Beer Can Chicken On A Pellet Grill

Rain or shine, Snow or sleet, there is never a bad time to make a good ‘ole Beer Can Chicken. There are tons of recipes out there for Beer Can Chicken, and they all sound delicious. Beer Can Chicken is known for not only being flavorful but also being fall off of the bone moist and juicy. That’s a combo that you can’t beat.

What Makes A Pellet Grill So Awesome

If you aren’t familiar with what a pellet grill is then don’t feel bad. It’s a newer type of grill that doesn’t have nearly as established of a fan base as smokers and charcoal grills. The grill, also known as a pellet smoker, combines the cooking styles of charcoal smokers, gas grills, and kitchen ovens. They use an electronic control panel where you can control the airflow and feed pellets into the grill to control cooking temperatures. 

I would imagine at this point you are probably asking yourself “what the heck is a pellet?”, and you would not be alone. Wood pellets are food-grade pellets that are made entirely from hardwood and contain no additives. The pellets are small and capsule sized. Food-grade pellets produce a light smoky flavor with varieties including oak, maple, apple, alder, mesquite, cherry, maple, hickory, and pecan. 

Pellet grills use an electronic control panel that helps aid in consistent temperatures. This helps make sure that you have consistent cooking as well. You can program the desired temperature into the panel. Based on the temperature you want, pellets are fed into the fire pot. There is also an intake fan that help circulate the air to keep the airflow going so you can achieve evenly cooked meat. Here is what the basic process looks like for starting a Pellet Grill:

  • Wood pellets are poured into the hopper
  • Pellets are dispensed into cooking chamber
  • Intake air is provided
  • Intake air is pressurized and heated
  • Wood pellets combust and heat the cooking chamber
  • Hot air and smoke circulate through the chamber
  • Temperature can be programmed
  • A Meat probe can be used to monitor internal temperature of the meat

You can see from all of this information that a pellet grill is not only easy to use but also very efficient. The varieties of pellets available and the ability to program it, make it easy to use and in many ways much more efficient than traditional grills or smokers. You will always have charcoal and smoker enthusiasts that will tend to disagree, and that’s ok. Everyone has a preference. Check out this pellet grill, or this grill on Amazon.

The History of The Beer Can Chicken

In all my years of research, Beer Can chicken is one of the few things that I have ever had a hard time finding an origin for. It has been suggested that it originated in the United States and more specifically, in Louisiana. Other than those details, I could find much on its origins. However, there is still a lot of cool information on the recipe in question. 

Beer Can Chicken has also been referred to as Drunken Chicken, Dancing Chicken, Chicken On A Throne, and Beer Butt Chicken. It is a barbecue chicken dish that is usually made through an indirect method of cooking such as smoking or baking. The general premise is that you take a half full beer can and place it in the cavity of the chicken. You can use a marinade or rub on the chicken to add to the flavor of the dish. The general idea is that the heated beer helps to make the dish moist and juicy from the inside while cooking. There are some who say that the type of beer makes a difference as well. The premise is that all beers help make the chicken juicy but lagers, porters, and other dark beers tend to impart a smoky flavor that adds to the enjoyment.

What Type of Wood Is Good

There are plenty of options available in pellet form for your smoking needs. So which type do you choose and why? There are a lot of thoughts on the matter but the general consensus is that fruity woods like Apple and Cherry should be your go=to woods for smoking chicken. Maple, Hickory, and Oak also pair well with chicken if you are looking for a more smokey and woodsy flavor. Here is a run down of the kind of flavor you can expect from each kind:

  • Apple – Mild and fruity, apple wood works well with chicken. However, it can overwhelm poultry if smoked for too long
  • Cherry – Sweet and fruity, It also adds a nice color to poultry
  • Maple – Mild and subtle, the sweetness of this wood is perfect for smoking poultry. Sugar-maple is exceptionally good
  • Hickory – A classic wood especially if using bacon—but can be too heavy for chicken if smoked for too long.
  • Oak – A great wood for smoking but tends to overwhelm poultry if smoked too long. Often used in Eastern European Poultry recipes

I think it is safe to say that no matter what type of wood you select it’s going to depend on other factors as well. You also have to have a good recipe and have a good smoker, which is why we recommend pellet grills because of their consistency. Check out some pellets available here on Amazon.

It’s All In The Recipe

Now that you know all there is to know about Beer Can Chicken and Pellet Grills (kind of), here are 4 awesome recipes to get you started on your Beer Can Chicken Journey.

This one is from A Farm Girls Dabbles. The full article can be found here.

Yield: 6 servings
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Additional time: 10 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 55 minutes


  • 1 opened, half-full can of beer at room temperature (I like to use the tall, skinny cans)
  • 1 5-pound whole chicken, neck and giblets removed
  • 2 T. canola oil
  • 1 T. cumin
  • 2 tsp. Garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. Onion powder
  • 2 tsp. Kosher salt, plus a bit more sprinkling over entire chicken
  • 1 tsp. Sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp. Chili powder
  • 1 tsp. Dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground black pepper
  • freshly cracked, coarsely-ground black pepper

Here is one from The Spruce Eats, full article found here.

Total: 4 hrs 20 mins
Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 4 hrs
Yield: Serves 4


  • 1 whole chicken
  • For Seasoning Rub
  • 2 teaspoons mild chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • For the Beer Can
  • 1 can of beer
  • 2 tablespoons onion (chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 cloves minced garlic

Here is one from, fell recipe found here.

  • 1 Whole Chicken
  • ½ can of Beer
  • Garlic Powder
  • Pepper
  • Chili Powder
  • Salt
  • Smoked Paprika
  • Tarragon
  • Brown Sugar

And last but certainly not least, here is one from AfricanBites with full recipe here.


  • 3 1/2 – 4 1/2 pound whole bone-in chicken, skin on
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon bouillon powder more or less, optional
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons granulated onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons thyme, oregano or basil
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 beer can (any variety)

Give any of these recipes a try on a pellet grill and chances are pretty high that you will never want to go back to what you were doing before. As with all things in life, it may take a while to get the hang of things. So don’t be discouraged if your first attempt isn’t perfect. Unless you’re a professional chef, then you really shouldn’t screw this one up. Eat up and cheers!

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