Wine Can Chicken is flavorful, moist, and incredibly tender. This grilled chicken takes the classic beer can chicken method to a whole new level with the addition of a can of wine.
What Is Beer Can Chicken?
Beer can chicken and its cousin, wine can chicken, is the method of inserting a can of liquid into the cavity of a roaster chicken to add flavor and moisture throughout the cooking process. The chicken is propped up with the can and drumsticks acting as legs of a stool. The can steams as it cooks, pushing that liquid and flavor into your chicken.
In our variation of the beer can classic, the fruity flavor of the wine will steam into the meat adding incredible flavor (so much better flavor than the traditional beer). And there you have it. Wine can chicken.
The Cut: A Whole Roaster Chicken
A roaster chicken is a younger chicken that is typically 4 – 5 pounds. It can also be used interchangeably with a fryer or a broiler chicken. Fryer and broiler chickens will tend to be smaller than a roaster, and so a can won’t fit easily in the cavity. The size of a roaster chicken is perfect for adding the can so that it allows the chicken to sit upright, stable, without tipping over from too much weight.
What Rub Should I Use For Wine or Beer Can Chicken?
Since we are grilling with higher heat, but still away from direct flame, we like our ultimate dry rub as the combo for this. Sweet, savory, with a touch of heat.
How to Prep Wine (or Beer) Can Chicken
Simply season the bird, then open the wine can and slowly insert it into the cavity, gently placing the bird back upright, using the can as a base. Be careful as to not tip the chicken and can over, spilling out the liquid nectar. In this case we used a can of Pinot Gris (Pinot Grigio). It has the fruitiest flavor that will impart juiciness and sweet flavors into the meat as it steams while cooking.
How to Grill a Wine Can Chicken
Whether a Weber kettle grill, Big Green Egg, or whatever grill you have, the key factor you need for your cooker is height. This bird will stand upright and you need to be able to close the lid while you cook it. We use the direct/indirect cooking method so we can slowly roast the chicken and not scorch it over direct hot coals. This keeps the bird juicy while cooking thoroughly to the goal temperature of 160 degrees F.
How to Take Chicken Temperature
When using a digital meat thermometer like our Thermapen or Thermoworks Dot, the key is taking the temperature in a few places of the chicken. The breast typically takes the longest to come up to temperature. This is why we have the breast face the direct heat. We temp it by inserting the probe so it is in the center of the breast, but not touching any bone.
We also take temperature in the thigh, by inserting an instant read probe, like the Thermapen into the meat and not touching the bone. We cook the bird to 160 degrees Fahrenheit as it reads in both checks. It is common the dark meat will come up temperature faster, and that is ok. Dark meat can handle higher temperature and not dry out. They key is the breast and thigh both are at least 160. Remove from heat and then wait 10 minutes to let the juices redistribute. Slice and serve!
Best Wine to use for Wine Can Chicken
There’s an increasing amount of wine cans on the market. My favorite for this recipe is Pinot Gris/Grigio. There’s a great fruitiness to the wine that imparts into the meat. The meat has a fantastic outside char and texture, but the inside is super tender and full of great flavor from infusing it with the wine.
*Just don’t drink the wine after you cook the chicken! That can, and all of the remaining wine in the can, must be discarded!
Wine Can Chicken Recipe
Grilled Wine Can Chicken
- 1 4 to 5 pound whole roaster chicken
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup all purpose dry rub (see notes)
- 1 375 mL can of white wine, preferably Pinot Gris (Pinot Grigio)
- Prepare grill for direct/indirect cooking. Target temperature in the grill is 400 degrees measured on indirect side.
- Remove giblets from chicken, and pat dry. Lightly oil the chicken including the cavity. Apply dry rub liberally, including inside the cavity.
- Open the can of wine. You will insert the can into the cavity of the chicken, but do so slowly so the can does not tip. To do this, gently lower the chicken over the can into the cavity, the drumsticks will act like legs of a stool, with the can being the third leg.
- Place the chicken on the grill over indirect side with breast facing the heat side. Insert a digital meat probe if you have one. Be sure the drumsticks are positioned to prop the bird and avoid tipping.
- Cover and grill until the internal temperature of the breast and thigh are 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Can take 30 to 40 minutes depending on your cooker, the finished temperature is the most important.
- If your grill is smaller and you notice too much browning on the breast before it is done, rotate the bird 180 degrees so the breast faces away from you. Although be careful to not spill the wine or let it fall over.
You can double up and use the same style of wine, as long as it’s a fresh new can. Alternatively, I love a rich Chardonnay for this style of chicken. It’s awesome with the char of the skin, tenderness of the meat, and juicy sweet flavors imparted by the wine. If you’re thinking, “Mary, I neeeeeed red wine!” then go for a lighter style Pinot Noir or Beaujolais for this.
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