Smoked Turkey Legs

Homemade smoked turkey legs are incredibly delicious. A simple brine keeps turkey legs moist while smoking. A homemade seasoning rub gives these smoked turkey legs the best flavor.

overhead view of four homemade smoked turkey legs.

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Fall Off The Bone Smoked Turkey Legs

Outside of Thanksgiving, you’ll be hard-pressed to find turkey other than in the form of deli meat in most homes. That’s a shame because turkey is a delicious and healthier alternative to red meat and pork. And it can be a lot of fun, too.

Ask anyone who has tried Disney smoked turkey legs or bought a massive turkey leg at a Renaissance Fair or Festivals! If you are looking for something a little different, try this recipe. 

Why Homemade Cooked Smoked Turkey Legs Are Better Than Any You Can Buy at a Concession Stand

Commercial smoked turkey legs are prepared in bulk and often with the cheapest ingredients a business can find. But when you can control the quality of the meat and everything else that goes into the dish, you’ll naturally wind up with a more delicious meal. 

Should You Brine Turkey Legs Before Smoking? 

Absolutely. Smoking is a long, hot process that can quickly dry out lean turkey legs. So, to guarantee that you are not trying to choke down turkey with the consistency of shoe leather, take the extra step and brine your legs. 

Ingredients You Will Need 

For this smoked turkey legs recipe, start with:

  • Turkey legs

This recipe makes four large turkey legs. Feel free to double or even triple the recipe if you want to smoke more meat.

For the smoked turkey legs brine, you’ll need:

  • Water 
  • Granulated white sugar 
  • Salt 
  • Black peppercorns
  • Seasoned salt 
  • Bay leaves 

Use Lawry’s or your favorite brand of seasoned salt.

To make the dry rub for the turkey legs, you’ll need:

  • Sweet paprika
  • Smoked paprika
  • Ground black pepper
  • Salt
  • Light brown sugar
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Cayenne pepper
smoked turkey legs ingredients.

How to Make Smoked Turkey Legs in Electric Smoker

To brine the turkey legs:

  1. Combine all the ingredients for the brine in a container that is large enough to hold the meat but small enough to fit into the fridge. A shallow plastic food storage box with a lid is perfect. 
  2. Give the brine a good stir. Add the turkey legs once the sugar and salt dissolve. Make sure that the brine covers the turkey legs completely. You can use sous vide sinker weights to ensure the meat stays submerged.
  3. Leave the turkey legs to brine in the fridge for at least four hours but ideally between 8 and 12 hours. 
  4. After brining, drain, and rinse off the turkey legs. Place them on a wire rack over a rimmed baking tray to dry. Be sure to sanitize the sink where you rinsed off the turkey meat to avoid cross-contaminating the area. 

To season the turkey legs with the dry rub:

  1. Pat the brined turkey legs dry with a paper towel.
  2. Carefully pull down the skin of the turkey leg without tearing it. Use a sharp boning knife to cut the membranes that hold the skin in place.
  3. After exposing most of the meat, coat it liberally with the dry rub.
  4. Gently pull the turkey skin back into place, and season the skin with an additional light sprinkling of dry rub. 

To smoke the turkey legs:

  1. Preheat the smoker to 250 degrees F.
  2. Place the brined and seasoned turkey legs on the top rack of the smoke. 
  3. Close the lid and smoke the turkey legs until they cook thoroughly. The proper smoked turkey legs internal temp is 165 degrees F. See below for more details about timing. 
smoked turkey legs recipe steps collage.

How Long To Cook Smoked Turkey Drumstick 

If you need a ballpark figure for planning purposes, most turkey legs will reach 165°F within two to three hours, depending on their size. However, it is essential to go by the actual internal temperature of the turkey legs at the thickest part of the meat.

That means you must have a good instant-read thermometer. If your turkey legs vary in size, check the smallest ones after two hours, and remove them from the smoker as they reach the proper temperature. 

To check the internal temp of a turkey leg correctly, slide an instant-read thermometer into the chicken leg from the top and along the bone to the thickest part of the drumstick. 

homemade smoked turkey legs on a wood serving board.

What Sides Go With Smoked Turkey Legs 

Do you wonder what to serve with smoked turkey legs? Well, this Smoked Turkey Legs recipe is full of flavor, so the sides should be a bit on the bland side. Any kind of potato dish is good.

You can also try mac and cheese or get a little unusual by serving Ambrosia Fruit Salad! You will be surprised how well the acidity of the fruit pairs with the spicy richness of the smoked turkey!

How To Store Leftover Turkey Legs

This recipe requires a lot of time between preparation, brining, and smoking. So, why not make some extra and save them for another day?

You can keep the extra smoked turkey in the fridge for about a week, but the longer you store them, the drier they will become. 

To refrigerate, cool the turkey legs to room temperature and wrap them in plastic wrap or butcher paper and place them in a container with a tight-fitting lid to help prevent the other items in the fridge from smelling like smoke. 

To freeze any leftovers from this smoked turkey legs recipe, cover tightly in plastic wrap or butcher paper and then wrap in aluminum foil. Put the smoked turkey in an airtight freezer-safe container and freezer for up to three months.

How to Reheat Smoked Turkey Legs

Leftover smoked turkey legs are great cold, but if you are going to heat them, don’t ruin all that work by being lazy. There are many ways to rewarm this recipe, but some are better than others: 

How to Reheat Smoked Turkey Legs in the Oven

Warming thawed turkey legs in the oven is probably the best heating method if you have the time:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Pour a quarter cup of turkey broth or water into a baking pan and add the turkey legs. 
  3. Cover the baking tray with aluminum foil and cook for 20 – 25 minutes. 

How to Reheat Smoked Turkey Legs on the Grill

Smoked turkey legs are a fantastic addition to any BBQ. If you want to add some turkey to your next outdoor grill party, here is how to reheat it:

  1. Pour a quarter cup of turkey broth or water into a disposable aluminum pan. 
  2. Put the thawed smoked turkey legs in the pan and cover the top of the pan with aluminum foil. 
  3. Place the aluminum pan over a cooler part of the grill. 
  4. Cook for about 10 minutes and flip the legs over.
  5. Continue to cook until warm.

How to Reheat Smoked Turkey Legs in Microwave

Using the microwave to heat leftover smoked turkey may be the most convenient, but it is by far the worst option. However, if you don’t have any other choice, try this:

  1. Cut the turkey meat from the bone.
  2. Place the meat in a microwavable bowl and cover the bowl with a plate. 
  3. Heat the meat on high for one minute. If the turkey is not warm enough for you, heat it for another 30 seconds. 
closeup of homemade smoked turkey legs.

Favorite Turkey and Thanksgiving Recipes

Popular Smoked Meat Recipes

Check out more of my easy turkey recipes and the best Thanksgiving dinner recipes on CopyKat!

overhead view of four homemade smoked turkey legs.

Smoked Turkey Legs

Smoke Turkey Legs are tender, juicy, and deliciously flavored with a rub.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate Add to Collection
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Smoked Turkey Legs
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Brining: 8 hours
Total Time: 10 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 16
Calories: 247kcal

Ingredients

  • 4 to 6 turkey legs

Turkey Brine

  • 1 gallon water
  • ½ cup granulated white sugar
  • ¼ cup table salt
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • ½ cup seasoned salt
  • 4 bay leaves

Turkey Rub Seasoning Blend

  • 1/2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1/2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Instructions

Brine

  • Use a large container. It needs to be large enough for the turkey legs and a gallon of liquid and will fit in your refrigerator.
  • Pour water into the container, then add sugar, salt, peppercorns, seasoned salt, and bay leaves. Stir to combine.
  • When the salt and sugar have dissolved, add the turkey legs.
  • Cover the container and place it in the refrigerator.
  • Brine for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

Rub Seasoning Blend

  • Mix all the rub ingredients together in a bowl.

Turkey Legs

  • Heat smoker to 250°F.
  • Remove turkey legs from the brine and pat them dry.
  • Use your hands to coat the legs with the rub seasoning blend.
  • Smoke the turkey legs for 1½ to 3 hours or until the internal temperature registers 165°F. Time will vary based on the size of the turkey legs.

Nutrition

Calories: 247kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 120mg | Sodium: 210mg | Potassium: 479mg | Fiber: 0.3g | Sugar: 0.2g | Vitamin A: 229IU | Vitamin C: 0.03mg | Calcium: 39mg | Iron: 3mg

About Stephanie Manley

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of CopyKat.com's Dining Out in the Home, and CopyKat.com's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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Comments

  1. Baltisraul

    5 stars
    Made these Disney legs 2 weeks ago in the smoker. Just wonderful. I placed them in my smoker upside down in artichoke holders. They looked strange but cooked so evenly.

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