After a long work week, you deserve The Culinary Institute of America’s “Beer Can” Chicken. Combining two of your favorite things—grilling and beer—Beer Can Chicken delivers an incredibly succulent bird without all the fuss.
“Vertically roasting a chicken on the grill is not only simple but it makes perfect sense as a cooking method for a whole chicken,” said CIA BBQ Boot Camp Chef David Kamen. “The dark meat of poultry requires a longer cooking time than the white meat. Vertical roasting brings the dark meat closer to the heat source and keeps the tender white meat slow-cooking away from the direct heat.”
A beer can is just the right size and height for such a roasting method.
The seasoned whole chicken sits atop the half-full beer can with the legs set to balance the chicken on the grill. As the beer evaporates, it imparts a delicate flavor to the chicken and helps keep it moist. Using a beer can is traditional but a store-bought vertical roasting pan helps catch all the delicious juices that are released as the bird cooks providing you with a handy basting liquid.
The perfect accompaniment to beer can chicken? Beer, of course. CIA Professor Chef Mark Ainsworth suggests a more serious beer than the one your chicken is roasting on.
“Try a summer beer such as a Hefeweizen, or yeast wheat beer,” said Ainsworth. “This is very refreshing, effervescent beer with great floral and yeast notes and should be poured into a Weizen glass which is very tall to contain the substantial head in the beer.”
This and other great summertime recipes can be found in the CIA’s ultimate grilling cookbook, Grilling.
- Two 12-ounce cans lager- or pilsner-style beer
- 10 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/4 cup barbecue sauce
- 4 tsp salt
- 2 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 fryer chickens, about 4 lb each
- Pour half the beer from each can into a bowl.
- Add the lemon juice, barbecue sauce, 2 tsp of the salt, and 1 tsp of the pepper.
- Leave each beer can half full of beer and set aside.
Beer Can Chicken
- Preheat a gas grill to medium-high; leave one burner off. If you are using a charcoal grill, build a fire and let it burn down until the coals are glowing red with a moderate coating of white ash. Spread the coals in an even bed on one side of the grill. Clean the cooking grate.
- Blot the chickens dry and season with the remaining 2 tsp salt and the remaining 1 tsp pepper.
- If you are using vertical roasters, add the reserved beer to the reservoirs in the roasters, assemble the roasters, and set the chickens on the roasters. If cooking the chickens on the beer cans, set the cans on the grill over direct heat and carefully lower the chickens onto them. Position the legs so that they balance the chickens. Grill over direct heat, covered, until golden, using a clean cotton mop to daub the chickens every 10 minutes with the mopping sauce, about 20 minutes.
- Move the chickens to indirect heat, cover, and continue to cook until brown, mopping every 10 minutes, for another 20 minutes.
- Move the chickens to indirect medium heat and continue to cook them until they are a rich brown and cooked through (165 degrees F), another 20 minutes.
- Remove the chickens from the beer cans or roasters, transfer to a platter, and let rest for 15 minutes.
- Cut into quarters with a kitchen fork and boning knife. Serve on a heated platter or plates.