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Smoked Beer Can Chicken with Gravy

This smoked beer can chicken is coated in an herb garlic butter rub and cooked low and slow in the Traeger for the perfect smoky flavor. We saved the drippings for a delicious smoky beer can chicken gravy. 

This is the perfect recipe for the Traeger or any outdoor grill! The chicken comes out super juicy and full of flavor, and the sauce is flavored with smoky chicken drippings, beer, and garlic butter. Serve it with fried potatoes and Brussels with carrots.

A whole chicken on a beer can.

Smoking a beer can chicken on a pellet grill takes a roasted chicken to a whole new level of deliciousness. It takes longer than our smoked sea bass, but it is worth the wait. 

Here is Why This Recipe Works

  • Smoking a beer can chicken adds extra flavor to the meat and the sauce or gravy. 
  • Keeping the temperature at 225°F cooks the chicken slowly and allows it to infuse with more smoke flavor. 
  • Increasing the temperature during the last 30 to 40 minutes lets the skin get crispy. 
  • The garlic herb butter drips down the chicken and bastes it while it cooks. 
  • Beer (or wine) inside the can gets hot, lets off steam, infuses the chicken with more flavor, and keeps the meat juicy. 
  • Garlic butter and drippings from the chicken fall into the baking dish and combine with the beer to make a delicious sauce or gravy. 

If you like this recipe, try our roasted turkey breast or baked chicken quarters

Here is What you Need

Here is a list of the ingredients and supplies you will need for smoking a beer can chicken. Scroll down to the printable recipe card for all the details. 

You will need an outdoor grill with a smoker. We used a Traeger pellet grill, but you can use a grill with an offset smoker as we did in our smoked prime rib

If you don’t have a pellet grill or an offset smoker, you can place a smoke tube on your grill. 

It is also helpful (but not necessary) if you have a beer can chicken rack. 

A whole chicken, fresh herbs, garlic, olive oil, butter, salt, pepper, lemon, and a can of beer.

Ingredients for the Traeger beer can chicken:

  • Whole chicken. Get a chicken that weighs about 4 pounds. This recipe will work with a bigger chicken if your pellet grill is large enough.  
  • A full beer can. You can also use a wine can. 
  • Fresh lemon or lime. The fresh citrus compliments the beer or wine and adds excellent flavor to the sauce. 
  • A few sprigs of fresh herbs. We used sage, rosemary, and thyme. 
  • A beer can roasting rack. You can smoke the chicken without the rack but the rack makes it much easier and prevents the chicken from falling over. 
  • Garlic and herb butter. We combined fresh garlic, herbs, butter, and olive oil to rub all over the chicken. The olive oil makes the butter easier to spread. 
  • Flour and butter. Mash up some flour and butter into a thick paste. The paste is called a Beurre Manie, which we use to thicken the sauce. 

How to Make a Smoked Beer Can Chicken

Here is a brief overview to get an idea of what to expect with this pellet grill recipe. Scroll down to the printable recipe card for all the details.

Making garlic herb butter and rubbing the butter on a chicken.

Make the herbed garlic butter. We used fresh herbs, but dried herbs will also work. You can even add dried garlic as we did in our garlic butter sauce

Smear the garlic butter under the skin and outside of the chicken. Stuff the chicken with herbs and lemon wedges. 

Pouring beer in a dish and sliding a chicken over a beer can.

Set a roasting rack in a pie dish and pour some beer (or wine) into the dish, then place the beer can (or wine can) in the center of the rack.  

Place the chicken over the beer can and transfer it to the pellet grill. 

Two photos showing how to baste chicken in a Traeger and removing it from a beer can.

Smoke the chicken over low heat and use the beer and drippings in the pan to baste the chicken.

Slide the smoked chicken off the roasting rack and place the pie dish (with the drippings) in the fridge to solidify the fat. Skim the chilled, fat off the surface of the drippings. 

Scraping fat off the drippings and making gravy with the smoked chicken drippings.

Scrape the fat off the top of the pan of drippings, then pour the juices into a saucepan.

Make a paste with flour and butter. Bring the juices to a simmer and whisk the butter paste into the drippings.

Pouring gravy over slices of chicken.

Tips for Success

  • If you want a smokier taste, try using a smoke tube or turning on the Super Smoke function if you have it. 
  • Increasing the heat near the end of cooking time will result in darker, crispier skin.
  • If you have a large enough pellet grill, you can cook a larger chicken. Depending on the size of the chicken, you’ll need to adjust the cooking time. Continue cooking until the internal temperature reaches 157°F.
  • Because a beer bottle is taller and prevents more steam from entering the chicken, it isn’t as effective as a beer can. 
  • If you don’t have a beer can roasting rack, use the legs of the chicken to prop the bird in a tri-pod fashion over the beer can. 
  • The smoke and temperature is easy to regulate on a pellet grill, but you can also smoke a beer can chicken on a grill with a side smoker or in a regular grill if you use a smoke tube. Try to keep the heat of your grill around 225°F. 
  • If you don’t have fresh herbs, make the garlic butter sauce with dried herbs but use half the amount.  

Frequently Asked Questions

What beer is best for beer can chicken?

Any beer will work for this recipe. You can use anything from a light pale lager or a dark stout. The flavor of the beer will primarily affect the gravy.

What can I use instead of beer for beer can chicken?

If you aren’t keen on beer, you can use wine, root beer, or any other soft drink (however, the soda pop will make the sauce pretty sweet). Alternatively, use a clean, empty aluminum can and fill it with chicken stock. 

How long does it take to smoke beer can chicken?

A smoked beer can chicken will take about three hours, depending on the grill’s temperature and the chicken’s size. It is best to cook the chicken based on the internal temperature rather than time. Smoke the chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 157°F to 160°F. When you remove it from the grill, the heat will continue to increase to 165°F

How do you make a chicken stand up on a beer can?

A rack makes it extremely easy to support the chicken upright. If you don’t have a rack, just set the chicken over the beer can and use the legs to support the chicken in a tripod fashion.

A whole chicken broken down and sliced.

Smoking a beer can chicken is a great way to get evenly cooked, moist, and flavorful chicken every time. Using a Traeger or any pellet grill makes it easy to maintain the temperature and smoke.

The chicken comes out super juicy and full of flavor and the gravy is flavored with smoky chicken drippings, beer, and garlic butter. It’s the perfect finishing touch to this already amazing dish!

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Some Other Recipes We Are Sure You Will Love:

Anyone that loves dark meat may also enjoy our BBQ baked chicken legs and crockpot chicken thighs.

Our turkey and beer chili or beer-simmered bratwurst are great recipes to make if you want other ways to use leftover beer.

If you want even more chicken recipe ideas, try our cast iron roast chicken or whole roasted chicken and vegetables.

Serve this smokey bean dip and pretzel bites on the side or as an appetizer while the Traeger beer can chicken cooks.

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A smoked chicken on a beer can.

Smoked Beer Can Chicken

Yield: 1 chicken
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes

This smoked beer can chicken is coated in an herb garlic butter rub and cooked low and slow in a pellet grill for the perfect smoky flavor. We saved the drippings for a delicious smoky beer can chicken gravy.

This is the perfect recipe for the Traeger or any outdoor grill! The chicken comes out super juicy and full of flavor, and the sauce is flavored with smoky chicken drippings, beer, and garlic butter.

If you don't have a pellet grill, do this on a regular grill and use a smoke tube.

Ingredients

Garlic Herb Butter

  • 8 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 to 5 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary (or dried)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (or dried)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage (or dried)
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

For the Beer Can Chicken

  • 1 whole chicken, 3-1/2 to 4 pounds
  • 1 full beer can (or use a wine can)
  • 1 lemon or lime cut into quarters
  • A few sprigs of fresh herbs (I used rosemary and sage)
  • 1 stainless steel beer can roasting rack

For the Gravy

  • 1 cup of the drippings from the pan
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoons butter

Instructions

Make the Garlic Herb Butter

  1. Combine all the ingredients for the garlic herb butter in a small dish.
  2. Preheat the Traeger to 225°F.

Make the Beer Can Chicken

  1. Remove the chicken giblets and any globs of fat from around the cavity and discard them.
  2. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and slide an upside-down spoon under the skin to loosen the skin.  Slather half of the garlic butter under the skin, then smear the rest over the chicken's surface.
  3. Insert a couple of lemon or lime wedges and some herb sprigs inside the main cavity of the chicken. Place a roasting rack in a pie dish and pour 1/3 cup of the beer into the dish. Set the can of beer in the roasting rack and ease the chicken over the can. Insert the remaining lemon or lime quarters in the neck cavity. Tuck the wings behind the back.
  4. Place the chicken on the grill and close the lid. Cook for 2-1/2 to 3 hours basting the chicken intermittently. When a meat thermometer reads 145°F, turn the grill up to 450°F and continue to cook the chicken until it reads 157°F to 160°F. 
  5. When the temperature is between 157° and 160°F, remove the chicken from the Traeger, tent it with foil and let it rest for 10 minutes. The temperature will continue to climb to 165°F.
  6. Use hot pads to remove the chicken from the rack and slide the beer can out. 

Make the Sauce

  1. Place the pie plate with the drippings in the fridge for 15 to 20 minutes to get the fat to solidify. Scrape the fat layer off the top of the drippings and pour 1 cup of the drippings into a saucepan. 
  2. Smash 3 tablespoons each of butter and flour in a dish until it looks like a smooth, thick paste (this is called a Beurre Manie, and it is a quick way to thicken sauce and gravy). 
  3. Bring the drippings in the pan to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add about half of the flour and butter mixture to the sauce and whisk until it dissolves. Continue stirring for 1 to 2 minutes until the sauce thickens slightly. If you like a thicker sauce, add the rest of the Beurre Manie and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes. 

Notes

  • If you want an extra smoky flavor, use a smoke tube or turn on the Super Smoke mode if you have it available. 
  • Turning the heat up toward the end of the cooking time will help the skin get darker and crispy. 
  • You can cook a larger chicken if your pellet grill is large enough to hold a chicken sitting upright on a beer can. You will need to increase the cooking time depending on the size of the chicken. Cook it until the internal temperature reaches 157°F.
  • Any type of beer tastes great with this recipe. A wine can also works and makes a tasty bird and gravy. 
  • A can works better than a beer bottle because it is shorter and lets more steam infuse into the center of the chicken. 
  • If you don’t have a beer can roasting rack, use the legs of the chicken to prop the bird in a tri-pod fashion over the beer can. 
  • A pellet grill makes it easy to regulate the smoke and temperature, but you can do this on a grill with a side smoker or in a regular grill if you use a  smoke tube. Try to keep the heat of your grill around 225°F. 
  • If you don’t have fresh herbs, make the garlic butter sauce with dried herbs but use half the amount. 
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 563Total Fat: 42gSaturated Fat: 18gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 144mgSodium: 608mgCarbohydrates: 11gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 29g

Nutrition information is a guideline only, is calculated automatically by third-party software, and absolute accuracy is not guaranteed.

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John / Kitchen Riffs

Wednesday 17th of August 2022

It's been a long time since I've made beer can chicken! This looks terrific -- loving the gravy. Good stuff -- thanks.

Cellars Wine Club

Wednesday 25th of November 2015

It's a great idea putting beer can, lemon, fresh herbs, and also wine on your roasted chicken. Your roasted chicken will be tasty as it was. Making a recipe like this will amaze your friends and visitors of what seasonings you put or add to make its taste really good.

Pat

Wednesday 25th of November 2015

Thank you. :)

Maureen | Orgasmic Chef

Saturday 3rd of May 2014

That's a beautiful chicken. I must get one of those gadgets because I want a chicken that looks that good!

Pat

Saturday 3rd of May 2014

Thank you, Maureen...it was an easy roasting.

Norma | Allspice and Nutmeg

Saturday 3rd of May 2014

I've been wanting to do this roasting method. It looks delicious!

Pat

Saturday 3rd of May 2014

Thanks, Norma...it was delicious and really moist. I hope you try it out. :)

Kathi @ LaughingSpatula.com

Friday 2nd of May 2014

What a fabulous fun recipe! I've heard of beer can chicken but never tried it....didn't know you had to have a special apparatus for it either! I'm not a beer fan either but wine? Oh ya, I like me some wine!

Pat

Friday 2nd of May 2014

Oh, yes! Thanks, Kathi, it was a fun one and it was nice and moist with subtle flavors of wine and herbs. I hope you try it.

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