Smoked Crab Legs with Honey Garlic BBQ Butter

King crab legs gently re-heated on the pellet grill and basted with honey, garlic butter.

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While these crab legs are typically boiled or steamed, you can heat them up on the smoker to add an extra layer of smoky flavor to this delicious treat.

This post was sponsored by Crowd Cow.

Smoked Crab Legs with Honey Garlic BBQ Butter

Ingredients you’ll need

crab legs on a wooden chopping board

Equipment you’ll need

  • Grill
  • Wire rack
  • Baking sheet
  • Small bowl
  • Basting brush

If you love crab, check out our smoked crab cakes recipe.

What type of crab legs to buy

There are several varieties of crab legs on the market, but my favorite is King Crab.

King Crab are larger than most other varieties and are prized for their sweet, succulent flavor and tender meat.

They are one of the most premium crabs that you can purchase, but the old saying is true, you get what you pay for because the flavor and texture of King Crab is worth every penny.

Other great options for this recipe include snow crab clusters and Dungeness crab legs.

Are my crab legs pre-cooked?

Most crab legs that are available are pre-cooked, meaning that all you need to do is heat them up.

A good way to determine if your crab legs have been pre-cooked or not is to look at the color. If they are brown or gray, they are uncooked, but if the shell already has a red or orange hue, then they have been cooked.

Where to buy King Crab legs

For this recipe, I used Wild Alaskan Red King Crab from Crowd Cow. It’s prized for its mouthwatering taste, sweet meat, and delicate, tender texture. They ship them in 2lb bundles and leave the shell fully intact so you can crack and peel it yourself.

a bag of crab legs on wooden board
As you can see from the orange color of these crab legs, they are pre-cooked

Crab legs from Crowd Cow are sourced from sustainable producers, so you can rest assured that your seafood will be caught and handled sustainably. The crabs were raised in the best possible manner to ensure that you have the highest quality every single time.

As with most crab legs, they come pre-cooked and frozen, so they are ready to heat and serve. These legs are great for boils or steam pots but preparing them on the smoker is a great way to add a nice layer of smoky flavor to this tender and succulent dish.

How to make Smoked Crab Legs with Honey Garlic BBQ Butter

Because crab legs are generally cooked when you buy them, it makes this such an easy recipe.

They only need to go on the smoker for about 45 minutes until they’re heated through. You want to make sure that you don’t cook them too long or the meat will start to fall apart, and you won’t have the delicate, tender crab meat that we all know and love.

Another way to pack extra flavor into your crab is with the honey garlic bbq butter – its sweet, savory, and buttery flavor really compliments the sweet and succulent flavor of the crab meat so it’s a match made in heaven!

1. Defrost your crab

If you purchased crab legs that are frozen, you want to let them defrost before cooking them.

Some say that you can just throw the frozen crab legs on the smoker and let them defrost, but I find that the meat ends up a bit tough and stringy with that method.

For the best results place your frozen crab legs in the fridge for a day before you are ready to cook them, and they should be fully defrosted by the time you’re ready to put them on the grill.

If you don’t have the time, you can alternatively place them in a bowl of cold water with the cold faucet running on top for 45 minutes to an hour, and they should defrost. 

2. Honey garlic bbq butter

This step is technically optional because crab legs are delicious on their own, but adding a honey garlic bbq butter during the cooking process adds an extra punch of flavor. I also like making enough to have some on the side to dip my crab meat into.

Mix the butter, hot honey, Smoke Kitchen Honey Garlic rub, and minced garlic in a pot and place it on the smoker or stovetop to melt.

2. Fire up the grill

Fire up your grill to 250°F.

As I mentioned before, most crab legs come pre-cooked, so you’re essentially just heating them.

crab legs in the smoker with a pot of butter sauce beside them

I smoked these on my Camp Chef XXL Pro pellet grill with Bear Mountain Sweet BBQ pellets and a few chunks of hickory wood in the firebox.

crab ;egs in the smoker
The smoker adds a great touch of smoky flavor, but you want to make sure you don’t overcook them.

Place the crab legs on a jerky tray (wire rack) on top of a baking sheet to help make cleanup easier. You can also place them directly on the grates if you want.

Baste with the honey garlic bbq butter.

a brush basting the crab legs

You want to let them smoke for about 45 minutes until they are heated through.

Brush the butter over your crab legs every 15 minutes during the cooking process, then keep the rest off to the side for dipping when you serve. 

crab legs on a wire rack with a pot of butter sauce next to them

Other recipes using Crowd Cow products

Smoked Crab Legs with Honey Garlic BBQ Butter

King crab legs basted with honey garlic butter.
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 227kcal
Author: Breanna Stark



  • Preheat your smoker to 250°F.
  • Place your crab legs on a wire rack, above a baking tray and place them on the grates of your smoker.
  • In a small pot, combine butter, garlic, hot honey, and honey garlic rub. Place the pot on the smoker alongside your crab to melt (this can be done on the stovetop).
  • Every 15 minutes, baste the crab legs in the honey garlic bbq butter.
  • After 45 minutes (or when the crab is heated through), remove the crab legs from the smoker and serve immediately alongside the remaining butter.


To defrost your crab legs, place your frozen crab legs in the fridge for a day before you are ready to cook them, and they should be fully defrosted by the time you’re ready to cook.


Calories: 227kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 78mg | Sodium: 951mg | Potassium: 269mg | Fiber: 0.5g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 479IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 95mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated and should be used as an approximation only. If you’re worried you could always add a side of kale.

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