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A grilled whole beer-can chicken sitting on a cutting board next to a carving knife and a bowl of BBQ sauce

Grilled Beer-Can Chicken with BBQ Sauce

Course: Entree
Cuisine: BBQ
Keyword: grilled whole chicke, homemade BBQ sauce recipe, how to make beer-can chicken
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Air chilling: 8 hours
Total Time: 9 hours 55 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 458kcal
Grilled Beer-Can Chicken with BBQ Sauce is summertime cuisine at its very best. Air chilling the chicken with the rub for at least 8 hours (preferably up to 48 hours) ensures a crispy delicious skin. You'll need half of a beer for the chicken and the rest for you!
Print Recipe


  • 1 gas or charcoal grill with lid


  • 1 4 lb whole chicken
  • ¼ cup Kosher salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar dark
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 12 oz can beer lager
  • BBQ sauce for serving


  • Anywhere from 8 to 48 hours before grilling, remove the giblets from the chicken cavity. Place the chicken, breast side up, on a baking pan that is lined with a baking rack.
  • In a small bowl, mix together the salt, pepper, brown sugar, smoked paprika, chili powder, dry mustard, and garlic powder.
  • Sprinkle the rub all over the chicken, including inside the cavity. Use your fingers to press the rub into the skin. Place in the fridge, uncovered, for 8 hours, or even better, 24 to 48 hours.
  • Remove the chicken from the fridge.
  • Open the beer and pour out about half of it (feel free to drink it). Carefully place the chicken, upright, onto the can, pushing it all the way down. Pull the legs forward to create a tripod.
  • Create a 2-zone heat area in your grill (turn one side of your burners on or light your charcoal, and then once they turn ashy, move them over to one side).
  • Place the beer-can chicken onto the unlit side of the grill. Close the grill and cook until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast is 165°F, about 1 hour and 45 minutes.
  • Carefully remove from the grill and place on a baking sheet with a lip (the chicken will release some juices as it rests). Let chicken rest for about 10 minutes.
  • Transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Use a knife inserted into the top cavity to push the can from the bottom cavity. Carve and serve at once with BBQ sauce.


See the video near the top of the blog post for visual guidance. If you liked the video, please subscribe to our YouTube channel
Air chilling isn't 100% required, but it really will help the skin to become nice and crisp as it cooks on the closed grill. 8 hours is fine, 24 to 48 hours is even better. 
The BBQ Sauce can be made up to 1 week in advance and kept in the fridge until ready to use. 
See the blog post tips for how to carve the chicken. 
Leftovers can be kept covered in the fridge for up to 5 days and can be frozen for 1 to 2 months. The BBQ sauce will keep for 3 to 4 weeks. 


Calories: 458kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 562mg | Potassium: 65mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 530IU | Vitamin C: 0.05mg | Calcium: 15mg | Iron: 0.4mg