Spicy Beer Can Chicken

Image of cooked chicken, restingApparently this is also known, for obvious reasons, as beer butt chicken but I think we’ll stick with the slightly more euphemistic title.

The idea is that a half-drunk can of beer, inserted into the chicken in a sadly undignified manner, will create steam inside the bird during cooking, keeping it moist and juicy.

This recipe comes with an urgent health warning: the can of beer provides a very precarious perch and it will be hotter than hell when you take it out of the oven.

Removing the can requires dexterity, oven gloves, and kitchen tongs. If it gets stuck, put the chicken on its side, pull the can out with your tongs and try not to remember that joke about the gynaecologist who painted his hallway through the letterbox.

Spicy Beer Can Chicken


A chicken approx 2kg in weight, free range if possible

A 330ml can of beer (I used a Suffolk IPA; cider would also be good or if you want a teetotal bird use chicken stock)

1 tbsp olive oil

For the rub:

Image of the spices for the rub

1 tspn chilli flakes

1 tspn fennel seeds

1 tspn coriander seeds

1 tspn sweet smoked paprika

1/2 tspn black peppercorns

1/2 tspn sea salt


Preheat the oven to 350F/180C/Gas Mark 4 or prepare your barbecue to the same temperature, ready to cook on indirect heat.

Image of the spices being ground

Grind the spices together in a pestle and mortar.

Rub the chicken with a tablespoon of olive oil and massage in the spice rub, trying to get it into all the nooks and crannies.

Drink half of the beer then lower the chicken carefully onto the half-full can so it’s sitting up and its legs help form a tripod.

Image of chicken ready for the oven

Put it all – carefully – onto a roasting tray and cook for about  an hour and a half or an hour and 40 minutes, until the juices run clear when you poke a knife into the thickest part of the leg.

Image of cooked chicken on the barbecue

Remove – carefully! – from the oven or barbecue and leave to rest for 10 minutes before attempting to remove the beer can (see comments above). Carve into thick slices and serve. You should have a very juicy, succulent bird with delicious crispy skin.

Image of thick slices of cooked chicken with crispy skin

We ate it with harissa mayonnaise, buttered new potatoes and purple sprouting broccoli tossed with soy sauce.

Image of chicken served with harissa mayo and veg


9 thoughts on “Spicy Beer Can Chicken

  1. Oh gosh, this looks so delicious that I think I might actually go to the shop and buy a chicken and some beer – and no blog post has ever made me do that before! I sometimes cook a Madhur Jaffrey Durban Roast Chicken, which is smothered in spices and goes down a treat but this looks easier – and has the beer can element. Poor chicken though, it’s all a bit undignified and did make me laugh out loud and then feel guilty…

    • Wow, big compliment, thanks! It does look terribly undignified but it’s worth humiliating a chicken for something this tasty. Maybe Madhur’s spices and a nice Indian Pale Ale?!

      • Right, chicken purchased and I even found a can of the same Suffolk IPA lurking in the cellar (we don’t really drink beer so put party leftovers down there!) Madhur’s spice mix is more of a wet paste and you have to steam it in foil so I think I’ll stick with yours. Roll on suppertime! 🙂

  2. Given my innate ability for both burning myself and dropping things I can see this going all shades of wrong and yet I really want to give it a go! Could you taste the beer in the chicken?

    • Sorry for the late reply. No, it doesn’t really taste of beer – it’s the steam that does the work – it’s just that a beer can is the right size and shape to stuff up a chicken’s behind!

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