Making Smoked Turkey Legs That Dance With Flavor!

Nothing satisfies turkey cravings like a couple of tasty smoked turkey legs and an ice cold drink! When I buy my Thanksgiving turkey, I always grab some turkey legs too. And if the store doesn't have any in stock, I'll ask if the butcher can order some.

Luscious Smoked Turkey Legs On Cutting Board, With Fork, Grass In BackgroundLuscious Smoked Turkey Legs

Smoked drumsticks can be served at the same time as the whole turkey or cooked earlier, so there's something good to munch on while the turkey smokes.

Super Smoked Turkey Legs That Melt In Your Mouth!

Putting the Turkey Leg Recipe Together

The following brine recipe will lightly cure four large turkey drumsticks or eight small ones.  The legs from tom turkeys can weigh up to 24 ounces each. Hen legs weight about half as much.

Prep the legs before brining. Rinse them well and trim off  any loose bits of skin or meat.

Turkey Brine Ingredients

  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup Morton Tender Quick
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp finely ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp onion powder

For curing meats and poultry, Morton® recommends 1 cup of Tender Quick per 4 cups of water. The brine in this recipes is less concentrated, for a lighter cure and less of a  "hammy" flavor.

Making Brine and Brining Turkey Legs

Combine the Tender Quick®, salt, sugar, spices and water in a large bowl, mixing until completely dissolved. Put the brine in the refrigerator to cool. It needs to be in the 40 to 35 degree range before the legs go in.

Brining can be done in a single container that'll fit in the fridge, a bucket or other brining container, or a couple of plastic freezer bags. Leave the brining turkey legs in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

After brining, remove them from the brine, rinse well and drain. Dry them off with paper towels to ready them for the dry rub.

Two Luscious Smoked Turkey Legs On My Dinner Plate

Trottin' Turkey Legs Dry Rub Recipe

Seasoning the legs with dry rub is optional. Try some with and some without and find out which you like better.

  • 2 Tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 Tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

(makes about 3/4 cup)

This Dry Rub Seasoning For Smoked Turkey Legs Has Incredible Flavor!

Season the legs with the dry rub, one teaspoon per small leg or two teaspoons on each big 'un.  Smoke them at 250 to 275 degrees, using a light flavored smoker wood. 

Apple, pear, or cherry are good choices for a mellow smokey flavor. Don't over smoke these. A hint of smoke flavor is enough.

Figure on four to six hours in the smoker. The smaller hen legs will take less time than jumbo tom legs. Shoot for a target done temperature of about 180 degrees.

You want these to be fall-apart tender. The more connective tissue that melts, the more luscious these become.

Remove them when done and let them rest and cool for half an hour before serving. If any are left over, you can shred the meat for making turkey leg sandwiches.

Two Perfectly Smoked Turkey Legs, Green Grass in Background, Ready To Be Served From a Bamboo Cutting BoardSmoked Turkey Legs Don't Get Any Better Than This!

These freeze well. Wrap them tightly in a couple layers of foil, use no plastic wrap. To reheat a turkey leg, just toss the foil wrapped package into the oven set at 325 degrees for an hour or so, or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.

How to Make The Most Delicious Smoked Turkey Drumsticks!

The Original Super Smoked Turkey Legs Recipe!

Originally Published - January 6, 2006

The Best Tasting Turkey Legs

Nothing satisfies the hunger like a couple of smoked turkey legs and an ice cold drink. Whenever I buy the turkey, I also grab a half dozen legs to keep the big bird company as it smokes.

The legs go in the cooler of brine right along with the turkey. They don't need nearly the length of brining time as a turkey does, though.

Four to six hours is about right, depending on the size of the legs and the intensity of saltiness you desire. I remove the legs and refrigerate them in a freezer bag until it's time to smoke.

If you're just making smoked turkey legs, you'll need one gallon of brine for every six or eight legs, depending upon their size.

Here's a recipe I've used with great success.

Super Smoked Turkey Legs

  • 8 turkey legs
  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 Tbs onion powder
  • 1 Tbs garlic powder
  • 1 Tbs chili powder
  • 1 Tbs paprika
  • 1 Tbs black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground sage
  • 1 tsp ground cumin

Rinse and drain the turkey legs. Add the remaining ingredients to a large pan and bring to a boil. Take off heat, cover, and allow to cool to room temperature. Pour the brine into your brining container and place it in the fridge to cool. The brine needs to be between 35 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit in order to safely and effectively brine the drumsticks.

Drop the legs into the brine, and soak them for four to six hours. Remove them, rinse well, and drain. Dry them off with paper towels to ready them for the wet rub.

Turkey Leg Wet Rub

  • 3 Tbs onion powder
  • 2 Tbs paprika
  • 1 Tbs garlic powder
  • 1 Tsp black pepper
  • 1 Tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 Tsp ground sage
  • 3 Tbs vegetable oil

Rub this mixture onto the turkey legs, and allow them to rest in it for an hour or so. Put them into the smoker at 225 degrees Fahrenheit, using a light flavored wood. Apple, pear, or cherry are good choices for a mellow smokey flavor.