Orange-Soda-Can Chicken

Posted in food, home cooking, photos at 1:58 am by wingerz


Potlucks are a tricky beast. Usually I try to make something not too labor-intensive, affordable, plentiful, portable, and tasty at room temperature – after all, if I’m going to go to all of that effort, I want a lot of people to be able to try it and to think that it tastes good. Jess and Cy hosted another potluck tonight, and my contribution was orange-soda-can chicken.

A few days ago Jess asked me whether I had tried the beer-can chicken from my grill book. I had not, but it sounded intriguing. The basic idea is to cram a mostly-full beer can into the cavity of a chicken (with the chicken and beer can in an upright position). I’m not exactly sure why it’s supposed to be so effective as a means of cooking delicious, juicy chicken but it probably has to do with moisture and heat distribution inside the cavity; maybe it cooks more evenly. In any case, I quickly realized that grilling was out of the question – our Weber Q was not tall enough for a chicken to sit up straight inside of it (Note to self: Add “Tall enough to house standing chicken” to checklist for next grill).

I made a quick run to the grocery store this morning and picked up two chickens, one 3.5 lb and one 4 lb. After all, why [make] one when you can have two at twice the price?. This is what happens when I don’t have Lee to keep an eye on me. I read that lemonade was a reasonable substitute, but I saw the orange soda first. I could have bought a 6-pack of cheap beer, but I’m much more likely to drink orange soda.

I brined the chickens in a gallon of water with a cup of salt and a cup of sugar (All of these measurements are for two chickens). Patted them dry and rubbed them with a mixture of 4 tbsp cumin, 4 tbsp chili powder, 2 tbsp ground black pepper, 2 tbsp paprika, 2 tbsp allspice, 2 tsp cinnamon (loosely based on the “Pantry Rub” from the grill book). I made sure to rub the inside of the cavity and to lift up the breast skin to rub the meat directly. I opened the soda cans, poured out about 1/4 cup of soda from each, punched two additional holes in the top of the can with a church key, and spooned in some of the remaining rub. Once that was done, I plopped each chicken on its can.

I set both chickens facing each other (more for comedic value and good pictures than anything else) on the roaster, put them into the oven, at 350, checking every 15 minutes after first hour. The thigh temperature was about 170 when I took it out. I tented them with foil for 10 minutes afterwards. I removed them from the roaster and used the drippings to make a giblet-mushroom gravy. Finally, I carved the chickens the way Jess taught me to do it: with sharp kitchen shears and an intimidating cleaver.

I snuck a few bites in while carving the chicken. The meat was extremely fragrant, juicy, and delicious. Even though we left early, I wasn’t above sneaking a few pieces home for us to eat tomorrow. I’d definitely make this again, and I’d definitely try to serve it in front of people. A lot of the articles I found online about beer-can chicken start off talking about how it’s a great show piece for a dinner party.

Overall the food at the potluck was wonderful tonight.

[The linked images are stored in Gallery, another Dreamhost one-click install that I’ve been playing around with recently in trying to find a good home for my pictures. But that’s for another post.]


  1. jess said,

    October 15, 2006 at 4:42 am

    the chicken was ridiculously yummy. i would be more than happy to flip through your cookbooks and suggest more recipes to try ;)

  2. joy said,

    October 23, 2006 at 9:01 pm

    whoa.. wing, you’re quite the chef!!! i can’t wait til you & jen move to CA! forget me cooking for you — i’m making you cook for me! :)

  3. ~wingerz » Onion-Braised Beef Brisket said,

    December 15, 2006 at 12:08 am

    […] On the same day I started cooking the brisket, I baked two chickens as well (using leftover orange soda cans from a while ago). Not sure what came over me, but the net result was 13 pounds of meat spending 5 hours in the oven. Needless to say, we ate pretty well for the rest of the week, feasting on assorted leftovers, chicken sandwiches, and chicken soup. […]

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