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Recipe courtesy of Emma Feigenbaum

Beer Can Turkey

  • Total: 3 hr 30 min
  • Prep: 45 min
  • Cook: 2 hr 45 min
  • Yield: 1 18lb. Turkey
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1 whole 8lb turkey - thawed if frozen, rinsed and patted dry, giblets and neck discarded

1/3 cup freshly ground coriander 

2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper

8 tablespoons salted butter, softened

Kosher salt

1 (32 oz) can, lager beer (a squat can like Foster's Lager works well)

1 (1.5oz) jar, pickling spice


  1. 1. Light a charcoal chimney starter filled charcoal briquettes, allowing them to "ash over" fully aka turn white. Meanwhile, prepare the spice rub; in a medium bowl combine coriander and pepper. Note: If you don't have a chimney, cut the ends off a metal coffee can and use that. **See Cook's Note below.
  2. 2. In a separate bowl combine softened butter and 3 tablespoons of the spice rub.
  3. 3. Prepare the turkey. Carefully slide your fingers under the skin to loosen it, starting from the breast end. Liberally coat turkey, both inside and out, with kosher salt. Rub spice butter under the skin and all over the turkey (reserving some butter for basting). Note: Avoid tearing the skin or you'll lose delicious juices.
  4. 4. Thoroughly the coat turkey on all sides with remaining dry rub, patting it in place. Fold wing tips behind turkey so they don't burn.
  5. 5. In a large bowl, mix the beer with the pickling spice. Using sharp kitchen shears, carefully remove the top 1 - 2'' of the beer can. Add the beer mixture back to the can.
  6. 6. Carefully balance the turkey cavity over the beer can, lowering the turkey slowly until it sits snugly on the can.
  7. 7. Spread the hot coals into a ring in the bottom of the grill to achieve a grilling temperature of 350 degrees F. Place the turkey (still on the beer can) in the center of the cooking grate.
  8. 8. Cook covered for about 2 hours until the thigh reaches 180 degrees F, basting twice with the remaining spice butter. (The ring of coals may need to be replenished to keep grill at 350 degrees F.) Remove the hot turkey from the grill with a towel or oven mitts. One person can carefully extract the hot beer can from the cavity of the bird with tongs as the other holds the bird steady with oven mitts.
  9. 9. Let the bird rest 15 - 20 minutes before carving to retain the juices. 
  10. Series: How2 -- Poultry Episode: Beer Can Turkey (Ep. 0)

Cook’s Note

You can also cook this inside in your oven. Set it at 350 degrees F and roast it for the same length of time, and when the thigh reaches 180 degrees F. Put the rack in the lowest position and check to make sure your bird fits before you begin the process.