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Garlic-and-Herb Beer Can Chicken recipe


Every month for the past three years, I have written recipes on how to cook dishes for charter guests or crew. Well, chefs, this one is for you. As crew, we all get a day off the boat to visit the local beach to barbecue and have fun in the sun. But the crew don’t end up cooking. Most of the time, that’s left to us chefs.

This recipe is for those days.

Once the chicken is on the grill, it requires minimal attention so we can enjoy our crew mates’ good company, relax and shake work.

I enjoy the flavor and texture of this chicken a lot. Preparing extra chickens is always a great idea. The smokey, “hopsy” method of cooking lends its depth to other dishes including simple fare such as sandwiches or wraps to the more complex such as fried rice, stocks and soups.


  • 1 chicken
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup dried thyme
  • 1/3 cup dried rosemary
  • 1 stick butter (room temp)
  • 2 Tbsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 lemon (cut into small wedges)
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 bunch fresh rosemary
  • 1 can of beer

    Beer can chicken. Photo by Mark Godbeer

    Beer can chicken. Photo by Mark Godbeer

On a chopping board, remove the giblets and pat the chicken dry (inside and out) with paper towels. Remove the pope’s nose from the chicken and any feathers or excess fat.

In a large mixing bowl, pour the vinegar, oil, soy, and dried herbs. Mix well. Dip the chicken into the mixture, allowing it to coat every surface.

Place the chicken in a gallon zip-top bag and pour the liquid in, distributing it around the chicken as you seal the bag and remove the excess air. Brine overnight in the fridge.

Preheat a gas barbecue to 375-400 degrees F (or wait until the charcoal is at its hottest and beginning to ebb).

Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Be sure not to remove too much of the oil, rosemary or thyme.

Rub the chicken with butter all over and then season with the salt and pepper.

Stuff the chicken with the garlic, lemon and rosemary.

(If off duty) Take a few gulps of the beer, leaving about half of the can, then push the can into the crevice until the stuffing is snugly held in place by the can.

Place chicken onto a disposable tray (a pie tin works perfectly) feet and can side down. Place in the middle of the grill and cover.

After 30 minutes, the chicken should have started to brown and the beer, butter and juices should be collecting in the pan, as shown in the photo. Use that liquid to baste the chicken every 10 minutes for 40-50 minutes more.

Then turn the heat to low and cook for 20 minutes more.

Carefully remove the cooked chicken from the grill. Remove the can and stuffing before carving. I cooked potatoes on the grill with the chicken and made a salad prior, leaving me time to enjoy company and a few beers whilst everything took care of itself.

Mark Godbeer has been a yacht chef for more than 10 years ( Most of his recipes are designed for the owner and guests. Comments are welcome at

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