Cooking with Beer—Beer Can Chicken, No Can


So I’ve been reading a bit about how beer can chicken is a waste of beer. The beer in the can supposedly doesn’t get hot enough to do anything. It’s more or less the slow cooking that does all the good work. With that in mind, I thought I’d figure out a way to maximize the benefits of beer can chicken in a different way.

To make this you need 3 ingredients:

1 whole chicken

2 Dark Beers

Spice rub

The spice rub can be anything you like on chicken—from salt and pepper to bbq rub.

The first thing you want to do is cut the chicken in half. Start by flipping it upside down and cutting out the spine. Then crack the breast bone, flip it back over, and cut it in half along the dividing line between the breasts.

Put the chicken in a baking pan so you can lay them the halves next to each other and not stack them. Then start your fire. You can use a gas grill here if you must, but you will really be missing out on the smoky flavor you can only get from slow cooking with charcoal and wood. Is use a mix of solid hardwood charcoal and hickory since I want a little hotter fire than if I were planning to, say, smoke ribs.

While your coals are getting hot, pour 1 beer over the chicken. I use dark beer in this recipe because the extra malts really give a nice carmelization to the chicken. Upslope Brown Ale is my go to here, but you can use malty dark beer.

Let the chicken marinate in the beer while your fire is getting hot, flipping it over once. When the fire is ready, take the chicken out and add your spice rub. Save the beer.

Arrange the hot coals on one side of your grill for indirect cooking. Put a small baking pan that you aren’t too fond of on the other side of the grill. Pour the beer you marinated the chicken with into the pan, slap the chicken on the grill above the pan, then close the lid of your grill and let everything cook.

Turn the chicken every 10 minutes or so. At about the 20-minute mark, you will probably need to add the second beer to the pan. The whole thing should be done in about 40-45 minutes, but check on your meat thermometer to be sure (165° in the thigh).

Pull it off the grill and be prepared to be amazed. The steam from the beer keeps everything moist, and the marinade adds both flavor and carmelization. No wasted beer here.