Is Beer Can Chicken Safe For Children To Eat?

Whenever general consensus (or food media consensus) determines that it is once again grilling season, you will start to see certain types of recipes crop up over and over, including one for a fun little dish called beer can — or, as some wits would have it, "beer butt" — chicken. Yes, it's undoubtedly amusing to crack open a can, take a swig, then jam it up a raw bird's open orifice, and after an hour or so on the grill (as per our own beer can chicken recipe), you have a tasty dinner. Here's the thing: Is such a dinner suitable for serving in mixed company of the kind that includes children? We're talking about the alcohol content, of course, not any "naughty" poses into which anyone may arrange the chicken after downing the leftover beers.

The answer to the alcohol conundrum is no; the booze in beer can chicken poses no danger to kids. For one thing, about 75% of the alcohol in the beer may have cooked off after an hour. For another, not much (if any) of the beer comes into contact with the chicken. Even in the extremely unlikely scenario that all of the beer retains its full strength and somehow gets absorbed by the chicken, a 4-pound chicken is meant to serve four. This means each grown-up-sized serving would contain a few ounces of beer, which isn't too much alcohol. Children would need to consume a fair amount of chicken to feel any effect.

Of course, you can always just make it without beer

Children, of course, aren't the only ones who don't (or shouldn't) consume alcohol. Some religions forbid it, while people who are in recovery may need to avoid it entirely. In such instances, even trace amounts of alcohol are verboten, but that's okay since, as it turns out, the "beer" part of beer can chicken isn't as necessary as you might think.

If you're looking for a non-alcoholic substitute for the beer in beer can chicken, just about any kind of soda will do. Still, there's really no need to sacrifice a soda, beer, or any other kind of beverage since, as we've already mentioned, very little (in fact, probably none) of the beer actually penetrates the chicken. This means that in all actuality, beer doesn't add much flavor to the chicken at all. You can actually just fill up an empty aluminum can with plain tap water and achieve a very similar result. An even better bet might be to invest about 10 to 15 bucks in a vertical chicken holder as these provide better airflow than liquid-filled cans and make it easier for the chicken to reach a safe internal temperature (165 degrees Fahrenheit, as per the USDA).