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Easy Smoked Turkey Legs

Easy Smoked Turkey Legs

It is smack dab in the middle of fall here and I am craving these amazingly Easy Smoked Turkey Legs! Anytime of year is the right time for these brined and dry rubbed, fall off the bone juicy turkey legs. Pair them with some Steak Fries for a simple meal for the game or with moist Cornbread and Green Bean and Potato Salad for an evening with friends.

One smoked turkey leg and that is being held straight up.


I have heard stories about the turkey legs at Disney, but I can tell you that they won’t beat out these turkey legs for smokey BBQ flavor or tender juicy meat. A few simple steps and an overnight brine are all it takes to make these scrumptious turkey legs.

Ingredients for Smoked turkey Legs

For the brine you will need: Water, brown sugar, Kosher salt, whole black peppercorns, bay leaves, onion powder, garlic powder, ground sage and ice.
For the rub: Brown sugar, kosher salt, chili powder, black pepper, cayenne pepper, thyme, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin.

This makes more then enough brine and rub for 6-8 Turkey legs

How to make smoked turkey legs:

  • To make the brine, combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan. Stir well and bring to a boil. Continue to boil until the sugar and salt have dissolved completely.
Poultry in a bowl covered with ice while a brine is poured over top.
  • Place the turkey legs in a large bowl and cover with ice. Pour the brine over the turkey legs, cover and place in the refrigerator for 8-12 hours.
  • Remove the turkey legs from the brine and pat dry with a paper towel. Pull the skin down on the legs and coat on all sides with the olive oil and dry rub. Pull the skin back up over the legs and apply olive oil and dry rub to the skin.
Turkey legs covered in a BBQ rub and laying on a metal baking rack.
  • Place the turkey legs on a smoker set between at about 225°.
  • Smoke the turkey legs until an instant read thermometer register 170° when inserted in the thickest part of the leg.
  • Remove from the heat and tent for 10-15 minutes.
  • Serve with your favorite BBQ sauce for those that want it.

Tips for making the best turkey legs

• Don’t skip the brine. The brine does two things. It flavors the meat and imparts moisture so you will have the juiciest turkey legs in town!

• Apply the rub all over, including under the skin so that every part of the leg is seasoned.

• Try to maintain a temperature of about 225° on your smoker so that the turkey cooks low and slow. This allows the connective tissue to break down and turn to collagen resulting in more tender legs. The longer it takes them to cook the better!

Turkey legs that have been smoked and are sitting on a metal rack.

FAQ

What type of wood should you use for this recipe?

The type of wood you choose can be based on personal preference. I have made this recipe using cherry, apple and hickory and they were all delicious.

How long should you smoke turkey legs?

The amount of time it will take to fully cook the legs on your smoker will depend on the size of your legs and the temperature of the smoker. Average size turkey legs smoked at 225°, have taken me about 3 hours.

How do you know when the turkey legs are done?

I always go by internal temperature to tell me if they are done. Use an instant read thermometer and insert it in the thickest part of the leg. Make sure not to tough the bone because your reading will be off. When the internal temperature registers 170° the legs are ready. Although chicken is safe to eat at 165°, I want to make sure that the meat will be as tender as possible, so I let go a little higher. Since it is cooking so slow those connective tissues will have a little longer to break down.

Do you have to use BBQ sauce?

Not at all. My son loves BBQ sauce, and my husband prefers a dry rub. You can either just serve the BBQ at the table or if you want to make some sticky legs, you can apply some BBQ and put them on the grill for a few minutes.

four cooked turkey legs on a wire rack.

Here are some other poultry recipes that you might like to try
Easy Herb Roasted Chicken

Oven Barbecue Chicken Wings

I love to get your feedback so if you tried this Easy Smoked Turkey Legs recipe or any other recipes on this website, please leave me a comment below.  I hope you enjoy our recipes and look forward to hearing from you!

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Turkey legs that have been smoked and are sitting on a metal rack.

Smoked Turkey Legs

These Smoked Turkey Legs are easy to prepare but big on taste. A simple overnight brine and coating of BBQ rub ensures that the meat will be tender and flavorful!
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs
Brine 12 hrs
Total Time 15 hrs 20 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 6 servings
Calories 1280 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 6 Turkey legs
  • 4 tbsp Olive oil

Brine

  • 8 cups Water
  • 1 cup Brown sugar
  • ½ cup Kosher salt
  • tsp Black pepper corns whole
  • 3 Bay leaves
  • 1 tsp Onion powder
  • 1 tsp Garlic powder
  • ½ tsp Sage
  • 8 cups Ice

Dry Rub

  • ½ cup Brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp Chili powder
  • ½ tsp Black pepper
  • ½ tp Cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp Thyme dried
  • ½ tsp Onion powder
  • ½ tsp Garlic powder
  • ½ tsp Cumin

Instructions
 

  • Brine
  • Combine all of the ingredients except the ice in a sauce pan and stir well. Bring to a boil and cook until all of the sugar and salt has completely dissolved.
  • Place the turkey legs in a large container and cover with ice. Pour the hot brine over the ice, cover and refrigerate for 8-12 hours.
  • Smoking the Turkey Legs
  • Prepare your smoker so that the heat is at about 225°F.
    I have made this recipe using cherry, apple or hickory wood chips and they were all delicious.
  • In a small bowl or a jar, combine all of the ingredients for the dry rub and mix to combine evenly.
  • Remove the turkey legs from the brine and pat dry.
  • Pull the skin down on the turkey legs and brush with the olive oil, then sprinkle with the dry rub. Pull the skin back up and repeat the process so that the legs are completely coated.
  • Place the turkey legs on the smoker and cook until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the leg registers 170°. This should take about 3 hours depending on the size of the legs.
  • Remove from the smoker and tent for 15 minutes before serving.

Notes

Tips for making the best turkey legs
  • Don’t skip the brine. The brine does two things.  It flavors the meat and imparts moisture so you will have the juiciest turkey legs in town!
  • Apply the rub all over, including under the skin so that every part of the leg is seasoned.
  • Try to maintain a temperature of around 225° on your smoker so that the turkey cooks low and slow. This allows the connective tissue to break down and turn to collagen resulting in more tender legs. 
 

Nutrition

Serving: 6gCalories: 1280kcalCarbohydrates: 57gProtein: 133gFat: 55gSaturated Fat: 15gPolyunsaturated Fat: 14gMonounsaturated Fat: 21gCholesterol: 481mgSodium: 13491mgPotassium: 1989mgFiber: 1gSugar: 54gVitamin A: 478IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 205mgIron: 13mg
Keyword smoked turkey, chili powder, cayene, brown sugar, brine,
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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