Smoked Beer Can Turkey

Beer Can Chicken
Regarding BBQ, Inc.
Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 6 hrs
Total: 6 hrs 30 mins
Servings: 8 to 10 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
961 Calories
31g Fat
38g Carbs
124g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8 to 10
Amount per serving
Calories 961
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 31g 39%
Saturated Fat 6g 28%
Cholesterol 445mg 148%
Sodium 5353mg 233%
Total Carbohydrate 38g 14%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Protein 124g
Calcium 118mg 9%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

A more familiar beer-can recipe may be for cooking a whole chicken, but the same method is also ideal when smoking a whole turkey. Since turkeys are generally larger than chickens, however, you will need to use a larger sized can of beer, such as a 24-ounce.

Cooking the bird on a can of beer is a great way to keep the turkey moist; as the beer heats up, steam is released inside the turkey. By adding bay leaves and thyme to the liquid, the turkey is infused with earthiness while it cooks, and a sweet and savory rub, as well as a spicy basting sauce, bring additional layers of flavor. Add to this the fact that the turkey is cooked in a smoker, and you have one complex, deep-flavored bird.


  • 1 (24-ounce) can beer
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons/10 ml thyme
  • 1/4 cup/60 ml brown sugar (divided)
  • 2 tablespoons/30 ml paprika
  • 1 tablespoon/15 ml salt
  • 1 tablespoon/15 ml black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons/30 ml ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons/30 ml white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons/10 ml hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon/5 ml cayenne pepper
  • 1 (15-pound/7 kg) whole turkey

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Empty the can of beer into a container.

  3. Cut off the top of the can and pour in 12 ounces of beer.

  4. Add the bay leaves and thyme. Set aside.

  5. Make the rub by combining 2 tablespoons brown sugar with the paprika, salt, and pepper.

  6. Make the turkey baste. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons brown sugar, the ketchup, vinegar, 2 tablespoons of beer, hot sauce, and cayenne.

  7. Prepare smoker for a 6-hour smoke at 250 F.

  8. Rub surface of the turkey with the spice rub. Try to get as much as you can under the skin, particularly over the breast meat.

  9. Stand beer can up on the smoker grate and gently set the turkey over the can so that the can is completely inside the cavity of the turkey. Make sure that the turkey stands easily and doesn't sway. The turkey needs to be stable.

  10. Once you have the turkey in the smoker, let it cook for about 6 hours at a temperature around 250 F. Baste the turkey with the basting mixture every 2 hours during ​the cooking process. Check for an internal temperature in the thigh of about 165 F/74 C. This is when the bird is done.

  11. When cooked, remove from heat and let sit for a few minutes before carving.

  12. Serve and enjoy.

What Kind of Beer Works Best for Beer Can Turkey?

Whenever you use any kind of alcohol in a recipe, it should always be something you would normally enjoy drinking. Beer is no exception, but if your favorite is something strong-flavored or quite distinctive, you may want to choose one that is more middle-of-the-road like a lager.


If you're worried about the turkey toppling over in the smoker, you can place the can in a baking pan (disposable is fine) and then place the turkey on top. Put the pan directly onto the smoker grates.