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Beer Can Chicken With Rooibos & Orange Salsa

Succulent, tender, lightly rooibos smoked chicken cooked over the coals served alongside tangy orange salsa. This is beer can chicken on another level!

Beer Can Chicken with Rooibos Orange Salsa

This dish will puzzle a few readers, as I often seem to focus on vegan and vegetarian cooking. Truth is, like many plant leaning omnivores I choose to eat less meat out of concern for the environment. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t still enjoy it. It’s also near-impossible in my job as a chef to avoid meat entirely. Meat is still a part of my diet, as are responsibly-reared eggs and occasionally, dairy. The difference is these days I ensure I source my produce from someone who truly embodies living your convictions. 

Meet Farmer Angus. Angus started out as one of my clients, but over the years we have shared many a recipe and chat on his views on agriculture and the environment. I credit him with my drastic change in diet and outlook over the last few years. It’s always a pleasure to get a call from Angus to chef for a birthday or family get-together, as the vegetable garden near his farm house is something to behold. A chef’s paradise of premium dirt candy.

Passion for animals & the environment

Angus’ passion for his animals and up-skilling and empowering his staff is something I respect immensely. His farm, on Spier wine farm in Stellenbosch, is a model of environmental ethics and sustainability, utilising biodynamic farming practices, one of the oldest organised agricultural movements in the world. Biodynamics is based on the philosophy that the soil, plants, animals and farmers work together in one agricultural cycle. Each entity of farming is interrelated and the farm is viewed as an organism in its own right. One of the basic practises in biodynamic farming is the elimination of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides.

Angus also practices truly outdoor egg production, developing his own egg mobiles, which he moves frequently around his farm to allow his chickens to roam uncaged while fertilising his pasture. Angus balks at naming his eggs free range, as the term has been to a large extent, abused by national retailers. You can read more about the ‘free range’ myth and the sad truth about commercial chicken farming here.

This post has not been sponsored but with the state of commercial agriculture today, and its negative impact on our environment, it’s great that we have a home grown hero to support.

Onto my Christmas chicken! I wanted to create something that speaks to our uniquely South African festive season. For my family, and many others, the day is spent hanging around the pool with something delicious on the BBQ. This chicken, smoked with rooibos and served with a refreshing rooibos pickled orange salsa, is your answer to beating the heat this Christmas.

Serve your chicken with Crispy Potatoes with Gooey Garlic. 

If you try this recipe, let us know how it goes! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag your photo #theculinarycartel on Instagram so we can see what you come up with. Happy cooking!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make this using other citrus fruit?

Feel free to experiment with tangerines, mandarins and grapefruit for extra Christmassy flair!


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easy roast beer can rooibos chicken

Beer Can Chicken With Rooibos & Orange Salsa

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  • Author: Jess Bunn
  • Total Time: 0 hours
  • Yield: Serves 4-6


Succulent, tender, lightly rooibos smoked chicken cooked over the coals served alongside tangy orange salsa. This is beer can chicken on another level!


  • 1 large chicken (high welfare)
  • 1 340ml can of your favorite beer
  • 60ml olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 Tbsp sea salt (reduce this amount by half if using fine table salt)
  • 23 large oranges (enough when segmented to snugly fill a measuring cup)
  • 6 rooibos teabags
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup boiled water
  • 3 Tbsp castor sugar
  • 1 stick cinnamon


The night before (preferably)

  1. Rinse the chicken under cold water and pat dry with a paper towel.
  2. Using a microplane or fine grater, zest the oranges into a bowl. Finely grate the garlic over the orange zest, then add in the olive oil, and salt. Mix to combine.
  3. Rub the orange marinade over the chicken, both inside and out.
  4. Allow to marinate overnight in the fridge, or for at least 1 hour.
  5. Next open the beer and pour half of the beer into a glass (this is a treat for the lucky chef). Keeping the bird uprightm push the beer can, open side up, into the chicken’s cavity. Your chicken should be able to stand upright “sitting” on the beer can.
  6. Prepare your wood-burning braai for indirect cooking over medium heat (180°C to 230°C). Weber has a great tutorial on preparing the coals and BBQ for indirect heat cooking here.

While the fire preheats, make your orange salsa.

  1. Pour 1/3 cup of boiling water over the rooibos tea bags and allow to cool while you segment the oranges.
  2. Cut the top and bottom of the orange. This way, the orange will sit flat on the cutting board. Following the curve of the orange, cut away the pith and white skin, exposing the orange flesh. To remove the segments, cut between the membranes to segment the orange, saving any juices. Add the segments and juice to a bowl and set them aside.
  3. Squeeze out the excess liquid from the tea bags saving the concentrated rooibos and wet bags. Set the bags aside for later.
  4. Place the castor sugar into a small saucepan. Add 2 tbsp water and cook on high until the sugar turns to a deep caramel (watch it like a hawk). Once the caramel is a deep brown, quickly add the vinegar, cinnamon stick and rooibos concentrate.
  5. Swirl the mixture in the still-warm pan, until the caramel dissolves. Pour the pickling liquid over the oranges, and place the bowl in the fridge. Allow the pickle to sit for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Right before adding the chicken, add the soggy but not dripping, tea bags to the coals. The wet tea bags will slowly burn and smoke the chicken with a hint of rooibos.
  7. Place the chicken, perched on the can of beer, onto the barbecue and roast over indirect medium heat, with the lid closed, for 1-1 ¼ hours or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 75°C. I find a meat thermometer invaluable in the kitchen, but you can also check chicken by cutting into the thigh and seeing if the juices run clear (good) or bloody (not good-keep cooking!).
  8. While your chicken cooks prepare your side dishes. We love serving this with crispy roast potatoes 
  9. Remove your chicken from the heat and allow to rest for 10 minutes, covered in a tent of tin foil. This step is super important for an extra succulent chicken. Keep the foil tent away from the skin of the chicken, or the skin may lose its crisp.

Carve the chicken into portions, and serve with your rooibos orange salsa.

Happy cooking!

  • Prep Time: 1 Hour 15 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 - 1 1/2 Hours
  • Category: Poultry
  • Method: Barbeque
  • Cuisine: South African


  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 516.17kcal
  • Sugar: 9.9g
  • Sodium: 1065.43mg
  • Fat: 34.38g
  • Saturated Fat: 8.43g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 17.38g
  • Trans Fat: 0.16g
  • Carbohydrates: 14.59g
  • Fiber: 2.12g
  • Protein: 31.65g
  • Cholesterol: 123.42mg
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