Tasty Survival: Coffee Can Chicken

As part of our collective efforts to prepare for the z-poc,  ZSC command has undertaken a mission to bring you a series of recipes to keep the body strong and the spirit lifted during dark times. This recipe from Red Brigade Sergeant at Arms Amy Sundberg works great in the Green brigade’s zone, the Southeastern United States, where it shouldn’t be too hard to find a chicken or two…

Coffee Can Chicken

Yep, you read it right. Not canned chicken, although that’s not an unreasonable item to add to your food supply list… but this recipe is the tried-and true real deal. Slow cooking techniques, while they are certainly slow, are key to bringing out the natural flavor of just about any kind of meat. Little preparation is required, and the necessary ingredients are few. If you want a quick meal, this isn’t it. But if you have the time to sit down for a spell or you have other things you can do in the meantime, this one is worth trying.

You will need:

  •  1 whole chicken, butchered and plucked (no more than 3 1/2 lbs)
  •  Butter (margarine or oil will work)
  •  Salt & Pepper
  • Heavy duty aluminum foil
  • Gallon-sized tin can
  • Charcoal briquettes

Optional: Veggies of choice, such as onions, carrots or garlic for more flavor. Go light on the extras, as more materials will extend the cooking time considerably.

Note: During cooking, the can WILL get hot enough to burn whatever is below it, so be very careful about choosing where to put it. If you have inquisitive young ones around, we recommend hanging it from a low branch in a safe place, away from flammable materials and grabby fingers.


Punch or drill holes in the tin can 1 inch up from the bottom approximately 1 inch apart all the way around the can. Place 18 briquettes (no more no less) in the bottom of the can and light.

Rub chicken with butter and season as you like. Wrap chicken with heavy aluminum foil twice, side to side and then from bottom to top. Make sure the foil closing point is on the top of the chicken.



Once the charcoal has turned white, place the foil-wrapped chicken into the can with the legs facing the top. It’s perfectly fine if the chicken sticks out of the can. Let the can and chicken sit (or hang) for 3 hours.

After 3 hours, remove the chicken from the can. Take care opening the foil, steam burns hurt like heck. If the chicken is falling off the bone tender, juicy and smelling delicious, it’s done.