Tuesday, 13 September 2011

009 - Beer Can Chicken

The style of cooking that I was most excited to try on the barbecue was cooking larger cuts of meat, including whole chickens. A few years ago, I wasn't even aware that this was possible - I think I've mentioned before that sausages and burgers were the staple ingredient for my barbecues. So when I heard about Weber's beer can chicken recipe, I knew I had to add it to the list of 100 things to BBQ!

I first tried this recipe back in early June, and it was one of the first few times that I had tried the indirect method of barbecuing. All of my BBQ previous fodder had been thrown over direct heat, and more often than not involved unwanted flames :-)

The process starts by making a dry rub, which is applied to the outside of the bird to flavour the skin. I used a little oil to make it stick and also to help the skin crisp up a little - there's nothing worse than chewy soggy chicken skin.

Then comes the beer! For my attempt I used a small can of Heineken. Half of the contents is poured way (into my mouth...) to allow the liquid to get up to temperature and start steaming quickly. I'd bought the Weber stand purpose built for the beer can recipe, so slotted the can into the centre space before easing the chicken over the top of it. You don't really need the stand to cook this recipe, as the chicken can simply be balanced on the can and its legs. However, the addition of some handles to the stand made moving the cooked chicken away from the barbecue a lot easier.

I prepped the barbecue with 3/4 chimney of briquettes, and arranged them at either side of the charcoal grill to leave a large indirect cooking zone in the middle. If, like me, you use a kettle barbecue, you'll need to arrange them like this rather than the 50/50 method as the bird needs to sit in the middle of the barbecue - otherwise it might touch the lid.

After adding the chicken to the cooking grill, I closed the lid and walked away - trying to avoid the temptation to lift the lid to check on progress. Every time you lift the lid, temperature is lost and it takes a while to build up again, slowing down the cooking process and increasing the overall time required. After about 45 minutes I checked on progress, and decided it needed the same time again. After about 1.5 hours, it looked suitable tasty and the thermometer confirmed the internal temperature had reached the required level (~74 degrees C)

This recipe convinced me that whenever possible, I should use the barbecue, rather than my in-doors oven to cook roasts. The end result was a deliciously moist chicken (the result of the steaming beer), with a really tasty crispy skin - and a kitchen that didn't smell of chicken for days! To be honest, I couldn't really taste the beer - but I put this down to having only used quite a weak lager. I have tried the recipe a couple of times since, and chose to use a darker ale, which seems to help. Definitely a fun first way to delve in to the world of cooking larger pieces of meat outside.


  1. The best way to cook a chicken.
    Love this recipe, good blog you got here.

  2. Thank you very much Marcus :-)

  3. Try putting a few cloves of garlic inside the beer can as well..

  4. Really helpfull site! how often (if at all) were you adding coal??

    Ed Bristol

  5. Thanks Ed :-)
    I didn't need to add any charcoal for this cook. If you're using decent lumpwood or briquettes then you should get 3-4 hours out of a single load.

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