Crispy skin with tender and juicy insides, this smoked beer can chicken is EASY with four simple ingredients! Set it on your pellet smoker, insert the temperature probe and let your pellet grill do all of the hard work. This method for smoking a whole chicken on your Traeger, Pit Boss, or other pellet grill couldn’t be more simple. Smoked Beer Can Chicken requires only four ingredients: chicken, oil, beer, and a good meat rub. Try it now, thank me later!
Tips and Tricks
How to tell if your smoked chicken is cooked: Often times, the pink smoke ring or tinge on chicken can throw people off! This is simply caused by the myoglobin not being fully broken down due to lower cooking temperatures resulting in a pink hue. Always check the internal temperature of your chicken to ensure that you are not eating raw chicken. It should be at least 165°F.
Reserve the drippings for an amazing Smoked Chicken Gravy!
Whole Chicken: I order my broiler chickens from a local Huterite Colony in larger quantities. They are HUGE! Opt for locally sourced chicken from nearby farms or run to your local grocery store to find whole chickens at your desired size. An 8lb chicken will feed my family of five with enough leftovers for a nice soup! If you want a smaller chicken, simply adjust the cooking time.
Beer: Choose whatever beer you have on hand! In my experience, it won’t change the flavour. You can also experiment with different liquids including cola, Dr. Pepper, orange pop, apple juice, or chicken stock. It is a good idea to use room temperature beer because a cold can can cause the internal temperature to rise more slowly.
Oil: I like to use Olive Oil. Another great alternative would be melted butter. The oils help the rub stick to the chicken more efficiently.
Chicken Stand or Traeger Chicken Throne *Optional
Baking Sheet- I use this to catch the drippings to make gravy, and to avoid a grease fire on my grill!
How-To Smoke Beer Can Chicken
Step 1. Turn on your Pit Boss, Traeger, or other pellet grill. Set the temperature to 350°F.
Step 2. Remove the thawed chicken from its packaging and thoroughly rinse it. Be sure to remove any extras (giblets + organs) that might be left inside of the chicken. Pat it dry with paper towel.
Step 3. Slather the chicken with olive oil, melted butter, or oil of your choice. Spread the rub all over the bird including inside of the cavity.
Step 4. Crack open the can of beer and drink half or *gasp* pour half of it out. Place the beer can in the middle of a small baking sheet (to catch the grease and other liquids) and carefully stand the seasoned chicken up overtop of the beer can. Balance the bird using the legs and beer can as a tripod or set it on a special stand.
Step 5. Tuck the wings and neck into the bird. Place it on your preheated pellet grill and insert the meat probe/thermometer in the thickest part of the bird. Ensure that your hopper is full of pellets!
Step 6. When the internal temperature of your chicken reaches 165°F (for my 8lb bird, it was about two hours), remove it from the grill and allow it to rest for 5-10 minutes.
Step 7. Tip the chicken onto the side and carefully remove the beer can. At this point some of the beer will spill out onto the cavity and that is totally fine! Transfer your chicken to a cutting board and carve it as usual. Drizzle with Homemade Smoked Chicken Gravy if you desire.
Step 8. Enjoy!
Batch and Storage
This chicken can be eaten as is, chopped and added to this Dill Pickle Soup, added to salads etc. The yield will depend on the size of your bird.
Refrigerate: Smoked chicken can be refrigerated for up to four days in an airtight container
Freeze: Remove the chicken from the carcass and place it in an airtight container or ziplock bag, label, and freeze for up to 6 months. I usually chop it into manageable chunks for salads, dips, soups, etc…
Frequently Asked Questions
It is suggested that you use apple, maple, cherry, or pecan wood pellets when smoking chicken. I personally use whatever pellets I have on hand (I don’t find it alters the flavour of my chicken very much either way.)
This depends on the temperature of your bird to start, and the size. I smoked my 8 pound chicken for about 2 hours; where as a smaller chicken (5lb or less) can take as little as one hour. The most important thing to remember when smoking chicken is that the internal temperature probe needs to be at 165°F for safe consumption.
The easiest answer is to cook it at a high enough temperature (>350°) that the fat in the skin is rendered.
Other options include rubbing the skin with baking soda right before cooking, using a sea salt rub 1-2 days before cooking, and parboiling the chicken. Check out zgrills.com for a more thorough list of skin crisping techniques!
There are quite a few alternatives that you can use in place of beer for your chicken. Coca Cola, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, orange pop, or even a pint sized jar filled with chicken stock.
No! I bought one for five dollars and plopped my 8 pound chicken onto it with the beer inside. The chicken almost touched the roof of my smoker because the holder made it sit too high up. Simply use the legs of the chicken and the can of beer as a tripod to balance the bird.
Brining the chicken before smoking will help to tenderize the meat and draw more moisture in, resulting in a tender and juicy bird. While it is not necessary to brine your chicken before smoking it, it is always a good option!
How to Enjoy Smoked Beer Can Chicken
- drizzle it with homemade gravy made from the drippings
- alongside roasted root vegetables
- in your favourite salad
- diced finely and thrown into a delicious Dill Pickle Soup
- on top of taco chips, sprinkled with cheese and peppers
- in a smokey chicken wrap
- in a creamy pasta recipe
Printable Recipe Card
Smoked Beer Can Chicken on a Pit Boss, Traeger or Other Pellet Grill
- 1 pellet grill
- 1 Baking Sheet
- 1 whole 7-8lb chicken Smaller is totally fine!
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 5 tbsp poultry rub
- 1 can beer or liquid of choice
- Turn on your Pit Boss, Traeger, or other pellet grill. Set the temperature to 350°F.
- Rinse the chicken and remove any giblets or organs. Pat it dry with paper towel.
- Brush the chicken with olive oil and spread the rub all over including inside of the cavity.
- Place the beer can half full in the middle of a small baking sheet (to catch the grease and other liquids) and carefully stand the seasoned chicken up overtop of the beer can.
- Place it on your preheated pellet grill and insert the meat probe/thermometer in the thickest part of the bird and cook until your chicken reaches 165°F. If you are cooking an 8 lb chicken, budget yourself around 2 hours. 4lb chickens will cook considerably faster and need to be checked at the 1 hour mark.
- Remove it from the grill and allow it to rest for 5-10 minutes.
- Tip the chicken onto its side and carefully remove the beer can (some of the beer will spill. Transfer your chicken to a cutting board and carve it as usual. Drizzle with Homemade Smoked Chicken Gravy if you desire.