feasting with friends

Drunken Chicken. Beer Can Chicken. Beer in the Rear Chicken.

beer can chickenIt has many names. But they all come down to the same thing. Roasting or grilling a whole chicken while “standing” it on a can of beer. I first heard about this process from none other than Matthew McConaughey! Well, he didn’t tell me personally…dang it! He was a guest on the old Rosie O’Donnell show, way back when. I tried to find when that episode aired, I think in March of 1998. Think is the key word here 🙂 Anyways, hearing him describe the process in his sweet southern drawl made me want to eat Beer Butt Chicken, as he called it, 8 days a week. He described how you had to open a can of Budweiser, drink half of it and put a little butter and some seasonings in the half-full can of beer. Take your washed and clean chicken, shove the can of beer up the chicken’s “ahem”, add more seasoning and stand the little guy up on the grill, medium heat for an hour or two. He claimed it was the best darn chicken you’d ever eat. Best?? There is a lot of ways to prepare chicken after all. But definitely a top 5 preparation!

The first few years we made this, we always made two chickens at once. Why you ask? Well, it’s the only way we could get the chicken to stay upright on the grill, lol. Kind of like a couple of drunken buddies depending on one another for support! Then we found great little, 3-footed stands that the beer can sat in and the feet kept the chicken upright. Genius! It’s one of those, why didn’t I think of that gadgets :-/ I saw them at Target for a mere $3.99 in the last few months. Hardly a huge investment for great gadget.

The ingenious beer can stand

The ingenious beer can stand

You can definitely prepare this in an oven, roasting at low heat, about 325°F. Just make sure you use a roasting pan with sides to contain any spillovers. We consider this a BBQ season staple and tend to prepare it on the grill. All I can say is for whatever reason, this is the juiciest, best white meat I’ve ever eaten. Don’t get me wrong, it’s all good. But the breast meat reaches perfection with a beer in the rear!


1 whole roasting chicken

1 12 ounce can of beer, favorite brand

1 Tablespoon butter

1/2 potato

seasonings and herbs of your choice [my seasoning mix/recipe at bottom]


Preheat oven or grill.

Wash and pat dry chicken. Make sure any “parts” stored in chicken cavity have been removed. Set aside.

Drink 1/2 of the beer [or pour out, but where’s the fun in that?]. Put the butter [helps to cut in 1/4s], in the beer can. Add approximately 1 Tablespoon of your seasonings, a kitchen funnel helps with this task.

Season the chicken, inside and out, with your seasoning. Stuff the cavity with a 1/2 dozen of so sprigs of herbs. This time around I used thyme, parsley and rosemary.

beer can chicken

Stand the chicken up on the beer can. Place [shove] the half of potato in the neck cavity of the chicken. This will help keep the wonderful seasoned, beer steam in the chicken to keep it juicy. Stand the chicken on the grill grate. Ours takes about 1 1/2 hours on the grill over medium heat. Use a thermometer to test for done-ness. Make sure the thermometer is placed away from bone. Once it reaches 165°F in breast/thigh, remove from heat and allow to rest 10 minutes. Temperature will continue to rise a bit.

beer can chicken

Remove beer can, carve and serve.

Note: If you’re a fan of the skin, it does become quite tough with this method. But…the meat can’t be beat!

beer can chicken

Bonus Recipe: My Go-to Chicken Seasoning

3 Tablespoons salt

2 Tablespoons paprika

2 Tablespoons garlic powder

1 Tablespoon dried thyme

1 Tablespoon white pepper

1 Tablespoon black pepper

1 Tablespoon cayenne pepper

1 Tablespoon onion powder

Mix all ingredients, store in an air-tight container. Makes about 1 cup.


  1. Heard about it many times but never tried this method. I plan to but always end up with my “salt all around method”, which is easier on the oven cleaning… But this looks very tempting! Next time I’m visiting friends who have a large grill, this will be on the menu.

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