will want to let the chicken rest for about 10-15 minutes, minimum.
Always check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer to make sure it is cooked thoroughly and is safe to eat. Nobody wants raw chicken.
Resting the beer can chicken will let all of those fabulous juices inside redistribute and keep your chicken moist and tender. If you’ve ever cut open any piece of meat immediately after cooking and have all the juice run out on the plate, your meat hasn’t rested long enough and will dry out. Which is basically throwing all of your hard work down the drain. Don’t do that, especially with chicken.
Beer Can Chicken Notes
I hope you experiment and tweak the seasonings to fit your taste with this beer can chicken recipe. It can be a ton of fun! Feel free to let me know how yours turned out! Since I already have the oven on when I’m making this, I feel like I should do most of my meal in the oven.
I love to pair this beer can chicken with some carrots roasted in olive oil and garlic salt, and some red potatoes. It makes a nice healthy and balanced meal. But there are many other optional pairings to go with the beer can chicken. The options are endless!
Beer Can Chicken Discussion
Tonight my husband, Nathan, and I paired this with salt crusted potatoes and a salad, which was a perfect meal. Have you tried beer can chicken? Tell me about it in the comments! Check out my other chicken recipes!
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