Spicy Beer Can Chicken

This recipe is an old favorite. I thought we still had the original magazine, but have lost it. For a while I could pull it up online from the Fine Cooking website, but they have shutdown. Luckily the Internet Archive came to the rescue!

Spicy Beer-Can Chicken

Waldy Malouf, Fine Cooking Aug 2005
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Course Main Course
Servings 6
Calories 415 kcal


  • 1 Gas or Charcoal grill


For the spice rub

  • 1 Tbs Kosher Salt
  • 2 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1 tsp Crush Red Chile Flakes
  • 1 tsp Ground Coriander
  • 1 tsp Dry Mustard
  • 1 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper

For the sauce

  • 6 Tbs Tomato Ketchup
  • 3 Tbs Dijon Mustard
  • 1.5 Tbs Molasses I use dark molasses
  • 1.5 Tbs Red-Wine Vinegar
  • 0.5 tsp Tabasco Sauce
  • 1 Tbs Spice Rub

The chicken

  • 4 lb Chicken, whole
  • 12 oz Can of beer

For serving…I often skip this

  • Several Leaves of romaine lettuce
  • 0.5 cup Thinly slices Scallions White and green parts
  • 1 Lemon, zested into very thin strips
  • 1 Orange, zested into vert thin strips


Make the rub

  • The original recipe suggests doing this a day ahead, I generally don't and it turns out great.
  • To make the spice rub, combine all the ingredients in a small bowl.
  • Set aside 1 Tbs. of the spice rub for the sauce.
    Rinse the chicken and pat it dry with paper towels (Rinsing no longer suggested by food safety experts, so just pat dry). , Sprinkle 1 Tbs. of the spice rub inside the body and neck cavities. Sprinkle the remaining rub all over the skin and rub it in to spread evenly. With your fingers, work a little of the spice rub under the skin. Tuck the wings behind the neck. Cover the chicken and refrigerate overnight (or put it on the grill!).

Make the sauce

  • To make the sauce, whisk together the ketchup, mustard, molasses, red-wine vinegar, reserved spice rub, and Tabasco sauce in a small bowl (or measuring cup, which makes it easier to pour into the beer can.

Cook the chicken

  • If using gas, set the outside burners to medium high and leave the center burner off.
  • While the grill is heating, open the can of beer and poke several holes on top of the can using a churchkey-style can opener. Pour out (or drink) half of the beer. (I find it easier to mix the beer in the measuring cup and pour it all back into the can). Using a funnel, fill the can with the sauce. Gently swirl the can to mix. Put the can in the center of a 10- to 12-inch ovenproof skillet. Holding the chicken upright with the opening of the body cavity facing down, lower the chicken onto the beer can. Stabilize the chicken with its legs so that it stands up.
  • Set the skillet in the center of the grill, or in the area where there’s no direct heat. Put an oven thermometer on the grate next to it. Cover the grill. Adjust the vents or burners to keep the temperature between 350° and 375°F, and grill the chicken until an instant-read thermometer registers 175°F at the thickest part of the thigh, 45 min. to 1-1/4 hours. If the grill temperature is correct, the chicken should start to lightly brown after 15 min. (If using charcoal, check every 15 min. and if the temperature drops below 300°F or if the coals have burned down very far, add a handful of fresh charcoal to each pile of coals.)
  • Carefully transfer the chicken and beer can to a cutting board. Let it rest for 5 min. Meanwhile, line a platter with the lettuce leaves. Using wads of paper towels to protect your hands, carefully remove the chicken from the beer can (ask for help if the can is stuck). Discard all but 1 Tbs. of fat in the skillet and then pour the contents of the can into the skillet. (If the skillet drippings have burned, pour the contents of the can into a clean saucepan.) Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, whisking, until it has reduced slightly and thickened to a nice gravy consistency, 2 to 3 minutes. Carve the chicken into eight pieces and arrange on the platter. Garnish the chicken with the chopped scallions and citrus zest. Put the sauce in a sauceboat or bowl and serve alongside
Keyword Chicken

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