This recipe for Baked Turkey Legs is an easy way to enjoy a taste of turkey without cooking an entire bird! Enjoy these turkey drumsticks with juicy and tender dark meat inside and crispy skin outside using our foolproof method.
For all my white meat fans, make this boneless turkey breast!
Table of contents
- Where to Buy Turkey Legs?
- Ingredients Needed
- More Ideas on How to Season Turkey Drumsticks
- How to Cook Turkey Legs in the Oven
- How Long to Bake Turkey Legs in the Oven?
- How Do I Know When Turkey Legs are Done?
- Expert Tips
- Storing, Freezing and Reheating Tips
- Serving Recommendations
- More Delicious Turkey Recipes
When I think of baked turkey legs, Thanksgiving and Disney come to mind. How was I surprised to find them at the park on our last Disneyland trip. So, it’s a year round indulgence that is so delicious!
When cooking turkey legs, not only are we pleasing those family members who are dark meat lovers. Because let’s be honest, we all have mostly those. But we are also making no-fuss weeknight dinner any time of the year! And don’t forget about the Game Day!
And if you are like me and usually host small Thanksgiving gatherings, you probably have no need to roast an entire turkey.
Whether you choose to roast turkey breast or make this turkey drumstick recipe, the pros are a shorter roasting time and a better tasting bird.
Let’s be honest, when cooking a whole bird, the white turkey meat easily dries out while waiting for the dark meat to be done. I always end up with leftover turkey breast that I shred and use to make a turkey quesadilla or turkey noodle soup.
So as we have agreed before, this turkey legs recipe solves many first world problems because dark meat and crispy skin. Bam!
Where to Buy Turkey Legs?
Most large grocery store chains will carry various turkey parts like turkey legs, turkey thighs and turkey wings year round. You often can find turkey legs in the refrigerated poultry section, usually near the chicken. Popular brands are Jenni-O or Butterball.
On the other hand, some stores only carry them seasonally near the Holidays. If you can’t find them at your store, check your local butcher shop.
You only need a few simple ingredients to make this easy roasted turkey leg recipe and most are pantry spices you probably already have on hand!
- Medium sized turkey drumsticks: Your bone-in skin on turkey legs should weight about 10 oz. each.
- Oil: This helps the seasonings stick to your drumsticks. I used avocado oil, but you could use extra virgin olive oil or melted butter.
- Cooking spray: You need to spray the roasting rack on which your baked turkey legs will roast to prevent sticking.
- Seasoning mix: Onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, salt and black pepper.
More Ideas on How to Season Turkey Drumsticks
Here are more ideas how to season turkey legs! Feel free to use any of your favorite spice blends or seasonings.
How to Cook Turkey Legs in the Oven
One of the best things about this baked turkey leg recipe is that there is no brining or basting involved! Follow these steps for the best method on how to cook turkey legs and come back and tell me how you liked them!
First, preheat your oven to 425 degrees F and place cooling rack (wire rack) on rimmed baking sheet and spray it with cooking spray.
Roasting at a high temperature ensures that the skin is crispy, plus turkey legs are ready in just over an hour!
- Combine: In a small bowl, add onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, salt, pepper and stir with a fork. If you feeling lazy, you can also just sprinkle individual spices evenly on raw meat.
- Season: Place turkey legs on a large plate, pat dry with paper towels and brush with oil. It is super important to start with dry legs, so the oil will stick on and afterwards our homemade turkey spice rub. Sprinkle with a spice mix evenly all around and do not rub or touch afterwards.
- Bake: Place on prepared baking sheet in a single layer and first roast turkey legs uncovered for 30 minutes. Then cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake for another 30-40 minutes. After poke with a knife and if juices run clear, they are ready. You can also insert an instant read thermometer in the thickest part of the leg avoiding the drumstick’s bone. If it reads 160 degrees F, you are good to go.
- Rest: Remove from the oven and let the oven-roasted turkey legs rest for 10 minutes. That’s when they become even more juicy! I wouldn’t cover them now out of fear to lose crispy skin which would be devastating.
How Long to Bake Turkey Legs in the Oven?
This recipe for oven baked turkey legs takes 1 hour. But as always, cook time will vary based on the size of your turkey legs and your oven.
Larger or smaller drumsticks will require an increase or decrease in cooking time. The efficiency of your oven could also change the time required.
If you have a convection oven, it may result even in more crispy skin. Here is a great guide how to convert recipe for convection oven.
Average size turkey legs of 10-12 ounces, will take about 60 minutes at 425 degrees F and 80 minutes at 400 degrees F. I do not recommend to reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F because it will take a very long time to cook turkey legs and skin will not be crispy.
Cook smaller 8 oz legs at 425 F for 40-45 minutes. And for larger 1 lb legs, I recommend slow roasting method at 350 degrees F for 1.5-2 hours.
How Do I Know When Turkey Legs are Done?
This is the most popular question when it comes to making any meat, and especially turkey drumsticks with a bone-in. Everyone wants juicy meat that is not dry!
The best way to check your meat is to use an instant read thermometer! Stick the tip of the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat, avoiding the bone, and check that internal temperature has reached a minimum of 160 degrees F.
As your turkey rests outside of the oven, it will continue to cook and reach the optimal 165 degrees F. You will notice the juices run clear as well. And according to the USDA, your turkey legs are safe to eat then. 165 F is the magic number when it comes to cooked meats.
- Turkey leg size: Larger or smaller turkey legs will affect the cook time, aim for drumsticks that are the same size, so they bake evenly. I do go over more details on this above and below.
- Instant read meat thermometer: This is the best way to ensure your turkey legs reach optimal internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
- Pat dry: This helps your oil and seasoning stick onto the drumsticks as well as helps the skin crisp up in the oven.
- No rack: If you don’t have a rack, you can just line baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. An ovenproof baking dish or a roasting pan may also work.
- Let meat rest: Don’t skip this! It’s when meat becomes even more juicy.
- Save drumstick bones: I cook them with veggies and cold water to make delicious turkey stock. I use this Instant Pot beef bone broth recipe.
Storing, Freezing and Reheating Tips
Store: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Freeze: Wrap whole legs tightly in plastic wrap, place in a freezer safe bag and freeze up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge.
Reheat: Remove leftover roasted turkey legs from the fridge, place in microwave safe dish and microwave only until warmed through. You could reheat in the oven but you run the risk of your turkey turning dry and I am not a fan of reheating turkey legs wrapped in foil due to health reasons.
Instead, I recommend to reheat turkey legs in the air fryer using the same method I use for reheating chicken breast in air fryer. I also love cold leftovers of both turkey and chicken!
If you purchased smoked turkey legs, they are already cooked. So, all you have to do is to reheat them in preheated oven to 350 F for about 10 minutes or so.
If you are making this easy roasted turkey legs recipe for your small holiday dinner, you may enjoy them with one of our favorite Thanksgiving side dishes like:
- Fresh green bean casserole
- Sauteed butternut squash
- Instant Pot mashed potatoes
- Maple roasted butternut squash
- Healthier cranberry sauce
Serve with a fall inspired salad like this sweet kale salad with poppyseed dressing.
Turkey legs are also known as turkey drumsticks. They look like chicken drumsticks but larger. You may also come across whole turkey legs which contain a drumstick and a thigh. You can roast it using this recipe.
While a lot of turkey leg recipes will have you roast low and slow for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, for medium sized drumsticks I recommend to roast at a higher temp which will result in crispy skin outside and juicy, tender meat on the inside.
That being mentioned, if your legs are very large, around a pound each, low and slow at 350 F for an hour and a half will work best.
I find that the best temperature for roasting turkey legs in the oven is actually at 425 degrees F. If your drumsticks are smaller than 10 oz. each, 400 degrees F may work, though!
I find the key to moist, juicy turkey legs is to roast them at a high temp for a shorter amount of time, then let them rest outside of the oven so the juices redistribute and settle into the meat – this results in juicy turkey legs!
For the gravy lovers out there, use the drippings or stock to make this healthy turkey gravy.
More Delicious Turkey Recipes
Turkey Drumstick Recipe
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place cooling rack (roasting rack) on rimmed baking sheet and spray it with cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, add onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, salt, pepper and stir with a fork.
- Place turkey legs on a large plate, pat dry with paper towels and brush with oil. Sprinkle with a spice mix evenly all around and place on prepared baking sheet.
- Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Then cover loosely with foil or silicone lid and bake for another 30-40 minutes or until juices run clear when pierced with a paring knife and an instant read thermometer reads 160 degrees F.
- Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes.
- Serve warm with mashed potatoes, a side of roasted veggies or favorite salad.
- Store: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
- Freeze: Freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw in refrigerator.
- Don’t skip resting: It’s when meat becomes even more juicy.
- No rack: If you don’t have a rack, you can just line baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.