Roasted turkey legs are perfect anytime, and also for small Thanksgiving gatherings. Roasting at a high temperature ensures crispy skin and juicy meat.
Roasted turkey legs are so tasty and satisfying! I serve them often for dinner. I also like to serve them for Thanksgiving instead of roasting a whole bird. 🦃
In fact, these are so good, that I often double the recipe and make eight of them, to ensure I have tasty leftovers. The leftovers are good just as they are, or you can use them in one of these leftover turkey recipes.
Perfect for a small Thanksgiving dinner
Not everyone wants or needs to roast a whole turkey for Thanksgiving. Perhaps you plan on a small Thanksgiving gathering. Or maybe your family members have a strong preference for either white or dark meat.
Either way, roasting just a couple of turkey breasts, or a few turkey legs, has some clear advantages. Such as a shorter roasting time and a better tasting bird. Roasting just parts of the bird means avoiding the issue of white meat that becomes too dry by the time the dark meat is fully cooked.
The ingredients you'll need
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make roasted turkey legs. The exact measurements are included in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
Avocado oil spray: I use it to grease the rack and also to spray the turkey legs after seasoning them. This oil has a high smoke point, making it ideal for high-heat roasting.
Medium-sized turkey drumsticks: Bone-in skin-on, weighing about 10 oz each. If your turkey pieces are too big, the method outlined here will not work for them. You will need to bake them for longer, and the spices will burn.
Melted butter: I use salted butter in this recipe, but unsalted should work fine too.
Seasoning mix: Sea salt, black pepper, garlic powder, dried thyme, and paprika. Make sure they are fresh! A stale spice can easily ruin a dish.
How to roast turkey legs
I realize that many recipes will tell you to bake them for an hour and a half at 350 degrees F. But as always when roasting poultry, I find that baking them for a relatively short time at a high temperature yields the best results! Crispy, well-browned skin and juicy, succulent meat.
Scroll down to the recipe card for the detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
1. Pat the turkey legs dry with paper towels. Brush them all over with melted butter and sprinkle them with the seasoning mix, pressing to help it adhere.
2. Place the turkey pieces on a greased rack fitted into a rimmed baking sheet (it's a good idea to line the baking sheet with foil for easy cleanup). Spray them with avocado oil. This helps keep the spices and herbs moist and helps prevent them from burning in the hot oven.
3. Roast the turkey uncovered for 20 minutes in a preheated 450°F oven.
4. Now loosely cover the turkey pieces with foil and keep roasting them until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F. For medium drumsticks, this should take about 30 more minutes.
5. Let them rest, still covered in foil, for 10 minutes.
How to serve roasted turkey legs?
For Thanksgiving, you will likely serve them with your favorite Thanksgiving side dishes. At other times, they are very versatile and can go with many side dishes. I often serve them with roasted pumpkin, with baked jicama fries, or with roasted mini peppers.
What about leftovers?
You can keep leftovers in the fridge, in an airtight container, for 3-4 days. Reheat them gently, in the microwave on 50% power. Much like cold leftover chicken, they are also very good cold!
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Roasted Turkey Legs
- Avocado oil spray
- 4 bone-in skin-on medium turkey drumsticks (about 10 oz each)
- ¼ cup butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Fit a rimmed roasting pan with a roasting rack and spray the rack with avocado oil spray.
- Pat the turkey legs dry with paper towels. Brush them all over with melted butter and rub with the seasoning mix. Place on the roasting rack and lightly spray with avocado oil.
- Roast uncovered for 20 minutes, until the skin is browned.
- Loosely cover with foil, to avoid scorching the top, and continue roasting until juices run clear when pierced with a fork and an instant-read thermometer registers 165 degrees F (make sure it isn’t touching the bone), about 30 more minutes.
- Remove the roasted turkey legs from the oven and allow to rest, still covered in foil, for 10 minutes before serving. Do not skip this step - it allows the internal temperature to climb a bit more, and the juices to redistribute and settle.