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I haven’t tried this yet. I will. Well, actually, I won’t but someone I know will. I have a culinary friend who loves to do outrageous recipes. He’s the guy who did a deep-fried turkey for Thanksgiving while I stood back. Way back. And he did a Turducken [turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken] for another Thanksgiving. This is his kind of recipe.

If I find a big enough beer can, can we do beer-can turkey? Will he need a bigger oven? TBD.

You’ve seen this recipe many times and many of us will, eventually succumb. This version comes from The South’s Best Butts so it has a Southern twist: a Honey-Soy BBQ sauce that generates that shine you see in the picture. It’s so pretty, you’ll pause before you carve. But carve you will.

Here you can see my review of a wonderful cookbook: The South’s Best Butts.

Beer-Can Sticky Chicken

Yield: serves 8


For the chicken:

  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 (3 ½-to 4-pound) whole chickens, rinsed and patted dry
  • 2 (12-ounce) cans brown ale
  • Honey-Soy BBQ Sauce (recipe incorporated here)

For the Honey-Soy BBQ Sauce:

  • 1 cup (8 ounces) ketchup
  • 1 ½ cups (12 ounces) reserved brown ale
  • ½ cup honey
  • ¼ cup (2 ounces) soy sauce
  • ¼ cup (2 ounces) apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes


Begin by making the Honey-Soy BBQ Sauce. Reserve ¾ cup of the beer from each can. Stir together all the ingredients in a medium saucepan over high; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, 30 to 40 minutes or until reduced to about 1 ½ cups.

Turn to the chicken. Heat 1 side of a gas grill to medium-high (350° to 400°F); leave other side unlit. Stir together the salt, sugar, paprika, black pepper, thyme, oregano, and cayenne pepper; sprinkle the mixture inside cavity and on outside of each chicken.

Place each chicken upright onto a still partially-filled beer can, fitting can into cavity. Pull the legs forward to form a tripod, so the chicken stands upright.

Place the chickens upright on unlit side of grill. Grill, covered with grill lid, rotating the chickens occasionally, until golden and a meat thermometer inserted in thickest portion registers 165°F, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes. Remove the chickens from cans, and slice. Serve with the Honey-Soy BBQ Sauce.

Source: The South’s Best Butts by Matt Moore [Oxmoor House, 2017]