The Beer Pilgrim

Making Beer Can Chicken


I’m not going to tip-toe round the subject: you have to put an open beer can up a chicken’s rear-end. It feels weird and slightly awkward, but once you have jumped that hurdle. Prepare yourself for the best damn roast chicken you have ever tasted. The beer steams away from the inside keeping the chicken from drying out while infusing the entire bird with that delicious beery taste. Magnificent!
Having said that, I’ve never made it myself. I did eat a beer-can-chicken last time I was in the UK (an entire one..) and it blew my mind. Now time to throw that apron and beard-net on and give it a shot myself. Feel free to join me and share your trials and tribulations….

There are somewhere between 1 and 2 gazillion ways you can do this recipe. I have combined a few recipes together based on what sounds delicious to me. If you have any tips or suggestions yourself – let me know!!


  • 1x Whole chicken (doesn’t matter what size but for the sake of timings, lets say about 1.5KG)
  • 1x teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1x teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1x teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1x teaspoon onion powder
  • 2x teaspoon dry thyme
  • Sea Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3x tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1x opened, half full can of beer (or half drunk… depending on how you look at it – room temperature. Apparently larger is the best, but each to their own opinion I guess)

NB: if you want to experiment with the beer can steaming concoction, you can add more ingredients to the beer. Im going to add in a clove of garlic, a wedge of lemon, some salt and pepper into the can along with the beer.


1. You can cook your chook on a BBQ, grill or in the oven. For the sake of this experiment, I’m going to cook mine in the oven. So, to prep your oven, preheat it to 200 °C.

NB: If you are using a grill remember to prepare it for indirect heat (this means piling your coals on one side of the grill and leaving the other side free. If using a gas grill, you only need to fire up one half of the burners.)

2. Mix the Paprika, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, Thyme, salt, pepper and oil together to make a paste (feel free to add different seasonings in here to taste – maybe fennel seeds, mustard or cumin would be good as well? Let me know what you experimented with).


3. Rub the entire cleaned chicken with your seasoned olive oil paste (make sure you don’t miss anywhere – under the wings, in the cavity, everywhere).image

4. (Now the best part) Drink half of your beer can, leave half the contents of beer inside the can. Some people also suggest adding garlic, thyme, rosemary, butter, salt, pepper and/or lemon to the beer can (this is up to your own tastes and experimental desires – I’m going to add a wedge of lemon, a clove of garlic, some salt and pepper into my beer can).


5. Punch a few holes around the top lid of the beer can as well as the open mouth.


6. Lower the chicken onto the beer can, making sure the contents of the can doesn’t spill. The chicken should be sitting upright ontop of the beer can with it fully inserted into the cavity (use the beer can and chicken legs as a tripod so it is sitting upright). It will probably look like a naked chicken sitting on the loo. Feel free to laugh, take photos, chase your girlfriend or boyfriend around the house and/or reenact your favourite Boris Yeltzin speech using your chicken as a puppet.


7. With the chicken sitting upright on the beer can, place it on a baking tray and carefully put it on the bottom shelf of your preheated oven, making sure the chicken is stable sitting upright on the can (using the legs for stability)


8. Roast the chicken for somewhere between 1hr 10mins and 1hr 30mins (though all ovens/grills vary so you will need to keep an eye on this yourself): test your bird by poking a skewer into a thick part of the chicken’s flesh. If the juices run clear, it is ready, if it runs red or pink, the chicken isn’t cooked through.

9. Keep checking so you don’t burn or overcook your chook (but make sure the chicken is cooked through before you eat).

10. Now CAREFULLY remove your beer can chicken from the oven – the can will be extremely hot so take care when handling it – maybe use a spatula underneath and tongs for the chook to make sure you don’t burn yourself.

11. Let it stand for 10 minutes

12. You can either remove the can from the chicken (carefully – using tongs) or you can leave it in the chicken. I chose to leave it in for novelty value. This cost me the opportunity to use the juices from the can to make gravy, but it was worth it to see my friends faces when I served it up.


13. Pour a glass of your favorite beer for yourself and all your mates, and enjoy!