The Best Beer for Beer Can Chicken

Beer Can Chicken may sound like a misguided college frat experiment, but don’t let the name or kooky technique fool you.

It’s actually one of the easiest ways to cook a whole chicken on the grill without any special equipment — no flipping, rotisserie, or special pan required! And whether you use a beer can or a beer can-like cast iron substitute (some may say upgrade), the result is one of the more flavorful and perfectly cooked birds you’ll eat all summer.

All you need is a grill, a whole chicken, a basic Beer Can recipe, and of course, a beer. The beer provides the moisture and flavors the meat, while the can itself props up the chicken to ensure it cooks evenly on all sides.

But which beer is best for your chicken? It may seem obvious, but the best beer is the one you like to drink!  For some, this may mean your typical, middle-of-the-road flavor lager, which is neither too bitter nor too hoppy.  For others, a stout or a malty beer may do the trick.

If you go the stout route, aim for one that’s sweet, not dry, to avoid bitterness. Sour citrus-flavored beer makes the flavor come alive. A rich malty beer or a fruit beer will likewise add some interesting flavor.

The good news is it doesn’t matter much which beer you choose since, in the end, the result will be a tender, tasty chicken that’s moist on the inside and crispy on the outside. So instead of splurging on fancy beer, you’re better off putting the money towards purchasing the highest-quality chicken and spice ingredients you can find instead.

You will, however, need a can (versus, say, a bottle), and the can, obviously, needs to fit inside the chicken (so, no tallboys). But that doesn’t mean you can’t pour your favorite bottled beer into the can, making your options limitless. With thousands of recipes out there, and hundreds of thousands of beers, you can spend all summer long testing out different combinations of spices and brews to find your favorites.

Make sure you cut off the top of the can with a can opener first to maximize the flow of moisture from beer to bird, and empty (or drink) about half the can before adding your spice rub, and you’re good to go!