This Beer Can Chicken (or Beer Butt Chicken) is tender, moist, and flavorful! It’s easy to make and you can grill or roast it in the oven. Make this recipe the next time you’re craving a unique twist on grilled chicken!
Beer Can Chicken
Are any of you deep into grilling season yet? I have to say I haven’t done a ton of grilling yet. We are having a very mild summer, so I have used my oven more and I’m not complaining!!
However, I have been hungry for simple grilled foods and I love how easy this beer can chicken recipe is to make. If you’ve never tasted “beer butt chicken” (that name just makes me giggle!), you’re in for a treat. Also known as drunk chicken, it involves grilling or roasting the bird with an actual beer can inside of it! Don’t worry, the alcohol cooks off so you won’t actually get drunk from this dish, and it’s perfectly safe for kids.
If you’re feeling confused, don’t worry. I’m sharing exactly how to make it below!
Why You’ll Love This Beer Can Chicken Recipe
- Family-friendly — enjoy all of the flavor of beer with none of the alcohol!
- Tender and juicy on the inside, crispy on the outside
- Rubbed in a dry seasoning blend for even more flavor
- Super impressive yet so easy to make
- Beer can chicken in the oven instructions included in case you don’t want to break out the grill!
Key Ingredients to Make Beer Butt Chicken
- CHICKEN – I typically use a 4-5 pound bird because that’s what’s most available in my local store. I also need that much to feed my family, lol!
- BEER – Use any beer you like to drink. We mostly use Coors when we make this, but use whatever beer you have on hand.
- OLIVE OIL – Helps your dry rub stick to the skin of the bird.
- BROWN SUGAR – I like to add just a touch of sweetness to the dry rub. I opt for brown sugar instead of white for its tasty molasses flavor.
- SPICES & SEASONINGS – To create your homemade rub you’ll need salt, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, and cayenne. If you don’t like spicy food, you can skip that last one!
Instructions to Make Beer Can Chicken
PREP THE CHICKEN: Make sure your chicken is nice and dry when you remove it from the packaging. I do this by patting it with paper towels. This is a crucial step and a must for crispy skin!
ADD THE SEASONING BLEND: Rub a small amount of olive oil or cooking oil of your choice all over the bird. This will help the seasoning to stick. Next, sprinkle the entire bird with the beer can chicken rub. This rub provides a ton of flavor!
SET UP THE BEER CAN: Before you pop the chicken in the oven, you need to place it over the beer can. This part may seem tricky, but it’s actually easy! Place the open can on the counter and then place the chicken over it so the beer can fits inside — it should go on very easily. See, not too hard!
GRILL: Now it’s time for the grill, or if you prefer beer can chicken in the oven, that works great too! Grill or bake until the juices run clear and the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F when a thermometer is inserted into the thickest part of the breast.
Pro Tips for Beer Can Chicken
- If you don’t want to use beer, no problem! You can use a can of Coke or even Sprite instead. Actually, a can of root beer would pair well with this rub as well. I may have to try that next — sounds so good!
- Be sure to pat the chicken dry or you won’t have crispy skin.
- Remember, you can make beer can chicken in an oven as well! Bake at 400 degrees F for about 1 1/2 hours or until cooked through. The internal temperature of the thickest part of the breast should reach 165 degrees F.
- Be sure to let your drunk chicken rest before carving it. I let mine rest for 10 minutes. This will allow for all the juices to be redistributed into the meat instead of on your plate.
Remember that you can use whatever you have on hand! We’re a Coors house, so that’s what I usually use. I do find that, generally, something light or medium-bodied works best and doesn’t overwhelm the natural flavor of the chicken. I also love the idea of using something with hints of citrus in it… it will pair perfectly!
As mentioned in the instructions, getting the beer can for this chicken recipe to stand up isn’t as difficult as it looks. Some people use a beer can holder, but I simply position the bird on top of the can, then place the can directly on a small baking pan. Use a beer can holder if you have one, otherwise you can definitely DIY it.
I swear by the combination of spices and seasonings that I outline on the recipe card below. That said, feel free to get creative! Take away anything you don’t like and add spices that I may have missed. Additions like thyme, rosemary, and oregano would all be delicious!
What to Serve with Drunk Chicken
Let your drunk chicken be the star of the show and serve it with some simple sides. Here are a few ideas to inspire you:
More Chicken Recipes To Try
- Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken
- Creamy Lemon Chicken
- Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas
- Chicken Florentine Pasta Casserole
Thanks so much for reading! Let me know what you think about this beer can chicken recipe!
Beer Can Chicken
- 1 (4-5 pound)(1.8-2.2kg) whole chicken, neck and giblets removed
- 1 can beer, opened and half of the liquid removed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar, light or dark
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½-1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Preheat grill to medium high heat (about 375 degrees F).
- In a small bowl combine the salt, brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, and cayenne; set aside.
- Dry chicken very well using paper towels. Coat the chicken in olive oil. Sprinkle the entire chicken with the reserved spice rub. Place chicken over the can of beer and place in a small baking pan. You can also use a beer can chicken pan or holder instead.
- Turn off one burner on the grill and place chicken over the unlit burner. Reduce heat to medium (350 degrees F) and cook for 1 ¼-1 ½ hours or until juices run clear and a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees F when inserted in the thickest part of the breast. (Towards the end of cooking I like to crank up the heat to really crisp up the skin)
- Remove from grill and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.
- OVEN DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Follow steps 2-3 above. Bake for about 1 1/4- 1 1/2 hours or until juices run clear and a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees F when inserted in the thickest part of the breast.
- If you prefer not to use beer, use a can of coke, sprite, or root beer instead.
- Nutrition Facts: Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the information shown is just an estimate.
*Originally published May 2015. Recipe, post, and pictures updated.*