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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.