Beer Butt Chicken

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Smoking Fanatic
Original poster
May 9, 2013

Jamie Oliver done this on his Food Fest last week - cooked it it in the oven but the original recipie for bbq is below

... would others be inclined to use a meat therm for chicken on bbq ???


  • 1 large whole chicken (approx. 1.5kg), preferably free-range or organic

  • 1 x 473 ml can of Budweiser or other lager
  • [h4]For the rub:[/h4]

  • 1 heaped teaspoon fennel seeds

  • 1 level teaspoon cumin seeds

  • 1 level teaspoon smoked paprika

  • 1 heaped teaspoon brown sugar

  • 1 level teaspoon mild chilli powder

  • sea salt

  • freshly ground black pepper

  • olive oil
I've never seen this done in Britain, but it's a really fun and effective way to cook chicken. I'm giving you two methods, one in the barbecue and one in the oven – both will give you tasty moist chicken. You need a standard kettle-style barbecue with a lid and a thermometer. Make sure it's tall enough to hold the upright chicken. The steam from the beer cooks the inside of the bird, so the meat ends up lovely and juicy.

Preheat your barbecue or oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6. Take your chicken out of the fridge while you make your rub. In a pestle and mortar, bash up your fennel and cumin seeds and mix with the paprika, brown sugar, chilli powder, salt and pepper. Stir in about 3 tablespoons of olive oil until you get a nice paste. Drizzle this rub all over the chicken, inside and out, using your hands to make sure you get it into all the nooks and crannies.

Crack your beer open, have a couple of good swigs so your can is just about half full, then lower your chicken's cavity on to the top of the can so it looks as though the chicken is sitting on the can. A bit undignified, I know, but trust me – it's going to be delicious.

If you're using the barbecue, try to strategically move a small amount of coals to the sides rather than directly underneath the chicken, so the heat radiates around it and cooks it from all angles rather than grills it. The same principle applies to roasting.

Carefully sit the chicken on the bars of your barbecue or in a tray on the very bottom of your oven. Cook for around 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes or until it's golden and delicious and the meat pulls away from the bone and the juices run clear. If this isn't the case (all barbecues and ovens are slightly different) just cook for a bit longer.

Once done, remove the can and loosely cover your chicken with foil and a tea towel while you get some grilled veg, salad or warm breads together – but trust me, it tastes so good you won't need much else.
Hi Mark

Yes this is a very quick and tasty way of cooking chicken - both in the BBQ and in the oven. You can get "beer can" substitutes online too that stay more stably upright when they are cooking - Weber do one and there are less expensive alternatives online. You may like to check out this link -

If you are using beer cans though the squatter ones tend to be better as they are less prone to falling over and also if you are cooking in a Weber they do not make the chicken too tall for the lid to fit.

Also drink at least half of the beer first and don't be afraid to add more flavourings to it - Lemon, herbs and garlic go well.
Hello Mark.  Wade has ya covered on your question.  Just thought I would throw in my £1.25 of useless trivia ( as I know it ).  ( Short as possible version ):  The Americans were shown BBQ by the Mexicans.  Cooked in the ground.

The mexican "peons" working the big Mexican; and later Texan, ranches were like the peasants in this country.  They could only get/afford the cheapest cuts of meat.  Offal, ham hocks, pigs ears and such.  Fajitas ( for my U.K. friends: fajitas = fa-he-tas.  And jalapenos= hala-pain-yos. ) are actually an almost worthless cut.  The butchers almost GAVE it away.  The poor folks found a way to make it taste wonderful.  Then the gringos found out and now fajitas are pretty expensive.  As I know it beer can chicken was one of those things that came from poorer families who were forced to eat a hen/rooster who had long since become a tuff ole bird.  Boiling it to death had been a long time option but some one came up with the idea of the can and here we are.

I am pretty sure I am right about fajitas but if someone knows better about the chicken please let me know.  Keep Smokin!

Hi Mark, this looks really good.

I've yet to try smoking a whole chicken, although I've now done 3 or 4 chicken leg sessions on my wsm.

I like you choice of seeds/spices - quite inspiring for when I get to smoke my first whole chicken!

It came out really really well - I've never had Chicken "fall off the bone"

... thanks for the other info folks - I believe the theory behind it is the beer evaporates cooking it from the inside too

If I do it again will add slightly more stronger flavourings to it as Wade as suggested.....
Last edited:
The resting time is important too as you probably found out. Not only does it fall off the bone but it also then melts in the mouth as well.

It looks great - even if it does look a little undignified - LOL
Yep..... left it around 20 mins under foil and towel ....... melted

Looking forward to trying it outside .... is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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