Root Beer Can Chicken Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 (3-4 lb) whole chicken, neck and giblets removed
  • 1 (12 ounce) can root beer
  • Olive oil (or your preferred cooking oil)

For the Dry Rub

  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, for a kick)

Optional – Root Beer BBQ Glaze

  • 1/2 cup root beer
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

Instructions

1. Prep the Chicken

  • Remove any excess fat from the chicken.
  • Rinse the chicken inside and out with cold water, then pat it dry with paper towels.
  • Mix the dry rub ingredients in a small bowl.

2. Season

  • Rub a light coating of olive oil all over the chicken.
  • Generously season the inside of the chicken cavity with the dry rub.
  • Apply the dry rub liberally to the outside of the chicken.

3. Prep the Root Beer and Grill

  • Open the can of root beer and pour out about 1/2 cup (reserve the rest).
  • Gas Grill: Preheat to medium-high on one side, leaving the other burner off for indirect heat.
  • Charcoal Grill: Heat coals and push them to one side, creating a hot and cooler zone.

4. Assemble the Chicken

  • Carefully insert the half-filled root beer can into the chicken’s cavity.
  • Position the chicken legs to act like a tripod for stability.

5. Indirect Cooking

  • Place a disposable foil pan on the unlit side (gas grill) or cooler side (charcoal grill) to catch drippings.
  • Place the chicken over the foil pan on the unlit/cooler side of the grill.
  • Close the grill lid.

6. Cook

  • Maintain a grill temperature between 325-350°F (163-177°C).
  • Cook the chicken for approximately 1.5 to 2 hours, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165°F (74°C).

7. Optional Glaze

  • During the last 30 minutes of cooking, prepare the root beer BBQ glaze (if desired).
  • Combine root beer, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and brown sugar in a saucepan.
  • Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until slightly thickened.
  • Brush the glaze over the chicken several times during the last 15-20 minutes of cooking.

8. Rest and Remove Can

  • Carefully remove the chicken from the grill (a sturdy pair of tongs are helpful for this). Important: Be very careful as the root beer can will be hot.
  • Let the chicken rest for 10-15 minutes before carving.

9. Serve

  • Carve the chicken and enjoy! This juicy chicken pairs well with classic sides like mashed potatoes, coleslaw, or corn on the cob.

Tips

If you don’t have a can holder, partially crush the empty root beer can to provide a wider base for the chicken.

Use different flavors of soda for a fun twist (Dr. Pepper, cream soda, etc.)

Experiment with your favorite dry rub variations!

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