Spice-Rubbed Beer-Steamed Wood-Smoked Chicken

Usually when I share a recipe, I try to photograph important steps along the way or some part of the process that strikes me as particularly pretty. Trust me when I say this is the only picture of this recipe you need:

Golden brown and delicious

If you’re looking for the summer equivalent of fall and winter’s roast chicken, like smoked things, and have some beer hanging around, make this. This was one of those random dinner experiments that turned out miles beyond what I had hoped for. I was trying to make beer-can chicken, but my grill lid isn’t high enough to have the chicken stand up, so…I took the beer out of the can and put it under the chicken instead. And figured, what the heck, soak some wood chips in the beer while I’m at it. It looked gorgeous and tasted even better. I may have snuck a wing off this guy while I waited for my asparagus to grill.

I’ve made this with two different spice mixtures (a BBQ rub and a jerk spice rub) and two different kinds of beer (honestly just ones that have been kicking around my kitchen for far long–yes, I’m also that mythical person who has leftover wine). I’m planning to try this with cider next time and a spice blend like baharat or zatar. There are pretty much infinite variations and it can be as simple or as adventurous as you like. For a simple summer dinner (and great leftovers) with minimal prep, though, this cannot be beat.

Spice-Rubbed Beer-Steamed Wood-Smoked Chicken
This is barely a recipe, but, giving credit where credit is due, the idea came from a few different methods in Steve Raichlen’s How to Grill.

1 chicken, 3 1/2-4 pounds
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1-2 tablespoons your favorite spice rub
2 cans of beer, any kind
1/2-1 cup of wood chips (I use applewood)

A small, disposable aluminum drip pan

For a charcoal grill, set up an indirect, medium temperature fire (if you have a thermometer, it should be a steady 400 degrees). In a bowl, soak wood chips in half a can of the beer. Set aside for 20-30 minutes while the grill heats up.

Mix your favorite spice rub with the butter. Slide your hand between the skin of the chicken and the breast meat to loosen the skin, do the same with the skin on the back of the chicken. Spread the butter as evenly as possible under the skin.

Sprinkle the wood chips over the coals. Set the drip  pan under where the chicken will be, pour in the beer from the wood chips and any beer left in the can (you can also add a tablespoon of butter and a few teaspoons of the spice rub). Set the chicken on the grill grate over the drip pan. Close the lid of the grill, leaving the top vents slightly open to allow a little of smoke to escape, but maintain the temperature.

After 30 minutes, check the amount of liquid in the drip pan, add another half can of beer if necessary. Continue cooking until the thickest part of the breast registers 150 degrees with a thermometer, 20-40 minutes more. Remove the chicken from the grill to a plate, tent with foil, and let rest for 10-15 minutes.


One thought on “Spice-Rubbed Beer-Steamed Wood-Smoked Chicken

  1. There wasn’t nay beer left in the can! LOL I have also done this a little different, spice the chicken like you say and using a large can of beer, drink 1/2 of it and stand the chicken up on the can, yep, the best chicken ever.


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