Beer Can Chicken

Don’t drink all the beer, save one can for the chicken. When a friend bragged that the best chicken she ever cooked was “Beer Can Chicken,” I was a little sceptical. She seemed just a little too enthusiastic. The concept is simple enough. Season a chicken with lots of Cajun spices, impale the whole chicken on a partially filled can of beer and roast it in the oven. Actually, successfully roasting a chicken is not always easy to accomplish. The goal is tender and juicy meat, yet cooked thoughout. It is so easy to overcook the chicken and end up with dry, tough pieces. How did my friend’s recipe turn out? My taste-tester husband devoured this chicken before I had a chance to snap all my photos. It was a success; and I now strongly recommend this novel method of roasting a chicken, too.


Although my friend described the cooking process, she didn’t actually provide me with a recipe. I found a similar one in the Southern Cast Iron magazine (May/June 2023 Issue) and adapted their recipe ingredients and process. Here’s one of my roasted chickens — nicely browned on all sides!

I used a “small” chicken for this recipe. This one was 4 pounds. I recommended using a whole chicken that is 3 to 4 lb in weight rather than a large roasting hen which is 5 – 6 lb in weight. In my experience, those large, whole chickens just don’t turn out well when roasted. Why? I don’t know, but you may have to do some searching to find a smaller chicken.

What kind of beer? Use a light lager beer or whatever brand you have in your house. Use either an 8 oz or 12 oz can.

I used Plowhboys “Fin and Feather” Poultry Seasoning. It is a sweet, lemony seasoning with a spice blend which flavors the meat but doesn’t overwhelm with those hot, cayenne pepper spices. These barbecue folks are out of Kansas City, Missouri, and they sell their seasonings on-line. (See Reference) This seasoning contains sugar which gives a dark, sweet crust. This recipe uses up to 1/4 cup seasoning — it’s alot but then it is hard to get the spices to stick to the chicken. The rub contains both sugar and spices so the spices don’t overpower the seasoning. They did a good job with this seasoning blend. However, if you don’t have Plowboy’s seasoning, here is my recipe for a pleasant Cajun Seasoning Rub. It works well, too.

  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1-1/2 tsp lemon pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 1/2 tsp dried ground oregano

Mix these seasonings together in a small bowl and add in 1/4 cup light brown sugar.

To make this recipe:

Open a can of lager beer and pour half of the can into a large cast iron skillet. Place the opened beer can with remaining beer (tab open) in the center of the cast iron skillet. Alternately, use a large roasting pan rather than the cast iron skillet. (Feel free to open another can of beer for yourself, too!)

Remove the packet of giblets and neck from the inside cavity of the chicken. (These can be used for another recipe. Boil to make a great flavored broth.) Rinse and pat the chicken dry. Rub the outside of the chicken with oil and coat it generously with seasoning. Spinkle some seasoning inside the chicken cavity, too.

Place the chicken upright on the half-filled can of beer centered in the skillet with the legs down and wings up. Gently balance the chicken. You may have to replace some of the seasoning on the outside of the chicken.

Loosely wrap aluminun foil around the chicken. (You have to wrap the foil now; it is virtually impossible to add foil to a half-roasted chicken in the oven and keep the chicken upright.)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Position an oven rack on the lowest rung of the oven. Remove.any other racks from the oven for this recipe.

Roast the chicken for 30 minutes. Then carefully remove the foil.

Continue to roast the chicken for an additional 45 minutes to one hour.

The chicken will be “blackened” and cooked throughout. At this point, the meat should easily fall off the thigh bones.

Remove from oven. Let the whole chicken rest on the kitchen counter for 10 – 15 minutes.

Cut into serving size pieces using either a kitchen shears or carving knife. Transfer to serving platter. (Throw away the can of beer!)

That’s it! It is actually a simple process. The beer keeps the chicken moist and helps add flavor. Mission accomplished.

Garnish with parsley and cherry tomatoes for color, if desired. The chicken is delicious. Tender and juicy. Here’s half of the chicken. (My husband ate the other half!)

My friend’s recipe was a success! I guess her bragging was justified after all. Enjoy this recipe for a summer picnic or 4th of July celebration.

And, next time you purchase a pack of beer – don’t drink it all; save one can for the chicken!

Beer Can Chicken

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 (8 to 12 oz) can lager beer or light beer
  • 1 (3 – 4 lb) young chicken
  • 1 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup, more as needed, Plowboys Fin and Feather Seasoning (or use Cajun Seasoning Rub with brown sugar —  see recipe below)
  • fresh parsley and cherry tomatoes, garnish, if desired

Method and Steps:

  1. Position oven rack on lowest rung of oven. Remove other racks for this recipe. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Pour half of the can of beer into a large cast iron skillet or roasting pan. Place the remaining can of beer (with tab open) upright in the center of the skillet or roasting pan. Set aside.
  3. Remove the packet of giblets and neck from the chicken cavity. Use in another recipe, if desired (when boiled, makes a delicious broth).
  4. Rinse and pat dry the chicken.
  5. Rub the outside of the chicken with oil.
  6. Spinkle the Plowboys Fin and Feather Seasoning (or Cajun Seasoning Rub with brown sugar) over the outside surfaces of the chicken — both the breast and backbone sides. Spinkle seasoning in the cavity of the chicken, too.
  7. Carefully transfer and balance the chicken onto the upright can of beer in the skillet or roasting pan with the wings up and the legs down. You may have to replace some of the seasoning on the outsides of the chicken.
  8. Looosely wrap the chicken with several pieces of aluminum foil.
  9. Place the chicken in the oven. Roast for 30 minutes.
  10. Then remove the foil. Coutinue to roast the chicken for an additional 45 minutes to one hour.
  11. Remove the chicken and set on the kitchen counter. Rest for 10 – 15 minutes.
  12. Setting the chicken on it’s side, use tongs to pull out the can of beer, discard remaining beer. Use kitchen shears or carving knife to cut the chicken into serving pieces. Transfer pieces to platter.
  13. If desired, garnish with fresh parsley and cherry tomatoes.

Cajun Seasoning Rub with brown sugar:

  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1-1/2 tsp lemon pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 1/2 tsp dried ground oregano
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar

Mix all spice ingredients together in a small bowl.



5 thoughts on “Beer Can Chicken

  1. This stirs up some happy feelings for me. First meal my now-husband made when he invited me over was beer can chicken! He made it on the grill and it was delicious. Your Fin & Feather rub sounds just right!

    • Hello, I’m so impressed that your husband grills and cooks! Glad to hear you can cook this on a grill, too. I really like Fin & Feather rub — it doesn’t have the high amounts of cayenne pepper so is a little milder, still has sweet, lemony and spicy flavors. They did a good job with this rub! A shout out to Plowboys.

  2. Oh yes, he loves to cook, especially outdoors. I should mention that the grill cover has to be pretty tall to do this on the grill. When he made it for me that first time, he had a charcoal grill with a domed cover. Later, when we got a gas grill, it wasn’t high enough to stand up a chicken inside. My cousin, also a grillmaster dude, once told me that he has done beer can turkey! I asked was it a small turkey to fit over a beer can? Nope, an 18-pounder. He has one of those huge pro-type grill/smokers, and he used a giant can of Foster’s beer! Hahaha

      • One time I made a DIY project — a smoker — out of a small Weber grill with a large stew pot as the extension. I bet that would work for smoking a Beer Can Chicken. I’ll have to try that this fall if the weather ever cools down — no grilling down here in 105 F degree heat!!

Leave a Reply