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Looking for an easy, yet delicious, meal that feeds your family without spending a lot? This beer can chicken recipe requires all the ingredients you already have in your pantry making it the perfect solution for a weeknight meal or a weekend barbecue made on your favorite smoker or grill.

It’s so good that you’ll be throwing two chickens on your smoker every time.  

Smoked Beer Can Chicken served with orange and brown checkered napkin
This smoked beer can chicken will make your mouth water.

Smoked Beer Can Chicken: Getting Started

This smoked beer can chicken is one of the easiest, yet most flavorful chicken recipes I’ve ever made. It’s the perfect blend of moist, juicy, and smokey. 

To get started, you’ll want a whole chicken that weighs three to four pounds. When prepping the chicken, start by running the chicken under cold water and then drying off the chicken with a paper towel. 

Preheat your smoker to 225°F. 

While your smoker preheats, prepare your rub. I love rubs, but especially love rubs that involve everything I already have at home in the pantry. For this specific chicken rub you’ll need: 

  • Light brown sugar
  • Kosher Salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Paprika
  • Garlic Powder; and
  • Onion Powder

Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl, mix well. Once combine, rub the dry ingredients all over the entire chicken; this includes under the skin and inside the body cavity — this is just one of the things that ensure your chicken is packed with flavor, literally.  

Whole Chicken with rub
Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and rub that seasoning into the meat.

Before you begin smoking your chicken, you’ll need: 

  • 1 can of beer
  • Onion; and
  • Garlic cloves

Chop up your garlic and onion, cut off the top of your beer can, and pour roughly half of the beer out of the can. Add the chopped garlic and onion into the beer can.

Chopped onion, chicken beer stand and whole chicken
Put your ingredients into the can.

Making the Best Smoked Beer Can Chicken

Once you’ve prepped your ingredients and your smoker has preheated, you’re ready to move forward. Slowly work your chicken onto the beer can.

To make the process of transferring the chicken onto the smoker, and reduce the risk of the chicken falling over, I recommend you invest in a beer can chicken rack. 

Chicken on beer can stand
Invest in a beer can chicken stand.

Let the chicken smoke for two to three hours — your chicken is considered done when a meat thermometer reads 165°F when you stick it in the thickest part of the chicken. 

Chicken on beer stand in Weber smoker
The beer can chicken stand works really well on the smoker or grill.

Remove the chicken from the smoker, cover it in aluminum foil and let it rest for at least 10 minutes to ensure the chicken absorbs all the juices and flavors before cutting into it. 

Commonly Asked Questions About Making Smoked Beer Can Chicken

What Is the Best Type of Beer to Use? 

The type of beer you use for this recipe is up to you. Cheap beers, like Budweiser, are completely fine — most people prefer lager for grilling. 

If you are hesitant to use beer, you could use lemon-lime soda, even Fresca — the important thing is that you have a 16-ounce can. 

If you’re worried about alcohol content and serving this chicken, don’t fret, the alcohol in the beer will cook off while smoking. 

Coors Beer with Chicken
The alcohol out of the beer will cook off.

Cooking Beer Can Chicken on Grill

If you are cooking beer can chicken on your charcoal or gas grill, adjust the cooking time to 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Tip: If you are cooking on a gas grill, turn the temperature up to High for 5-10 minutes for extra crispy skin.

Temperature times will vary, so just make sure the thermometer reads 165°F. You can remove from the grill and cover with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Why Should I Use Beer or Other Liquids in Smoked Chicken? 

The idea is to keep the chicken moist and flavorful. The steam from the beer inside of the chicken will leave it very humid, locking in the moisture, instead of letting it evaporate from the meat. 

beer can chicken (smoked) sitting on serving plate
Juicy and moist beer can chicken

What Do You Serve Smoked Chicken With? 

Are you a fan of leftovers? Make a second chicken and use it on salads or in soups for the week. The chicken is best served within three days of making this recipe. 

This smoked beer can chicken pairs well with many sides. Keep it light and serve some smoked or grilled asparagus on the side, a delicious side of homemade coleslaw, or hone in on some southern hospitality and serve it up with our smoked mac and cheese and BBQ baked beans

Related Smoked Chicken Recipes:

Smoked Beer Can Chicken

Smoked Beer Can Chicken

This beer can chicken recipe requires all the ingredients you already have in your pantry making it the perfect solution for a weeknight meal or a weekend barbecue.
4.59 from 12 votes
Print Pin
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Beer Can Chicken
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 280kcal
Author: Mark Rogers


  • 3-4 pound whole chicken
  • Seasoning Rub
  • Dry Ingredients
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • Wet Ingredients
  • 1 can beer
  • 2 tablespoons fresh onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped


  • Preheat the smoker to 225 degrees F.
  • Combine all the dry ingredients and rub over the entire chicken, including inside the body cavity and under the skin.
  • Cut the top off of the can of beer and pour half out, add the chopped onion and garlic to the can.
  • Work the chicken over the open top of the beer and transfer it to your preheated smoker, Setting it on a beer can chicken rack is recommended.
  • Smoke for 2-3 hours until an instant-read thermometer placed in the thickest part of the breast reads 165 degrees F.
  • Remove from the smoker and cover with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.


Calories: 280kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 82mg | Sodium: 1243mg | Potassium: 267mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 621IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 29mg | Iron: 1mg

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