Pellet Smoker Beer Can Chicken | Mouthwatering Recipe + How-To

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  October 2, 2020

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This is an interesting recipe that combines two classic American favorites (certainly of mine!) – grilled chicken and beer.

The combination of these two things makes for a smoking style that will get you that crispy skin and unique flavor profile!

There’s a way to make perfect pellet smoker beer can chicken EVERY TIME. It’s all in the right wood and dry rub!

Pellet smoker beer can chicken recipe

What is Pellet Smoker Beer Can Chicken?

Admittedly, pellet smoker chicken stands out for its unusual name alone.

But what exactly is this strange not so delicate delicacy?

Beer can chicken involves cooking chicken over indirect heat.

A dry rub is used to flavor the outer skin. A half beer can is put inside the chicken to keep it propped up and maintain its moistness while it cooks.

The result is a moist bird with a rich, smokey flavor and a thick dark skin. Most think it is absolutely mouth-watering.

What are the Best Pellets to Use for Smoker Beer Can Chicken?

A good beer can chicken starts with finding the right pellets. There are several pellets you can use for smoking chicken, but here are some that are recommended.

  • Apple: Apple wood gives meat a fruity, smokey flavor. It works well with chicken and other types of white meat. Its mild taste mans it mixes well with other flavors.
  • Cherry: Cherry is similar to apple in that it has a mild taste that works well with white meats and can be mixed with other woods.
  • Maple: Maple gives meat a sweet and nutty taste. It is great for chicken and vegetables.
  • Mesquite: Mesquite has a flavor that some think works best with red meats. However, a mesquite smoked chicken can be quite irresistible.
  • Oak: Oak has a stronger taste than some of the fruit woods listed here but it has a universal flavor that works well with almost any protein.
  • Pecan: Pecan is ideal for smoking chicken. It has a rich, nutty flavor that can be blended well with others.

What is the Best Beer for Smoking Chicken?

Although opinions vary when it comes to which beer makes the best smoked chicken, lager is a recommended pick.

It is not too bitter or too hoppy and its fruit forward acidity makes it the perfect complement for the meaty, smokey taste.

What is the Best Dry Rub for Pellet Smoker Beer Can Chicken?

The dry rub you use on your chicken is a matter of taste. Some like to use lemon pepper, while others use a Cajun rub.

We will give you a great recipe to start off with.

How to make Pellet smoker beer can chicken

Pellet Smoker Beer Can Chicken

Joost Nusselder
Here is a recipe for a pellet smoker Beer Can Chicken dry rub that is to die for.
3.15 from 7 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Refrigerate 3 hours
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4 people


Dry rub

  • ¼ cup steak seasoning
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper


  • ¼ cup kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • ½ can of your choice of beer
  • Tequila optional


Dry rub

  • Mix ingredients and store in an airtight container.
  • Use ¼ tsp. per side of chicken to flavor.

Smoking chicken

  • Put kosher salt into a gallon of water. Stir until dissolved.
  • Wash and rise whole chicken removing giblets.
  • Immerse chicken in water making sure chicken is completely covered. Refrigerate for three hours.
  • Melt butter and mix in vegetable oil. Rub entire chicken with liquid, inside and out.
  • Sprinkle a generous amount of garlic salt and black pepper on the outside of the chicken and in the cavity.
  • Empty one half can of beer. Warm beer works best. Add one shot of tequila to can (optional).
  • Place chicken on beer can so that beer can is propping it up.
  • Preheat grill to 325 degrees. Once the temperature stabilizes, put the chicken on the grill.
  • Cook for 2 hours and 15 minutes or until done. Internal temperature should be 165 degrees and the chicken leg will move freely in the socket.
Keyword BBQ, Chicken, Smoking
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Is Cooking Beer Can Chicken Dangerous?

In the past, it has been said that beer can chicken can be dangerous.

One reason people say this is because the chicken can fall over while cooking.

However, if this occurs, you can simply use gloves to put the chicken back in its upright position.

Some people are also concerned that the ink from the beer can will get on the chicken and contaminate it while it’s cooking.

However, tests have been conducted, and, time and time again, it has been found that none of the ink from the can got on the meat of the chicken.

Pellet smoker beer can chicken is a great way to cook up a nice, juicy bird.

What’s your favorite way to make this delicious recipe?

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.