Smoked Turkey Legs + Video
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Smoked turkey legs are popular at theme parks and festivals. Use this recipe to make tender, juicy turkey drumsticks on any type of smoker!
There are so many easy smoker recipes I can make year round that it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite ways to cook.
I had no idea how versatile a smoker is until I started using one and now I am hooked!
If you want a few more smoker recipes to try, this Juicy Smoked Meatloaf is better than any other meatloaf you may have eaten. It’s juicy on the inside with a crispy exterior and a sweet and smoky flavor.
Smoked chicken quarters are juicy and tender on the inside with crispy skin on the outside.
Making a smoked baked potato is one of the easiest smoker recipes around! This recipe is a must-make; you’ll love the flavor of smoked potatoes!
Facts About Smoked Turkey Legs
Whether you’re serving the whole leg or using it in your favorite soups or casseroles, smoked turkey drumsticks are easy to make in your smoker.
So, if you cannot get to the fair to buy your favorite turkey leg, you can easily make them at home.
The truth about smoked turkey legs
Turkey legs are actually two parts; the thigh and the drumstick. The jumbo size drumsticks come from very large turkeys.
Depending on the size, turkey legs can be very high in calories and fat. Removing the skin will help reduce the fat content.
Frequently Asked Questions
What flavor wood chips to use
If you enjoy a smokey flavor when you eat meat, you should try hickory or mesquite wood chips in your smoker.
But, if you want a more subtle taste, a fruitwood chip like apple or even cherry would be a delicious option.
Smoking time and temperature
To make these smoked turkey drumsticks, you will need to preheat your smoker to 250°F.
If you’re wondering how long to cook turkey legs, they’ll need to cook for about two to two and a half hours.
Will this smoked turkey leg recipe work with chicken drumsticks?
The process you use to smoke chicken and turkey is basically the same. But, you won’t want to cook your smaller chicken legs for the same amount of time you cook your turkey drumsticks.
Instead, you will need to preheat your smoker to 225°F rather than 250°F. Then, smoke your chicken drumsticks for about an hour.
You should smoke poultry until a meat thermometer reads an internal temperature of at least 163°F. But, for extra tender meat that falls easily off of the bone, smoke the meat until it reaches 180°F.
Be sure to allow the meat to rest for 5 minutes after removing it from the smoker. It helps the juices redistribute as it rests for juicier turkey.
Is it necessary to brine turkey before smoking it?
Many people choose to brine their turkey before smoking it. They feel that it helps keep the meat moist while it’s smoking.
But, this step is completely optional, and I didn’t use a brine before I put it in the smoker. You don’t need to brine your poultry before you smoke it when making smoked turkey legs.
Dry rub seasonings and substitutions
I use dry rub seasonings when I smoke turkey drumsticks because I love the flavor. And, one of my favorite spices to use is New Mexico Chili Powder.
If you cannot find New Mexico chili powder in your area, you can use cayenne pepper or traditional chili powder instead. But, I do love the flavor of New Mexico chili powder if you can find it.
If you’d like a dry rub that isn’t as spicy, you can try a mixture of brown sugar and smoked paprika. Or, I’ve heard that Old Bay seasoning makes a delicious dry rub for poultry.
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Side dish suggestions
These smoked turkey legs work well with any summer salad recipe and vegetable side dish. Or, you can serve them with mashed potatoes and green beans.
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Watch the video below to see how easy it is to make this recipe!
Smoked Turkey Legs + Video
- 4 turkey legs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh black pepper
- 1 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
- 1 teaspoon New Mexico Chile powder
- Preheat the smoker to 250°F. Place the turkey legs on a sheet tray, gently loosen the skin from the meat by running your fingers under the skin, set aside.
- In a small bowl mix together the garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, brown sugar, and chile powder. Rub the turkey legs all over with the mixture, getting under the skin. Place the skin back to its original shape.
- Once the smoker is to temp, about 15 minutes, place the turkey legs directly on the grates. Smoke for 2 to 2 ½ hours, until the internal temperature reaches at least 165°F. I like to smoke them until the internal temperature reaches 180°F as I tend to find the meat more tender. Let cool slightly and serve!
All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.
Originally published September 2020
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This was totally worth the 2 hours. These were so easy to prep and throw in the smoker. I made them for about 12 people and they all loved them!