Smoked Turkey Legs are popular at theme parks and festivals. But once you see how easy it is to smoke a turkey leg at home, you’ll never want to pay those prices again! Use this smoked turkey leg recipe to make tender, juicy turkey drumsticks on any type of smoker.
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.
I had no idea how versatile a smoker is until I started using one — and now I am hooked!
There are so many easy smoker recipes I can make year-round, that it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite ways to cook.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Turkey Legs
Unlike chicken, these consist of 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.
I personally prefer to keep the skin on for smoked turkey leg. It gets deliciously crispy when cooked!
- Dry Rub Seasonings
I use dry rub seasonings for smoked turkey leg 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.
Combined with a base of staples like onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper, you get a savory flavor combination that’s perfect for this smoked turkey legs recipe!
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.
Time and Temperature to Smoke a Turkey Leg
To make this smoked turkey leg recipe, you will need to preheat your smoker to 250°F.
Cook for about two to two and a half hours, depending on the size. It’s best to test doneness with a digital meat thermometer.
Insert it into the thickest part of the drumstick, avoiding the bone. Poultry is safe to eat when it reaches an internal temp of 165°F.
Smoked Turkey Legs Recipe FAQ
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 for your smoked turkey leg.
Many people do this to help keep the meat moist while it’s cooking. However, this really only applies when smoking a whole turkey — and even then, I find it to be optional.
Smoked turkey legs come out just as moist and flavorful without a brine, thanks to the low-and-slow cooking process.
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 smoke a turkey leg.
Instead, you will need to preheat your smoker to 225°F rather than 250°F. Then, smoke your chicken drumsticks for about an hour.
Cook all 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 so they end up in your mouth and not on your plate!
With love, from our simple kitchen to yours.
Other Smoker Recipes
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, updated and republished October 2023
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