Whoever thought of this idea deserves a medal. Stand a chicken up on a beer can, stick it on the grill, come back an hour later, and find a beautifully moist, juicy, flavourful chicken waiting for you. It’s literally that simple! With Canada’s 150th birthday drawing nearer, I decided to crack open a can of Labatt’s special birthday brew, Labatt 150, and grill up my Canadian beer can chicken with grilled lemon and thyme.
A chicken standing up on a beer can. I know, it looks really funny (and quite rude, if your head is in the gutter). My mom’s been making this chicken since we were little (actually referred to as “beer up-the-bum chicken” in our family…much ruder, and much catchier. For the purposes of this post and my reputation on the internet, I shall index this recipe as “beer can chicken”…but you know what I’m really thinking).
Anyhow, why would we do this? Well, as the beer heats up on the grill, it evaporates into the cavity of the chicken, constantly releasing flavourful and moisture into the chicken as it cooks. It solves the problem of dry chicken over the barbecue. You end up with perfectly crispy skin on the outside of the chicken that the heat from the grill so expertly provides, while the inside is so juicy and flavourful. It’s genius! And the greatest part is that you can add whatever flavours into your beer can and those will also become infused into the chicken as it cooks, and then use the remaining beer afterwards (with all the delicious chicken-y flavour that’s been dripping into it during the cooking process) to make a rich, flavourful sauce at the end.
This is about as low-maintenance as chicken over the BBQ gets. Perfect for serving a crowd or for Sunday night dinner with the family. Whatever you choose to call it, try making it and enjoy. Let me know what kind of beer you use and how it turns out!
Canadian Beer Can Chicken With Grilled Lemon and Thyme
This flavourful grilled chicken recipe is a family favourite in the summer! It is so easy to cook the whole chicken on the barbecue, and the beer keeps the meat moist and flavourful. The chicken tastes amazing on its own, or served alongside a beer and shallot sauce flavoured with lemon and thyme. This really is a summer time crowd pleaser. Enjoy!
- 1 Whole chicken (4-5 Ibs)
- 1 Tall can of beer*
- 2 Lemons
- Fresh rosemary (about 5 sprigs)
- Fresh thyme (about 5 sprigs)
- 2 Cloves of garlic
- 1 tbsp Butter
- 2 tbsp Poultry seasoning
- 2 tsp Salt
- 2 tsp Pepper
For the sauce
- 2 Shallots, diced
- 1 tbsp Butter
- 1/3 cup Chicken stock
- Beer from the can
- 1 Sprig of thyme
- 1 tbsp All purpose or instant flour
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
Preheat the grill with all burners on high. Close the lid and let the barbecue get up to temperature.
Open your favourite tall can of Canadian beer and pour out about 1/3 (into a glass of course, cheers!). Into the can, add 2 smashed cloves of garlic, 2 sprigs each of rosemary and thyme, and then shove a quarter of the lemon into the can as well (you can cut the quartered lemon into smaller pieces to fit it in the top). Set the can aside.
Season the chicken well with salt and pepper (about 2 tsp each), and the poultry seasoning. Ensure that the whole chicken is seasoned, and add more seasoning if you've got a big chicken! You'll need an extra set of hands now. Rotate the chicken so that the neck is up and the legs are down. Then, have your trusty sous chef hold the beer can while you lower the chicken onto the beer can. The can will go inside the chicken's cavity, and will help it stand up. Open the neck (top part of the chicken) and add 1 tbsp of butter, 1 sprig of each rosemary and thyme, and 1 lemon wedge (these items can kind of stick out of the top of the chicken). Open the grill and turn off one set of burners directly under where you will place the chicken (pick one side, but keep all of the other burners on high). Place the chicken down so that it is standing, and carefully close the lid. Ensure that there is no flame directly below the chicken, as the fat from the chicken will drip down and cause flare up if there is a flame. Cook the chicken in the grill for about 1 hour, or until the internal temperature reads 165°F. Remove the chicken from the grill (DO NOT DISCARD THE BEER), put it on a plate or surface that can catch the juices, and wrap in foil. Let rest for about 10 minutes. While the grill is still on and hot, slice and lemon in half and grill over the hot flame until grill marks appear, about 3 minutes.
In the meantime, cook the shallots and butter in a pan over medium heat until translucent, about 8 minutes. Once the chicken is done, pour the beer from the can into the pan, add one whole sprig of thyme, and let the sauce simmer for about 2 minutes. Pour in the chicken stock. Slowly add the flour little by little, whisking vigorously, until the sauce reaches the desired thickness.** Stir in about 6 dashes of Tobasco sauce and the juice of 1/2 lemon. Taste and adjust seasoning accordingly. Depending on the stock you used, you may or may not need to add more salt. Do so if necessary, and then season heavily with pepper.
Cut the chicken and serve on a platter with the sauce, grilled lemon (for people to drizzle over their own chicken), and garnish with fresh sprigs of thyme and rosemary. Enjoy!
*Pick your favourite Canadian beer! For a brighter, lemon-y sauce, choose a lighter golden ale. What better way to celebrate Canada's big birthday than with a can of Labatt 150!? If you're interested in a darker, richer sauce, opt for an amber or stout.
**To thicken a sauce without creating lumps, add the flour to a small bowl first with about 1-2 tbsp of water before adding it to the sauce. I combine the flour and water into a smooth consistency with a fork or whisk before adding the flour liquid slowly, little by little, to the sauce.