Beer in the Butt Smoked Chicken

Beer in the Butt Smoked Chicken Recipe

The Spruce / Loren Runion

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 4 hrs
Total: 4 hrs 20 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
349 Calories
18g Fat
6g Carbs
34g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 349
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 18g 23%
Saturated Fat 5g 25%
Cholesterol 105mg 35%
Sodium 1097mg 48%
Total Carbohydrate 6g 2%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Protein 34g
Calcium 38mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This smoked version of the classic beer can chicken recipe takes the temperature down so that the beer won't boil. The advantage is that the light steam will marinate and moisten the chicken while it slow roasts to perfection in a smoky environment to further impart flavor.

After a little prep, you'll just need to check the chicken periodically to make sure the smoker is at the right temperature and that the chicken doesn't overcook. It's a fun dish to make on a lazy Saturday. The rub adds savory flavor, the smoker adds a delicious smokiness, and the beer can mixture, which includes apple cider vinegar, onion, and garlic, infuses the meat with yet another layer of flavor.

Serve your smoked beer can chicken with grilled veggies, mashed or roasted potatoes, or oven fries. The leftovers make a flavorful filling for a sandwich, burrito, or tacos. Or shred and add to soup.


  • 2 teaspoons mild chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 whole chicken (giblets removed)
  • 1 can beer (lager or German-style beer preferred)
  • 2 tablespoons onion (chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients. Preheat a smoker to 225 to 250 F.

    Beer in the Butt Smoked Chicken Recipe ingredients

    The Spruce / Loren Runion

  2. Combine the chili powder, salt, and onion powder and then rub all over the chicken.

    Fub seasoning on whole chicken

    The Spruce / Loren Runion

  3. Open the beer and pour out (or better yet, drink) half of the can. Use a can opener to cut off the top of the beer can. Add the chopped onion, vinegar, and garlic to the beer can.

    Onion, vinegar, and garlic with beer in a beer can

    The Spruce / Loren Runion

  4. When the smoker is ready, place the beer in the middle of the rack.

    Can of beer on the rack in a smoker

    The Spruce / Loren Runion

  5. Carefully place the chicken over the beer standing up. You might need to get a little creative to make it stand up properly. Make sure the beer can is almost completely covered by the chicken.

    Chicken on top of a can of beer in a smoker

    The Spruce / Loren Runion

  6. Smoke the beer can chicken for about 3 to 4 hours, or until the internal temperature of both the thigh and breast reach between 165 and 170 F.

  7. Once cooked, remove from the heat and place onto a cutting board. Loosely tent the chicken with aluminum foil and let rest for 7 to 10 minutes before carving.

    Aluminum foil on top of a chicken

    The Spruce / Loren Runion


  • The best beers for beer can chicken are not hoppy, sour, or too dark. A lager is always a good choice, as are other malty and German-style beers. Try a smoked beer for a boost of flavor.
  • It's easy to double or triple this recipe if a few chickens will fit in your smoker.

Recipe Variation

  • If you're looking for a different type of flavor for your beer can chicken, try using wine, soda, or broth in place of the beer. We do recommend still using a metal can (canned wine is now readily available), as that will hold up to the heat that is given off from the grill.