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Beer Can Chicken - How To Get Crispy Skin?

My been can chicken always turns out great, except for one problem - the skin is always rubbery. I've tried oiling the skin before I put the rub on, but still the same rubbery skin. I'm wondering if it has something to do with the drip pan I use on the charcoal grate...?

Suggestions appreciated!

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  1. I can feel your pain with this problem, as I have had the same experience in the past. What I have found to correct this problem is to make sure the chickens are thoroughly dried with paper towels after washing, then after any seasonings are applied, to let the chickens air dry uncovered in the refrigerator and then outside on the counter for an hour or so before placing in the oven, spritzed with a coating of Pam or your preferred oil from a Spray Mister just before the roasting process. I also find (depending on the size of the bird) roasting @ 425* for the first 35-45 minutes, then reducing the heat to 375* for the remaining 35-45 minutes achieves the results in the crispy skin desired.

    5 Replies
    1. re: fourunder

      Thanks to all for the replies, but I am using a charcoal grill, not an oven. Also, I prefer a dry rub to BBQ sauce, so if anyone has successful experience getting crispy skin on a charcoal grill w/o removing the can or using bbq sauce, I'd like to know how!

      1. re: Moose

        well then, you could start by decreasing the starting volume of liquid.
        your target would be an amount that evaporates in time to leave you about 10-15 minutes of dry heat. my only concern then would be scorching the remnants from your steaming elixir resulting in an off taste. this could be abated by providing insulation (al foil pad?) at the time of complete evaporation.

        this sounds like a Cook's Illustrated obsessive-testing article.

        1. re: ScubaSteve

          I use about 4 oz of liquid (I like using sugary soda better than beer), and have not noticed any scorched off taste flavor. I use a drip pan too, so thats not it... but you said "on the charcoal grate", did you mean on the grill itself? Attaching a photo of my most recent little guy.

          1. re: yamalam

            is there any liquid left once done?

      2. remove the beer can (and it's steam generating liquid) and finish on a high heat for about 15 minutes.

        i've found the better way is to just take an awl to the bottom of the can and let in waste to a bowl or ground as sometimes the can will adhere to the bird. this requires a bit of skill though.

        1. I brush with a sweet barbecue sauce. I do this quite early in the cooking time and it crisps up quite nicely. Just made it last night.

          1. Have your charcoal indirect, and have lots of it. High Temperature will crisp up the skin. Did one a couple of days ago and it turned out.

            1 Reply
            1. re: duck833

              I use an indirect lump charcoal fire for high temperature on one side of a Weber. The chicken is fine with a loose rub of kosher or pickling salt, but other dry things could be added. The salt will draw fat out of the skin and self baste until the skin is crisp. What's inside the can doesn't seem to matter, if the charcoal is hot.

              I give it 30 minutes with the back to the heat, lid on, dampers open, then finish for 25 minutes heat to the breast side. I use a probe to check the internal thigh temp. at about 165 F. The juices can be collected under the bird for a quick gravy, tho' slightly smokey.

            2. Not sure this will apply to the grill so if you try, let us know. Mayonaise rubbed on the skin makes a beautiful crispy skin (in oven). Just a light coating, you can still add your rub - maybe mixing it with mayo to easily slather.

              1. In the oven I get crispy skin by basting with the roasting juices. If you don't want to use a barbecue sauce, then I would rub the chicken with a little olive oil or butter before putting on the grill. That will also give a crispy skin.

                1. see america's test kitchen ...slits at backbone, slits at thighs & breasts ... poke holes in breasts & thighs ...loosen skin . for 1 chick: mix 1t baking powder, 1t, pepper, 5 t kosher salt ... & rub over patted-dry chick. pour out half of beer & cook as expected. FYI this is what their print-out stated ... but their recipe shows 1T kosher salt, 1t baking powder, 1/2 t pepper ... i'm going to try the first one, tho.

                  1. We cook ours over a gas grill, but we've found that if you use a drip pan, the skin does not get crispy. If you use an actual beer/soda/lemonade can--ie, with no drip tray--, it will get crispy. Of course, you have to do it over indirect heat and it creates a giant mess...but the skin is gorgeous.


                    1. I find that if you first dry the chicken really well, season it and then poke a couple of holes in the skin, the fat will drain out instead of getting trapped under the skin (making it rubbery), you get better results. I also start the grill at a very high temp - 450 - 500 for the first 20 minutes over indirect heat, then lower the temp to about 375 to finish cooking. Also, leave it on the stand to rest for about 15 - 20 minutes. If you take it off too early, the juices will impact the skin texture as well.