Beer Can Chicken

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This beer can chicken is cooked upright over a ceramic roaster and topped with creamy beer cheese for a whole chicken experience unlike any other.

Beer can chicken covered in beer cheese with text overlay - Beer Can Chicken.

What is Beer Can Chicken?

Let’s take a moment to talk a bit about beer can chicken, shall we? If you’ve never experienced this before, you’re in for some fun. Also known as beer butt chicken or chicken on a throne, beer can chicken is a method of cooking a whole chicken over a can of beer on the grill.

Now, the science of this whole ordeal is debatable (there’s little evidence to support that the beer evaporates well enough to impart flavor to the meat), but the process is still fun nonetheless.

For this recipe, we’re skipping the beer can and keeping the same process with a ceramic roaster instead. This results in a tasty chicken that is just as fun to cook as it is to eat.

Olive oil and Hey Grill Hey Chicken Rub being mixed together in a small bowl.

Beer Can Chicken Rub

This beer can chicken is covered in a chicken seasoning and oil rub prior to cooking it on the grill. It’s an easy mixture that will give the meat some good flavor while it cooks. Here’s what you need to make this rub.

  • Hey Grill Hey Chicken Rub. You can purchase this rub from the Hey Grill Hey Store shipped directly to your door. If you don’t have a bottle on hand, and you’re looking to make this recipe RIGHT NOW, you can make a similar seasoning from scratch using my recipe for Lemon Herb Chicken Seasoning.
  • Olive oil. I like the flavor added with olive oil, but you can also use canola oil for this recipe.

Combine the ingredients together to make a sort of paste to coat the outside of the chicken prior to cooking it on the grill.

What Beer is Best for Beer Can Chicken?

This is usually a matter of personal preference. This recipe uses Bud Light as a simple, all-American beer of choice. You can honestly use whatever beer you prefer for this chicken, though I do recommend using something that isn’t too hoppy, too bitter, or too sweet.

If you are feeling adventurous, you’re welcome to play around with the beer you use for your beer can chicken. Though, when in doubt go with a lager for the best results.

Boiled beer pouring into a beer can chicken roaster.

How to Make Beer Can Chicken

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Make the beer cheese. Heat a 12-inch cast iron skillet on the stovetop and make a roux by melting butter in the skillet and adding flour. Whisk in the heavy cream then add in cheese and mustard seed. Once the cheese is melted, add in flat beer and cook until the beer cheese sauce thickens.
  2. Prep the beer. Boil the beer in a saucepot with thyme and garlic. Pour it into a ceramic beer can roaster.
  3. Prep the bird. Combine chicken seasoning and olive oil in a small bowl. Place the chicken on top of the ceramic roaster, then drizzle the seasoning on the chicken. Rub the paste evenly on the skin.
  4. Smoke. With your grill preheated to 425 degrees F for indirect heat grilling, cook the chicken for 45 minutes to 1 hour OR until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 165 degrees F.
  5. Add the cheese. Remove the chicken from the grill and either drizzle it with the beer cheese sauce or slice and serve with cheese sauce on the side for dipping. Enjoy!

Olive oil and chicken seasoning being poured over a whole chicken on a chicken roaster.

How Long to Cook Beer Can Chicken

Once on the grill, this chicken takes approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour to fully cook the chicken.

Keep in mind that this cooking time will vary greatly depending on how large your chicken is. I cooked around a 6-pound bird and it took me around 45 minutes with my grill running nice and consistent to fully cook the meat.

Your best bet with this chicken is to use an internal meat thermometer to gauge the temperature of the chicken as it cooks. The chicken is done when the temperature at the thickest part of the meat reaches 165 degrees F.

Beer can chicken on the grill.

Notes for Making Beer Can Chicken

Before you read through the recipe, take a look at these last few notes on this recipe.

  • Use a roaster. For the best results, use a ceramic chicken roaster because an actual beer can isn’t ideal to heat inside of your food. It’s also easier to get the boiled beer back in the roaster without needing a funnel.
  • Boil the beer. It is very difficult to bring the beer to a boil inside the cavity of the chicken. The inside cavity of the chicken is going to keep the temperature of the can and liquid cool and combat it coming to a boil; or potentially cause the beer to never reach a boil at all. If the beer doesn’t boil while the chicken cooks there will be little to no evaporation/condensation happening in our bird from the can. By boiling the beer first we allow the beer to evaporate while the chicken cooks on the grill.

Beer can chicken covered in beer cheese being sliced.

More Whole Chicken Recipes

I’m a big fan of cooking whole chickens on the grill or smoker. They tend to be affordable meals that feed my whole family (and I can cook them in advance as well!). Check out these other whole chicken recipes from Hey Grill Hey.

Beer Can Chicken Recipe

Time to pop open that beer and get to cooking, friends. If you’re looking for more BBQ inspiration, make sure and find me on social media. Simply search for @heygrillhey to join in on all our BBQ conversations. I can’t wait to see you there!

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Beer Can Chicken

By: Taylor Shulman
0 from 0 votes
This beer can chicken is cooked over a chicken roasted and topped with creamy beer cheese for a whole chicken experience unlike any other.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Total Time1 hour 15 minutes
Servings4 people


  • 1 ceramic beer can chicken roaster


  • 1 5-8 pound whole chicken

For the Can

  • 1 16-ounce can Bud Light
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1 head garlic top slip off

Beer Can Chicken Rub

Beer Cheese

  • 1 stick butter
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 Tablespoon whole grain mustard
  • ½ Tablespoon cracked pepper
  • 1 cup Bud Light allowed to go flat
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese shredded


  • Make the rub. Mix the chicken seasoning and oil in a small bowl and use a fork to combine into a spreadable paste.
  • Preheat skillet. Place a heavy bottom skillet or cast iron over direct heat on the grill. Allow it to heat up for 10 minutes- you can also cook this over medium heat on a burner.
  • Make the beer cheese. Once hot, melt the butter in the skillet then whisk in the flour. Continue cooking the roux, for about 3 minutes, keeping it moving to prevent burning. Whisk in the heavy cream and allow it to come to a simmer. Stir in the cheese and mustard seed. Once the cheese is melted and combined, pour in the flat beer. Allow it to continue cooking until the cheese reaches your desired thickness
  • Preheat grill. Preheat your grill for indirect heat at 425 degrees F.
  • Boil the beer. Pour the beer into a saucepot and bring it to a boil with the thyme and garlic.
  • Prep the chicken. Turn off the heat as soon as the beer comes to a boil and pour it right into the opening of the ceramic chicken cooker. Place the bird onto the stand and pat it very dry with paper towels. Coat the chicken in the rub paste.
  • Grill. Place the chicken on the grill, close the lid, and cook over indirect heat for approximately 1 hour or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
  • Serve. Remove the chicken from the grill. Drizzle the cheese over the chicken, or slice and serve with the beer cheese for dipping. Enjoy!


Calories: 942kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 90g | Saturated Fat: 54g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 27g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 283mg | Sodium: 645mg | Potassium: 223mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 3053IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 515mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Susie is the BBQ Brain behind the Hey Grill Hey website. Her passion for smoked meats and developing fun, new recipes have landed her on the Food Network, cooking turkeys with Shaq, and on a couple of Guinness World Records. When she’s not grilling, she is hanging out with Todd and their three kids, preferably outdoors!

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Recipe Rating

Reader Reviews

4 Reviews

  1. Wally says:

    Why Bud Light?

    1. Hey Grill Hey says:

      Use whatever you want. This recipe was written well before recent events.

  2. Ken Bourassa says:

    After reading through the article and recipe I see why it always looked like the beer never evaporated. I’d pour myself half a can of beer let the rest sit to ambient temp. Thats how it would go on the grill, however boiling it first now makes perfect sense. Thank you, Ken B. Kalispell, MT

  3. Angie says:

    Recipe was good- very moist chicken. I made my own standard rub- olive oil then rub- put it in the oven- I had a stand up roaster from a craft faire. All good. The cheese sauce was not as good as I had hoped but it was good. Overall, I will do it again, thank you.