Roasted turkey legs are a great choice at Thanksgiving for smaller families where dark meat is the favorite. These large drumsticks have tender and moist meat with rich, delicious flavor, making for a satisfying meal. Around the holidays, you can usually find turkey legs in the supermarket, but other times of the year, you may have to ask the butcher for them.
This recipe is very easy, calling for just a few simple ingredients and an unattended cooking time in the oven. A homemade compound herb butter is spread all over the turkey legs, and chicken broth is added to the pan to keep the meat nice and moist while roasting. The flavored butter is made with poultry seasoning, a combination of herbs usually including sage, thyme, rosemary, marjoram, salt, and pepper. You can buy it in the supermarket or make your own. Feel free to include more seasonings, add some minced garlic or onion, or change the herbs and spices.
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Gather the ingredients. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Pat the turkey legs dry with paper towels and place them in a large roasting pan. Avoid rinsing poultry in the sink; that will just spread bacteria around your kitchen.
Create a compound butter by mixing the softened butter, salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, and thyme in a small bowl.
Rub this mixture over the turkey legs. You can also rub it on the flesh under the skin for even more flavor.
Pour the chicken broth into the pan around the turkey legs. This will help keep the legs moist.
Roast the turkey legs for 1 hour and 30 minutes to 1 hour and 40 minutes or until a meat thermometer registers 170 F. Remove the roasting pan from the oven, cover it with foil, and let stand for 10 minutes.
You can serve whole legs or slice the meat off the bones and serve it that way.
Mix up the flavor by making these roasted turkey legs with one of these compound butter recipes:
- Beurre Maître d'Hôtel: Combine 1/2 cup butter with 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley and 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice. Add fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
- Basil Butter: Use about 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves for every 1/2 cup butter. Add a clove of minced garlic if you like, and/or a grating or two of lemon zest as well as fine sea salt to taste.
- Cilantro Lime Butter: For each 1/2 cup of butter, use 2 or 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves and 2 teaspoons lime zest. Add a bit of green chile sauce (or green Tabasco) if you're so inclined.
- Garlic Butter: Combine 1/2 cup butter, 1 clove minced garlic, fine sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste. You can also add minced parsley for a bit of color.
- Lemony Butter: Combine 1/2 cup butter with 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice and 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest (just the yellow part of the peel, being sure to avoid the bitter white pith beneath when you grate).
Are Turkey Legs Healthy?
No matter which part of the turkey you are eating, this type of poultry is considered a lean protein, meaning it contains a good amount of protein and not a lot of fat. The differences in fat and calories between white and dark meat are minimal—the variation in nutrition is whether the skin is eaten or not.