Campfire Beer Can Chicken

Campfire Beer Can Chicken

February 04, 2019

Harry from Fire to Fork cooling down the cooking process of the beer can chicken. We doused the chook a few times with beer to flair up the hot oil in the pan to produce flames for crisping the skin.
Harry Fisher cooling off the chook and adding some Irish flavours at the same time. 📷 Fire to Fork

Camping Food | Campfire Beer Can Chicken

After cooking beer can chicken is a few times and nailing it and not nailing it, I decided to go back to to good old roast chook. 

If you are ever in Perth and have a spare day up your sleeve and like BBQ then check out Urban Griller. Chris runs a pretty extensive course on all things BBQing. This is one of the best cooking classes I have ever attended and to this day the BBQ tips & tricks learnt on this full on day of cooking have stuck with me in all the cooking I do now. 

Most cook books will state 'insert a half can of beer into the chicken cavity" after you have consumed half of the can. This is a bit of a problem that makes so much sense when explained. If the can is cold (of course it is) then it needs to warm up and boil for the steam to seal the inside of the cavity at the same time the outside cooks to lock in all those yummy juices. Thats right! The job of the can of beer is to seal the inside cavity of the chook using heat so the hotter the beer the better but does beer actually reach boiling point and produce steam?

Beer Can Coal Chicken

I had an idea that had been playing in my head for some time and I needed someone with passion for bush cooking to share the idea. So when Harry from Fire to Fork and I organised a campout get together and the idea was pitched, Harry got onboard. A different spin on beer can chicken we both believed would work.


How do you cook a beer can chicken?

How do you cook a beer can chicken? What if we could seal the inside of the chicken almost straight away? Would this capture more juices? Righto! 

Give the beer can chicken a good rubbing over with some olive oil infused with lemon. We used cobrham estate lemon infused oil which has a very intense flavour. Now your hands are slippery with lemon oil don't drop your beer mate. Get ready now for the chooks costume of lemongrass and ginger tea with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
Rub the chook with lemon infused oil. 📷 Fire to Fork

Get yourself a cold beer to drink and drink it. While drinking it give your chicken a rub with some lemon infused olive oil and don't be shy. Everything that runs off will be perfect for basting. I've always been a fan of using a few lemon and ginger tea bags torn open and sprinkled over. A nice Aussie local  Lemongrass and Ginger XO Tea was thieved from our pantry for this chooks costume as well as the usual salt and pepper. This flavour trio of lemongrass, ginger with chicken is a hard one to beat. Add flames, beer, lemon infused oil and it's enough to silence the camp.

XO tea was used for the flavouring for our beer can chicken. We used 2 tea bags and sprinkled over once the chicken was oiled. Who doesn't like lemon chicken or ginger chicken? put the three of these together and BOOM you have a flavour thats hard to beat.
Herbal tea bags are perfect for adding a sprinkle of flavour. 📷 Fire to Fork

 To make this spin on beer can chicken you will need an empty beer can. The empty beer can is used as a fire inside the chook to seal the cavity and lock in juices. These bush craft survival knives are perfect for the job as they hold their edge even after piercing aluminium.
Beautifully handmade Swiss knife going straight through aluminium. 📷 Fire to Fork 

You should be finished your first beer by now and standing next to an open fire is thirsty work. Cut the top off the can using one of Harry's expensive bush survival knives. Now from the fire with some long handled tongs carefully choose a few coals to drop into the empty beer can. This little beer can fire will seal the chooks cavity and start cooking the chook from the inside out.

Now you have a fire in the chook belly you best get onto cooking the outside.

beer can chicken is easier than you think. you just need to start with really hot beer. the steam from the beer is what seals the chickens cavity and locks in the yummy juices.
A little fire in a beer can. 📷 Fire to Fork

Once your beer can chicken is sitting up like Jackie give it one last splash with oil. Place the wings hands on hips so the inside of the wing cooks and crisps up.
Hands on hips, ready for the fire. 📷 Fire to Fork

The wok was placed on top of a Frontrunner BBQ Grate and the chook was given a few minutes in between rotations. The fire was built under the BBQ grate and vertically up one side so heat would reflect onto the chicken sitting up like Jackie.

We used a Hillbilly wok from Grebmegear which was perfect for this cooking situation. All our preparation and cooking was done in it and the juices caught were used for basting and for the gravy. Roast chook without gravy? YOUR FIRED! 

Hillbilly wok getting put to good use while cooking a beer can chicken. Grabmegear supply these in a kit with a bag. I think the hillbilly wok is the perfect thing to cook a beer can chicken.
The Hillbilly wok being placed on the grill ready for the vertical fire. 📷 Fire to Fork


Little bit of basting here and there using the drippings caught in the Hillbilly wok. This kept the skin from crisping up too much during the cooking. When the chook was almost done we let it crips up nicely ready to be served.
Vertical fire reflecting heat and between rotations the chicken was basted with all the drippings.📷 Fire to Fork


What temp for beer can chicken?

To take the guess work out I now almost always use a meat thermometer. Trust me, you will nail it every time with perfectly cooked meat. If you have a sixth sense and know when your meat is ready then ditch the thermometer. We pulled this beer can chicken off the fire at around 80 degrees C (176 fahrenheit). The thigh is the best test area to poke the thermometer skewer into. You are also looking for clear juices with no pinkish colouring.

More info on meat thermometers
Camping Food | Internal Meat Temperatures Blog 

What sides go with beer can chicken? 

Our side dishes were Cauliflower Cheese and Peas with gravy. We had leftover peas from the pies (blog to come) we cooked the night before as they were already hydrated so all we needed to do was reheat them. A pot of water was placed next to the fire and the bag of Campers Pantry Peas was submersed for reheating. The Campers Pantry Cauliflower was rehydrated with hot water then drained. In a mini cast iron pot we added a white sauce and topped with cheese. These were placed in the coals for a few minutes to cook as the Campers Pantry veggies are pre-cooked.

 Cracking the seal on the cauliflower cheese. These were super easy and tasted delicious. We had the cooking in the fire for only around 5 minutes as the freeze dried veggies are already pre-cut and cooked ready to go.
Cauliflower cheese smelling and looking the business. Absolutely delicious. 📷 Fire to Fork

 For the gravy we used Greens Gravy Granules for deliciousness. Mix this straight into the dripping and keep stirring. We skim out the chunks for a smooth gravy but this doesn't need to be done if you're not fussed. Time to put a billy on the fire for the dishes to follow.

Greens gravy granules were used for flavour and convenience. Not sure but this product could be freeze dried because it dissolves and is packed with flavour. Skim out the chunks at the end of mixing and spoon over your beer can chicken and peas to put the biggest smile on your dial.
Gravy prep - let's keep it simple with Greens Gravy Granules. 📷 Fire to Fork 


Plating up Beer Can Chicken

Time to carve and Harry has a few techniques up his sleeve. Here I was thinking the whole time "geez I forgot to remove the wishbone" as carving a chook with this removed makes for easier removal of the breast meat.

VIDEO below: How to remove a wishbone before roasting.


 Beer can chicken carved right by Harry with his sword. This chook fed four of us and was delicious.
Enter Harry with sword in hand. Note the juices running out from the chicken. 📷 Fire to I'm Forking outta here!

 We are really sorry as we took no more photos. The chicken looked so good on the plate with the cauliflower cheese, peas and gravy. The chicken was so succulent and juicy and we were so stoked with the outcome. We will do this one again for sure.

All photos provided by Harry from Fire to Fork - I did take a few rippas too but he does have a bloody good camera😁 

 Note* Beer can chicken is also referred to as beer butt chicken, chicken on the throne, dancing chicken, drunken chicken and now beer can coal chicken. 




Fire to Fork’s aim is to give everyone the ability to make tasty, simple and interesting food armed with very basic items and an ability to light a fire.   It doesn’t matter if you’re a first time camper or a seasoned overlander, as long as you have access to firewood, a knife and some basic ingredients; my mix of simple bushcraft and cooking will have you impressing your friends in no time.

Fire to Fork’s aim is to give everyone the ability to make tasty, simple and interesting food armed with very basic items and an ability to light a fire.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a first time camper or a seasoned overlander, as long as you have access to firewood, a knife and some basic ingredients; my mix of simple bushcraft and cooking will have you impressing your friends in no time.




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