Smoked Beer Can Chicken

Smoked Beer Can Chicken also known as Beer Butt Chicken is tender, juicy, chicken perfectly seasoned and with a smoky flavor and is great for barbecues and summertime festivities. Only simple ingredients are needed for an inexpensive dinner that tastes better than rotisserie or roasted chicken.

smoked beer can chicken on a holder

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Smoked Whole Beer Can Chicken

Grilled chicken dinner is boring, but smoked chicken is downright delicious with its moist and tender meat and smoky, crispy skin. But perhaps the best part of making beer can chicken on a pellet smoker is that it is as easy to make for a crowd as it is for just your family.

So the next time you have an urge for something exceptional, you need to try this smoked beer can chicken pellet grill recipe. Oh and the leftovers are great for making chicken salad with a unique flavor.

Why Is Smoked Beer Butt Chicken So Good?

Smoked Beer Can Chicken is the type of recipe that may seem a little intimidating at first, but after making it once, you’ll wonder why you didn’t try it sooner. Forget roasting or grilling; you won’t find another way to make chicken as moist and flavorful as cooking beer-can chicken in a smoker.

The secret is the beer not only helps steam and flavor the inside of the bird, but the can is a convenient way to keep the chicken upright. 

Do I Need a Fancy Pellet Grill to Make This Recipe?

Pellet grills and smokers are becoming more and more popular these days because they provide the convenience of a standard gas-fired grill and the taste of a traditional smoker. But you don’t have to have a pellet grill to make this Smoked Beer Can Chicken recipe.

Any smoker will do the job, or you can use your outdoor gas grill as long as it has a lid. However, if you decide to go the standard gas-fired grill route, you will need to pick up a smoker box that you can place inside your grill. These smoker boxes are less than 20 bucks and are superb at creating a smoky taste using your choice of wood chips or pellets.

While you can use your favorite wood pellets for smoking, apple wood is particularly good in this recipe for its fruity yet mild smoke. Alder wood offers a light, neutral smoke flavor and is ideal if you want the taste of the beer to take center stage. You should probably stay away from hickory or mesquite woods.

See more outdoor-friendly recipes on YouTube.

Beer Can Chicken Recipe Ingredients

  • Whole Chicken
  • Can of Beer
  • Butter
  • Brown Sugar
  • Paprika
  • Garlic Powder
  • Coarse Salt
  • Ground Black Pepper
smoked beer can chicken ingredients

The Best Smoked Beer Can Chicken Pellet Grill Beers

The beer can is more than just a nifty way to keep the chicken upright; it is a major flavoring component in the recipe. Choose a brand that you enjoy drinking. If you are not a beer person, try substituting a white wine (it comes in a can) or apple or pineapple juice.

Wheat and fruit-style beers and those that are a little maltier are a perfect match with chicken. So pick up a few Schofferhofer’s Hefeweizen Grapefruit or Culture Keepers Maibock from Creature Comforts Brewing Co. if you are looking for something exceptional.

Stay away from anything dark or super hoppy because these types of beers can overpower the chicken’s natural flavor.

What Other Liquids Could You Use if You Don’t Drink Beer? 

Don’t worry if you are someone who doesn’t particularly like the taste of beer. Despite the name, you can definitely make this smoked whole chicken beer can recipe without using anything alcoholic.

Just about any canned drink will do. Soda is a very popular alternative, with Dr. Pepper being a particular favorite.

Necessary Beer Can Chicken Smoker Equipment

  • Traeger pellet grill or another smoker
  • Traeger Chicken Throne or Beer Can Chicken Holder
  • Meat Injector
  • Baster Brush
  • Meat Thermometer

How to Smoke Beer Can Chicken

  1. Remove about half the beer from the can and secure the can inside the chicken throne. 
  2. Place all the brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and whisk the spices well.
  3. Remove the giblets from the cavity of the chicken. Pat the chicken dry and pour half the spice rub over the top of it.
sprinkling seasoning on a whole chicken
  1. Rub the seasoning all over the chicken.
rubbing seasoning on a whole chicken
  1. Place the chicken on the throne.
seasoned whole chicken on a beer can chicken holder
  1. Add the melted butter to the remaining seasoning mixture and stir well.
  2. Inject the butter/seasoning mixture into both shoulder areas of the chicken until it plumps up each side.
injecting seasoned butter into a chicken
  1. Place the chicken in the smoker.
seasoned chicken on a beer can chicken holder in a smoker
  1. Baste it with the leftover butter/seasoning mixture.
basting beer can chicken in a smoker
  1. Smoke for 2½ hours or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F in the breast and 175°F in the thigh.
  2. Baste periodically, about every hour, or until you’re out of the baste.
  3. Remove the chicken from the smoker.
  4. Allow the chicken to rest for about 10 minutes before slicing.
knife cutting into a smoked beer can chicken

Recipe Notes

  • You can use another rub if desired. My homemade one is perfect for smoked chicken.
  • You can smoke more than one of these chickens at a time. Just make sure you do not overcrowd your smoker.
  • You can skip injecting if you don’t have an injector or aren’t confident with that step. It will still turn out with amazing flavor. I mean, not as amazing as if you injected it, but definitely still tasty.

Tips for Preparing Smoked Beer Can Chicken

  • Don’t skip using the flavor injector. You can pick up a flavor injector for under 20 dollars at a kitchen store if you don’t have one. It’s well worth the price.
  • Use plenty of the smoked beer can chicken marinade to baste the chicken while smoking. The butter-based marinade not only adds flavor and keeps the skin from drying out, but it gives the chicken a beautiful golden color.
  • Check the temperature. No one wants to eat uncooked chicken, and the cooking time may be significantly different based on several factors. Ensure the chicken is at least 165°F in the breast and 175°F in the thigh.
smoked beer can chicken with slices cut off and a glass of beer

FAQ for Beer Can Chicken on Pellet Grill

What Temperature Do You Cook Chicken on a Pellet Grill?

Anywhere from 300 to 350°F will work for this Beer Can Smoked Chicken recipe. Obviously, the lower the temperature, the longer it will take to cook. Don’t rush because you’ll be well rewarded for your patience with the most tender and juicy chicken you’ve ever had.

How Long Does It Take to Smoke Beer Can Chicken?

The length of time it takes to cook the chicken depends on the weight of the chicken. You need about two-and-a-half to three hours of cooking for a medium-sized chicken. For the best results, use a thermometer and remove the chicken when the breast reaches about 160°F.

Taking the chicken off the heat early will allow for carry-over cooking to occur without drying out the meat. If you like your thighs and drumsticks a little more well-done, remove them from the chicken and grill for a few more minutes. 

What Beer Do You Use for Beer Can Chicken?

You can use any kind of beer you like to drink, but some types of beer are better than others. Avoid bitter stouts and hoppy IPAs, but brown and mild ales are great options, as are German bocks.

Whatever beer you choose, do yourself a favor and forget about using the can as a beer butt chicken smoker. Instead, invest in a beer throne and never worry about a top-heavy chicken tipping over the beer can. As a bonus, beer thrones allow you to use beer or any other liquid that doesn’t come in a can.

What Size Chicken Is Best for Beer Can Chicken on Smoker?

When you make beer can chicken in a smoker, there are no rules regarding the size of the chicken. You can cook a small bird just as easily as a larger one.

However, you will need to consider timing because the heavier the bird, the longer you will have to cook it. A medium-sized chicken served with a few side dishes will feed about two to three hungry people. 

What Type of Pellets Are Good Beer Can Chicken in Smoker?

Make sure to use wood pellets meant for cooking. They may be a little more expensive than the heating pellets, but they are a lot safer.

You can buy wood pellets made from various hardwoods that impart a particular flavor to the chicken. Pick one you like. 

What Are the Best Wood Chips for Beer Can Chicken on a Pellet Grill?

If you are new to using wood pellets or smoking, here are a few guidelines for selecting the best hardwood pellets to use in this recipe: 

  • Premium pellets don’t contain bark, fillers, or added flavorings. They may be a few bucks more, but they’re worth the additional cost.
  • Applewood pellets give the meat a mild smoky sweetness that may not pair the best with chicken.
  • Maple pellets are smoky with a distinct flavor that pairs well with all kinds of meat, including chicken. Good maple pellets aren’t cheap, but they are a fantastic choice.
  • Hickory pellets are strong and smoky. They can easily overpower chicken, but if you love a strong flavor, you may want to experiment with them.
  • Mesquite pellets give the meat that classic Texas-style BBQ flavor. These hardwood pellets are a good option for those who can’t get enough of that smoky goodness.
  • Pecan pellets work well with chicken, especially if you want to add a slight nuttiness with spicy undertones. 

Should You Brine the Chicken Before Cooking It on a Pellet Grill?

Cooking a beer can chicken in a smoker already produce a tender, juicy bird, but you certainly brine it if you want. Use your favorite brine or go with a beer brine to infuse even more flavor. There are plenty of brine recipes online if you don’t already have one you like.

knife cutting into a smoked beer can chicken

What to Serve with Beer Can Smoked Chicken

Serve with an ice-cold beer or tasty cocktail and your favorite barbecue sides. Potato salad, cornbread, beans, and greens are all perfect accompaniments. Here are some favorites:

Favorite Grilled, Roasted, and Smoked Meat Recipes

Check out more of my easy chicken recipes and the best recipes for dinner here on CopyKat!

smoked beer can chicken on a holder

Smoked Beer Can Chicken

Smoked Beer Can Chicken is tender, juicy, perfectly seasoned, and has a wonderful smoky flavor.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate Add to Collection
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Beer Can Chicken, Smoked Beer Can Chicken
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 40 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 493kcal

Ingredients

  • 6 pounds Whole Chicken refrigerated or thawed
  • 12 ounces Canned Beer
  • ½ cup Butter (1 stick) melted
  • 2 tablespoons Coarse Salt
  • 2 tablespoons Brown Sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Paprika
  • 1 tablespoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 tablespoon Ground Black Pepper

Instructions

  • Preheat your smoker to 325 degrees.
  • Remove about half the beer from the can and secure the can inside the chicken throne.
  • Place the brownsugar, paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Whick until thoroughly combined.
  • Pat the chicken dry and pour half the seasoning over the top of it. Rub the seasoning all over the chicken.
  • Place the chicken on the throne. This may take a little adjusting for it to sit right, but you want it sitting as upright as possible.
  • Add the melted butter to the remaining seasonings and stir well.
  • Inject the butter/seasoning mixture into each shoulder area of the chicken until it plumps up each side. Be careful to not suck up too much of the seasoning that has settled to the bottom of the bowl as it may clog your injector.
  • Place the chicken in the smoker and baste it with the leftover butter/seasoning mixture.
  • Smoke for 2½ hours or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees in the breast and 175 degrees in the thigh. Baste periodically throughout the 2½ hours, about every hour, or until you’re out of the baste.
  • Remove the chicken from the smoker.
  • Allow the chicken to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Notes

You can use another rub if desired, however, this is an amazing homemade rub recipe with the perfect flavor for chicken.
You can use whatever beer you like. I used Miller Light. You can even use soda and not beer. It’s basically just a source of liquid for the chicken.
You can smoke more than one of these chickens at a time if you have a big crowd. However many you can fit on in your smoker without being overcrowded.
You can use any flavor wood pellet you prefer, I used hickory as it offers the best flavor in my opinion.
If you don’t have an injector or aren’t confident with that step, you can skip it. It will still turn out with amazing flavor. I mean, not as amazing as if you injected it, but definitely still tasty.

Equipment

Pellet Smoker
Chicken Throne or Beer Can Chicken Holder
Meat Injector
Baster Brush
Meat thermometer

Nutrition

Calories: 493kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 36g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 153mg | Sodium: 1964mg | Potassium: 390mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 1449IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 35mg | Iron: 2mg

About Stephanie Manley

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of CopyKat.com's Dining Out in the Home, and CopyKat.com's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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Comments

  1. Baltisraul

    5 stars
    My absolute fav way to do a whole bird! I use my Spanek vertical chicken roaster in the oven as my smoker can’t reach that temp. I start at 450 degrees for 15 min then lower temp to 400 degrees till internal temp reaches 165 degrees. I will try your ingredients listed the next bird I get. So simple. After baking, remove the wishbone and pull the two half’s away from the vertical tower. On the table in under 30 seconds. I also have a Spanek vertical turkey roaster.

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