Can smoked turkey legs you make at home possibly be as good as the ones like at the fair or carnival or Renaissance festival or Disney? Actually, they’re even better. All it takes is a simple brine and a little patience.
Ever wonder if smoked turkey legs made at home could possibly be as good as the ones at carnivals and Renaissance festivals? Actually, they’re better. And you don’t have to stand in a long line to get one. Or pay an exorbitant price. An overnight soak in a brine and a few hours on a smoker or grill is all you need. Trust us, these smoked turkey legs are so rich, so succulent, so infused with flavor that we bet your friends and family would happily wait in line and pay for these drumsticks…or maybe at least do the dishes.–Angie Zoobkoff
Smoked Turkey Legs
- Quick Glance
- 30 M
- 1 D, 4 H
- Serves 4
Special Equipment: Apple wood for smoking; instant-read thermometer
- 5 cups (1.2 liters) cold water
- 1/2 cup (172 grams) kosher salt
- 1/4 cup (85 grams) honey
- 1 tablespoon (7 grams) paprika
- 1/2 tablespoon (3 grams) onion powder
- 1/2 tablespoon (5 grams) garlic powder
- 1/2 tablespoon (3 grams) black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon (1 gram) cayenne pepper
- 4 allspice berries
- 1 cup ice cubes, plus more as needed
- 4 turkey legs
- 1. In a large pot, combine 3 cups water, salt, honey, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and allspice. Bring to a boil and then stir in the remaining 2 cups cold water and ice cubes. Stir until the ice melts and the mixture comes to room temperature. Add more ice if needed.
- 2. Place the turkey legs in gallon-size resealable plastic bags—2 legs per bag—and then divide the brine evenly between each bag. Seal the bags and stash them in the refrigerator to brine overnight.
- 3. The next day, pour the brine down the drain and then rinse the turkey legs and pat them dry. Prepare your grill for indirect smoking, If using a smoker, prepare it for cooking at 245°F to 260°F (118°C to 127°C) using apple wood. Place the turkey legs in the smoker and let it do what it’s designed for. Smoke the turkey legs, keeping the temperature between 245°F to 260°F (118°C to 127°C), until the internal temperature of the turkey registers 165°F (74°C), 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours. If using a gas grill, wrap a handful of unsoaked apple wood chips in foil, poke a few holes in the foil, and toss it on one side of the grill grate. Turn on all the burners and leave the lid of the grill open until you see smoke coming from the foil packet. Turn off all the burners but the one beneath the foil packet. Place the turkey directly on the grate over indirect heat (that is to say, opposite the lit burner and the foil packet), close the lid, and turn the heat to medium. Smoke the turkey legs, keeping the temperature between 245°F to 260°F (118°C to 127°C), until the internal temperature of the turkey registers 165°F (74°C), 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours. You may need to occasionally check the foil packet to ensure it’s still smoking; if it’s not, fashion a new one and toss it on the burner you’re using for heat. If using a charcoal grill, place a metal drip pan in the center of the grill under the grate. Pour about 1/2 inch (12 mm) water into the drip pan. Pile hot charcoal on either side of the drip pan and close the lid. Manipulate the coals to maintain a temperature of 245°F to 260°F (118°C to 127°C). Toss a handful of unsoaked apple wood chips directly on the charcoal. Place the turkey legs directly on the grate over the drip pan. Smoke the turkey legs, keeping the temperature between 245°F to 260°F (118°C to 127°C), until the internal temperature of the turkey registers 165°F (74°C), 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours. You may need to occasionally check the wood chips to ensure they’re still smoking; if they’re not, toss another handful onto the charcoal.
- 4. When the turkey legs are done, remove them from the grill or smoker and let them rest for at least 5 minutes before allowing everyone to dig in and demolish them.