Dark Beer Can Chicken

This was tonight’s dinner. It came from the book “Beer Can Chicken” by grillmaster Steven Raichlen. Beer can chicken is where you cook a whole chicken by popping open a can of beer (or really anything else in a 12 oz can) and sliding the body cavity of the chicken over the open can so that it cooks sitting upright on the beer. This cooking method makes the chicken so moist and delicious. I have a metal contraption that is specifically made for beer can chicken; you can pick it up at Bed Bath & Beyond for less than $10, and I highly recommend it. You can still make this recipe without it though.


For the Chicken and Marinade:

1 can (12 oz) dark beer (I used Guinness)

1/3 cup Dijon mustard

1/3 cup soy sauce

2 tbs fresh lemon juice

1 medium onion, finely diced

4 garlic cloves, crushed with the side of your knife

1 tsp of your favorite hot sauce (I used Texas Pete)

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper

1 whole chicken, 3 1/2 to 4 pounds

For the Spice Rub:

2 tsp sweet paprika

2 tsp dry mustard

2 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp celery seed

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

You also need:

1 can (12 oz) dark beer


Make the marinade by combining in a large bowl the beer, mustard, soy sauce, lemon juice, onion, garlic, hot sauce, salt and pepper. Place the chicken in a large ziplock baggie and pour the marinade over it. Marinate for at least four hours, up to overnight, the longer the better.

Remove the packet of giblets from the body cavity of the chicken and remove the excess fat just inside the body and neck cavities (I suppose you should ideally do this before you marinate the chicken, but I did it afterward and it didn’t suffer). Wipe the chicken dry with paper towels. Discard the marinade. Sprinkle 1 tsp of the spice rub inside the body cavity, then rub about 1 tbs of the rub all over the outside of the chicken. Drizzle the outside with the oil (I skipped this step and it turned out fine).

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Open a can of beer. Pour out or drink about a quarter of the can. Using a church-style key opener, make two holes in the top of the can. Put the remaining spice rub inside the beer (it will foam up, don’t worry about it). Turn the chicken upright, then slide over the beer can. Place in a baking dish with a few splashes of water on the bottom. Place in the oven and cook for about an hour. Test for doneness with a meat thermometer. You want the thickest part of the thigh to register 180 F. Note: my oven will not accommodate the chicken sitting upright unless I remove one of the oven racks and put the chicken on the lowest rack setting.

Once cooked, let rest for about 5 minutes, then carve and serve with Dark Beer BBQ Sauce (recipe follows).



1 tbs butter

1 slice of bacon, chopped

1 medium onion, finely diced

1 cup dark beer

1 cup ketchup

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar (or use molasses if you realize you’re out of brown sugar at the last minute – not that I know anything about that!)

3 tbs Dijon mustard

1 tbs fresh lemon juice

1 to 3 tsp your favorite hot sauce

1 tsp liquid smoke

Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper


Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add bacon and cook until it’s browned. Then add onion and saute until softened but not browned.

Add the beer and boil until reduced by half. Add ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, mustard, lemon juice, hot sauce, liquid smoke, salt and pepper, along with 1/2 cup of water. Simmer sauce about 10 minutes, until thick. Cool the sauce to room temp before serving. You could probably puree it if you’re weirded out by the chunks of bacon and onion in the sauce. Serve with the chicken!

About jwall915

I love to cook and I love to travel! This blog explores my love of both. I share recipes and restaurant reviews, and I blog the trips I take.
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