How to Make Amazing Beer-Can Chicken on Your Grill

Make moist and flavorful chicken in a few simple steps
How to Make Amazing Beer-Can Chicken on Your Grill

Cooking chicken in an upright position helps it roast more evenly.

When it comes to firing up the grill on weekends, most of us reach for the classics — hot dogs and hamburgers; boneless, skinless chicken breast; or meaty, marbled steaks — but there are lots of other meals you can make on the grill. If you're looking for another option, try roasting a whole chicken on your grill — it's easy. You just need to make sure you keep the chicken juicy and flavorful. An easy solution: beer-can chicken.

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You've probably heard the stories about how you can make incredibly moist and juicy chicken by cooking it, standing upright, on a half-full can of beer. Good news: the rumors are true. While there are pros and cons to any cooking method, cooking the bird in an upright position over indirect heat does a lot of good in terms of flavor and texture.

One of the biggest problems with cooked chicken, in general, is that it dries out as a result of overcooking. Beer-can chicken helps solve this problem by cooking the chicken in an upright position. The dark meat (in the legs and thighs) needs to be cooked to a higher temperature than the breast meat does, so keeping the legs closest to the heat source (and the breast furthest away) helps ensure that the chicken breast doesn’t overcook as the darker leg and thigh meat reaches the correct internal temperature.

Another common problem with cooked chicken is that it can easily end up flavorless. While the beer itself doesn’t impart much flavor to the chicken (beer is mostly water), cooking the bird on your grill over indirect heat adds a nice hint of smokiness to the meat — and it doesn’t hurt that the vertical roasting position allows the flavor-enhancing fat to drip down and baste the bird as it cooks. If you add a dry rub to the chicken before roasting it, you’ll end up with even more flavor.

The bottom line? Roasting a chicken on your grill over a beer can is an easy way to cook a juicy and flavorful bird. You just need to follow a few simple steps to ensure perfect results every time.

Create Indirect Heat on Your Grill

Since the chicken needs to be on the grill for a relatively long time in order to cook through, you want to cook it over indirect heat. If you have a charcoal grill, simply gather the coals on one side of your grill and cook the chicken on the other. If you’re using a gas grill, light all of the burners and preheat the grill. Then turn one burner off and cook the chicken over that area of the grill.

Pat the Chicken Dry


Remove the giblets from the chicken (if necessary) and then pat the bird dry with paper towels.

Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal’s Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.