Smoked Beer-Can Turkey Recipe

Joshua Bousel

In grilling and barbecue, bragging rights ensures bigger is almost always better, so why not go for broke with beer-can turkey!

Recipe Facts



Active: 60 mins
Total: 16 hrs
Serves: 8 to 10 servings

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  • For the Brine
  • 2 quarts apple Juice
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 3 quarts ice cold water
  • 1 whole natural turkey, 12 to 14 pounds
  • For the Rub
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 medium chunk of apple wood or other light smoking wood
  • 1 (24 ounce) tall can of beer
  • Type of fire: Indirect
  • Grill heat: Medium


  1. To make the brine: Whisk together apple juice, salt, brown sugar, and molasses in a large container until salt and sugar are dissolved. Stir in 3 quarts ice cold water. Submerge turkey, breast side down, in brine. Place container in refrigerator and brine for 12 hours.

  2. To make the rub: In a small bowl combine paprika, salt, chili powder, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, thyme, oregano, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Set aside.

  3. Remove turkey from brine. Pat dry inside and out with paper towels. Using fingers, gently separate skin from meat underneath breasts and around thighs. Spread about 1 1/2 tablespoon of rub under breast and thigh. Sprinkle remaining rub all over turkey, inside and out.

  4. Fire up smoker or grill to 325°F, adding smoking wood chunks when at temperature. When the wood is ignited and producing smoke, drink or empty 1/3 of beer and place can on smoker. Carefully lower turkey onto beer can, legs down. Adjust turkey legs so it stands vertical stably. Cover and smoke until an instant read thermometer registers 160°F in the thickest part of the breast, about 2 to 3 hours.

  5. Remove the turkey from the smoker and allow to rest, uncovered, for 20 to 30 minutes. Remove beer can; carve and serve.

Special equipment

Smoker or Grill

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