How to Cook a Whole Chicken

September 1, 2008 | By | Comments (7)


I have a secret to share: Cooking a whole chicken is easy.

There, I’ve said it. It’s out there and millions of cooks and chefs will probably never forgive me, but I can’t resist spreading the news.  Guess what else? It’s cheap.  Now I’m really in for it.

I’ve always been daunted by cooking anything whole.  How do you know it’s done?  What do you do with the gross stuff on the inside?  What if I cook the whole thing and then realize that KFC’s version really is better?

I put my worries on hold, rolled up my sleeves, and got started.  First, I bought a $6 “young chicken” from my grocery store, then loosely followed the recipe for Oven Barbecue Beer-Can Chicken.  (I used to also be afraid of following directions “loosely,” as I was much more a “How much is a ‘scoop,’ Grandma?” girl, but I’m getting used to the improvising and, you know what, it really is better because recipes fit my taste.  Which is good, because I do most of the eating.)

First, open a can of beer and, um, somehow use about half of it, then set it in a pan with with a decent rim–in my case, a brownie pan.  The first thing you do with the chicken is rinse it under cold water, then remove the neat little baggy of innards from the chicken’s body.  Discard ASAP unless you’re into making homemade stock.  In which case, we might not be friends anymore.

Next, make your rub.  If you’re following the recipe above, good for you!  My rub was a mix of fresh rosemary, cayenne, chili powder, salt, pepper, onion powder, paprika, and garlic powder. Run your fingers underneath the skin of the chicken and rub the spices into the chicken.  If you have any rub leftover, dump it into the beer can, then set the chicken on the beer can (upright) and stuff with a little rosemary to show off…oh ok, and add a little flavor to boot.

Cook the bird for about 45 minutes, then hike up the heat and cook about 30 minutes more to get the skin nice and crispy.  The best part about this recipe is that it requires about 10 minutes of prep work, then you’re free to make sides, clean up, or enjoy a glass of wine and catch a few segments of reality TV.  I’ll let you guess which option I picked.

When the bird is done, you’ve got fall-off-the-bone tender meat that works as a main dish or as an ingredient on pizzas, in sandwiches, or even in pasta tosses.  All for $6!  So far my chicken has taken care of three hearty servings, and I’ve still got about half of it left.

Trust me, this might just be the easiest, and most impressive, meal you’ll ever make.  The hardest part was carving it, so check out our How-To Video for easy tips and tricks and see our collection of Chicken Recipes for more ideas.



For roasting a whole chicken, check out this kitchen hack using only a bundt pan!



  1. robbyj j bridwell

    whole roasted chicken is my all time favorite meals, along with roasted veggies
    i am glad you discovered this
    even easier by one from the grocery deli

    September 1, 2008 at 9:01 pm
  2. joanna

    Don’t forget how cost-efficient this is! Tasty AND delicious!

    September 2, 2008 at 9:26 am
  3. Emily Shepherd

    I’ve impressed several people by roasting a chicken (after I got over my own fear of it), and always insist “y’all, I promise it is SO EASY.” Like you, I love that it takes no prep and involves no work (other than checking out the cooking progress), yet is cheap, easy, and makes for lots of leftovers!

    September 3, 2008 at 1:50 pm
  4. Judith Ginsberg

    I can’t believe anyone would be intimidated by a whole chicken. This is probably one of the easiest meals ever. I made one last week end with preserved lemons (from last seasons crop) stuffed under the skin and herbs rubbed into the skin. Add some small red potatoes, scallions and baby carrots and you have an entire meal in one pan.

    September 4, 2008 at 12:48 pm
  5. Cat

    I think the recipe sounds great except that some pertinent information is what temperature? Cook for 45 minutes (on what temp) and then cook for 30 minutes more (on what temp). This info would be critical when cooking poultry. I would assume a standard 350, but I’d want to be sure.Any guesses?

    October 11, 2008 at 6:07 am
  6. Ashley

    Cat, to answer your question, click the link for Oven Barbecue Beer-Can Chicken to find full instructions. The short answer is start cooking at 375, then up the temperature to 450 to get a crispy and nicely browned skin while keeping the meat moist. I made this again last Thursday for a Grey’s Anatomy party and it was wonderful!

    October 13, 2008 at 7:36 am
  7. Beer Can Chicken on the Big Green Egg |

    […] flavor factor even more, making it a perfect dish to prepare on the Egg.  Even if you’ve tried cooking a whole chicken before (on the grill or in the oven) and ended up with unevenly cooked chicken or dried-out white […]

    April 18, 2016 at 11:34 am

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