Beer Can Smoked Chicken

Beer can smoked chicken has such amazing flavor. Rotisserie chicken picked up on the way home is sure an easy substitute, but smoking beer can chicken on the weekend is a great way to have flavorful chicken all week for dinner prep. The skin is super crispy, and the meat is imparted with a smoky flavor. Both the white and dark meat fall off the bone as it is so tender.

You can just smoke one beer can chicken, but as Bruce always says, if you are gonna smoke one beer can chicken, you might as well smoke 3! If you make 3 you will have enough smoked chicken to make a few other easy weeknight meals. A few of our favorite are smoked chicken soup, chicken bacon ranch pizza, and king ranch chicken casserole!


Now check out just a few of the meals you can make with the leftover smoked beer can chicken!


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3 beer can smoked chickens on a grill.

Beer Can Smoked Chicken

  • Author: theperksofbeingus
  • Total Time: 5 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 3 whole smoked chickens 1x


Units Scale
  • 3 whole chickens
  • 3 sticks butter
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder (not garlic salt)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon-pepper seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons cajun seasoning
  • 3 16 oz cans of beer
  • 6 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 2 lemons, sliced
  • 2 pieces of fruit, quartered, can use apples, or limes, or oranges
  • 12 oz. apple juice


On the night before you smoke the chickens, put the wood you want to use in a foil pan and cover with water. For chicken we use an apple or a cherry wood. We use a foil pan as we are going to use it on the smoker the next day to catch drippings.

Sit butter out to soften. You want butter just soft enough to mix, but not too soft. Place softened butter into a bowl, and add seasoning. Mix together to form a seasoned butter.

Using 3 white kitchen towels, lay them on counter. This will help keep chickens from slipping, and you can throw them in the wash afterward.  Remove gizzards, liver, and anything else inside chickens, and reserve for chicken stock, or toss. Rinse each chicken out with cold water until water runs clear.

Place chickens breast side down on the towels. Pat dry. Work your hands up under the skin, being careful not to tear. You are making room for the butter and lemons. Turn chickens over and do the same on the other side.

Divide the slices of lemons and the butter into 3 sections. Take some of the herbed butter and lemon and work it under the skin, using the chicken skin to push it back further to the back. Repeat this process on all chickens, and then turn over and do the same on other side of chicken. Rub remaining herbed butter over skin on the breast side of the chickens. Be sure to wash your hands using soap between each step.

Place chickens in glass pans. We use one large pan for 2 of the chickens and one smaller pan. Generously crack fresh pepper over tops of chickens. Cover to seal with plastic wrap. Place in fridge for at least 3 hours, and can be done overnight.


Instructions for preparing beer cans:

Prepare your charcoal in your smoker. We use Jealous Devil Charcoal.  While the coals are getting to the right temp, get your beer cans ready.

Place a rimmed sheet pan on the counter. Place 3 beer can chicken holders on the sheet pan.

Open the beer and pour it into a large pyrex handled bowl. Add apple juice. Cut off the tops of the beer cans using kitchen sheers. Rinse out the beer cans to make sure there are no metal shards inside or out. Place the cans inside beer can chicken holders.

Add 2 of the smashed garlic cloves to each of the beer cans. Cut any old fruit you have, like apples, limes, lemons, or oranges into quarters and place inside the beer cans. Pour some of the beer apple juice mixture into each can.  Fill to the top. This may take a few times as you wait for foam to settle.

Bring chickens out of the fridge. Unwrap chickens and place them over each beer can, so they are standing up.

Put your soaked wood over the hot coals, and discard the water. Put your plate setter over the coals, and put the foil pan on the plate setter. Fill it with the rest of the beer, apple juice mixture. Put grill grate over that. Place chickens on the grill and close grill. You want to keep the temperature at 325 F. At the 45-50 minute mark, skin will be brown. At this point cover each chicken with foil, and rotate chickens. Rotate chickens 1 more time at 45-50 minute mark. After rotating 2 times, and smoking chickens for a total of 2 hour and 15 minutes to 2 hours and 30 minutes check for an internal temperature on the thighs of 170. Once this is reached, remove chickens from grill onto a rimmed sheet pan and bring into house and set on stove. Cover all 3 chickens with large piece of foil. Chickens will continue to finish cooking. Allow chickens to rest for at least 20 minutes before slicing.

We break down all the chickens for serving that night, and to store in fridge for the rest of the week. We remove the skin and the bones and keep the breasts and tenders intact. The smoked chicken can be kept for a week in the refrigerator.


  • Prep Time: 30 minutes plus fridge time
  • Cook Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Category: BBQ
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: beer can chicken, smoked chicken, meal prep, smoked meat


Dina and Bruce at the Golden Gate Bridge

Hi, we are Bruce and Dina Miller. We love to cook every night. We enjoy making a few healthy dishes, and also comfort food. We love crafting cocktails too! Come take a look, we would love to share our recipes with you.


  1. B Reply

    If you do a quick google search, you’ll see that beer can chicken is the worst way to smoke a chicken. It’s not been a thing you should make for at least a decade.

    Due to physics, it’s an inherently bad cooking method.

    Here’s one of many sources:

    • Dina and Bruce at the Golden Gate Bridge

      Bruce and Dina Miller Reply


      We actually remove the top of the beer can and use it to hold herbs and citrus. We also pour the beer into the pan below, and it helps steam the chicken. We appreciate you sharing this information!

      Thanks, and have a great week!

      Dina and Bruce

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