How to Cook Coke or Beer Can BBQ Chicken - Backyard Boss
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How to Cook Coke or Beer Can BBQ Chicken

Whether using a can of coke or a can of your favorite beer, this technique for grilling chicken is becoming very popular. The moisture from the coke or beer can results in a juicy, tender chicken.

This can be done in a smoker, an oven, or on the grill. Grilling is the preferred method because the taste result from the grill is mouth-watering good.

The Process

Two Beer Butt Chickens
Image Credits: Kyle Strickland on CreativeCommons

Grilling over a can of coke or beer starts by cutting the top off the can. It should be half full of liquid as the grilling process can cause both coke or beer to foam. Spices are generally added to the can of cola or beer.

Generally, if you are trying for a sweet-tasting grilled chicken, the coke works better. For a zesty flavor, beer is the preferred liquid. Spices such as garlic, cayenne pepper, and paprika are often added to the beer to give the chicken a spicy zing. The chicken is then placed over the can of spiced liquid so that the can is inside the cavity of the chicken.

Why put a can of liquid up the chicken’s butt?

The moisture from the can of liquid keeps the chicken from drying out on the grill. The sugars in the cola and the yeast and malt found in beer react with the chicken during the cooking process. Either process makes the skin delicate and crispy.

Did you really say “the chicken’s butt?”

Yes, chicken prepared this way is often called “Beer Butt Chicken” or “Coke Butt Chicken” or “Drunken Chicken.” You have to have a sense of humor and fun when grilling.

How Do I Make This Chicken?

A can butt chicken on a grill
Image Credits: daveograve@ on CreativeCommons


  • 2 cups cherry wood chips
  • 1 can beer or coke, half full
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 2 tablespoons seasoning salt
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 fresh lemon
  • 1 (3 pounds) chicken


  1. Soak wood chips in water for at least one hour.
  2. Preheat an outdoor grill for medium-high heat, about 375 degrees F (190 degrees Celcius).
  3. Mix the garlic, chili powder, paprika, dry mustard, seasoning salt, and fresh pepper in a small bowl.
  4. Place the half-full can of beer or coke on a baking sheet. Spoon half the seasoning mix into the can. Be careful, this will make the beer or coke foam up.
  5. Rinse chicken under cold running water. Discard the giblets from the chicken; drain the chicken and pat it dry.
  6. Rub the chicken with olive oil, making sure to coat the chicken evenly.
  7. Rub the remaining seasonings over the chicken both inside and outside.
  8. Fit the chicken over the can of coke or beer, with the chicken’s legs facing the bottom. Insert the half lemon into the neck cavity of the chicken, blocking it off.
  9. Drain the wood chips and place them with the charcoal if using a charcoal grill or in an aluminum pan under the grill grate if using a gas grill.
  10. Place the chicken standing on the grill directly on the preheated grill. Close the lid of the grill and barbecue the chicken until the meat is no longer pink and the juices run clear. This should be approximately one hour and 15 minutes. Note: An instant-read thermometer placed in the fleshiest part of the thigh should read 180 degrees Fahrenheit (82 degrees C).
  11. Remove the chicken from the grill and discard the can. Cover the chicken loosely with aluminum foil and allow to rest 10 minutes prior to carving.

The Last Word

If using soda, try experimenting with other flavors such as Sprite. Also, try experimenting with different types of beers. Be sure you choose a beer or soda you enjoy; after all, you do have to drink half the can. Have fun preparing this dish, and of course, enjoy your chicken!