Smoked Beer Can Chicken

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Smoked Beer Can Chicken

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

Important Information
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Smoker Temp: 230 degrees F
  • Meat Finish Temp: 165 F
  • Recommended Wood: Hickory
What You'll Need
  • 1 whole chicken
  • Jeff's rub (purchase recipe here)
  • 12 oz can of beer (or root beer, Dr. Pepper, etc.)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
Preparing the Chicken

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.

2013-IMG_1661

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.

Separate skin from chicken

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.

Rub stuffed under skin

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.

Place chicken over top of pop can Chicken sitting on pop can

I used a Bradley rack to keep things more stable while carrying it out to the smoker.

Chicken sitting on bradley rack

At this point the chicken is ready for the smoker.

Getting the Smoker Ready

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.

Smoking the Beer Can Chicken

Place the beer can chicken on the smoker grate very carefully making sure it is stable.

Chicken on grate in smoker

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.

Olive oil/rub Mixture

Finishing Up the Beer Can 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..

black-thermapen-150x150I 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.

maverick-et732If 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!


 
Serving the Smoked Beer Can Chicken

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.

Dutch's Wicked Baked Beans ready for smoker Dutch's Wicked Baked Beans

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.

Bacon wrapped stuffed jalapeños on Bradley rack Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Jalapeños in the smoker

Everything together and ready to eat.. let's carve it up and get started!

Smoked Beer Can Chicken Served Smoked Beer Can Chicken

 

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Jeff, I bought your rub and sauce recipes a few months ago and you were ABSOLUTELY RIGHT! These are the best. Even my very picky wife and mother in law say they love them. I use them on everything I smoke, ribs,chicken.fish,roasts. Every newsletter you have I'm smoking it  a couple days later! I used my smoker 15 times in the snow and it gets you thru winter a lot sooner! THANKS!  ~Brian in Wisconsin

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Favorite Past Newsletters

Bourbon Pulled Pork Pulled Chicken
Bourbon Smoked Pulled Pork Pulled Smoked Chicken
Smoked Brisket Oklahoma Smoked Bologna
Smoked Brisket Smoked Bologna
Spiral-cut Smoked Hotdogs Smoked Chicken Wings
Spiral sliced smoked hotdogs Smoked Chicken Wings
Bacon Wrapped Jalapenos (ABT's) Smoked Shrimp
Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Jalapeno Smoked Shrimp
Smoked Coffee Brined Ribs Smoked Mac and Cheese
Coffee Brined Baby Backs Smoked Mac and Cheese

 

Smoking Meat: The Essential Guide to Real Barbecue

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Comments

  1. mary anne adler says

    how do you get chicken skin crispy? I have done a few whole chickens. Yesterday at 160*, I brushed butter on the entire chicken and cranked my smoker up to 475*. The skin did not get crispy and it dried the meat out. what do you suggest? I noticed on your beer chicken, you base it with olive oil at 145*. did that give you a crisp finish?

    • says

      Mary, it is very difficult to get crispy skin in the smoker. I usually shoot for good bite thru rather than crispy.

      Many people have tricks such as rubbing mayonnaise on the skin, oiling the skin, letting the skin air dry before smoking it, just to name a few but none of these will give you skin (in my experience) that would be considered crispy.

      If you are really keen on crispy skin, you can possibly smoke the chicken for a while then perhaps drop the chicken into some hot oil for a minute or so to crisp the skin. I often place chicken on a very hot grill or under the broiler for a few minutes but it does not do as much to the skin as you might want.

  2. Greg says

    When smoking the chicken for that long the skin turns into leather. I can’t bare to ruin the tastiest part. What am I doing wrong? Thanks for any help.

  3. Adam Bullock says

    Nice! I did this back on the 4th of July.  Was right after I got my CharGriller Duo 5050 and was actually the first thing I had ever smoked.  I've been addicted to smoking ever since!  Love your blog and newsletter!

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