Smoked Ancho Basil King Crab Legs

King crab legs are seriously my favorite dish.  As in, last-meal type of favorite food.  For the most part, I prefer a traditional King Crab Leg, the whole leg, gently steamed to just perfection, with plenty of warmed butter.  That, a glass of wine, and a perfectly cooked baked potato and some garlic sauteed green beans, and I’ll be in heaven. However, aren’t there times when you want to change up even your favorite meal?  For me there are.  I recently ordered some split king crab legs just to put on the smoker and add some different flavors to them.  Out of several renditions, this Ancho Basil King Crab Leg was by far my favorite!

Smoked Ancho Basil King Crab Legs

All crab legs are already cooked.  You just have to heat them up and serve.  It’s important to remember this, you just want to get them hot enough to serve and no more so the meat doesn’t get overcooked.  Or, you can always pull the meat out and serve cold on a salad, or as a seafood appetizer.  But for this dish, I was looking to add plenty of flavor.  I made the melted butter and flavored it with garlic, ancho powder, fresh basil, and shallots for basting.  I also heated these up on my Deep South Mailbox Smoker.  I ran if fairly cool, with plenty of apple wood to give me a hint of smoke flavor, and they were perfect.

Split vs Whole Legs

Pre-split crab legs are certainly easier to eat.  Generally speaking, the whole legs will retain more moisture as you warm them up.  However, when they’re split, we can add so much flavor.  And, you can dive right in- no mess!   Whenever you’re buying King Crab legs, you can get them in a variety of sizes.  Even the smallest King Crab Legs dwarf snow crab legs.  And the meat is so much sweeter, it’s just a wonderful treat.

As always, I hope you enjoy!

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Smoked Ancho Basil King Crab Legs


King Crab legs are always a treat, and one of my favorite things in the world.  These are amped up in flavor with a hint of smoke and basted in an ancho basil butter to add some amazing flavors!



12 lbs King Crab Legs, split, thawed

1/2 lb salted butter

1 TBS minced shallots

1 tsp minced garlic

1 tsp ancho powder

1 TBS finely diced basil


Prepare smoker to run between 200° and 225°.

In a small saucepan over medium low heat, with 1/2 TBS butter, cook shallots and garlic until softened.  Add remaining butter and allow to melt.  Remove from heat, add ancho powder and minced basil, then stir to incorporate.

Place crab legs on smoker, meat side up and allow to smoke for 10 minutes.  Baste with butter mixture.  Continue to smoke until crab legs reach 165 degrees, basting every few minutes.  Total cooking time will depend on your grill and the size of the legs, but should be 20-30 minutes.

Remove and serve with additional butter.


4 Responses

  1. I’m so glad I tried this, I’ll never cook crab legs any other way. I could drink that ancho basil butter.

    1. Thank you, this was just an idea and I wasn’t sure I wanted to risk ruining some king crab legs. But it blew my whole family away! Glad you enjoyed!

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