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Home » Beer Pairings

Cooking with beer: Grilled drumsticks can’t be beat

Submitted by on May 30, 2010 – 11:30 am2 Comments

Photo by Gerard WalenWhile many of the nation’s backyard cooks pull their grills out of storage on Memorial Day to mark the start of barbecue season, I’m blessed to live in Florida, where my propane grill takes permanent roost on our lanai.

I love to grill. I’ve had much success with beef, pork and fish, and even successfully cooked a 10-pound turkey on the grill one year when we had an especially large Thanksgiving crowd at the homestead. Of course, I’ve had my share of failures as well.

But my downfall? Chicken. Could never get it right. Overcooked to the point of charcoal consistency or undercooked and hazardous to health (which required a return to the grill, where the final product generally ended up dry and stringy).

But I think I’ve discovered the problem: I’ve failed to include beer (for cooking, that is. A beer in the hand, a.k.a. “grill beer,”  is a requirement while grilling.)

So when I recently came into possession of a number of chicken legs, I vowed to set my reluctance aside and grill them. I turned to the Internet and searched for a recipe that included beer. I found it at the modern fount of cooking wisdom: Every Day with Rachael Ray.

I’m reproducing the original recipe here, with permission, then I’ll tell you how it turned out for me.

Grilled Beer Chicken with Potato Slabs

By: Silvana Nardone


  • One 12-ounce can or bottle beer, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • 6 chicken drumsticks (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 2 baking potatoes
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
  • Lime wedges, for serving

Smart move
When the drumsticks start to char, move them to the sides of the grill to finish cooking.


  1. In a resealable plastic bag, combine the beer, butter, garlic, chili powder, brown sugar and salt. Add the drumsticks, seal the bag and let marinate while you proceed.
  2. Preheat a grill or grill pan to high. Microwave the potatoes on high until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Slice the potatoes lengthwise about 1/4-inch thick. Drizzle both sides generously with olive oil.
  3. Transfer the chicken and potatoes to the grill. Grill the drumsticks, brushing with the beer marinade and turning occasionally, until the skin is golden and crisp and the juices run clear, 20 to 25 minutes. Meanwhile, grill the potatoes until grill marks appear, about 3 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate and sprinkle with salt. Serve the chicken and potatoes with the lime wedges.

– Copyright © 2009, Every Day with Rachael Ray and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Here’s what I did differently. First, forget the potatoes. This was all about conquering my fowl nemesis.

I didn’t have fresh garlic, so I used a generous amount of garlic flake seasoning that I found in the cupboard. The recipe called for six drumsticks, but I had 10. There was still plenty of marinade. I put it in the refrigerator for about six hours. I basted and turned “frequently” while grilling rather than “occasionally” – nervous about burning it, I suppose. Other than that, I followed the recipe pretty much to the letter.

For the beer, I used a bottle of knock-off German Pilsner distributed by an unnamed regional discount grocery chain. Though it has very strong malt and hops flavors, there was an underlying skunkiness that made it unpleasant to drink. But because of the strong flavors, it is an ideal beer for cooking.

The result: Success! The skin was crispy, but not burned, the meat was juicy and cooked thoroughly and it tasted great. I served it with a side dish of steamed veggies, and washed it down with a Sam Adams Summer Ale.

I believe two things made the difference: Frequent basting and turning, and, of course, the beer. I am eager to try this marinade with other chicken pieces – thighs, breasts and even wings.

And I am no longer too chicken to try grilling poultry.


  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Gerard Walen, Gerard Walen. Gerard Walen said: New post: Beer Grilled Chicken Drumsticks Can't Be Beat, or How I Conquered My Fowl Nemesis. http://bit.ly/cCZgKC […]

  • Chris says:

    Like you, I grill year-round, tho’ not like you, I am not blessed with a temperate climate. I am a green-eggs-and-ham griller: in the dark, in the rain, on a boat, on a train, etc. My best is in the midst of a snowstorm, or a tornado watch.

    As mentioned, beer is a great grilling aid, but do not neglect the most important beer of all: the one that goes in the griller. After years of careful empirical testing, I have found I can accurately judge the done-ness of the meat by the done-ness of the griller. For example, I am currently grilling two pounds of beef ribs. I know from experience that after three beers are consumed, the internal temperature of the beef will be 174 degrees, rendering it a lovely medium rare, perfect for my consumption. Obviously, you will need to develop absolute consistency in how you build a fire and how fast you consume beer, but you are equal to the task, I KNOW IT.

    None of this is a substitute for a good meat thermometer, and booze and fires never mix, but if you’ll excuse me, I’ve downed a six pack, and my ribs are burning.

    Peace out, folks.

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