Drunken Chicken (Beer Butt Chicken) is also known as Beer Butt Chicken or Beer-in-the-Rear chicken. This is a popular barbecue and grilling technique for cooking chicken, and it’s the method we used for ours. You’re going to love this simple but delicious recipe.
This Chicken has Had One too Many!
And that’s what makes it so delicious! Best of all, this is a simple method for grilling poultry you’re going to use again and again.
To make a drunken chicken, you place a whole chicken over an open beer can which is partially filled with beer (you can use any kind of beer you like), and then grill or roast the chicken until it’s fully cooked.
The result? Tender, flavorful, and moist chicken you’ll be proud to serve. But, where did this method come from? Let’s look at that.
Drunken Chicken has Ancient Origins
Drunken chicken is believed to have originated during the Three Kingdoms period in ancient China, which lasted from 220 to 280 AD. The Chinese often used alcohol medicinally so there’s a theory that they cooked their meats this way for health reasons.
Let’s go with that logic for ours, okay?
Here’s how the process works. As the beer in the can heats up it creates an alcohol-infused steam, which keeps the chicken moist while also giving it the flavors of the beer and seasonings. The malty flavor of the beer also makes its way into the meat, in a subtle way.
Beer butt chicken is a fun and flavorful way to prepare poultry, and it’s a popular choice for outdoor gatherings and barbecues because of the simple cooking method.
Drunken Chicken Ingredients
You will find a full printable recipe card at the bottom of this post but here’s a quick look at what you’ll need. These are simple ingredients you can pick up at the grocery store. You might already have them on hand.
- Whole chicken (uncooked)
- One can of beer (whatever brand you prefer – you can even use root beer!)
- Seasoning of your choice (we used True Texas BBQ Sweet TX Heat – sold at H-E-B)
- Beer can holder (this one has handles for easier carrying)
How to Make Drunken Chicken
Start by heating your grill to 220 degrees Fahrenheit.
Remove chicken from packaging and rinse thoroughly with cold running water, including the cavity of the chicken. (It’s critical to the success of this dish to have the chicken cavity ready for the beer can.)
Set the chicken on a cutting board and pat the outside of the chicken dry with paper towels.
Open the beer, pour about 1/2 out (drink the leftover beer or toss it – you choose!) and place the half-full can of beer into beer can holder.
Season (liberally) all the sides of the chicken you can reach with your seasoning (you can baste with olive oil – or another oil of your choice – as a binder). Coat the entire bird.
You can also season underneath the skin of the chicken for more flavor.
Hold the chicken upright and slide it onto the top of the beer can vertically. Use caution sliding the chicken over the open can. You don’t want to knock it over.)
Add more spice rub (if desired).
Check out that pose!
Can we just admit that one of the best things about this chicken is his excellent posture?
Place the chicken (including the stand/beer) onto the grill vertically.
Place a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken breast (we recommend using an instant-read thermometer)
Cook for approximately two hours at 220 degrees, then increase the temperature to 300 degrees.
Continue to cook until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees f (This took about an hour for me. Your time may vary.)
Once the temperature reaches 165 degrees at the thickest part of the thigh and breast, remove the chicken from the grill (our total cooking time was just around 3 hours). Let it rest for about 10 minutes.
Carefully remove the chicken from the beer can.
It’s important to handle the hot beer can chicken with care, using oven mitts or tongs to prevent burns. Some people prefer to use specialized beer can chicken holders or racks designed to stabilize the chicken and beer can during cooking.
Lay the chicken on a cutting board.
Slice the chicken and serve immediately. This is the best way to enjoy it!
Store leftover chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It should stay good for 3 – 4 days. You can freeze this chicken in a Ziploc baggie up to two months.
What to Expect from this Drunken Chicken
This is a juicy chicken that’s packed full of flavor. And the chicken meat really is tender and moist with a crispy skin. I can’t say if it had any medicinal effects but it certainly made me feel better.
This is one of those chicken recipes your family and guests will be talking about for weeks to come, and not just because of the bird’s great posture. It’s conversational, but it’s also delicious!
Everyone in the family loved this chicken. It’s one of our favorite recipes and we can’t wait to make it again.
This was our first time to use this method and it turned out great! Next time we might make a few changes, so check out my ideas below.
Make it Your Own
If using a beer can is not your preferred method, another option is using a Traeger BBQ chicken throne. You can pour the beer or other liquid of your choice directly inside and let the grill do the rest!
For enhanced flavor, pour or spritz a small amount of additional beer onto the chicken every 30 minutes.
Prefer to use a traditional BBQ sauce instead of dry rub ingredients? You can baste with the sauce of your choice before cooking and every 30 minutes or so, while on the grill.
For a less smoky flavor, start the cook at 275 degrees then increase to 300 degrees at one hour until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
Sprinkle a teaspoon of seasoning directly into the beer can before placing chicken over it to cook.
Looking for a different flavor profile? Season chicken with garlic powder, fresh herbs, or other spices of your choice.
Questions People are Asking about Beer Butt Chicken
Does the size of the chicken matter?
Yes, in this case you want a large enough chicken to straddle that beer can.
Does the brand of beer matter?
No, just choose an easy beer, nothing top-of-the-line. The beer flavor will come through, no matter the brand.
Can I use room temperature beer in this drunken chicken?
Sure. It doesn’t have to be cold.
Does the type of grill matter?
I used my Traeger pellet grill but you can use whatever you have. You can cook this chicken on a charcoal grill or gas grill or even in the oven. Just keep an eye on the internal temperature.
Other Meats from Backyard Texas Grill
Not in the mood for this tasty bird? No problem. Check out any of our other meat dishes:
St. Louis Style Ribs: These delicious fall-apart St. Louis Style Pork ribs are simple to make on the grill and provide the perfect blend of savory and sweet, with a buttery brown sugar and honey glaze.
Simple Reverse-Seared Steaks: This is a family favorite, loaded with juicy flavor. (And what a great method for cooking!)
The Ultimate Breakfast Fatty with Chorizo: If you’re looking for the best breakfast fatty recipe, one loaded with veggies, eggs, and chorizo, this is the recipe for you!
In the mood for seafood? Check out this Blackened Cod from South Your Mouth. I think it would be wonderful cooked on the grill.
If you’re looking for a dessert to go with this Drunken Chicken you can’t beat this Classic Homemade Cheesecake with Blackberries from Out of the Box Baking.
See this recipe at
If you like this recipe, pin the pictures! Don’t forget to tell your friends about Backyard Texas Grill!
About the Man Behind the Grill
Zach Morrow was born and raised in Texas and has always had a passion for great barbecue. He’s at home behind the grill and loves to feed his friends and family home-cooked favorites as often as he can. He especially loves trying new things and is excited to produce recipes like this one for Backyard Texas Grill.
- Whole chicken (uncooked)
- One can of beer
- Seasoning of your choice (we used H-E-B Sweet Texas Heat)
- Beer can holder
- Heat grill to 220 degrees
- Remove chicken from packaging and rinse thoroughly with
water (inside and out)
- Set the chicken on a cutting board and pat dry with a paper
- Place beer can into beer can holder and open the beer
- Slide the chicken onto the beer can vertically
- Season (liberally) all the sides of the chicken you can reach
(you can use olive oil – or another oil of your choice – as a binder. You can
also season underneath the chicken skin for more flavor)
- Place the chicken (including the stand/beer) onto the grill
- Place a meat probe into the thickest part of the chicken
- Cook for approximately two hours at 220 degrees, then
increase the temperature to 300 degrees
- Continue to cook until the internal temperature of the
chicken reaches 165 degrees. This took about an hour for me. Your time may vary.
- Once the temperature reaches 165 degrees, remove the chicken
from the grill and let it rest for about 10 minutes
- Carefully remove the chicken from the beer can and lay on a
- Slice the chicken and serve immediately
- Store leftovers in refrigerator up to four days.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 289Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 88mgSodium: 150mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 28g