Almost everyone has at least heard about Beer Can Chicken. This recipe gives you a fall-off-the-bone tender whole chicken that’s crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. But what if you don’t like beer?
Have no fear; you can still have this crispy, juicy bird for your summer BBQs. Sometimes the best type of beer is not beer at all. Change the ale to a cider, and voilà, you now have Hard Cider Chicken!
There is no easier way to roast a chicken on your grill and ensure it stays tender and juicy than sitting that bird on a can. Does the chicken look silly perched precariously on a can? Yes! But rest assured; your hard cider chicken is a perfect way to dry roast a bird for crispy skin on the outside and moist cooked meat on the inside.
This post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something, we may earn a commission. Please see our disclosure policy for full details. Thanks.
How to Make Hard Cider Chicken
- Prepare the Grill
We have a propane (gas) grill. You will only need to fire half of the burners for this type of grill. The grill temperature needs to be up to around 350⁰.
If you have a charcoal grill, pile the coals on one side of the grill, light, and heat your grill. I recommend using a BBQ Thermometer Gauge to ensure you are at the right temperature.
- Prepare the Chicken
Open a 12 oz can of cider and remove about 1/3 of the can. (If the cider is cold, have a drink!) You don’t want the cider boiling over when roasting the chicken.
Place the can on a baking sheet or large roasting pan. This makes taking the hard cider chicken to and from the grill easier.
I like to use this beer can chicken stand to make the whole can and bird thing more stable.
Remove the wrapping from a whole chicken. Reach into the cavities and remove the neck and giblets. The giblets are usually in the chest cavity, and the neck is generally in the neck cavity.
Season your chicken: I use olive oil, salt, and pepper all over the bird and then place 3 rosemary sprigs under the chicken breasts’ skin. If you don’t like rosemary, you can use thyme, which also goes well with chicken.
Placing the herbs under the skin allows the herbs to flavor the chicken meat and prevents them from burning.
Lastly, stand your chicken upright and settle it down over the cider can.
- Place the Chicken on the Grill and Close the Lid.
The hard cider chicken cooks over “indirect heat”; this is why you only used half the burners or set your coals on one side of the grill. Place the chicken on the opposite side of the grill from the fire.
When using a grill for roasting, it is essential to leave it closed to maintain temperature. It may be hard to resist the urge to peek but try not to do so for at least an hour and a half. This is when your chicken will be close to done.
This is a great way to cook chicken, as it requires almost no attention from the chef. This way the Chef can enjoy all the 4th of July festivities! Set a timer and go to other things. You have nothing to do with the chicken until the beeper goes off.
If you like the idea of Beer Can Chicken, but don't like Beer, change it up. Open a can of Hard Cider Instead!
- 1 - 5 pound whole chicken
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
- 8 oz hard cider, room temperature, ( a 12 oz can opened and half-full)
- 3 or 4 sprigs fresh rosemary or thyme
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- Prepare a gas grill by lighting one side of the burners, closing the lid, and heating to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. If using a charcoal grill: light the charcoal. Once the coals are good and hot, move them to one side of the grill.
- Unwrap the chicken and make sure to remove the giblets and neck from the chicken cavities.
- Rub the chicken all over with the olive oil.
- Mix the salt & pepper in a small bowl, then sprinkle all over the chicken.
- Lower the chicken onto the half-filled cider can. (Make sure the can is open and only around half full as the cider may bubble up and overflow during cooking).
- Grill on indirect heat by placing the chicken on the side of the grill away from the heat.
- Leave the chicken to roast for about 1 -1/2 hours before you check for doneness.
- Test for doneness using a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken breast. When done the thermometer will read at least 165 degrees.
- Carefully remove the cider can chicken from the heat and let the chicken rest for around 10 minutes. Then carefully remove the chicken from the can. If for some reason the chicken is stuck to the can, lay it on its side and use tongs to remove the can.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 740Total Fat: 44gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 28gCholesterol: 249mgSodium: 763mgCarbohydrates: 2gFiber: 0gSugar: 2gProtein: 77g
Nutritional Information is an estimate and will vary depending on the specific ingredients used
How Do You Know When The Chicken Is Done?
Chicken takes between 20 and 25 minutes per pound, roasting at 350 degrees. So a 5-pound chicken will take between an hour and forty minutes to 2 hours and 15 minutes to thoroughly cook.
The best way to know when your chicken is done is to use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. You insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the bird (generally the breast), and the reading should be at least 165⁰. If you like the thighs or legs, these may have a better mouth feel at a slightly higher temperature, say 180 degrees.
I use a meat thermometer like this one. It’s easy to use and gives you temperature guidelines right on the device.
Remember that you must let the chicken rest for about 10 minutes after removing it from the heat. During this time, the inside temperature will likely rise a bit more.
Additionally, when poked, the juices should run clear. If the liquid is red or pinkish, your chicken needs more time.
One further test is to wiggle the legs. If the skin separates easily and it feels like the leg could fall off on its own, the chicken is likely done.
Can You Cook Hard Cider Chicken In The Oven?
If you don’t have a grill or even an outside place for a grill, you can still enjoy this easy roasted chicken by cooking it in your oven.
Remove one of the shelves in your oven and have the remaining shelf on the lowest rack to give the chicken enough room to stand. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Prepare the chicken as directed in Step 2. Place the chicken in the oven and roast for 20 minutes per pound until the breast reaches 165°F and the thigh reaches 180°F.
Can You Make This Chicken Without Beer or Cider?
Absolutely! There is almost no end to the variations of this roasted chicken.
If you are looking for a non-alcoholic substitute, use half a can of soda such as cola, lemon-lime, or ginger ale. Use non-alcoholic cider, lemonade, or orange juice; these add great flavor.
White wine is a great choice, but make sure to pour it into an empty beverage or vegetable can. If you are using a veggie can take the lid off the can, empty the contents and remove the label.
You can even make your side dish while you roast your chicken by placing the chicken over a can of beans. Again, remove the label from the can, open it, and use it instead of beer.
As the chicken cooks, the juices will flow into the beans. After the chicken is done, bring soaked beans to a boil in a pot on the stovetop to ensure all the chicken juices are fully cooked. Then serve your beans alongside your chicken.
Alternative Seasoning for Beer Can Chicken
Depending on your cooking liquid, your chicken can have many different flavors. If you are using wine, try garlic and lemon zest.
A spicy dry rub recipe will merge the flavors of baked beans.
If you plan to make “Beer Can Chicken,” know that you can use many different types of beer. Dark beer, pale ale, wheat beer, pilsner, and even lager beer. Each of these beers will give you a different tasting experience. Please choose your favorite beer; you won’t regret it.