Beer Is Better: Beer-Can Chicken with Roast Potatoes

I think that's a '98 vintage.

In my mind, there’s nothing more manly than cooking with beer. Every week I’ll feature a recipe – from Guinness chocolate cake to beer-battered onion rings – that uses beer as one of its main ingredients.

In today’s offering, the beer and the can work together to create amazingly succulent chicken.

Beer-Can Chicken, aka Beer-Butt Chicken.

There are loads of recipes for beer-can chicken online. I made a couple of tweaks to the traditional ingredients that makes the result even better. Beer-can chicken is usually cooked on the grill, with a dry barbeque rub for seasoning. I wanted to make things easier, so this recipe will get you delicious chicken from the oven.


  • 1 4-pound chicken
  • 1 12-ounce can lager beer
  • 3 tablespoons poultry seasoning. (My go-to versatile seasoning is Essence of Emeril. Make or buy.)
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • Fresh sprigs of rosemary, thyme or oregano (if available)

Step 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Set oven rack to be in lower third of oven.

I'm holding the extra flap of skin. Cut this away.

Step 2. Open your chicken. Remove everything that’s been stuffed in the cavity, like the giblets. Rinse the chicken under cold water, inside and out. Pat dry with paper towels. Cut away all excess skin and fat from the edge of the cavity (but not too much, because that’s where we’re sticking the beer can).

Step 3. Pour a little more than half of the beer out into the dish you will be cooking the chicken in. Open the mouth of the beer can (a can opener works well for this). Pour in 2 tablespoons of melted butter, plus the juice of half the lemon. If you have sprigs of rosemary, thyme or oregano, stuff them in the can. Otherwise add 1/2-tablespoon of seasoning. Finally, add the three smashed cloves of garlic.

Step 4. Season the bird. Rub 1 tablespoon of seasoning inside the cavity. Mix together the lemon zest, plus 1 tablespoon seasoning. Peel skin away from chicken and rub this mixture in between the skin and meat (especially over the breasts – haha). Finally, rub remaining 2 tablespoons butter over entire outside of bird, then season with 1/2 tablespoon seasoning.

Step 5. Oil beer can, then stuff chicken on top of can. Use legs to balance the bird.

Step 6. Cook for 75-85 minutes, until temperature of chicken thigh is 165 degrees F or juices run clear. (In my oven the chicken was cooked thoroughly in 75 minutes.) Remove and let sit for at least 15 minutes.

Note: One of the genius things about using a beer can is it helps the chicken cook faster and better. Any other roast chicken recipe I’ve seen has you flipping the chicken half-way through so the meat cooks evenly. Using a can eliminates this step. (You can also buy an expensive vertical roaster, but a beer can does the same thing, and keeps the chicken more moist.) By standing the chicken up, more fat will drain out, too, so you’re eating a healthier bird.

Roasted Potatoes (and green beans)

While you are cooking the chicken, prepare the sides. Green beans go perfectly with this meal, but they don’t require a recipe. Simply defrost some frozen haricot vert from Trader Joe’s and saute them with some dry or fresh thyme and a pat of butter.


  • 11/2-pound bag baby golden potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon each fresh thyme and oregano, or 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
  • Pepper and coarse salt (like sea salt or kosher salt), to taste
  • Olive oil

Step 1. For smaller potatoes, cut in half. For larger ones, cut in quarters. Finely chop fresh herbs, if using.

Step 2. Combine  potatoes with seasonings. Add enough olive oil for each potato to be well coated.

Note that they are all lying flat on the baking sheet.

Step 3. Spread out onto sheet pan with lipped edge. The key thing is to make sure there is as much potato as possible touching the pan, for maximum crispiness. In other words, flat side down.

Step 4. Once you have removed the chicken from the oven, raise the temperature to 400 degrees F. Once the oven is at temperature, roast the potatoes for about 20 minutes (while the chicken is resting), until they are fork-tender. It is tempting to roast the potatoes and cook the chicken at the same time, but the 50-degree temperature difference matters. Cook the potatoes at 350 degrees and they won’t brown nearly as much.

Step 5. Cut the chicken, serve the potatoes and green beens, and eat!

Serves 3-4.

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  • Mrs. P too

    Love your website! That is the first time I’ve opened up the top of the can and the chicken was even better. I used my own homemade rub and had some fresh sage and rosemary to put into the can. Also I line my pan with hd foil for super easy clean up. I save the drippings and skim off the fat after it has cooled in the frigde. I use the drippings and left over chicken bones to make broth. I make two at a time because we do a lot of bulk cooking. These were by far the best beer can chickens ever. Thanks for sharing. I like how you take pictures during the process.

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