Does beer can chicken taste like beer? If you’ve been to a classic barbecue joint in the south, you might have seen beer can chicken on the menu and wondered what it was.
If you’re very lucky, you’ve seen the chicken cooked in its unique way, standing up on the grill as it browns.
However, you are probably wondering if it’s just a gimmick or for real.
The answer is that beer can chicken does not taste like beer, because the beer doesn’t get hot enough to evaporate onto the chicken.
Beer can chicken might not infuse the entire bird and make for a juicy, beer-tasting whole chicken. However, it does make a difference in the cooking style and results.
What Is Beer Can Chicken?
Beer can chicken, also called dancing chicken or beer butt chicken, is a method of preparing and roasting chicken.
The key element is an open and half-full beer can, which is thrust into the chicken’s cavity.
The chicken cooks standing on the beer can, over an indirect source of heat. Beer can chicken is barbecued over a charcoal or gas grill.
The beer in the can supposedly keep the chicken moist, while the upright method of roasting ensures that every part of the chicken cooks evenly.
Although the classic method calls for an open, half-consumed can of beer, there are now tools created for beer can chicken.
These metal containers can hold any kind of liquid and help the chicken stand up. You can use them with beer, wine, or water to keep your chicken moist.
Who Originated Beer Can Chicken?
While the exact sources of beer can chicken aren’t clear, Steven Raichlen first popularized it. He learned it at a Texas barbecue and swears by it to this day.
It was Raichlin’s first book and television appearance that made beer can chicken popular in the mid-1990s.
Although beer can chicken has been around since at least the mid-1990s, it hasn’t become any less popular with the appearance of naysayers.
That might be due to the taste of a freshly roasted beer can chicken or the novelty of jamming a beer can inside a chicken.
Either way, this method of cooking chicken is still in high demand.
Note: Canned food was a status symbol in the 19th Century.
The Beer Can Chicken Controversy
Beer can chicken has a huge following amongst barbecuers and chicken lovers worldwide.
However, many people denounce it as a fad that doesn’t work and can even make roasted chicken worse.
Aficionados say that you will get a tender, juicy chicken with crispy skin. The beer lends a great taste and moisture to the chicken.
According to advocates, you will never eat an overcooked beer can chicken.
Naysayers, on the other hand, deny any special effects of a beer can and claim that it’s all just for show.
The chicken standing upright looks exciting but doesn’t make for any better of a meal than a regular roast chicken.
In some cases, it can even dry out the chicken or make it worse. In reality, the beer can itself doesn’t do a lot for the flavor or moisture of the chicken.
However, cooking the chicken in an upright position takes care of several common issues with roasted chicken. The skin is crispy all around.
That’s because no part of it is touching the surface of the grill, and the dark meat and light meat cook at even temperatures.
Note: You don’t have to rely on a grill. Beer can chicken can be roasted in the oven.
Does Beer Can Chicken Taste Like Beer?
Beer can chicken is a way to grill chicken. According to barbecue legend, the beer in the can will provide flavor and moisture to the chicken as it cooks on the grill.
Beer can chicken has been a fan favorite since the early 1990s, and many grillers swear by it.
But, do you taste beer in beer can chicken? The answer is that beer can chicken doesn’t taste much like beer.
With even the most robust beer, the ratios of water and other ingredients to actual beer flavor are too high.
Cooks will smell the beer, but it’s unlikely that the taste will come through in the chicken itself.
If the beer can chicken does taste like beer, it will be up near the top of the can.
Although the beer doesn’t get hot enough to evaporate, any beer on the outside of the can might spill over onto the meat and soak in, causing it to taste a little like the beverage.
However, beer can chicken smells like beer. As the grill heats the bottom of the can and the chicken, the aroma of whatever beer you use will fill the grill.
It may be a little disappointing that the chicken doesn’t taste like beer, but at least it smells good.
How to Make Beer Can Chicken Taste Like Beer
Beer can chicken is an excellent way to cook a chicken evenly but doesn’t necessarily add any beer flavor or extra moisture to the chicken.
Because it’s standing on the beer can, your chicken will grill evenly and not be overcooked.
If you tend to overcook chicken, beer can chicken is excellent. It can also infuse a tiny bit of flavor into the chicken, but not much.
However, there are ways to strengthen the taste of your beer can chicken without compromising on the cooking style.
A Beer Marinade
You can start by using a marinade. Marinades soak a type of liquid (in this case, beer) into the skin and meat of a chicken, keeping the entire chicken moist and tasty.
If you leave your chicken soaking in a good beer marinade overnight, your chicken will taste more like beer.
Combine a marinade with the beer can chicken method, and the entire grill will smell of beer while you’re cooking.
Of course, if you’re cooking with beer, you probably won’t mind this smell, and it will make your chicken taste even better.
Note: Marination can last anywhere from a couple of hours to a whole day.
If you want to get fancier with your beer can chicken, you can use the injection method. Prepare the raw chicken by infusing the meat with a beer mixture.
This process keeps the chicken juicy and leaves a beer taste (without any alcohol or buzzed effects).
Meet injections are trickier and require a specific kitchen tool.
However, they are the best way to ensure that your meat is juicy and moist throughout and has a consistent flavor.
Note: The specialized kitchen tool resembles a large needle.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions about beer can chicken and how it’s made. We hope they help answer yours!
Does Beer Can Chicken Work?
There is some controversy among barbecuers and chefs about how well beer can chicken works.
It does provide an excellent roasted chicken, but many chefs argue that it’s not better or worse than a regularly roasted chicken.
However, barbecuers from all over the country insist on the beer can chicken.
Is Beer Can Chicken Alcoholic?
There is little to no alcohol in chicken grilled on a beer can. The most alcohol you’ll consume is the beer you need to drink before putting the can inside the chicken.
Otherwise, it’s just a way to prop up the chicken and provide some extra moisture and smells.
Is Beer Can Chicken Dangerous?
Beer can chicken is perfectly safe to make, either with a beer can or a pre-made tool.
The food-safe paint on a beer can is safe up to 500℉, and the beer itself won’t boil until 212℉. Chicken, however, is fully cooked through at 145℉.
There’s no danger in making beer can chicken other than the inherent danger of the open flame on a grill.
So, does beer can chicken taste like beer? Well, beer can chicken might not taste like beer, but it does add a fun flair to grilling out in the backyard.
If you’re looking for a way to roast chicken that keeps it nice and moist while the outside skin is crispy, beer can chicken is perfect.
However, if you want chicken that tastes like beer, look elsewhere.