Roasted Turkey Thighs

Roasted Turkey Thighs

The Spruce

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 60 mins
Total: 70 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
486 Calories
29g Fat
2g Carbs
55g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 486
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 29g 38%
Saturated Fat 12g 58%
Cholesterol 284mg 95%
Sodium 720mg 31%
Total Carbohydrate 2g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 55g
Vitamin C 0mg 2%
Calcium 19mg 1%
Iron 4mg 21%
Potassium 632mg 13%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Dark meat lovers will be thrilled with this tasty and easy turkey thighs recipe. The thighs, part of the bird's meaty legs are ideal for a small holiday dinner for which a whole turkey can be too much. Bone-in turkey thighs are also a great alternative to chicken thighs. Roasting turkey thighs is also an excellent way to cook this dark meat for other recipes, such as casseroles and salads. The meat is tender, moist, and flavorful; it's not prone to drying out as easily as white meat does.

Thyme and sage, the traditional turkey herbs present in our recipe, can be replaced or added to by other flavorful ingredients—marjoram, savory, rosemary, and parsley are good substitutions, too. Use our recipe as a template and mix and match the suggestions in our recipe variations section to flavor the thighs to your liking.

The easy preparation frees up your time to make side dishes; much of the time cooking this recipe is hands-off, as the oven does most of the work. Serve the thighs with other recipes that can be cooked at the same temperature, like a corn casserole or a baked pasta. Other delicious sides that can pair with the thighs include roasted or mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, balsamic Brussels sprouts, and cranberry sauce.

For this recipe, a meat thermometer is a good tool to have at hand to ensure the meat is thoroughly and safely cooked, which occurs when the thickest part of the thigh meat reaches 165 F. This recipe will double easily if you are serving more guests or want to freeze leftovers.

Ingredients

  • 3 (1-pound) bone-in skin-on turkey thighs

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

  • 1 teaspoon dried sage leaves

  • 1/2 cup turkey broth or chicken broth

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Roasted turkey thighs recipe ingredients
    The Spruce 
  2. Heat the oven to 350 F.

  3. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels. Never rinse the turkey before cooking it because the bacteria on the meat's surface will aerosolize and spread around your kitchen. A good pat dry is a reliable procedure and enough for the seasonings to adhere to the skin.

    Turkey thighs patted dry on a white platter

    The Spruce

  4. In a small bowl, combine the softened butter, salt, pepper, garlic, thyme, and sage and mix well.

    Softened butter mixed with herbs and seasonings
    The Spruce 
  5. Loosen the skin from the meat and rub the butter mixture into the meat. Smooth the skin back over and rub the remaining butter mixture on the skin.

    Seasoned butter rubbed into turkey thighs

    The Spruce

  6. Place the thighs in a roasting pan and pour the broth around the turkey.

    Turkey thighs placed in a pan with chicken broth

    The Spruce

  7. Roast the turkey thighs for 60 to 70 minutes or until a meat thermometer registers 165 F when inserted in the meat away from the bone.

    Roasted turkey thighs in pan juices

    The Spruce

  8. Remove the pan from the oven, cover tightly with foil or the pan lid, and let rest for 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy.

    Roasted turkey thighs served with baby potatoes

    The Spruce

Variations

Use our recipe as a guide for cooking the thighs, but have fun making your own mixture of seasonings. Here are a few ideas:

  • Citrus: Place the thighs in a zip-close bag, add the juice and zest of two lemons along with 2 tablespoons of maple syrup or honey. Marinate for 30 minutes before using the herb butter. Add lemon slices to the bottom of the roasting pan plus the marinade juices and place the thighs on top before roasting.
  • Herb: Use a small handful of finely chopped cilantro, Italian parsley, and basil instead of the thyme and sage. Mix with the butter, rub on the thighs, and roast.
  • Mustard: Mix 1/4 cup Dijon mustard with 2 tablespoons of honey, along with the butter and other ingredients, except the thyme and sage. Cover the thighs with the mixture and roast.
  • Bacon: Follow the recipe as is but wrap each thigh in two to three bacon strips. Cook until the meat has reached a safe temperature and the bacon has crisped up.

Tips

  • If you want to crisp up the skin on the stovetop midway before placing the thighs in the oven, follow the recipe up to step 6, and then place the thighs skin-down in a very hot cast-iron skillet. Allow the skin to cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Turn the thighs, add the broth, cover, and cook for 20 minutes over medium-high.
  • Place the skillet in the oven, giving the turkey enough time to cook thoroughly, about 20 to 30 minutes at 350 F. (To cook the thighs completely on the stove, uncover them after 20 minutes and turn them. Cover again for another 20 minutes and check the inner temperature of the meat.)
  • If needed, give them an additional 10 to 15 minutes. In both cases, let the thighs rest for 10 minutes, covered, before serving.

How to Store and Freeze Turkey Thighs

Turkey thigh meat will keep for three to four days, well wrapped and covered, in the refrigerator.

For longer storage, wrap it well in foil or plastic wrap and then transfer it to an airtight container or zip-close freezer bag for up to three months. This works especially well if you want to save the turkey (bones and all) for making stock, soups, or other dishes.


If you know you are going to freeze and reheat some turkey, take the extra step and make some gravy, which can also be frozen. This way you can be sure that even your reheated turkey stays nice and moist and doesn't get tough or dry out.