Can soda can chicken be better than beer can chicken? I've always said that beer can chicken is a BBQ classic. People love to make it and it's so fun. It's a great way to cook a bird to get succulent and juicy chicken. Every time I make it and post it on social media, my friend Jonathan Fox from Fox Bros Bar-B-Q in Georgia tells me to "save the beer and make it with a Dr. Pepper instead." He has always told me he loves the sweet and nutty flavor that it delivers plus you save the beer to drink!
In this recipe we make Dr. Pepper Chicken with a pure cane sugar Dr. Pepper (Wal-Mart), so no high fructose corn syrup. We also make a very delicious Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce to glaze the chicken with near the end.
Dr. Pepper is such an iconic part of Texas history considering it was born in Waco, TX. My production crew shot a documentary titled Bottled Up - The Battle over Dublin Dr. Pepper years ago before they worked with me. Therefore, this was recipe was so much fun to develop and shoot a how-to video on.
- 1 Whole Chicken
- Meat Church Texas Sugar (Sub, The Gospel, Holy Gospel, Honey Hog)
- 1, 12 oz Dr Pepper. Preferably the pure cane sugar version
- 1 C, Meat Church Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce
- 1/2 package of Meat Church Bird Baptism Brine
- 1/2 gallon water
- Instant Read Thermometer
- Chicken Throne
Brine the chicken
This step is optional, but I highly recommend it. Whenever time allows I like to brine poultry and fish to add moisture.
Mix the Bird Baptism Brine with water per the instructions on the package. Cool the brine mixture to room temp. Submerge the chicken in the brine in a food safe container. Place in the refrigerator. Brine the chicken at least 4 hours or up to overnight.
Remove the chicken from the brine. Rise thoroughly and pat dry.
Prepare smoker or pellet grill
Prepare your smoker at 350. I prefer a medium or light smoking wood such as hickory, pecan or fruit wood. In this video we used a Traeger Timberline XL with Meat Church pellets which is a blend of oak and hickory.
Prepare the chicken
Work your fingers under the skin on the breast to separate it from the meat being careful not to puncture the skin. Apply Meat Church Texas Sugar under the skin.
Prepare the Dr Pepper Chicken
Start with a room temp Dr. Pepper. Pour 3/4 of the Dr. Pepper into the throne and set the remainder aside.
Place the chicken on the throne.
Season the outside of the chicken all over liberally with Texas Sugar, our southwestern all purpose that is not as sweet as it sounds.
Allow the seasoning to adhere 15 - 30 minutes.
Cook the Chicken
Place the bird upright in your cooker. A 5.75 lb bird will take approximately 2 hours to cook.
Optionally, baste with melted butter 1-2 times during the cook. I start at the 45 minute mark. This builds flavors and adds richness and moisture.
Make the Dr. Pepper. BBQ Sauce
Make the BBQ sauce while the chicken is cooking. The recipe can be found here.
Glaze and Finish the Chicken
Baste with Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce when the chicken has reached 150 in the deepest part of the breast. This can be checked with an Instant Read Thermometer. Applying the Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce in the last 10 - 15 minutes of the cook keeps the sauce from burning due to the sugar content.
Remove the chicken from the smoker when it hits 160 degrees internal in the deepest part of the breast. The chicken will continue to carry over cook another few degrees.
Allow it to rest 15 minutes. Remove the chicken from the chicken throne. Carve and enjoy!