Smoked Beer Can Chicken Recipe

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Forget roasted chicken; this smoked beer can chicken recipe ensures you get the juiciest, tastiest chicken every time.

This is one of my favorite recipes; it could be that the chicken is joining in on an afternoon beer. Or does knowing that chicken sitting on a can of beer mean an exceptionally juicy and flavorsome bird?

No matter the real reason, beer-can chicken is a favorite around my family table!

Hungry Now? Jump Straight to My Beer Can Chicken Recipe!

Why We Love Smoked Beer Can Chicken

There are so many reasons why I love this smoked beer-can chicken. The most important is that it tastes incredible. Juicy chicken with a smoky flavor and crispy skin—the perfect trio.

I also like that it requires little prep time and takes care of itself once you have it in the grill or smoker. It’s perfect if you are busy working in the yard, hosting a few people, or having a cookout!

It seems that everyone has their own recipe for grilled beer-can chicken. But in the end, it’s just a can shoved up behind a chicken and thrown on the grill or smoker.

The rub takes this smoked beer can chicken to the next level!

Beer Can Chicken Rub (A Family Favorite)

If you don’t have your beer can chicken rub, here is my secret smoked chicken rub recipe, it will help tenderize the chicken as well as flavor

Use it as-is or adapt it to your flavors; the possibilities are endless. 

It’s also a great way to use those older herbs and spices in your kitchen or those weird craft beers your cousin Rick left behind at Christmas.

I like to use Cuisinart Blue Ribbon Chicken seasoning for this recipe, then add some extra garlic powder because you can never have enough garlic!

What You Need for Beer Can Chicken

  • Whole Chicken
  • Beer
  • whole chicken 
  • Rub (You can use a homemade rub or a store-bought rub.
  • Oil

How to Smoke Beer Can Chicken

Follow the 5 steps below to start making our beer can chicken recipe. Ill outline how to season, brine, the beer you should use and exactly how to smoke the chicken

Prepare Your Ingredients

Grab all the ingredients you’ll need and place them on the bench. Then preheat your grill or smoker to 225°F.

smoked beer can chicken in my pit boss smoker

Prepping Your Chicken

You can brine your chicken; however, I don’t think this recipe needs it.

In this smoked beer can chicken recipe, we first need to rub the chicken with oil. This helps to bind the dry rub on the chicken. While you are giving the skin a rub with oil, try to separate the skin from the meat and rub the oil in between them as well. Doing this will help you to get the skin crispier.

Grab your homemade or store-bought rub and spread it all over the chicken. You want to get in all the nooks and crannies.

Placing Your Chicken on The Beer Can

Once you have finished seasoning your chicken, take a 12-16oz can, remove the top, and either drink half or tip it out.

Get your seasoned chicken and carefully position it onto an open beer can. Make sure the can is placed inside the chicken’s cavity, allowing it to sit with its body upright. Use a beer can chicken stand to ensure your bird stays upright. Now, you’re all set to start smoking this delicious bird to perfection!

beer can chicken smoker with rub on it

Smoking The Chicken

The exciting moment has arrived with the chicken seasoned and a beer snugly tucked in its rear end! Let’s get smoking.

Preheat your smoker to 225°F, then add the wood of your choice. I like to use mild fruitwood, like cherrywood or applewood, with chicken. Once your smoker is at 225°F, place your chicken in the smoker and close the lid.

Smoke the chicken for an hour or until its internal temperature reaches 115°F-120°F. Then, I like to increase the temperature to 350°F, which will help crisp the chicken skin. You don’t have to remove the chicken while heating the smoker to 350°F.

Keep cooking until the internal temperature reaches 165°; this took me about an hour. However, it will vary depending on the size of your chicken, so make sure you go my temperature.

Resting The Chicken

Once the temperature reaches 165°F, remove the chicken from the smoker and place it on a cutting board for 10 – 15 minutes. Don’t cover the chicken, or the skin will not stay crispy.

You should also leave the chicken on the beer and allow the juices to redistribute themselves in the chicken. Waiting this extra time will ensure your smoked beer can chicken is super juicy and tender.

Storing Leftovers

If you have leftover chicken and want to store it, follow my instructions below. First, remove the chicken from the bones and allow it to cool before transferring it into airtight containers or resealable bags. Label the containers with the date to monitor freshness. Store in the refrigerator for up to four days or freeze for long-term storage for up to four months.

How Long Do You Smoke Your Beer Can Chicken?

It takes around two hours to smoke a beer-can chicken. You smoke your chicken for an hour at 225°F or until you reach an internal temperature of around 120°F. Then, increase the temperature to 350°F and cook until the chicken reaches 165°F.

How Much Chicken Do I Need to Cook?

You should allow 1lb of chicken per person. So, if you’re cooking for 5, go for a 5-6lb chicken. That way, you may have some leftovers for lunch the next day.

Using a Pellet Grill?

If you’re using a pellet grill, then I suggest you follow my steps to cook a beer can chicken on a pellet grill here.

What Beer Should You Use?

I like to use a lager or a light fruit beer. However, with over 2000 types of beer available, it can be overwhelming to decide what to pick.

I have put together some of my favorite beers for beer can chicken here. Let me know what your favorite beer is!

Wondering What Temperature to Smoke Your Beer Can Chicken At?

Preheat your smoker or grill to 225°F for beer can chicken. Once you reach an internal temperature of around 120°F, increase the temperature to 350°F and cook until the chicken reaches 165°F.

Sides For Beer Can Chicken

Wondering what to serve with your beer can chicken?

Here are a few of our favorite recipes

Wasabi Potato Salad

Smoked Brussel Sprouts

Smoked Shotgun Shells

Smoked Asparagus

Want more sides for beer can chicken?

Looking For More Chicken Recipes?

Check out my huge list of delicious chicken and turkey recipes! But here are some of my favorites

Pitboss Smoked Chicken Thighs

Pit Boss Chicken Wings

Pellet Grill Chicken Thighs

Also, make sure you check out my smoked cornish hen recipe.

Smoked Beer Can Chicken Recipe

Looking for a delicious smoked beer can chicken recipe? This one here ensure you always get the juiciest, tender chicken you want!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Course Appetizer, Dinner, lunch, main, Main Course
Cuisine American, Barbecue, bbq, dinner, grill, lunch
Servings 6 servings
Calories 403 kcal


  • 1 whole can 12 ounces beer
  • 1 whole chicken 4 – 4.5 pounds
  • 2 tablespoons of your favorite homemade rub premade store bought rub is also fine
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil


  • Preheat your grill (with a lid) to 225°F. If you are using wood chips in your smoker now is a good time to get them soaking. I like to use around 1/4 of the beer mixed with a little bit of water or whiskey. Make an additional 2 holes in the top of the beer can, this will help the beer absorb into the chicken better.
  • Remove the giblets from the chicken’s cavity and rinse the chicken thoroughly with lots of fresh running water. Dab completely dry with a paper towel both inside and out.
  • Drizzle the oil over the entire outside of the bid, making sure to rub it all over with your hands for an even coating that the rub will stick to.
    Sprinkle over around 2 tablespoon of the remaining rub onto the outside of the bird. Put the remaining rub into the beer can. The beer should foam up slightly, don't worry this is normal.
  • Next, we need to place the bird on top of the beer can. Hold the bird upright with the cavity facing towards the bottom.
    Lower the bird onto the beer can and lower until you get around 3/4 (or more) of the way down the can. Once the can is in place pull the legs forward to form a tripod. This should be enough to support the bird standing by itself.
  • Tuck the wing tips behind the chickens back.
  • Set up your grill for indirect grilling according to your grill manufacturers instructions.If you are using a gas or charcoal grill place a large drip pan under the chicken as there will be lots of runoff (perfect for making gravy later).
  • Place your chicken in the center of your cooking grate. You want it to be balancing on the can and the two legs. Make sure the chicken is sitting over your drip pan, this is very important. You want to savor all those delicious juices for a gravy, and obviously stop any potential flare-ups from occurring.
  • Cover your grill and cook until 120° then increase the temperature to 350°F and cook until the chicken skin is a dark golden brown and super crispy. You want your chicken to be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F.
    The best place to check the temperature is in the middle of the thickest part of the thigh, making sure to not touch the bone. This should take somewhere around 1 1/4 – 1 3/4 hours. If you do notice the bird browning to fast, wrap it loosely with aluminum foil until it has come to temperature.
  • Once the bird has come to temperature, remove from the grill. Do this by using tongs to grab the can and carefully transfer it to a platter.
  • Let the bird rest for at least 10 minutes to let the juices rest and the proteins to redistribute. Remove the chicken from the can and serve!
Keyword Barbeque Chicken, Beer Can Chicken, chicken

Smoke On!


Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling adventures with you!

You can read more on our About Us page.

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