Beer Can Chicken On The Grill

by Mike

Low Fat Barbecued Chicken

Low Fat Barbecued Chicken

Most people don't equate BBQ with low fat cooking. I think that's mostly because most people equate BBQ to BBQ sauce. If you're into serious BBQ, you know that you can do it wet or dry. Some of the best results are done with dry rubs. In fact, I don't usually put sauce on anything I cook.


Now, spices do have calories. However, you don't have to saturate the meat with spices to get good results. The key to the whole this is cooking it low and slow. This ensures that any fat there might be is rendered off. In the case of chicken, it's not as big of a problem as it is with pork - the more traditional BBQ meat. That's why I'm going to share with you a good beer can chicken recipe I use.

Let's Get Prepared

So, I started by brining my chicken in a solution of about 1 cup of Kosher salt to a gallon of water (no calories). I normally brine them overnight to help tenderize the chicken, but I got a late start and only had about 6 hours to do it. I've had success not brining my beer can chickens, so not sure how much of a difference it makes. If you have any issues with brining, just skip it. You'll still get very good results.

Next, I made a rub to apply to the chicken. I have a number of great dry rub recipes. This is a pretty popular one called "Wild Willy's Number One-derful Rub" and I use it quite a bit. It's awesome. The quantities below should be enough for 2 chickens. Or, if you're really worried about calories, you can probably extended this to more chickens. Just put the remainder in an air tight container until you need it.

One thing to keep in mind. The calorie counts below are spread across all the chickens your cook, and you won't be eating a whole chicken. Also, you don't have to spice the chicken up as much as I do. A chicken itself is about 45 calories per ounce with the skin and about 30 calories per ounce without the skin. So, you can choose to remove the skin but I recommend cooking it with the skin on.

6 Tablespoons paprika (119 calories)
2 Tablespoons ground black pepper (32.64 calories)
2 Tablespoons salt (0 calories)
2 Tablespoons sugar (96 calories)
1 Tablespoon chili powder (23.55 calories)
1 Tablespoon granulated garlic (27.91 calories)
1 Tablespoon onion powder (22.54 calories)
1 teaspoon cayenne (5.72 calories)

I sprinkle the rub on both the inside and the outside of the chicken before I mount it on the beer can. Pretty simple really, just take a pinch and sprinkle. Put as much or as little on as you like. Once you've done that, take your favorite canned beverage. It could be beer, Dr. Pepper, Coke, or lemonade for that matter. I haven't noticed much of a difference. The can isn't so much to produce flavor as it is to keep the chicken moist.

I've done this with and without a stand - which can be found at your grocery store. It doesn't really matter. Of course a stand is more stable. What I do with the can, though, is to pop the top and drink half. I then take a can opener and take the top off so it's opened up more. You don't have to. Once the can is ready, slide the butt of the chicken (where the big opening is) onto the can. The drumsticks should be pointing down to the ground.

Something else you can do is to stuff a cut onion in the neck. This will keep the moisture inside the chicken while it's cooking. I guess you could use a potato if you wanted to.

Beer Butt Chicken With Rub On
Let's Get Cooking

The way beer can chicken is cooked is on a charcoal grill. You need to set the grill up to cook with indirect heat. I'll leave the details of that to a Google search because each grill has a slight different approach to achieving that. I use a ceramic style vertical convection grill, so I achieve this by putting a barrier between the fire and the food. On kettle grills, you can simply place the coals on one side and a water pan on the other.

The temperature we're shooting for is a consistent 250° F for the duration of the cook. And one other important thing to remember, keep the lid closed! Every time you open the lid, you've lost heat and it takes time to recover; thus lengthening the cooking process. And since it can take 3-4 hours, depending on your grill, that's the last thing you want to do.

Beer Butt Chicken on a Bubba Keg Grill

After 2 hours, I open the lid and drizzle some apple juice over the chicken. You can also use a spray bottle to mist it with apple juice

After 3 hours, check the temperature. I usually target 160 in the breast. It will keep cooking after you take it off, so you don't want to go much higher than that. The real thing to look for is the juices running clear. If you twist a leg, you'll see this and that means it's done.

Beer Can Chicken Results

Yes, this takes a long time and there are other techniques that are quicker. However, the results are phenomenal. I've always had a distaste for breast meat because it's always way too dry for me. You're going to find that when you cut into this chicken breast, you'll see juice running out. Yes, juice in breast meat!

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Oct 25, 2009
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What a Great Recipe!
by: Marion

Thanks Mike! This is a truly outstanding recipe for the Barbecue season.

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