Indulge in Delicious Smoked Crab Legs: A Foodie’s Delight

Picture yourself on a sunny summer day with friends and family, gathered around a smoker grill, the smell of smoky meat wafting through the air. Now imagine adding some seriously delicious Crab Legs to the mix, with a rich smoky flavor that melts in your mouth with every bite.

Smoked Crab Legs are one of my favorite dishes to prepare on the BBQ. If you’ve never tried it before, you’re in for a real treat. This recipe is perfect for anyone who loves seafood or wants to add some variety to their BBQ. It’s easy to make and requires minimal ingredients, making it perfect for any level of cook.

Whether you’re looking for a new BBQ recipe to impress your friends or want to switch up your dinner game, this Smoked Crab Legs recipe will not disappoint. So grab your butter and crab legs and let’s get smoking!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Crab Legs in a Smoker
Crab Legs in a Smoker

If you’re a seafood lover, you know just how delicious crab legs can be. But have you ever smoked them? Let me tell you, once you try these smoked crab legs, you’ll never go back to the traditional boil again.

First off, smoking imbues crab legs with a smoky flavor that is truly irresistible. The slow-cooking process infuses the meat with a depth of flavor unlike anything else. And at just 3 hours of cook time, these smoked snow crab legs are easy to prepare and perfect for those who want a gourmet meal without the hassle.

But it’s not just about the flavor. One of the best things about this recipe is how versatile it is. You can use any type of crab legs you prefer, whether it’s king crab, dungeness crab or even pre-cooked frozen crab legs. You can also adjust the smoking time and temperature to your liking for more personalized results.

Lastly, serving smoked crab legs is sure to impress your guests at any BBQ or dinner party. With its unique preparation and smoky flavor, it’s a conversation starter and sets the mood for a luxurious feast.

So if you’ve never tried smoking crab legs before, trust me, it’s worth giving this recipe a shot. You’ll be amazed at how easy and delicious it is.

Ingredient List

 Smoked crab legs that'll make your mouth water
Smoked crab legs that’ll make your mouth water

Crab legs are the main ingredient in this recipe; snow crab legs or king crab legs are both excellent choices. The quantity will depend on the number of servings you need. You will also need butter, which should be unsalted and preferably of good quality. If possible, use clarified butter as it has a higher smoke point and won’t burn as easily. Additionally, you will need your preferred wood mix, recommended is half Adler and half Leinenkugel wood, which can be found at most hardware stores. Make sure you have enough wood to smoke the crab legs for at least 3 hours. Lastly, gather all necessary ingredients to make the butter mixture, including: lemon zest, garlic powder, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and fresh parsley.

The Recipe How-To

 The perfect recipe for a summer barbecue
The perfect recipe for a summer barbecue

Now that we have our smoker grill at the ready, it’s time to dive into the recipe. You’re going to need a few things to make this work, and they’re all on our ingredient list. Don’t forget to get your crab legs OUT of the freezer about an hour before you plan on cooking them. We want them to be defrosted at room temperature (but NOT cooked) when we smoke them.

Step 1: Preparing for Smoking

Preheat your smoker to 250°F. While your smoker is warming up, prepare your crab legs for the rub by brushing them lightly with melted butter. Set aside the remainder of the melted butter to later use in a baste.

Step 2: Adding Flavor with Rub

For the rub we will use a combination of half Adler and half Leinenkugel wood mix. This brews an irresistible scent that will start anyone’s mouth watering. Add the rub ingredient(s) in accordance with your preferred seasoning strength. Once rubbed, place the crab legs into the smoker to sit unbothered for at least 30 minutes.

Step 3: Smoke Time

Smoke is key when it comes to adding that special flavor! I recommend smoking the crab legs – at least 3 hours – imbue each piece with a smoky flavor, but you can go longer if you prefer more intense flavoring.

  • Mix together the remaining melted butter and seasonings in a bowl.
  • Baste crab legs using desired amount of mixture every 30 minutes for maximum flavor.

Remember, every type of meat has a recommended smoking time! For these snow crab legs, 3 hours is perfect. Set your smoker temp at anywhere between 175°-225°F and let it do its thing!

Once your timer goes off after 3 hours have passed, pull out some beauties of delicate crab meat that are snuggled inside their shell housing.

Substitutions and Variations

 A seafood dish with a twist
A seafood dish with a twist

Cooking with crab legs is already pretty versatile, but if you’re looking for alternatives or want to mix things up, here are some substitutions and variations you can try:

– Snow crab legs: If you can’t find snow crab legs, you can use other types of crab legs like king crab or Dungeness crab instead. The cooking time may vary, so keep an eye on the temperature and adjust as needed.

– Smoked snow crab: If you don’t have a smoker, you can still achieve a smoky flavor by adding liquid smoke to your butter mixture or by grilling the legs over charcoal. You won’t get the same intensity as with a smoker, but it’s a good alternative.

– Seafood boil: If you want to add more seafood to your meal, consider making a seafood boil with your crab legs. Simply boil some potatoes, corn on the cob, and sausages in a seasoned broth until they’re cooked through, then toss in your crab legs, claws, and any other seafood you like.

– Frozen crab: If fresh crab isn’t available in your area, frozen crab works well too. Just make sure to thaw it completely before cooking it. Thawing overnight in the fridge is the safest method.

No matter what variation you choose, make sure to baste your crab legs with the butter mixture frequently while they cook. It will help keep them juicy and flavorful.

Serving and Pairing

 Juicy, succulent crab legs hot off the smoker
Juicy, succulent crab legs hot off the smoker

Now that your crab legs have been cooked to perfection, it’s time to enjoy them! This recipe is perfect for serving at a BBQ or outdoor gathering with friends and family. Serve the smoked crab legs hot off the smoker grill for the best experience.

It’s always tempting to start eating as soon as the crab comes off the grill, but try to hold back and let the legs rest for about 10 minutes, covered with foil. This will allow the juices to settle and make carving into them easier.

When it comes to pairing, you can’t go wrong with a classic butter dip. Melt some butter in a small saucepan over low heat and season with your favorite spices, like garlic powder or Old Bay seasoning. Alternatively, you can mix the butter with some BBQ sauce for an extra zingy flavor.

Another great side that pairs well with smoked crab legs is grilled corn on the cob. Simply grill some fresh corn and smear it with some of that delicious bbq butter we mentioned earlier.

For a light and refreshing side dish, consider serving up a simple salad or coleslaw made with crunchy vegetables like cucumber, carrot, or celery. These will complement and balance out the rich flavor of the smoked crab legs perfectly.

And for drinks, we recommend pairing your smoked crab legs with a light beer or crisp white wine. Just remember to drink responsibly so you can fully savor the flavors of your delicious meal.

Overall, this recipe is sure to be a hit amongst your friends and family. They’re deliciously flavorful, easy to make, and are sure to leave everyone clamoring for more!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 Smoked to perfection for ultimate flavor
Smoked to perfection for ultimate flavor

Once you’ve enjoyed the delicious smoked flavor of these crab legs, you may want to store them for later use. This recipe is perfect for make-ahead meals or leftovers, as the crab legs can be stored in your refrigerator or freezer.

To store them in the refrigerator, first let the smoked crab legs cool down to room temperature and then wrap them tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. They should be consumed within 3-4 days to ensure freshness.

If you plan on storing them in the freezer, carefully remove the meat from the shell and store it in resealable bags or an airtight container. They can last up to three months in the freezer. When ready for use, simply thaw them overnight in the refrigerator prior to reheating.

To reheat your smoked crab legs, simply preheat your oven to 350°F and place your crab legs on a baking sheet. Cover with foil and heat for approximately 10-15 minutes or until they are heated through. If you’ve frozen your crab legs, place them in boiling water first until completely thawed before reheating in the oven.

Another option is to heat them up on your pellet grill for an added smoky flavor. Preheat your smoker grill to 225°F and place the crab legs on the grate. Baste with melted butter mixture and smoke them for about 30 minutes.

Remember not to overcook your smoked crab legs when reheating as this could cause them to become dry and lose their delicious flavor. With these simple instructions for make-ahead meals and reheating, you can enjoy fresh-tasting smoked crab legs anytime!

Tips for Perfect Results

 Get your bibs ready for these messy crab legs
Get your bibs ready for these messy crab legs

As the assistant of a BBQ chef who has successfully cooked and smoked crab legs on various occasions, I have picked up helpful tips and tricks that will help you achieve perfect results every time. These tips have been tried and tested, and I guarantee they will take your smoked crab legs to a whole new level.

Here are my top five tips for perfect results:

1. Preheat your smoker grill properly: This tip is crucial when smoking crab legs or any other type of seafood. Preheating your smoker grill to the right temperature before placing the crab legs in the smoker ensures that the temperature remains consistent, leading to evenly cooked crab legs.

2. Use a butter mixture: Basting your crab legs with a butter mixture as they smoke adds flavor and moisture to your meat. The butter mixture can consist of BBQ butter or regular melted butter paired with herbs, spices, or lemon juice.

3. Be patient: Smoking crab legs is not a quick process, but the end result is worth it. The recipe recommends smoking them for at least three hours to imbue them with a smoky flavor, and this requires patience. Trust me; it’s worth it.

4. Mix wood flavors: Adler wood and Leingenkugel wood are excellent wood options for smoking your crab legs, but mixing them gives unique smoky flavors to your meat.

5. Check the internal temperature: To ensure that your crab legs are cooked correctly, use an instant-read thermometer to check their internal temperature. For optimal results, aim for an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit.

By following these tips, you’re sure to get perfectly smoked and flavorful snow or king crab legs every time!


As with any recipe, it’s natural to have questions about the process and ingredients. Here are some frequently asked questions and helpful tips for perfecting your smoked crab legs recipe.

How do you cook crabs in a smoker?

Alright, here’s how we smoke our crab legs to perfection. First, we want to place them right on the grill grates of the smoker. It’s important to make sure the heat is indirect, as we don’t want to overcook the legs. From there, we’ll leave them to smoke for a good 30 minutes.

During this time, we don’t just let them cook away unattended. No, we want to make sure we’re basting them with some delicious seasoned butter. Every 5-10 minutes, we’ll add another layer to really coat those legs and give them that extra burst of flavor.

Once they’ve hit that 30-minute mark, we’ll transfer them to a plate and give them one final brush with any remaining butter. Trust me, that final touch really brings out the richness of the crab meat.

How long does it take to smoke crabs?

To infuse the crab legs with a rich smoky flavor, it is advisable to smoke them for a minimum of 3 hours. A combination of half adler and half leingenkugel wood, at a temperature range of 175-225 degrees, can be used for 3-5 hours. Higher heat should be used if smoking for 3 hours, while lower heat is preferred if smoking for 5-6 hours.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, if you are a seafood lover looking for a new recipe to try out, then the smoked crab legs recipe is perfect for you. Not only is it easy to make, but it also provides rich, smoky and buttery flavors that are sure to satisfy your cravings. By following this recipe, you’ll be able to create the best ever smoked crab legs that all your friends will be raving about.

Remember, the key to perfectly smoked crab legs is in the preparation, so make sure you preheat your smoker at 250°F and smoke the crab legs for at least 3 hours with a mix of adler and leingenkugel wood to get that smoky flavor. Be sure to baste the crab legs with the butter mixture every 10 minutes and in no time you’ll have deliciously tender and juicy crab meat.

Experiment with different types of crab meat such as snow crab or king crab for varied flavor experiences. These crab legs are perfect for pairing with seafood boils or simply consumed on their own as a main dish. You can also try variations like traeger grilled or pit boss pellet grill recipes.

In essence, whether you’re serving a family-style meal or entertaining guests these smoked crab legs should be considered as part of your menu options in any summer barbeque event. So what are you waiting for? Head on over to or follow YouTube smoked leg recipe clips and give these smoked crab legs a try today!

Crab Legs in a Smoker

Crab Legs in a Smoker Recipe

Apple chips, preheat smoker at to 225°, put legs in while still frozen and smoke them about 25-35 minutes. Simple and delicious! (Use split shell crabs for more flavor.)
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Seafood
Servings 2 pounds
Calories 787.7 kcal


  • 2 lbs crab legs
  • 1/2 cup melted butter, for dipping


  • Get smoker up to 225 degrees.
  • Wash frozen crab legs.
  • Add apple (or whatever kind you like) wood chips.
  • put them in the smoker while frozen.
  • smoke for 30 minute.



Serving: 510gCalories: 787.7kcalProtein: 83.4gFat: 48.8gSaturated Fat: 29.6gCholesterol: 312.4mgSodium: 4195.1mg
Keyword < 60 Mins, Easy, High In…, High Protein, Very Low Carbs
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

You’ll Love These Delicious BBQ Recipes

Egg in a Hole - With Smoked Salmon

Egg in a Hole – With Smoked Salmon Recipe

We’ve all had those mornings where we crave something indulgent but also satisfying. Something that is easy to make and yet still feels fancy. Look no further than the Egg…
BBQ Hobo Stew

Mouth-Watering BBQ Hobo Stew Recipe

There’s something about cooking outdoors that gives food a special flavor. Maybe it’s the smoke, maybe it’s the fresh air, or maybe it’s just the sense of adventure. Whatever it…