Smoked Turkey Legs: Step-By-Step Recipe

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Last updatedLast updated: May 01, 2021
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Smoked turkey legs are a great new addition to your barbecue menu. After all, you can’t just keep serving the same hotdogs, sausages, and burgers menu each time you host. It may seem to be a little tricky due to the prep time, but the flavor is more than worth it. This is the reason why the smoked turkey legs were so popular when they were sold at Disney. It’s also why the vendors could get away with selling them at the high prices they did. Below is the recipe to follow.

How to cook Disney smoked turkey legs

Smoked Turkey Legs: Step-By-Step Recipe

Cooking the Disney smoked turkey legs requires that you have a grill. Smoked turkey legs in an oven just don’t have the same flavor, color, and smell that makes them wildly addictive. Also, since you’re using turkey drumsticks, your guests will be full before they know it.

Useful info

Ideally, you should do all the prep the night before the barbecue. This gives the turkey legs and the seasoning enough time to mix naturally. That said, even if you don’t manage to do the prep the night before, there are still ways to make it work.

The prep time should be around 30 minutes, although the turkey legs will need to spend another 5-6 hours in the fridge at least. The cook time is around 4-5 hours, and since you’re using turkey drumsticks, you can serve them one at a time by wrapping them around in napkins.
Also, plan your cook schedule so the turkey legs will only be ready after the guests have arrived. They are meant to be served immediately they’re taken off the grill so that everybody can experience the food when the flavors are strongest.

Tools you’ll need

You’ll need a charcoal grill/charcoal smoker with a charcoal chimney starter. However, any other type of smoking device, such as a hollow smoker or offset smoker, will do. Smoking wood chips, natural lump charcoal, a pot, and a container for drumstick refrigeration are some of the other tools that you’ll need. An optional accessory is the marinade injector, although that will depend on the time you have for preparation. Ice might also come in handy.


Smoked Turkey Legs: Step-By-Step Recipe

First, you need the ingredients for the brine, which are:

  • 1-gallon water
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons onion powder
  • 3 tablespoons dried sage
  • 3 tablespoons dried thyme
  • 3 tablespoons onion powder
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice

You also cannot forget the turkey legs since they’re the main ingredients. About 10 of them will be enough for your first time.


Smoked Turkey Legs: Step-By-Step Recipe

First, we’ll assume that you’re doing the prep work the night before the barbecue. If this is the case, you need to mix all the brine ingredients in a cooking pot before putting them on a stove to boil. This shouldn’t take very long, but you can start rinsing the turkey legs during this period as well.

Once boiled, you can either let the brine sit until it’s cool, or you can add some ice to fast-track the process. It all depends on you and how much time and patience you have on your hands. Look for a large container with a lid that fits into your fridge.

If one container doesn’t fit all the 10 turkey legs, you can add another one to the mix. Once the brine is at a suitable temperature, pour it over the turkey legs into the containers. The goal is to ensure the turkey legs are fully submerged in this seasoning mix.

Close the containers and put them in the fridge overnight. You will pick up the recipe in the morning once the brine has been absorbed into the turkey legs. Admittedly some of you won’t have the whole night to prepare your turkey legs. So what smoked turkey leg recipe should you use if you’re short on time?

Well, you make the brine in the same way. It shouldn’t take you long to mix the ingredients, bring them to a boil and cool them. Once the brine is cool, you can then bring in the marinade injector. You can get them for cheap, and they come in handy for situations such as this one.

Use the injector to add a syringe full of the brine to each turkey’s legs. If you feel the legs are larger than normal, you need to add more brine. Inject an extra half a syringe of brine into the legs. You will, however, still need to put them in the refrigerator for 5-6 hours.

With the prep work done, you set up your smoker. The equipment you have will influence the next course of action. If, for instance, you have a charcoal grill, then you need to light up the device. This involves stuffing a chimney starter with charcoal and then lighting it up using paper.

It will take roughly 20-30 minutes to get the charcoal hot enough. During this period, you should also be soaking your smoking wood chips. According to reviewers, using the Weber 17142 smoking wood chips is an excellent idea for smoking applications. These chips are available in hickory, mesquite, pecan, apple, and cherry flavors, and these are the flavors that will be imparted onto your turkey legs.

The soaking part is a necessary part of the process since wet wood tends to smoke a lot more than dry wood. After that, you can put the now white-hot pieces of coal into the grill before adding the wet wood chips. Add the grill rack over the hot charcoal before you start adding the turkey legs.

Once done, close the grill and wait. Check on your turkey legs every now and then, and remember to turn the turkey legs as required. Also, during this time, you should be adding more coal to the chimney starter and lighting it up. That way, you can add more to the grill every 20-30 minutes. You also want to add wet wood chips periodically.

If you’re using another type of grill or something like a hollow or offset smoker, your process may be different. These have precise heat control, so you can set the heat to between 300 and 325 degrees without much of a fuss.

Additionally, you might want a pellet tube smoker to keep things neat for this type of setup. The A-MAZE-N AMNTS12PF comes highly recommended since it produces very little ash. It also comes prefilled with hardwood pellets for your first-time smoking.

Ultimately, you’ll want to keep this smoking setup going for 4-5 hours. It could even be slightly longer to ensure the turkey legs are properly cooked. After that, serve the smoked turkey legs immediately.

How to cook Traeger smoked turkey legs

Smoked Turkey Legs: Step-By-Step Recipe

There’s also a Traeger smoked turkey legs recipe for those with Traeger grills. You won’t need the charcoal since these grills tend to use wood pellets as fuel. As such, they are natural smokers. They also have precise heat control, which might come in handy.

Useful info

The prep time is again 30 minutes without considering the time the turkey legs spend in the fridge. However, if you add that, the prep time is significantly increased. Besides that, you need the Traeger grill, wood pellets, a cooking pot, and even a container and lid for the marinating period.


The ingredients needed are as follows:

  • 1 tablespoon crushed allspice
  • I tablespoon grains de poivre noir entiers
  • 2 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup Morton tender quick meat cure
  • 1 cup Traeger rub
  • 1-gallon water
  • 10 turkey legs

It might seem like there are fewer spices in this recipe, but some of the components included make up for it. The Traeger rub, for instance, has been used for smoking by past reviewers who have nothing but positive comments about it. It contains garlic and chili pepper flavors and is even GMO and gluten-free.


Mix all the seasoning ingredients in a pot and bring to boil. After that, you’ll need to wait until the brine has cooled down. As before, you can fast-track the process by adding ice to the brine. Follow up by submerging the turkey legs in the brine. This is why large containers are recommended. However, even as you’re picking the large container, do not forget that it needs to fit in the fridge to be viable.

Cover the brine and legs in the container and let them sit in the fridge for up to 24 hours to ensure they absorb the marinade. That said, using a marinade injector will have the effect of reducing the refrigeration time to a few hours.

When you take the turkey legs out of refrigeration, you’re free to discard the brine as it is no longer needed. You can even rinse the turkey legs with running cold water. After that, dry the turkey legs with some paper towels.

The next step involves setting up your grill. Turn the Traeger on and set the cooking temperature at 250℉. Let the grill heat up with the lid closed for about 15 minutes. After that, you can place the turkey legs on the now hot grill rack.

Close the lid but remember to check on the meat periodically. Also, turn the turkey legs every few minutes to ensure they cook evenly. Remember to use flavored pellets in your grill so the additional flavors can be imparted on your turkey legs.

You will let the legs cook in the grill for between 4-5 hours. However, sometimes the legs are ready earlier than expected. To cater to this eventuality, use a meat probe to check the internal temperature of the legs every 30 minutes.

Once the probe gives a reading of 165˚F, the turkey legs should be done. However, take care not to take the temperature reading of the bone in the turkey leg, as that will likely mislead you. When ready, take the turkey legs out of the grill and serve immediately.

Final thoughts

The above recipes on making smoked turkey legs will likely make you a big hit with your friends at the next cookout. Besides being tasty, they’re also highly nutritious and a welcome change to the typical barbecue menu. A point to note is you should definitely practice a bit before you serve the legs to your guests.

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