Wood-Fired Pellet Grill Beer Can Chicken Smoker Recipe

beer can chicken pellet grill
To make pellet grill beer can chicken, lightly coat a whole chicken in oil, and sprinkle the skin with dry rub, salt, and black pepper. Insert a half-full beer can into the cavity of the chicken and stand the chicken up on its legs directly on a pellet grill set to 350°F. Cook until internal temp is 165°F, rest for 5 minutes, and serve.

Beer can chicken is one of the best ways to prepare a whole chicken on a pellet grill, and it is simple to make. Best of all you need to drink half the beer before you can use the can!

What do You Need to Make Beer Can Chicken on a Pellet Grill?

All you need to make this chicken is a can of beer, a dry rub of your choice, and a pellet grill or pellet smoker (Traeger, Pit Boss, or others).

If you have a chicken stand (chicken throne), you can use it, but it is unnecessary. The bird’s cavity is the right size, and you can set it on top of the beer can without issue. The worst thing that may happen is that the bird tips over but with proper placement of the can, this shouldn’t happen.

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beer can chicken upright

Beer Can Chicken on a Pellet Grill Recipe

  • Author: Victor
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes


The beauty of this beer can chicken recipe is that it requires no fancy equipment and relies on the legs of the chicken and the beer can to form a tripod to hold your chicken upright on your wood-pellet grill as it cooks and steams from within. This delicious whole chicken is super moist and flavorful!


  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 can beer
  • 1/2 cup dry rub
  • 1 stick of butter or 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper


  1. Remove the neck and giblets from the cavity of the chicken and pat the bird dry with a paper towel.
  2. Apply oil to the chicken’s skin and then coat the chicken with your favorite chicken rub, salt, and black pepper.
  3. Preheat the pellet grill to 350°F.
  4. Get a can of beer and drink half of it (or discard half). If you’re using a drip pan beneath the chicken, you may pour 1/2 can of beer right into the bottom of the pan and reserve the remainder in the can.
  5. The chicken should be placed on the half-empty beer can, legs down. Ensure the chicken is in an upright position directly on the middle of the grill and not at risk of falling over.
  6. Cook chicken for approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes. Use a meat thermometer to test the bird’s internal temperature. Once you have achieved an internal temp of 165°F, the bird is done cooking.
  7. Carefully remove the bird from the grill, and remove the beer can. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before serving it with your favorite side dishes.
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Rest Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes


  • Serving Size: 100g
  • Calories: 395
  • Sodium: 1170mg
  • Fat: 12.8g
  • Saturated Fat: 3.1g
  • Carbohydrates: 1g
  • Fiber: 1.7g
  • Protein: 70.1g

At What Temperature is Beer Can Chicken Done?

Beer can chicken should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F. The meat thermometer should be inserted into the thickest part of the thigh without touching the bone to ensure it is fully cooked.

Why You Should Ignore the Pink Smoke Ring

The reddish-pink smoke ring on a smoked chicken is caused by three factors: myoglobin, nitric oxide, and smoke. The heat from the smoker will begin to cook the meat, turning the protein brown, which is a visual clue that the meat is finished cooking.

The smoke ring can make it appear that the chicken is not done cooking, even though it is. For this reason, always take the internal temperature of the chicken using a trusted meat thermometer. Ensure that you do not touch any bones and that the temperature is at a minimum of 165°F.

What is the Best Liquid to Use for Beer Can Chicken?

The best option is lager, a middle-of-the-road beer that is neither hoppy nor bitter. Try fruit-forward sours when grilling beer can chicken, as they complement the acidity of the meat.

You may substitute your favorite soft drink, such as cola or root beer if you prefer. An empty, clean aluminum can will allow you to be even more creative. Half of the container can be filled with chicken stock, wine, or any combination of liquid, herbs, and spices to flavor the meat as it cooks.

What Do You Put in the Can With the Beer?

If you feel adventurous or playful, you can adjust a beer-can chicken recipe to include your favorite flavors. All you have to do is add them to the can before you insert the can into the chicken. There are countless delicious combinations, but here are a few suggestions:

  • Honey & Garlic powder
  • Jalapeños & Paprika
  • Rosemary & Garlic
  • Soy sauce & Chili flakes
  • Thyme & Sage

What Types of Wood Pellets are Best for Smoking Beer Can Chicken?

While you can use any wood pellet for smoking, applewood is particularly recommended for this recipe due to its fruity yet mild aroma. You may also want to try maple, cherry, or pecan wood pellets when smoking chicken.

How to Get Crispy Skin on Beer Can Chicken

To obtain crispy chicken skin, use a dry rub containing brown sugar and smoke it at 350°F. When the internal temperature of the thighs reaches 165°F crank up the grill to 400°F or place the bird under the broiler in your oven until the skin is crispy.

Do You Need a Holder For Beer Can Chicken?

You do not need a beer-can chicken holder for this recipe, but if you have one, you can absolutely use it.

The benefits of a chicken holder include added stability so the bird is fixed in place and will not topple over causing the beer in the can to spill. The downside to a holder is you have to go to the store and buy one if you don’t already have one handy.

Should You Brine Beer Can Chicken Before Smoking?

Brine is not required for beer can chicken. That said, if you have the prep time or the inclination, you can brine the bird ahead of time.

A brine enhances the flavor of the meat and keeps it tender and juicy. Also, brining helps tenderize lean meats to prevent them from drying out.


Florida native, home to the Sunday all-day poolside grilling party. When I’m not working, I’m either on the water, minding the grill, or trying to devote some time to help keep our oceans clean.

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