EASY Smoked Beer Can Chicken Recipe

Here's the ultimate guide to making a smoked beer can chicken recipe. This smoked whole beer can chicken recipe is fall off the bone tender with a smoky flavor.

Sliced smoked beer can chicken on a cutting board with a knife and lemons.

What is smoked beer can chicken?

You’ve heard of beer can chicken, right? (It’s also called beer butt chicken.) You know, when you shove a full can of beer into the cavity of the chicken and grill it?

Well, making smoked beer can chicken is super easy to do.

First, there’s the smoker. You can use a Masterbuilt Electric Smoker. (You can read my smoker review here.)

This was my go-to smoker for beer can chicken until we finally wore it out.

Or you can use something like a Kamado Joe Grill. While it’s not as easy to use as an electric smoker, we now make Kamado Joe beer can chicken as well as steaks, ribs, and brisket. Amazing!

You can also do this smoked chicken recipe on a gas grill, pellet grill, or charcoal grill.

(Not sure what type of smoker grill you should cook this on? Check out my The Best Smoker Grill Guide!)

Pro tip: If you have room, do two birds on your smoker. Having leftover chicken for several meals is a real treat!

Smoked beer can chicken on a roaster rack placed on a cutting board with a knife with garlic cloves and herbs.

How to cook smoked beer can chicken

This is the easiest way to make our favorite chicken recipe in the Kamado Joe Grill smoker.

1. Remove the packet of giblets from the chicken cavity. Pat the bird dry with paper towels.

2. Season the whole chicken inside and out with the rub. Press the rub onto the outside of the chicken, too. (Don’t forget the wing tips.) Allow it to sit for at least an hour in the refrigerator.

3. Open the beer and empty half of it into the smoker's drip pan.

4. Pour the chicken marinade to the top of the beer can.

5. Shove the can into the chicken body cavity. Place chicken upright onto the beer can chicken stand if you're using one.

6. Set up your smoker for indirect heat. Use wood chips, chunks, or logs to set up a good level of smoke.

Electric smokers use pellets. I chose Jack Daniels Wood Pellets, but you can use hickory, apple, mesquite, or other woods that go well with chicken.

7. Maintain a smoker temperature of between 225 and 275 degrees F. (I set my smoker for 250 degrees.)

8. Set the chicken on the grill on the beer can base, and cook for three hours. If you don't use a dripping pan full of beer and water to “steam” the chicken, baste with more chicken marinade every half hour.

9. When the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F (about three to four hours), test for doneness by inserting a knife tip into the thickest part of the thigh. If the juices run clear, the chicken is done to medium.

Note: the FDA recommends cooking to 185 degrees F. Many people find this overcooks and dries out the chicken, so use your best judgment.

10. Remove the chicken from the smoker. Place the chicken on a solid surface, like a cutting board. Let the chicken rest for 20 minutes to let the juices “set.” Carefully remove the beer can. (It will be very hot!). Slice and serve.

11. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Sliced smoked beer can chicken on a wooden cutting board with a knife, lemon and fresh herbs.

What kind of beer should I use?

You can use any beer you like – light beer, regular beer, or dark beer. Use your best beer or one you got on sale. Any kind will work for this flavorful chicken recipe!

If you’re gluten free, use a GF beer. There’s also hard cider, which is naturally gluten free. (You can fill up a beer can with hard cider if you drink the kind that comes in bottles.)

If you don’t drink, use apple, pear, or pineapple juice instead of beer.

Just empty out a soda can and fill it with juice and the marinade as per the recipe below.

What equipment do you need to make smoked beer can chicken?

Smoker or grill: Assuming you have a smoker or grill to make your smoked beer can chicken recipe, what other equipment do you need?

Smoker supplies: It goes without saying that you have grilling and smoker supplies like wood pellets or chips, briquettes, etc. for your smoker, too.

Holder: While you can simply use a beer can and perch your chicken on top, it’s much easier to make a smoked beer can chicken recipe with a beer can chicken holder.

I love my Cave Tools Beer Can Chicken Roaster Rack, which is pretty simple to use. Since it’s compact, it’s a beer can chicken holder that’s easy to store in your grill, garage, or pantry.

Thermometer: You’ll also need a good digital cooking thermometer that you can run outside the smoker so you’ll know when your chicken is done.

I love the remote wireless digital thermometers because you don't have to go outside and check the grill to see if you've reached your ideal temp.

Tongs and gloves: Barbecuing meat tongs and heat-resistant gloves are essential, too. Yes, you can use regular oven mitts, but they’ll get all greasy. Then the grease will soak through and you’ll burn yourself – ouch!

I bought two pairs of silicon heat-resistant gloves for our pig roast and they worked out great for turning the pig and lifting the entire pig off the grill when it was done.

My husband uses them all the time for grilling on his Kamado Joe.

Sliced roasted chicken on a wooden cutting board with lemons, garlic and herbs with a blue cloth napkin.

What kind of seasoning rub?

You can use a store-bought chicken rub or a pork barbecue rub.

Or you can make your own spice rub with salt, black pepper, brown sugar, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, and whatever other spices you like.

I’m sure you can find several good chicken rub recipes in your favorite cookbooks, too.

My favorite barbecuing cookbook is the Legends of Texas Barbecue Cookbook. In fact, the method I use to cook Smoked Beer Can Chicken is from that cookbook!

What kind of marinade?

I like to use this Easy Chicken Marinade recipe. (I double it to make 2 cups for this recipe.)

If you don’t want to make anything from scratch, use store-bought, olive oil based vinaigrette salad dressing instead.

Don’t worry about the marinade if you’re doing keto or any type of low-carb diet. It just adds moisture to the poultry, not a bunch of carbs.

Sliced roasted chicken with pieces of chicken on a wooden cutting board with herbs and sliced lemon and garlic.

What can you serve with beer can chicken?

Serve this smoked chicken with homemade sugar free BBQ sauce and these terrific side dishes:

These side salads are also terrific at cookouts:

More smoked grilling recipes

Had fun making beer can chicken? Then try these smoked grilling recipes:

Smoked Meatloaf Recipe

Brined & Smoked Chicken Quarters Recipe

How to prepare & cook a spatchcock or butterflied turkey

How to make a smoked turkey breast brine

Smoked Turkey Brine Recipe with Smoked Turkey Rub

How to Make Smoked Trout

Yield: 6 SERVINGS

Smoked Beer Can Chicken Recipe

Sliced smoked beer can chicken on a wooden cutting board with a knife, lemon and fresh herbs.

This smoked beer can chicken recipe is easy to make. This smoked whole beer can chicken recipe is fall off the bone tender with a smoky flavor.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 4 hours 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 3-1/2 pound roasting chicken
  • 1/4 cup dry rub of your choice
  • 1 can beer (or use gluten-free beer, hard cider, or fruit juice)
  • 1-2 cups marinade

Instructions

  1. Remove the giblets from the chicken cavity. Pat the bird dry with paper towels.
  2. Season the whole chicken inside and out with the rub. Press the rub onto the outside of the chicken, too. (Don’t forget the wing tips.) Allow it to sit for at least an hour in the refrigerator.
  3. Open the beer and empty half of it into the smoker's drip pan.
  4. Pour the marinade to the top of the can.
  5. Shove the can into the chicken cavity, and place the chicken onto the beer can chicken stand if you're using one.
  6. Set up your smoker for indirect heat. Use wood chips, chunks, or logs to set up a good level of smoke. (Electric smokers use pellets. Try hickory, apple, mesquite, or other woods that go well with chicken.)
  7. Maintain a smoker temperature of between 225 and 275 degrees F. 
  8. Set the chicken on the grill on the beer can base, and cook for three hours. If you don't use a dripping pan full of beer and water to “steam” the chicken, baste with more marinade every half hour.
  9. When the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F (about three to four hours), test for doneness by inserting a knife tip into the thickest part of the thigh. If the juices run clear, the chicken is done to medium. Note: the FDA recommends cooking to 185 degrees F. Many people find this overcooks and dries out the chicken, so use your best judgment.
  10. Remove the chicken from the smoker. Place the chicken on a cutting board. Let the chicken rest for 20 minutes to let the juices “set.” Carefully remove the beer can. (It will be very hot!). Slice and serve.
  11. Store leftover chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 579Total Fat: 37gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 26gCholesterol: 133mgSodium: 1785mgCarbohydrates: 11gFiber: 0gSugar: 5gProtein: 44g

Nutritional information is automatically calculated per the ingredients list. Serving size may not be accurate. Please double-check with your preferred nutritional app for the most accurate information.

Originally posted on August 6, 2012, April 28, 2016, and March 23, 2012. Updated with new pictures and information.

11 thoughts on “EASY Smoked Beer Can Chicken Recipe

      1. Marge

        Sorry but I just couldn’t figure out how putting some marinade in the beer can and rubbing it on the chicken could use up 2 cups of marinade

        Reply
        1. Anne-Marie Nichols Post author

          If you read the recipe closely, you’d see that you’d need 3/4 cups of marinade for the beer can after you dump half out. Then you use the rest to baste the chicken with during cooking. You may need less, but it’s best to have too much rather than too little.

          Reply
  1. FreedbyJC

    Of course 185 will dry out your chicken. The new data from FDA says an IT of 165, like turkey – checked in the deep breast, is the safe point for poultry now. If you pull it at 160 and foil wrap it, it will reach the magical 165 IT.

    Reply
    1. Anne-Marie Nichols Post author

      You can look online or in cookbooks for beer can chicken marinade recipes. Or you can use store-bought marinades that are made just for chicken. I also like using a store-bought or homemade vinaigrette salad dressing as a marinade.

      Reply
  2. BBQ On Main

    Hey Anne-Marie, Just wanted to let you know we love your recipe so much we featured it as part of our 101 favorite smoker recipes! Beer Can Chicken is is a good healthy recipe. It’s nice to have something that’s not slathered in BBQ sauce!

    Reply
  3. Jody Humphrey

    Beer is better / but I have used 1/2 can of soda with some rub mixed in couldn’t tell a difference just keeps bird moist

    Reply
  4. Toni | BoulderLocavore.com

    I have always wanted to try this but guess I need to find GF beer in a can! You may recall I attended Steven Raichlen’s BBQU last year and learned so much. We did not do a beer can bird (though of the over 40 recipes over three days I may have forgotten). If it weren’t snowing I’d go seek some GF beer!

    Reply

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