Beer Butt Chicken Recipe

Posted: January 29, 2013 in Meat Dish, Recipes
Tags: ,

In an attempt to share the recipe, I discovered I never shared my beer butt chicken recipe. This recipe isn’t complicate or original. It’s just what works for me. I probably roast a couple whole chickens per month. Pre-beer butt chicken, I was terrified of whole chickens. But fear not, friends. This recipe is so easy, you’ll wonder why you waited 31 years to roast a chicken of your own!


The Joey Special – Two Chickens (FRIENDS reference)

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 whole chicken, thawed
1 soda/beer can
3-4 Tbs butter
1 Tbs garlic salt
1 Tbs paprika
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
2 cloves garlic (optional)
Part of an onion (or other fruit/veggies to stick in neck)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

A few maintenance items:

The can: If I have an empty pop or beer can, I simply fill it half way with water. If I have beer, occasionally I’ll drink half the beer and leave the other half in. This is called beer butt chicken, but really, it’s just a can with water in it. You could also add some apple cider vinegar, etc. I haven’t found much of a flavor difference, so I normally fill a can halfway. Why halfway? So when you’re moving the hot chicken, the near-boiling liquid doesn’t spill on you. Food fail.

The pan and can: Spray the can and pan with food release spray (pam, olive oil, etc.) that way the chicken doesn’t stick to the pan (making it hard to move) or the can (making the can hard to remove).

The chicken:

Size isn’t that important. Some really small chickens might be too small for the can to fit in the cavity. But otherwise, just adjust cooking time.

If your chicken isn’t thawed, you can put it in a bowl of cool water and it’ll start to thaw out. I’ve read not to thaw in warm water, so I try to avoid it. Once the chicken is fairly thawed, if it’s still frozen in the center/cavity area, you can open up the chicken and run cool water over it. Don’t worry, the chicken might be intimidating at first, but if you’ve ever held a baby, you’ve got this. If you’ve never held a baby, don’t worry, if you drop her, no one will judge you or have to go to the emergency room.

If your chicken is already thawed, simply rinse.

Pat your chicken dry with paper towels. Place the chicken on the beer can. This will anchor your chicken. If the legs come all the way down, place them so it looks like the chicken is sitting on your pan (see picture above). This will make it nice and sturdy. If the can isn’t entirely covered, no big deal, just get it to sit as sturdy as possible, and use care when moving.

Melt the butter. Stir in the spices.

Baste the butter/spices mix on your chicken with a brush. Get all over the skin, under the wings, on the back, etc. Whatever’s left paint or dump into the cavity.

Smash two garlic cloves. You can either put them in the can or stick them under the breast skin. Put the onion in the neck of the chicken. This holds the steam in (making the breast meat more moist). I’ve also used oranges, lemons, celery, etc. The point is to trap as much steam in as possible.

Put your chicken in the oven. You’ll bake it for APPROXIMATELY 30 minutes per pound. However, my four pound chickens are normally done closer to 1 1/2 hours than 2. And my six pound chickens are done well under 3 hours. Use your meat thermometer, check both breasts (chickens have different sized breasts so one side might be done, but the other isn’t). Be sure to get into the center of the meat. Remember, there’s a really hot can in there, so if you probe too far, you might not get an accurate reading.

Once the thermometer reads 165, take it out of the oven.

At this point you have two options:

1. If you don’t want to mess with moving the chicken (it’s hot and the can liquid is HOT), you can leave it in your roasting pan.

2. If you want to preserve some clean juices to pour over the meat (I don’t like the cooked juices, mine are burnt), you can move the chicken to another pan. I usually do this with something like a pair of tongs and a meat fork. Anything sturdy that will help you grab onto the chicken. This takes some experience to master. But when all of your juices are delicious, it’s worth it!

Regardless of whether you move the chicken or not, cover with foil and let rest at least 15 minutes. I’ve let the chicken rest for 30-45 minutes before. This is the perfect time to finalize any sides you’re having. Get everything else on the table, etc.

First things first, eat some of that delicious skin! Seriously, this stuff is not to be missed! It’s like bacon, but, better. Yes, better. Sorry bacon lovers. I like bacon, too, but oven roasted chicken skin. OMG. Yum! I’m not ashamed to admit the last time I made this, I ate ALL of the skin and 1/4 of a breast for dinner. Worth it.

I’ve set the entire chicken on the table and let people carve off what they want. Or I’ve carved the whole thing up, separating white and dark meat. If you don’t carve, you can try to pour the juices over just before you serve. Or you can put them on the bottom of the plate. If you carve (my preference) just pour the juices over after you’re done carving, paying special attention to the more dry white meat.


  1. Susan says:

    Beer butt chicken is such a classic. I’ve only ever done it on the grill; I’ll have to start doing it in the oven too!

    • Kelly says:

      I’m the opposite! I haven’t ever been successful on the grill. But I think my grill is just too small so the chicken really needs to lay on its side. I know that’s good, too, but then there’s not really a way to get the same results as the steam from the can.

  2. […] and pat dry so the skin is dry for whatever you’re going to put on it? I know I rinse and pat my whole beer butt chickens before roasting, but I’m also not really sure why I do that. So, anyone with advice, chime in. I forgot to rinse […]

  3. […] But one random day I decided I wanted to roast a whole chicken. A friend of mine suggested trying beer butt chicken and while my fear of salmonella didn’t go away in one or two rounds of chicken making, I am […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s