Kick Off Grilling Season with Beer Butt Chicken!
Why did the chicken cross the road? To perch itself comfortably upon a beer can on my grill, of course!!

Beer Can Chicken, Beer Bum Chicken, Beer Can Roasted Chicken…whatever you call it, the end result is the same: tender, juicy, flavorful chicken! And, for those of you who might not drink or don’t particularly care for the flavor of beer, fret not! Any can of soda can be used in place of the beer, so just insert your favorite soda (a lemon-lime soda is great for this!) wherever the blog mentions beer.  If you notice, the can pictured above is actually a Dr. Pepper can, but only because we buy our beer in bottles.  After I finished the pop, I rinsed the can and then poured the beer into it.

This is the perfect recipe for making a tender roasted chicken without heating up your kitchen and with minimal attention.  It can be made on any type of grill, though having a grill with multiple burners is helpful because the chicken cooks with indirect heat.  If you only have a single burner grill, it can still be done, just place small pieces of foil around the bottom of the chicken legs to keep them from scorching.  For charcoal grills, after preheating, move the charcoal to one side of the grill for indirect heat.  A few other grill tips: remove the top rack if you have one and be sure the top of your grill is deep enough to close over the chicken standing on end; preheat the entire grill, then turn the heat off on one side or the middle if there are three burners; and, it isn’t necessary to have a fancy gadget for holding the chicken because the can and two legs will serve as a tri-pod.

As with any meat dish, the spices you can chose for flavor are endless.  And, as with most of my recipes, my choice is influenced by cravings and which herbs and spices I have on hand.  I had a large bag of lemons in the fridge, so I went with Thyme as the basis for the rub.  Thyme can have a slightly lemony flavor, and while it is potent and slow to release its flavor, it will not over-power and blends well with other spices.

Lemon-Thyme Chicken Rub:
Equal parts each – Thyme, Parsley, Coarse Ground Pepper, Garlic Salt, Celery Salt and Chives

Sprinkle about a tablespoon of the rub into the can 1/2 – 3/4 full of beer.  I also squeezed some lemon juice in the beer spice mixture.

Set the beer can on a baking sheet (in a holder if you have one).  Place the chicken over the can (trying to find the words to nicely say stick the beer can up the chicken’s bum).

To make a dry paste-like consistency, squeeze the juice of half a lemon and add about a teaspoon of minced fresh garlic to the rub.  Reserve the other half of the lemon to put in the “head hole” at the top of the chicken to help contain the steam and juices, and add additional flavor to the chicken.  A potato or an onion can also be used for this purpose.

Rub the spice mixture all over the chicken.  Be sure to rub between the skin and the meat.  Don’t forget to cover every part (even in it’s little arm pits…or I suppose it would be wing pits!?!).  Cut a small slit just above the thigh and inset the tip of the wing (like the chicken has its “hands” in its pockets) to keep the tips of the wings from scorching. Wrap small pieces of foil around the bottom of the legs, like little shoes, to keep them from scorching.

Place the chicken on the grill over indirect heat.  For a 3-4lb chicken, cook approximately 80 minutes or until the juices run clear and the internal temperature is at least 165 degrees.  Because I have a three-burner grill, I rotate the bird about every 20 minutes to ensure even browning.

Let the chicken stand for 5 minutes before cutting to allow the juices to redistribute.  The meat will be so tender that you will be able to just pull the chicken apart.  Even the breasts, which tend to be dry, will be moist and juicy.

Even though the skin is not the healthiest part of the chicken, it will be impossible to resist!  When my children say, “eeeew! I don’t want that part!” I get so disappointed…wink, wink!  We paired the chicken with some fresh green beans, steamed until tender crisp and then sautéed in a little olive oil, real butter, minced fresh garlic and a squeeze of lemon juice to tie the flavors together.  Corn on the cob goes great as well.  Enjoy this start to the grilling season!

Another summer favorite is a great use for any leftover chicken! The last time I grilled one of these tasty birds, I was the only one eating it.  And that meant, tons of leftovers.  So, I used the meat in a creamy, crunchy, sweet and savory chicken salad…Mmmm! I cleaned the remaining meat off of the bone and cut it into chunks.  I added light mayonnaise, thinly sliced celery, red grapes, green onion, honey roasted almond slices and a little salt, fresh ground peppercorns and dill weed.  For an added flavor, I tossed in some dried blueberries. Dried cranberries or cherries would be good too.

  1. Oh how I remember calling soda "pop." :) I have cooked chicken-on-a-can many times, but never with putting the wing tips in the chicken's "pockets" nor putting anything in the "head hole." Great tips to try next time! We cook them in the oven sometimes too.
  2. Funny how I referred to it by both soda and pop! Guess that's the military brat dialect coming out...traveling around, I've been exposed to both words. The item in the "head hole" is very important...I'm surprised it isn't a tip mentioned more often. So many things can be used depending upon the flavors you season with. Lemon is great with lemon-pepper or thyme, onion with onion and garlic, a lime with Caribbean or jerk spices, an orange and even potato all work. They add flavor and hold in the steam for moist, tasty chicken.

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