Birthday Camping with Gluten-Free Beer Can Chicken

A few days before my birthday, Son called and said he wanted to come camping with us on our mountain property, and bring a couple of friends. We said sure! We never turn down a chance to be with Son and it’s fun to hang out with the younger crowd for the weekend. We knew we’d be playing camp staff (cook, counselor, canoe/kayak livery, etc.), but we didn’t mind. The best birthdays are spent with loved ones, right? And, you know we love our mountain property. Just driving there one starts to relax.

So I started planning the menu, other than the appetizer. I knew Son would take care of that. He loves to catch crawdads … and we love to eat them. This trip was no different.

I thought about the cookies I’d need to bake. Last time, Son and four of his friends had gone through 8 dozen cookies, and that was just in the first few hours. This time he was just bringing two friends, but still, a mom has to be prepared. So I made a batch of Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies (using my new coconut sugar variation) and Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies—about 6 dozen cookies in all.

Next up was side dish and entrée planning. Side dishes first, because they are easy. There would be steamed artichokes (one of our favorites—especially for camping) and potatoes baked in the coals. Now for the entrée or entrees. I had just received some New Planet gluten-free beer to review (review is up on my Out and About page here), so I decided that at least some of that would be used to make beer can chicken. Yes, gluten-free beer can chicken. Or as Mr. GFE says, more correctly, it’s gluten-free beer-in-a-can chicken because the gluten-free beer didn’t actually come in a can. I don’t know any brand of gluten-free beer that does actually (please correct me if I’m wrong), but that’s not a problem. One can just recycle any type of standard, 12-ounce beverage can by washing it out and adding gluten-free beer. And, that’s what I did. I snagged son’s soda can, washed it, filled it half way with beer, and we were in business.

Son eating Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookie and opening gluten-free beer

I proceeded to prepare and roast the chicken using a combination of several ideas I’d read online. I washed it, oiled it, applied a rub (using the blackened seasoning adapted from Ashlie (The Delshad Duo) that I first used on my Blackened Black Bean Burgers and later on grilled catfish), inserted the gluten-free beer in a can in its cavity, and roasted for a little over an hour. See step-by-step directions below, but this chicken was so easy to roast and the results were surprisingly delicious. Although I’d never had beer can chicken before going gluten free, it really is as super moist and flavorful as is reported. Note that the final product doesn’t really taste like beer in any way—at least not per our experience. (If you don’t drink beer, you can certainly use another beverage, like ginger ale for the steaming/moisturizing effect.) There’s little fat left after roasting, since the fat drains away as the chicken roasts. (The following photos were taken after dark and required either flashlight assistance from Mr. GFE or the forbidden flash. You can see my fat bird took a tumble towards the end.)

Beer Can Chicken is definitely going on our meal rotation. For camping, we’ll only make it when we have a larger group because one chicken goes a long way and cooler space is always a concern, but at home, I anticipate roasting one, saving some leftovers, and freezing a good portion for a later meal. We ate some of the leftover chicken once we returned home, I used some to make chicken salad, and a very meaty carcass went into the freezer for a future soup (like Black-Eyed Pea with Ham and Chicken) or Chicken Pot Pie. With our current heat wave (understatement!), any winning grill recipe is extremely welcome right now.

Gluten-Free Beer Can Chicken
(Click here for a print version of this recipe.)

one roasting chicken, any size
couple of tbsp of olive oil
couple of tbsp of blackened seasoning rub (recipe here)
one potato or onion (optional; see notes)
6 – 8 ounces of gluten-free beer

Turn grill on high on the opposite side of where you will place your chicken. The chicken requires indirect heat for roasting. With the grill lid closed, this method equates to a 350-degree (F) oven.

Wash chicken. Pat dry.

Spread some olive oil over the entire surface.

Rub blackened seasoning over entire chicken.

See notes below for using beer can chicken apparatus if desired, but otherwise, pour gluten-free beer into can opening until halfway or 2/3 full. Keeping chicken upright, insert beer can into chicken’s cavity. Place all upright on grill. Close lid.

Roast for at least an hour, longer if your chicken is larger. Our chicken weighed 5 ½ lbs and roasted for about an hour and 15 minutes.

SUPER CAUTION WARNING HERE: Very carefully, remove can from chicken. There will still be beer in the can and it will be boiling (or close to it). Immediately pour beer out of can in a safe disposal area and remove empty can to where nobody can reach it (you don’t want someone to accidentally pick it up). I crunched ours and added it our to our recyclable bin of cans, all while wearing heavy oven mitts.

Serve. Enjoy.

Shirley’s Notes: If you’re a fussy type, you can even buy a beer can chicken apparatus like this one. I didn’t have one, but I did use the base of my chicken roaster pan (basically a large metal saucer) to set the can in and position my chicken over. My top-heavy chicken did turn over half way through cooking, but it didn’t make any difference. It still roasted perfectly and looked great. But, again, if you’re the fussy type, you might want one of the beer can chicken holders. I’ve made a big batch of the blackened seasoning rub and keep it in our camping food box. It’s great for grilled catfish, zippy burgers, and more. Some folks like to insert a whole potato or onion in the neck of the chicken. The latter provides a strong onion flavor, I’m told. Either the potato or the onion can be eaten with the roasted chicken when all is finished cooking. I didn’t do that and I think it would have made my chicken even more top heavy, but it is an option. Last, be sure to follow the caution note above when removing the can from the chicken after roasting. Update: Be sure to read all of Nance’s great variations in comments below!

As you can see from the photos, we also enjoyed some Oven-Steamed Shrimp. So we had a great “surf and turf” meal.

It was the first time eating artichokes for one of Son’s friends. It’s always fun to introduce new folks to the joys of artichokes. Both Son and his other friend were very encouraging, but I think the friend who was new to artichokes was still unsure even after a few bites. If you don’t grow up eating them, artichokes can take some time to “grow on” one.

I’d thought about making a batch of Crab Claws (ultimate summer cocktail) for the cooler … it was my birthday after all, and these young men (of drinking age) certainly enjoy libations. Plus, there would be no driving. But, I’d never gotten around to purchasing all the ingredients. In the end, it turned out to be a good thing that I hadn’t partaken of any spirits. One of Son’s friends had an allergic reaction that had started once he arrived on his motorcycle and I ended up driving us all to the emergency room. Thankfully, Son’s friend was okay after he was treated! To show you how quiet the area is where our property is located, there was not another soul waiting in the emergency room when we arrived and our entire round trip, including the visit, took all of 40 minutes.

The weekend weather was hot, but it was still sunny and fairly clear (it’s always less humid in the mountains) as you can see from the photos. (Any haze is actually smoke from our campfire.) Of course, the high temps were perfect for swimming and relaxing. We still had our fire and the temperature dropped enough at night that we slept under blankets. Son and friends used most of the cookies that remained after dinner to make gluten-free S’mores using the ginormous Campfire marshmallows that are now on the market. Have you seen them? Notice that they say “gluten-free” right on the bag! Hold your fingers apart like Son is doing in the photo and you’ll see how big these marshmallows really are. Wow, huh? Of course, homemade marshmallows are healthier. I haven’t made any yet, but Zoe (Z’s Cup of Tea) has. (Check our her homemade version here and here using two different sweeteners. No artificial dyes or corn syrup to worry about with Zoe’s gorgeous marshmallows.)

Other meals included lunch with the easy classic of grilled hot dogs with chips on the side and fend-for-your-own breakfast. Oh, and while none of the guys were willing to go so far as to sing Happy Birthday to me, I did receive lots of birthday wishes and even hugs. So this Mom was very much a happy camper!

Just a few other “goings on” this week:

Somehow I missed this one earlier, but lovely Tia (Glugle Gluten Free) is hosting Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger this month. (FYI: Tia recently celebrated a big birthday with a special, gluten-free Napa birthday trip … with a visit to an awesome bed and breakfast. How awesome? Well, she was greeted with freshly baked gluten-free chocolate chip cookies and served gluten-free scones! Read all about it here, and happy birthday, Tia!) Hurry if you want to sign up for Adopt a GF Blogger. The deadline was yesterday, but this is a loose deadline per the rules, so somewhat late sign-ups are welcome. (I just signed up today myself.) Sign up at Glugle Gluten Free here.

Last week I shared Chocolate Zucchini Bread to help you all with your glut of the prolific green veggie. Well, I just saw another ingenious and tasty way to use zucchini—zucchini crisps! Get out your dehydrator or fire up your oven to low (still feasible for some of you in cooler climes!), because you’ll want to try this recipe. And, even if you’re not interested in zucchini crisps, I still recommend checking out the article because it talks about all the benefits of dehydrating part of one’s summer harvest. It even includes a review of a very economical dehydrator.

Continuing on in the gluten-free cooking arena, Kim (Cook IT Allergy Free) posted some great tips on avoiding baking mishaps in the gluten-free kitchen. I chimed in with some things that have helped me, and you, can, too. Kim is looking for your input in comments. Her tips post is a great one to save (or better yet print out and place inside your kitchen cabinet door near your stove). We all tend to get into baking habits, some good … some bad, but as we know making a change and then repeating it creates a new habit. Here’s to more successful baking for all. Thanks, Kim!

Maggie (She Let Them Eat Cake) has a great discussion post up: Feeding Gluten-Free Kids. She shares the tips that work for her family. I’m sure you’ll find some that will help you and your family as well.

The deadline for Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten Free! is Tuesday. Submit your entry for Ooh La La Bastille Day (i.e., French dishes) to Cheryl (Breaking Bread) by Tuesday, July 27. Read more here.

Over at Diane’s (The W.H.O.L.E. Gang), this week’s Friday Foodie Fix features peaches! I shared my gluten-free, dairy-free Peach Sorbet and there are several other recipes so far–savory and sweet. Read and/or add yours here. I still haven’t tried grilled peaches, have you? Just saw those on another blog … with whipped cream! Time to fire up the grill again and pull my always chilled coconut milk out of the fridge to make gluten-free, dairy-free Honey Whipped Cream.

Heidi (Adventures of Gluten-Free Mom) shared two outstanding posts this past week. I had recently touched on my ob/gyn issues caused by gluten. Heidi read, commented, and took the ball and ran with it, addressing those issues as well as many symptoms considered atypical. Read her article with numerous sources cited and watch the two videos that she included—one of Alice Bast, the founder and head of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) and the other of Heidi Collins, the CNN anchor and spokesperson for the NFCA. Alice Bast’s story is both heartbreaking and inspiring, and Heidi Collins “went down the rabbit hole” of misdiagnosis for many years, too. (Actually, I think all too many of us took a trip down that rabbit hole. That Lewis Carroll expression from Alice in Wonderland was aptly used by Dr. Scot Lewey, gastroenterologist and digestive disease specialist, in the title of this article on Heidi also shared her son’s recent results with Enterolab testing and her subsequent discussion with Dr. Ron Hoggan. You’ll want to read Heidi’s entire post (particularly, the effect that casein can have on one’s small intestine). But, here’s just one of the news flashes she shares: Dr. Hoggan’s new book, which he co-wrote with Scott Adams (founder of, has been released. Cereal Killers: Celiac Disease and Gluten Free A to Z has a compelling title and I’m sure it’s full of eye-opening information. Dr. Hoggan’s books always offer some of the most thought-provoking information on celiac and non-gluten issues, as well as the many conditions related to them.

Speaking of the NFCA, Pete (No Gluten, No Problem) is still training for his Virgil Crest Ultra event (which covers 50.1 miles, and climbs 10,000 vertical feet!). As part of that event, he’s also raising money for the NFCA. You can read more here and make donations here, if you’d like. I love that I can support Pete and such a worthy cause at the same time.

Last, don’t forget about my giveaway of three terrific e-books—your choice! The Gluten-Free Diner Cookbook, 7 Quick Start Tips to a Healthy Gluten-Free Fit Life, and Sweet Freedom are all as good as they sound. Giveaway ends Wednesday, July 28; enter here.

Okay, better let you go so you can see if you have a roasting chicken in the freezer and some gluten-free beer in the refrigerator. Maybe your Monday dinner is looking good!

Not just gf, but gfe!

This post is linked to Summer Grilling Recipe Exchange, Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays, Delicious Dishes, Pennywise Platter Thursday, and 5-Ingredient Mondays.

Not just gf, but gfe!

Full Disclosure/Disclaimer: This post may contain one or more affiliate links. If you purchase through them, your cost will always be the same, but I will receive a small commission. Thanks for the support! Read the full disclaimer here.


33 Responses to “Birthday Camping with Gluten-Free Beer Can Chicken”

  1. Kim @ Cook It Allergy Free on July 25th, 2010 6:05 pm

    Yay! The secret post is finally up! That chicken looks so good! I just showed it to Kurt so that he can make it when we are at the beach next week! That is where he gets most into his bbq groove! Must be that ocean view that stimulates the cooking bug in him! Kind of funny, but he gets really serious about being the “king of the grill” over there!
    Thanks so much for talking about my Baking Tips post! So very grateful for your support! ;0) Your link love is wonderful!
    And, of course, a great round-up as usual with all the great happenings in our little gluten free part of the world!

    • Shirley on July 27th, 2010 10:04 pm

      Hi Kim–Well, having an in-house king of the grill sounds great to me! :-) Read my friend Nance’s comments about all the improvements she has made to the basic beer can chicken recipe. I love her herb idea and the logic behind the potato, onion, or lemon. Now I want to try this recipe again!

      It was my pleasure to share your great post, dear. :-) Thanks so much for all the kind words!


  2. Erin Elberson on July 25th, 2010 7:47 pm

    Chicken sounds awesome! I admittedly do not drink or have GF beer on hand (I’m a wine gal,) but may have to seek some out to give this a shot!
    Thanks Shirley–and looks as if you had a lovely weekend :)

    • Shirley on July 27th, 2010 10:12 pm

      Hi Erin–I bought gf beer when Redbridge first came out, just to give it a try. But, as I said, I’m not truly a beer drinker. So other than gf beer for Son when visiting, no other beer has been in our house. Therefore, this recipe was an especially good way to test and use some gf beer for me. My recommendation: Find a gluten-free friend and “borrow” 6 ounces of their beer. ;-)

      It was a very lovely birthday weekend … thank you! :-)


  3. Iris on July 25th, 2010 9:30 pm

    Wow, what a fun trip! I can’t believe what a great dinner you had with that chicken…my dinners are usually limited to hot dogs when I go camping.

    BTW, I made Zoe’s marshmallows and they were AMAZING!

    • Shirley on July 27th, 2010 10:36 pm

      Hi Iris–We do eat well when camping … the food tastes so much better. ;-)

      Thanks so much for providing a firsthand review of Zoe’s marshmallows. Wow, I’m usually not one who fools with gelatin, but those look worth the effort! :-)


  4. Heidi @ on July 25th, 2010 10:22 pm

    Sounds like a fabulous birthday celebration Shirley! You are such a great mama!! The beer can chicken looks divine. I just bought one of the contraptions to hold the liquid, but have only used chicken stock in it thus far, super simple and of so juicy!

    I tried the New Planet a while back, pretty good, it reminds me a bit of Heinekin, one of my old favorites.

    Thanks for the link love and for sharing such great info, I really like the roundups you do (hence the reason I started doing them too).


    • Shirley on July 27th, 2010 10:45 pm

      Hi Heidi–Awww, thanks for the mama praise! The chicken stock version of roasted chicken sounds good, too. I love my friend Nance’s ideas that she left in her comments. :-) So many possibilities for the future of beer can chicken! ;-)

      Interesting that you thought New Planet was similar to Heineken. That’s one beer I had never tried before going gf.

      Imitation is the highest form of flattery, my dear—thank you!


  5. Kahri on July 25th, 2010 11:01 pm

    Beautiful pictures, beautiful looking foods, and Happy Birthday!!

    • Shirley on July 27th, 2010 10:46 pm

      Hi Kahri–Thanks so very much! I’m thinking of you and your family as you make your move. ;-)


  6. Zoe @ Z's Cup of Tea on July 25th, 2010 11:58 pm

    What a great camping trip and birthday, Shirley! :) Those marshmallows are massive – I’ve never seen that brand before, or indeed gluten-free marshmallows. Thanks for mentioning my marshmallows – much appreciated! I hope to make more marshmallows soon and recipes that use marshmallow in the (hopefully near) future.

    • Shirley on July 27th, 2010 10:55 pm

      Hi Zoe–Thanks, dear! Indeed on these marshmallows … they blew me away with their size. It’s surprising that someone didn’t think of the mega marshmallow earlier. ;-) In the U.S., I don’t know of a marshmallow that contains gluten. I learned some things about Campfire and marshmallows in general here. I once found a Campfire tin from the company’s very early days. Sadly, it was just a partial one and not worthy of saving. I used to collect tins, so that was a big disappointment.

      You’re welcome on the marshmallow mention. ;-) I do want to make them!


  7. Wizzythestick on July 26th, 2010 9:38 am

    The gluten free marshmallows look amazing. I wonder if I can find them here in the Caribbean.

    • Shirley on July 27th, 2010 10:56 pm

      Hi Wizzythestick–Welcome to gfe! :-) I have to say I was pretty amazed the first time I saw those marshmallows. ;-) Hope you find them where you are!


  8. Kristia@FamilyBalanceSheet on July 26th, 2010 9:19 pm

    Thanks for linking up to the Summer Grilling Exchange.

    Your camping pictures are beautiful. And the camping menu looks delicious. I want to come camping with you. We still newbie campers, so I’m not brave enough to grill a whole chicken yet.

    • Shirley on July 27th, 2010 11:01 pm

      Hey Kristia–My pleasure on linking to your grilling roundup! And, you’re welcome to join us any time when we’re camping. ;-) Thanks for all the kind words, too. Unless you have a big crowd, a whole chicken would not necessarily be a good idea. You might try one at home first, too, if you find it a litle intimidating.


  9. Gluten Free Steve on July 27th, 2010 9:22 am

    I want to go camping with you next time! Sounds like amazing food!

    • Shirley on July 27th, 2010 11:06 pm

      Hey Steve–Thanks! You two are always welcome! :-)


  10. Nance on July 27th, 2010 11:47 am

    We love beercan chicken! AND–we have the special beercan apparatus. Well worth the investment. We got ours at Bed Bath & Beyond for a bit cheaper, and it comes with the cooking directions. A few notes for readers (and a disclaimer: I am not in need of GF recipes.): You can use soda also. I’ve used lemon-lime and ginger ale, and it comes out very tasty. I also toss a few crushed garlic cloves into the can, which imparts great flavor. I am a herb gardener, so I also stuff lots of fresh herbs into the can as well whether using beer or soda. Using an onion doesn’t actually introduce that much of a strong onion flavor, but the cooked onion is delicious for those who like it. I’ve also used a half of a lemon to plug that opening. It mainly helps to keep the meat moist by preventing steam from escaping. That steam helps keep the chicken juicy. I just use toothpicks or skewers to keep the plug in place.

    • Shirley on July 27th, 2010 11:08 pm

      Hi Nance–Wow, what an endorsement of beer can chicken and thanks for all the wonderful tips! I love all those ideas. :-) Now, I can’t wait to make beer can chicken again. Wish I had you nearby to get a few herb snippings. ;-)

      BTW, got your email … such a lovely BD present IMO—thank you! Will write soon!


  11. Alta on July 29th, 2010 2:35 pm

    That chicken sounds great! And that photo – the one with the sunlight peeking through the leaves – is amazing! Wow!

    • Shirley on July 30th, 2010 10:50 pm

      Hi Alta–Thanks so very much re: the chicken (be sure to read my friend, Nance’s comments … she has some great ideas for beer can chicken) and the photo! I never get tired of seeing that particular scene as the sun starts going down over the river. We have a beautiful spot. :-)


  12. Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist on July 30th, 2010 10:18 am

    Yum! Great photo!

    Would love it if you would consider sharing this at Monday Mania blog carnival at The Healthy Home Economist. Recipes, green tips, personal stories, book reviews, vlogs etc are all welcome – an eclectic mix of awesome blog posts! Hope to see you there!

    • Shirley on July 30th, 2010 11:02 pm

      Hi Sarah–Welcome to gfe! :-) Thanks so much for the kind feedback on my chicken.

      I’ll check out your blog and carnival. It all sounds good! Thanks for the invitation!


  13. Anali on July 31st, 2010 12:08 pm

    Belated Happy Birthday! Looks like a great trip! Wow! I cannot believe that your son and his friends went through 8 dozen cookies. Good thing you were prepared!

    • Shirley on July 31st, 2010 9:07 pm

      Hi Anali–Thanks so much! :-) It’s always a great time when we go to our property. Yes, Son and his friends pretty much eat whatever is in sight! LOL I take massive quantities of food and sometimes still go out to the grocery store once we’ve arrived. ;-) I like feeding them though … they’re very appreciative, and that means a lot.


  14. Liz@Its A Blog Party on August 2nd, 2010 3:28 pm

    That sounds delish!
    Thanks for linking up!

    • Shirley on August 4th, 2010 10:36 am

      Hi Liz–Always my pleasure to link to Delicious Dishes and your blogs in general! :-) Tried to do it yesterday, but kept getting an error message. Need to go back and try again to add a dish for this week.


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