Smoked beer can chicken is a play on a classic recipe usually done on the grill but it does equally well, if not better, on the smoker and begs the question, why not!
For those of you not yet familiar with this method of cooking chicken, a beer can half full of beer (or root beer, Dr. Pepper, etc.) is inserted into the cavity of the chicken in such a way so as to help it to stand on end with the two legs out in front keeping it stable.
The steam from the liquid is believed by many to add moisture and flavor to the meat while it cooks.
Others will tell you that it does nothing that could not be accomplished by brining.
Regardless of who you choose to listen to, it is a method worth trying for yourself and you may find (like so many others have) that it is a memorable experience and that it tends to please the folks who are eating at your table and your tailgate.
I, for one, am a big fan!
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Smoked Beer Can Chicken
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
- Smoker Temp: 230 degrees F
- Meat Finish Temp: 165 F
- Recommended Wood: Hickory
- 1 whole chicken
- Jeff's rub (purchase recipe here)
- 12 oz can of beer (or root beer, Dr. Pepper, etc.)
- Extra virgin olive oil
Rinse the chicken under cold water and remove the neck, giblets and anything else that got stuffed into the cavity. Set on the cabinet and pat dry with a paper towel.
The main event in getting the chicken ready is in getting the rub up under the skin and this is not nearly as hard as it might seem.
Use your hands or even a spoon between the skin and the meat on the back and the breast to separate it being careful not to tear it.
Once it is separated, set the chicken straight up on one end and pour several tablespoons of my rub down into each side of the breast and back.
Massage the outside of the skin to spread it out a little for full coverage.
Once the rub is applied, the next step is to open a can of beer or some other liquid and make about half of it disappear by whatever method you choose to employee. (I used root beer on this one but some folks swear by using Dr. Pepper as well.)
Place 2 TBS of my rub down into the can of liquid. Add slowly or it will cause a volcano!
Set the can on the cabinet or cutting board and slowly place the cavity of the chicken over the can with the legs and the can acting as a tripod.
I used a Bradley rack to keep things more stable while carrying it out to the smoker.
At this point the chicken is ready for the smoker.
I used the Bradley smoker for this smoked beer can chicken but any smoker will work as long as you maintain the temperature and add plenty of smoke to it.
Set up your smoker for cooking at about 230-250 degrees. If you have a water pan be sure to use it and I recommend at least 2 hours of smoke if you are using an electric, charcoal or gas smoker.
Once the smoker is maintaining a steady temperature, it is ready for the chicken to go on.
Place the beer can chicken on the smoker grate very carefully making sure it is stable.
Maintain 230-250 degrees for about 3 hours and 30 minutes or until the chicken reaches 165 degrees in the thickest part of the breast or thigh.
Use a Maverick ET-732 or a Super-fast Thermapen to keep an eye on the temperature of the chicken. When it reaches 145 degrees, you will want to baste it with a oil/rub mixture.
Olive Oil/Rub Mixture
- 3/4 cup of olive oil
- 2 TBS of my rub
Mop onto the chicken a couple of times before it finishes to add some good flavor and color to the outside of the chicken.
The chicken is finished when it reaches 165 degrees in the thickest part of the thigh and breast. I usually check it in both places since they can be different. You want both spots to be at 165 when you take it off the smoker.
A few words about a couple of my favorite thermometers..
I like to use my Super-fast Thermapen for checking the meat when it gets down to the finish line. The probe is much skinnier than most probes and I can get a reading in under 2 seconds!
Just in case you are interested, Thermoworks is having a great sale right now that includes (2) or more thermapens for $85 each. If you have never used one of these, then I can tell you that you will love this device.
I consistently get 1-2 second readings on mine and I have dubbed it the "black ninja" concluding that it slips into the meat, records the temperature and gets out before the meat even knew it was there.
If you are interested in a remote thermometer for those long cooks when you want to know the temperature and not have to be right there at the smoker the entire time, the Maverick ET-732 is a hard one to beat and has a range of 200 feet or more. I have several of these on hand and they are extremely handy to have around. Not as fast as the Thermapen but they are super convenient.
You do have options when it comes to checking the temperature of the meat and you just can't put a pricetag on a thermometer. Get a good one that will last you a very long time and you'll be glad you did a thousand time over!
I made cream cheese/cheddar stuffed jalapeno's wrapped in bacon and Dutch's Wicked Baked Beans to go with the chicken and it was a wonderful ensemble!
Dutch's wicked baked beans is a recipe from my Smoking Meat book and can also be found at smokingmeatforums.com. This is the most amazing baked bean recipe in the world. If it tells you anything, I don't eat baked beans and never have.. but I eat these.
They are laced with pineapple, bacon and jalapeno and smoked right along with the chicken for about 3 hours.
I wrote about the Stuffed Peppers in a recent newsletter HERE.
The only difference I made was in how I wrapped the bacon.. I usually wrap it lengthwise around the pepper and this time I wrapped it widthwise to help hold in the cheese. This also eliminated the need for toothpicks.
Smoked for 3 hours, they are one of my favorite smoked appetizers of all time.
Everything together and ready to eat.. let's carve it up and get started!
Order Jeff's Rub Recipe and Sauce Recipe
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Words can't describe how good your rub and sauce are. I just purchased your recipes last week and cooked outside three times already using the rub and sauce. I have never tasted anything that even comes close to this. Thanks so much for sharing this with us Jeff. ~Steve G.
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Favorite Past Newsletters
|Bourbon Pulled Pork||Pulled Chicken|
|Smoked Brisket||Oklahoma Smoked Bologna|
|Spiral-cut Smoked Hotdogs||Smoked Chicken Wings|
|Bacon Wrapped Jalapenos (ABT's)||Smoked Shrimp|
|Smoked Coffee Brined Ribs||Smoked Mac and Cheese|
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