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Tex-Mex Beer-Can Chicken

Scott Phillips

Servings: 6

A chile-packed spice rub and mesquite smoke lend a Southwestern accent to this ultra-juicy chicken. You can use either a gas or charcoal grill, but charcoal will produce a smokier flavor.


  • 1 cup mesquite chips
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. pure ancho chile powder
  • 3/4 tsp. pure chipotle chile powder
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 4-1/2-lb. chicken, giblets and excess fat removed
  • 1 12-oz. can beer, such as Budweiser, at room temperature
  • 2 Tbs. canola oil

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 440
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 240
  • Fat (g): 27
  • Saturated Fat (g): 7
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 6
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 12
  • Cholesterol (mg): 140
  • Sodium (mg): 430
  • Carbohydrates (g): 2
  • Fiber (g): 1
  • Protein (g): 44


  • Soak the mesquite chips in water for at least 30 minutes.
  • In a small bowl combine the sugar, smoked paprika, cumin, both chile powders, oregano, and 1-1/2 tsp. salt.
  • Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Using your fingers, gently separate the skin from the meat, taking care not to tear the skin. Spread half of the rub under the skin, massaging it directly onto the meat. Massage the remaining rub all over the chicken skin.
  • Open the can of beer and pour out (or drink) about two-thirds. Using a church-key-style can opener, make two more holes in the top of the can. Place the beer can on a solid surface and lower the chicken cavity over the can. Rub the chicken all over with the oil. Let sit at room temperature while you prepare a gas or charcoal grill fire for indirect cooking over medium heat (350°F to 375°F).
  • Drain and scatter the wood chips directly over the coals or put them in the smoker box of a gas grill, following manufacturer’s instructions. If using a gas grill without a smoker box, wrap the chips in a foil packet, pierce it in several spots, and lay the packet over a lit burner.
  • When the chips begin to smoke, transfer the chicken on the can to the cooler side of the grill, balancing it on its two legs and the can like a tripod. Grill with the lid closed until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the breast (not touching the bone) reaches 165°F, 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours. (Halfway through cooking, turn the chicken 180 degrees to ensure even cooking. Cover the neck and wings with foil if they begin to brown too quickly.)
  • Remove the chicken from the grill and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Carefully lift the chicken from the beer can, carve, and serve.


Rate or Review

Reviews (3 reviews)

  • licia | 08/05/2018

    We had hoped for more flavor. It was just OK. There are quite a few better chicken recipes on Fine Cooking than this one.

  • User avater
    Antonio_Reis | 05/18/2015

    This was so easy and yummy. Make sure to follow the instruction that reads, "transfer the chicken on the can to the cooler side of the grill."I didn't and had a little fireball to deal with shortly after setting the bird out on the grill.

  • carolcook | 05/04/2015

    My husband made this Sunday and it was perfect. Used a gas grill and followed directions exactly. I might add a little more heat second time around but other than that, really delicious. Served with a tossed salad and roasted potatoes seasoned with garlic and rosemary.

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