Best Smoked Beer Can Chicken Recipe

This smoked beer can chicken is a flavorful and juicy dish where a whole chicken is cooked upright on a beer can in a smoker with hickory wood. We used an original soul food seasoning blend and our favorite dry rub which results in tender meat infused with rich, smoky flavors and crispy skin.

Hey ya’ll! This is one of our all-time favorite smoked chicken recipes. Marrekus has been making this beer butt chicken recipe for years. It always results in tender, juicy chicken that practically falls off the bone, even the white meat!

You can shred the meat (think rotisserie chicken) and use it in all sorts of dishes – casseroles, soups, salads, sandwiches, you name it. Or, if you’re feeling a bit more traditional, you can carve it up and serve it for Sunday dinner with all your favorite sides. And let’s not forget about that skin. Ooh wee, that crispy, flavorful skin is hands down my favorite part. 

Now, if you’re thinking about giving this recipe a try (and trust me, you totally should), you should buy a beer can chicken stand. It’s honestly a game changer. You can find them online – we got this beercan chicken roaster from Amazon. It’ll keep entire chicken stable while it cooks, ensuring even heat distribution and maximum flavor infusion. However, if you don’t want to do the beer can set up, try our Grilled Chicken Leg Quarters recipe with Alabama White Sauce recipe. It’s another favorite.

So there you have it! Smoked Beer Can Chicken – it’s fun, it’s flavorful, and it’s guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser. Give it a try and let us know what you think!

What you’ll love about this recipe:


  • FLAVORFUL CHICKEN – The smoke flavor from the hickory wood combined with the Fire & Spice the dry rub and our original seasoning mixture results in tender, moist meat and mouthwatering, delicious flavor. 
  • CRISPY SKIN – By smoking the chicken upright with the beer can, the heat circulates evenly around the bird, resulting in perfectly crispy skin that’s packed with flavor.

Ingredients

Equipment

  • Pellet grill (or offset smoker, gas grill or charcoal grill set up for indirect heat, etc)
  • Meat thermometer
  • Beer can chicken holder: Optional but recommended. A beer can chicken holder provides stability and makes it easier to position the chicken upright on the grill, which ensures even cooking.
  • Foil pan: The drip pan catches the drippings, which helps to prevent flare-ups and makes cleanup easier. You can also use the drippings to make a flavorful gravy or sauce.
  • Basting brush
  • Kitchen shears: Kitchen shears can efficiently trim away unwanted fat and skin, easily remove giblets if they’re attached, and make precise cuts to enhance the presentation and cooking process.

Smoked Beer Can Chicken Directions

  1. Preheat Smoker: Fill the pellet smoker with hickory pellets and preheat to 275°F.
  2. Prepare Chicken: Remove the whole bird from its packaging and pat it dry with paper towels. Make sure to remove any giblets from the cavity. Trim any excess fat or loose skin with kitchen shears if needed.
  3. Season: Rub the outside of chicken all over with olive oil, ensuring it’s fully coated. Generously rub the soul food seasoning mixture and Cherry Cola seasoning all over and under the skin where possible.
  4. Prepare the Beer Can: Open the can of lager beer and pour out (or drink) about 1/4 to 1/2 of it, leaving the can about 3/4 full. 
  5. Mount Chicken: Place the beer can on a stable surface or in a beer can chicken holder. Carefully lower the entire chicken onto the can so it sits upright with the can in the cavity of the chicken. Ensure it’s stable.
  6. Set Up Smoker: Place a drip pan on the lower rack of the smoker to catch any drippings. Position the chicken upright on the smoker’s grill grates.
  7. Smoke Chicken: Smoke chicken at 275°F. When the internal temperature reaches 140°F in the breast, baste chicken with melted butter.
  8. Continue cooking and use a meat thermometer to check the temperature. Cook until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 155°F in the breast and 165°F in the thickest part of the thigh. The total cooking time should be around 2.5 to 3 hours. 
  9. Rest and Serve: Carefully remove it from the smoker. Let chicken rest for 10-15 minutes at room temperature on a cutting board before carving. Allowing the chicken to rest for a few minutes after grilling helps the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, making it juicier and more flavorful. The residual heat in the whole chicken will continue to redistribute, causing the internal temperature to rise further.

Note: Removing the smoked chicken from the grill slightly before it reaches the target internal temperature will help to achieve the desired doneness without overcooking. The carryover cooking will bring it up to the correct temperature (165°F in the breast and 175°F in the thighs). If desired, you can increase the smoker temperature to 375°F for the last 30 minutes for crispy skin.

Recipe Tips & Tricks

  • Season Under the Skin: Carefully lift the skin and rub some of the seasoning directly on the meat. This ensures that the flavors penetrate deeper into the meat rather than just sitting on the surface.
  • Use a Stable Beer Can Holder: If possible, use a beer can chicken holder to keep everything stable. This prevents it from tipping over during cooking and ensures even cooking.
  • Adjust Beer Amount: Pour out (or drink half of the beer lol) some of the beer to prevent overflow and ensure enough steam circulates inside the cavity.
  • Rest Chicken: Once smoked chicken is finished cooking, let it rest for 10-15 minutes before carving. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, making it juicier and more flavorful.
  • Experiment with Rubs: Feel free to experiment with different spice rubs and seasoning blends to suit your taste. The combination of our original rub and the Cherry Cola dry rub in this recipe provides a great balance of flavors, but you can customize it to your liking.

What to Serve with Smoked Whole Chicken

Leftover Chicken

To store leftover chicken, place it in an airtight container and refrigerate it within two hours of cooking. To reheat, preheat your oven to 350°F, cover with foil to keep it moist, and heat until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. Alternatively, you can microwave it, just be sure to cover and reheat in short intervals to avoid drying it out.

Leftover chicken can be transformed into a variety of delicious meals. Here are some ideas:

FAQ

Why should I remove the smoked chicken from the grill at 155°F in the breast?

Removing the chicken at 155°F allows for carryover cooking to bring the internal temperature up to the recommended 165°F without overcooking, ensuring the meat remains juicy.

Do I have to use a beer can chicken holder?

It’s not absolutely necessary, but a beer can chicken holder will provide stability and make it easier to position upright on the grill, which ensures even cooking.

Print
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Best Smoked Beer Can Chicken Recipe

  • Author: Krysten and Marrekus Wilkes
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: dinner
  • Method: smoker
  • Cuisine: barbecue, southern, american

Description

This hickory smoked beer can chicken is a flavorful and juicy dish where a whole chicken is cooked upright on a beer can in a smoker.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 whole chicken (45 pounds)
  • 23 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Soul Food seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons Fire & Smoke Society Cherry Cola dry rub
  • 1 can of lager beer
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Hickory wood pellets

Instructions

  1. Fill your smoker with hickory pellets (or wood chunks, splits, etc.) and preheat to 275°F.
  2. Remove the whole bird from its packaging, pat it dry with paper towels, and remove any giblets from the cavity. Trim any excess fat or loose skin with kitchen shears if needed.
  3. Rub outside of chicken all over with olive oil, ensuring it’s fully coated. Generously rub soul food seasoning mixture and Cherry Cola seasoning all over chicken and under skin where possible.
  4. Open beer and pour out 1/4, leaving the can about 3/4 full.
  5. Place beer can on a stable surface or in a beer can chicken holder. Carefully lower chicken onto the can so it sits upright with the can in the cavity of the chicken. Ensure it’s stable.
  6. Place a drip pan on the lower rack of smoker to catch any drippings. Position chicken upright on the smoker’s grill grates.
  7. Smoke chicken at 275°F. When internal temperature reaches 140°F in the breast, baste chicken with melted butter.
  8. Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature. Cook until the internal temperature reaches 155°F in the breast and 165°F in the thickest part of the thigh. Total cooking time should be around 2.5 to 3 hours.
  9. Carefully remove chicken from the smoker. Let it rest for 10-15 minutes at room temperature on a cutting board before carving.

Keywords: smoked beer can chicken, beer can chicken, traeger smoked chicken

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