Beer Butt Chicken

I’ve tried making beer butt/can chicken more times than I can remember over the past 10 years.  From crushed cans to underdone dark meat, I’ve made plenty of mistakes.  I’ve even read that the actual process supposedly imparts no flavor on the finished product.  Let me tell you, I have perfected the process and am telling you that this is some of the best chicken you will ever have!!  From the initial brine to the cooking liquid, your birds are assured to be moist, tender and full of flavor.  Give this recipe a try and you’ll believe me.




  • 4 Cups Water
  • 1/2 Cup Kosher Salt
  • 1/4 Cup Sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbs Black Peppercorns
  • 1 Whole Lemon, Quartered
  • 3-4 Bay Leaves



  • 2 Whole Chickens, 4-5 Lbs Each
  • 4 Tbs Ultimate Roast Chicken Rub or Similar
  • 2 Cans Crispin Hard Cider
  • 1/2 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 6 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
  • 6 Sprigs Fresh Parsley

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  • In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine all of the brine ingredients and stir until completely dissolved.  Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Rinse chickens thoroughly and place in a large pot or jumbo size ziplock bag.  Cover them with ice cubes (about 25-30) and then pour brine over top of chickens.  Add enough tap water to make sure that they are covered completely.
  • Seal and allow to soak in brine in the refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours and a maximum of 24 hours.  The longer the better, but even 4 hours will do a lot to flavor and tenderize your birds.
  • Remove chickens from brine, rinse thoroughly and pat dry.  Discard brining liquid.
  • Use Ultimate Chicken Rub or your favorite rub mixture to coat birds inside and out.
  • I have “beer butt stands” that I can pour cider, vinegar and herbs into.  If you don’t have these, pour about a quarter of the cider out of each can, add half of cider and herbs to each can.
  • Slide birds over your cider can or stand.  Either tie a piece of cooking string around the wings or create 2 “pockets” in each bird that you can tuck them into.  Place on a charcoal grill – you can cook with or without wood chips for smoke or on a gas grill as well.  Cook offset from heat for 2 1/2 to 3 hours at 275 degrees.  Skin should be nicely browned and juices should run clear.
  • Remove from grill, place on a cookie sheet and cover with foil.  Allow to rest for 15-20 minutes.
  • Carve into pieces or de-bone and serve.

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This recipe is pretty simple, but you have to know your grill and make sure these birds are cooked through.  Use a meat thermometer and make sure the internal temp gets to 165 degrees.  I take it off the grill between 155 and 160 and let the temp continue to rise while it’s covered with foil off the grill.  There are many variations you can try once you master the process of brining and cooking “beer butt style”.  I like using beer, but the hard cider really imparts apple flavor that you can taste in the chicken.  Try experimenting with different flavors in the brine, the rub or the cooking liquid.  I’d love to hear your ideas!  Also, please click on the links above to find out where you can get the Ultimate Roast Chicken Rub and the Beer Butt Stands.  Happy grilling!!


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