If you’re cooking for a smaller group or looking to ditch the whole turkey this Thanksgiving, smoked turkey legs are a delicious alternative. Of course, enjoying this delectable dish isn’t relegated to November – you can enjoy smoked turkey legs year-round.
This dish is likely easier to make than you think, so let’s dive into the how-to!
- What do I need to make smoked turkey legs?
- How to Make Smoked Turkey Legs
- What pellets are best for turkey legs?
- Do I need a pellet grill to smoke turkey?
What do I need to make smoked turkey legs?
You’ll still be able to make delicious smoked turkey legs without everything on the list below (bar the turkey legs – those are pretty essential!), but to follow along perfectly here, you’ll need:
- Turkey Legs (you’ll be able to find these at most grocery stores, but if not head to a butchers or farmers market)
- 1 cup of your preferred rub (we’ll also detail one we love to use below)
- Bay leaves (fresh is great, but dried works just as well)
- Whole peppercorns
How to Make Smoked Turkey Legs
First, Brine Your Turkey Legs
Brining your turkey legs first will help them retain their juiciness on the grill, and it’s considered essential if you want your turkey legs to be the best they can be. Here’s how to brine your turkey legs:
- At least 6 hours before you plan to smoke your turkey legs (though you can go for as long as 24 hours), prepare your brine solution.
- A good ratio is: 5 cups water, and 1 cup of your rub – here’s ours: ½ cup salt, ¼ cup honey, 2 tbsp paprika, 1 tbsp onion powder, garlic powder, and black pepper.
- You only need enough brine to completely cover the turkey legs, so if that looks like a lot when you prepare it, feel free to half the amounts. Of course, if you’re doing more, double it. One more thing to note – if you plan to brine your turkey legs for 24 hours, half the amount of salt you use.
- Place the turkey legs in the brine (make sure the turkey legs are at room temperature when you do this).
- Add the bay leaves and leave them to sit in the solution in the fridge for 6-8 hours.
Smoke Your Turkey Legs
When brine time is up, pull them out and let them drain on a wire rack while you head out to fire up the grill. Set your grill to 260F and head back inside to rinse off your turkey legs, if necessary, and pat them dry. Once the temperature reaches 260F, put them on the grill.
Your turkey legs are done when the internal temperature reaches 165F, which takes around 2.5 – 3.5 hours. Remove them from the grill and allow them to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
What pellets are best for turkey legs?
You can use any pellet you prefer, though if you’re serving a lot of mouths that may find a heavy smokey flavor a little intense (such as kids), choose a pellet with a lighter smokey flavor. To make sure your turkey legs light up everyone’s tastebuds, opt for Fruit Wood Pellets, Apple Wood Pellets, or Cherry Wood Pellets.
Do I need a pellet grill to smoke turkey?
No, but because turkey legs are on the smaller side, you’re going to have to be really attentive and ensure the temperature stays at just the right level if you aren’t using a pellet grill.
If you want the best results for the least amount of effort, invest in a pellet grill. All Z Grills pellet grills in our range maintain the set temperature perfectly, so you can put your turkey legs on the grill and walk away to socialize, relax, or do chores.