How to Cook Beer Can Chicken on a Pellet Grill

With the shift in consumer preference from beef to chicken, we’re sure you’ll find yourself grilling a chicken soon. After all, enjoying a smoked up flavorful whole bird is one of life’s guilty pleasures. Cooking a whole chicken gets you full nutrition and is also light on the pocket.

One of the most popular ways to prepare a whole bird is as a beer can chicken. It has been around for more than 20 years. Tender juicy smoke-kissed chicken with a sweet-spicy rub cooked on a grill is fit for any event. Let’s admit; it does look pretty cool sitting on a beer can.

With our help, you too can make a golden and crispy smoked beer can chicken on a pellet grill all by yourself.

Grilling beer can chicken

Cooking Beer Can Chicken on a Pellet Grill

Whether you’re planning to tailgate with friends or inviting a big group over for dinner Beer Can Chicken would be a good option to go for. As a bonus, it even tastes good cold so you can enjoy leftovers for days.

Beer can chicken lets a whole chicken rest on top of a beer can. Cooking it vertically over indirect heat gives the most flavorful chicken. The dry rub gives flavor to the chicken’s skin. Placing a can of beer in the cavity keeps it stay up. While the beer makes the insides of the chicken moist.

Everything You’ll Need for Beer Can Chicken

Let’s make sure you don’t miss out on anything that you may need when smoking up beer can chicken. All you need is listed below

  • Whole Chicken
  • Can of Beer
  • Dry Chicken Rub
  • Oil

What Goes into the Chicken Rub?

The rub covers the outside of the chicken enhancing the flavor. Most people prefer the rub to be sweet and spicy. You can prepare a rub made of basic pantry ingredients. Make use of salt, pepper, paprika and garlic powder. You can always add any other seasoning if you wish to.

Make a mix of all the spices and store it for later use.

Which Beer Should You Use?

The beer doesn’t do much to the flavor of the chicken. So you can pick whichever is available in the house.

According to our experiences, a light, mild-tasting or buttery lager is well suited to this recipe. Even sour ale or jalapeno beer gets the job done as the flavor isn’t overpowering.

Preparing the Chicken

In order to prepare the chicken take it out of its pack. They usually come along with giblets inside. Be sure to remove and discard the gross bits from the cavity. Next, by using a kitchen towel, pat the entire chicken dry. Place it on a platter so you can season it. Spray oil over the skin so it’s well coated, covering the legs and wings too. Finally, sprinkle the spice mix you prepared earlier inside and out.

Now the chicken is ready to sit on top of the beer can. Pour out around half the beer, and you can drink it while you cook. Keep the top a little open so it can let out the steam. Adding fresh herbs can give it a flavor boost. Stuff a bunch of herbs inside the top of the cavity and the can of beer. You can also utilize some of the remaining rub that’s left on the tray.

Make sure that your chicken is standing up once you place the beer can into the chicken cavity. Use the legs as a tripod to hold it up. You obviously don’t want burnt chicken wings. So tuck them back behind the body in as the same way you would when preparing a roasted chicken.

Smoke It up on the Pellet Grill

It’s time to bring the chicken to the grill. Keep the lid open and for about 4-5 minutes, preheat the grill to smoke.  Then bring up the temperature by closing the lid and preheating for an additional 10-15 minutes. Once the temperature hits 350 degrees, place the beer can chicken on the pit and shut the lid. The skin turns out beautifully golden and crisp at this temperature.

You’ll need to cook it for around 2 hours, approximately, but the cook time differs based on the size of the chicken.

It’s a good idea to keep a thermometer around to check the doneness. You’ll need it to monitor the internal temperature of the chicken. Stick in the probe in thickest part of the thigh after an hour has passed.  It would be ready when the temperature reaches to 175 in the thigh and 165 in the breast. Don’t make a mistake of pulling it off the grill before checking both areas.

Once it’s done, carefully remove it from the pellet grill. Before you cut into it, let it rest for about 10-15 minutes. It remains hot for over an hour in case it is covered lightly with foil. But the skin will soften as a result.

Begin by removing the leg quarters first followed by the wings and the breast in the very end. This makes it easier to slice and portion the chicken out for serving. You can cut the across the breast leaving some skin on each slice.

Are You Still Left with Some Unanswered Questions?

It’s completely alright if you still have a few questions about this process of making beer can chicken. Hopefully, you’ll have a clear mind once you’re done going through everything we’ve listed below.

Is It Necessary to Wash the Whole Chicken Before Cooking?

According to a released by Consumer Reports, it was found that harmful bacteria are present on 97 percent of the chicken that is purchased from common retail stores. In the past, people used to commonly rinse the chicken starting to cook it. But if you do so, you’d risk spreading and contaminating the area of washing with the splashes that takes place, even your hands.

It is now believed that you don’t need to put yourself at risk of washing the chicken. The bacteria present are killed in the process of cooking when the chicken reaches to the proper internal temperature.

Why Do You Need to Brine the Chicken?

Some people like to brine the chicken before cooking it. They do so by placing the chicken in brine and adding a few cups of ice. Filling the vessel with cold water until the chicken gets completely covered, and then covering it and letting it sit in the fridge overnight.

It isn’t really mandatory but we recommend it as it will add flavor. It also helps the meat become tender.

How Can I Make Sure It’s Safe to Consume?

Its best to be careful when serving meat, as undercooked meat could make you sick. The key is that you make use of an efficient meat thermometer to check that the meat reaches the proper internal temperature before you consume it. Like mentioned before, the thickest part of the chicken should hit 165 degrees.

Should I Get a Beer Can Holder?

It is a highly debated topic when it comes down to beer can holders. The beer can should ideally hold your chicken up on its own. But it entirely depends on what you prefer. The beer can chicken stand gives it more stability and ensures that your chicken won’t topple over. But if you seem to work it out without one, it’s never bad to save a few bucks.

What Goes Well with Beer Can Chicken?

Now that we’re done tackling all your questions related to cooking chicken. Let’s move on to the fun part, the sidelines.

Looking at the beautiful crispy chicken you think that it looks sad alone. It’s a good idea to add some sides to make it a full meal. Here are some items that will be loved by everyone.

  • Coleslaw
  • Corn on the cob
  • Grilled baked potatoes
  • Grilled prosciutto asparagus
  • Broccoli salad
  • Potato salad
  • Baked beans
  • Squash casserole
  • Stuffed mushrooms
  • Brussels’ sprouts

And the list goes on and on.

Our Final Thoughts

The great beer can chicken is definitely the diva at any occasion. One whole chicken is a good pick for a family dinner. You can even cook a couple more easily on your pellet grill for bigger occasions. You can pair it up with almost any side. A side and a veggie to go along could be a full meal even for larger audiences.

All you need to do is get hold of that chicken, rub it with oil and a spice mix. Place a can of beer down there and set it up to grill. With all the tips and trick, you’re ready to cook delicious beer can chicken on a pellet grill.

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