Beer Can Turkey

December 21, 2012

If you are still struggling to find the perfect turkey recipe this holiday, try the GrillGrrl way – with plenty of butter and beer!

Beer Can Turkey with lemon garnish

I’ve done turkey on the ceramic cooker this way two years in the running and each time it did not disappoint! In fact, the turkey turns out so moist and juicy I couldn’t imagine doing it any other way!

That being said, almost everything cooked in the cooker turns out moist and juicy and I’ve done a traditional roasted/smoked turkey in the ceramic cooker in years past. However, this cooks faster and is so darn easy that I can’t see myself doing it another way in the future.

I rubbed the turkey with an herbed (rosemary, sage and thyme) compound butter underneath the skin and also outside of the skin to keep everything moist and it added great flavor.

Beer Can Turkey in ceramic cooker

I did not brine the turkey. Some people swear by brining turkeys but based on the research I have done and talking to Chef Jeanne Pierre, a French trained Chef who runs a cooking school down here in S. Fla, his opinion was that it is not needed. He said he’s done it both ways and he couldn’t tell the difference between the brined and non-brined turkey at the end. These days most turkeys you buy from the grocery store have already been brined in their own saltwater solution before they ever make it to your table. So there you have it, sources say no brining needed!



1. (1) 20 lb Turkey, defrosted

2. 2 sticks of butter

3. 3 large bunches of herbs (I used rosemary, sage, thyme)

4. 2 tblsp sea salt (OR more)

5. 2 tblsp fresh ground pepper (Or more)

6. 1 can of dark beer (we used Shocktop Midnight wheat made with Chocolate malt)

7. Assorted fruits/veggies to stuff the cavity of the bird: lemons, oranges, celery, onions

8. wood chunks for smoke (optional)- we used Lemon wood which is very light

Tools Needed:
Turkey setter- we use this turkey steamer and it works great, you fill the inside with beer and it holds the turkey upright. There are other contraptions that will allow you to put a beer can in but I haven’t tried those.


If using a frozen turkey, defrost your turkey. Next, set out your butter so that it can soften. Combine your 2 sticks of butter with half of the herbs and 1 tblsp sea salt and 1 tblsp pepper. The remaining herbs will be used for stuffing into the cavity of the turkey. Combine the butter, herbs and salt and pepper in an immersion blender of food processor until the herbs are chopped finely.

preparing beer can turkey

Next, wearing gloves, generously rub the butter underneath the skin of the bird in all accessible areas. Some places you will need to make an incision under the skin to loosen it. Spread the remaining butter on the outside of the turkey. Sprinkle the remaining salt and pepper on the outside of the bird, rubbing it into the skin. Next, stuff the turkey with the remaining herbs and fruits/veggies.

Prepare your ceramic cooker for indirect heat using the plate setter. Get the temp to 300 degrees. Place a drip pan large enough for the turkey on top of the plate setter. Next, place the turkey steamer onto the drip pan centered into the middle. Pour your beer into the turkey steamer. Next, place your turkey onto the turkey steamer (the turkey steamer goes into the cavity of the bird). Take the wing tips and stretch them behind the bird so they are not sticking out and also cook more evenly. Add your smoking wood at the beginning and be careful not to over smoke your bird- remember- just a kiss of smoke!

Let the turkey cook for about 4 hours (it takes about an hour per 5 pounds) or until the internal temp reaches 165 degrees in the thickest parts (the breast). While the directions on the turkey steamer will tell you it will take longer, this method has cooked the bird quickly each time so be prepared and have your side dishes ready!

This may be the fastest way I know of to cook a 20 lb turkey!

Have you done turkey this way before? What was your experience?






Related Topics: Beer Can | Beer Can Turkey | Editor's Picks | Grilled Turkey | Grilled Turkey Recipe | Holiday Turkey | How To | Smoked Turkey | Smoked Turkey Recipe | Thanksgiving | Turkey

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