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5-Spice Beer Can Chicken (Ga Nuong Ngu Vi Huong)

Cooking a chicken on a beer can may seem gimmicky but you will be amazed at how tender and juicy the chicken comes out using this cooking method.  Every time I cook a chicken this way I am amazed with how simple the recipe is and how it never fails to wow my guests.  The rub with its abundant and varied spices adds such robust flavor to an otherwise plain chicken.  It may seem like there are too many spices in the rub but they all work together very nicely.  The brown sugar helps the chicken to get that nice golden color whether cooking on the grill or in the oven.  It really is a no fuss recipe and I hope you’ll give it a try!

Notes on the Recipe, Tips and Tricks

I use a disposable foil tray to catch the drippings.  You’ll be surprised at how much fat drips out of the chicken.  The tray catches everything and makes the clean-up super easy.

The below rub recipes makes approximately 1/4 cup of rub and it should be more than enough for a 5 pound chicken.

I am not a fan of chicken skin and will peel it off and discard it.  So that I don’t lose any of the wonderful flavors, I put the rub underneath the chicken skin.  Just gently work the rub underneath the skin with your finger.  The chicken skin is really stretchy and you can get to most areas of the chicken simply by lifting the skin and then running your index finger between the skin and meat to create pockets where you can then place the rub.

 Watch the video below for instructions.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you may also like: Asian-Style Stuffed Cornish Game Hens.


for the Rub
1/2 Tbsp 5-spice powder
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
1/2 Tbsp ginger powder
1/2 Tbsp onion powder
1/2 Tbsp sea salt
1/2 Tbsp paprika powder
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne powder

5 lb whole chicken
1-12 oz can beer
1/4 small onion


To make the rub, add all spices into a measuring cup or bowl and mix well making sure to break-up any chunks of spice.  Alternatively, put all ingredients into a jar, seal tightly and shake the jar for 1 minute to combine the spices.

Open beer can and pour out 1/2 cup of beer into a glass.   Drink just the beer in the glass before proceeding to next step.  🙂  Use a can opener to make some additional holes on the top of the can.  Add 2 tsp of the rub into the can.  Coat the can with a thin layer of vegetable oil.  (This will make the chicken easier to remove after it’s done cooking.)

Remove giblets from inside the chicken.  Rinse the inside and outside of the chicken with cool water.  Shake off any excess water and then pat dry with paper towels.  Using kitchen shears cut off the flaps of fat at the opening of the chicken and discard.

Sprinkle spice mixture and rub it onto the chicken, coating it evenly.  Put some rub inside the chicken too.  Optionally, work the rub underneath the skin.

Hold chicken with one hand and beer can with the other.  Tilt beer can slightly and insert into the opening of the chicken.  Lower the chicken onto the beer can until it can stand on its own.  About 1 inch of the can should be visible.  Arrange the legs to help support the weight.

Place an onion wedge into the neck cavity and pull the skin around the onion to hold it in place.

Cooking in the Oven

Transfer chicken to a baking dish or sturdy disposable foil pan.

Arrange oven rack so it is at the lowest position.  Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until the internal temperature of the breast meat is 165 degrees.  After 1 hour, check the temperature with a meat thermometer and then keep checking every 5-6 minutes until the it reaches 165 degrees.  (A 5 lb chicken takes approximately 1 1/2 hours.)

Cooking on the Grill

Transfer chicken to a sturdy disposable foil pan.  Set the grill temperature to Medium and place the tray over indirect heat.  (If your grill has 2 heat sources, turn on the one heat source and place the chicken on the opposite side so the chicken is not directly over the flame).  Close the lid and grill until the internal temperature of the breast meat is 165 degrees.  After 1 hour, check the temperature with a meat thermometer and then keep checking every 5-6 minutes until it reaches 165 degrees.

After Chicken is Done 

Remove from the oven or grill and allow to cool for 15 minutes.  Use 2 pairs of tongs to remove the chicken from the beer can.  Clamp the chicken with one pair of tongs and use the other pair of tongs to extract the beer can.  Be careful with this step as the chicken, can and the beer inside is really hot.

Serve the chicken as a rice plate with broken rice, egg meatloaf, carrot and radish pickles, scallion oil and fish sauce dipping sauce.

Yields: 4-6 servings

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Grilled Chicken Lettuce Wraps

If you’re in need of a dish with some pizazz, look no further!  These Grilled Chicken Lettuce Wraps are beautiful when assembled, absolutely scrumptious and so much fun to eat.  There’s something so carefree (and messy!) about eating with your fingers and this is the dish for you to just dig in.  Grab a leaf of lettuce, add some chicken and then pile on the fillings: noodles, carrots, bean sprouts, cilantro and cucumber and shallots marinated in a light vinaigrette.  Then lightly wrap the leaf around the fillings.  Dip the lettuce wrap into your sauce of choice.  Check out the recipe for the Essential Dipping Sauces.  They go perfectly with these Lettuce Wraps.  Enjoy!

Watch the video below for instructions.


Grilled Chicken:
1.5 lb chicken breast tenderloins
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
2 Tbsp minced lemongrass
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp ground ginger
3 Tbsp dark soy sauce
3 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp crushed peanuts for topping

Marinated Cucumbers:
1 large cucumber
1/2 shallot
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp roasted black sesame seeds

3 oz dry, extra thin rice or wheat noodle

Lettuce Wraps:
1 head butter leaf lettuce
1 red cabbage, outer leaves
1 bunch cilantro
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup bean sprouts


Cut chicken tenderloins in half lengthwise so they are approxoimately 1/2-inch thick.  In a large bowl, add all ingredients (except for chicken and crushed peanuts) and stir together.  Add chicken and toss together coating chicken evenly with the marinade.  Cover and marinate in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Cut off the core and gently peel the leaves from the butter leaf lettuce.  Trim the leaves if needed.  Wash lettuce in cold water and drain well.  Use a salad spinner to remove any excess water.  Chill in the refrigerator.  Prepare the cilantro, shredded carrots and bean sprouts in the same way.

Cut red cabbage in half and slice off 1/2-inch section into the core.  Peel the the first 3 layers of the red cabbage being careful not to tear through the leaves.  Separate the leaves and cut each cabbage bowl in half to form cabbage cups.  Set aside for now.

Trim off the ends of the cucumber and then cut into thirds.  Use an apple corer to remove the core.  Slice the cucumber in half lengthwise and then cut into thin slices, approximately 1/8-inch thick.  Thinly slice shallots as well.  In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients except for seasame seeds.  Stir until sugar is dissolved.  Add cucumber and shallots and toss together.  Cover bowl and refrigerate.

Place noodles into a large heat-proof bowl.  Cover noodles with boiling water.  Stir the noodles and allow to soak for 2 minutes.  Drain noodles shaking off any excess water.  Spread noodles around a colander and allow to air dry.

Grill chicken using an indoor or outdoor grill.  Cook chicken for 3-5 minutes on each side depending on thickness of chicken.  Allow to cool slightly.

Cover a large plate with the butter leaf lettuce.  Place 5 red cabbage cups along the edge of the plate.  Fill each cup with noodles, cilantro, carrots, and bean sprouts.  Fill the last cup with the marinated cucumbers.  Sprinkle sesame seeds on top of the cucumbers.  Add grilled chicken into the center of plate and garnish with crushed peanuts.

To enjoy this dish, take a piece of butter leaf lettuce, add a piece of grilled chicken and your favorite fillings.  Lightly wrap the lettuce around the filling and dip into your favorite sauce.  Enjoy!

Yields: 4-6 servings

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