The Best Roasted Turkey Legs

5 from 4 votes
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Make low-fuss, perfectly roasted turkey legs – tender and juicy inside with wonderfully crispy skin – perfect for the holidays and any gathering!

Two roasted turkey legs on a plate with onion and rosemary

While roasted turkey breast is perfect for a small holiday dinner, roasted turkey legs are perfect for dark meat lovers in and out of the holiday season. Following a super simple recipe with a simple spice blend, you’ll get flavor-packed, perfectly succulent meat and crispy skin every time. Plus, this recipe is budget-friendly and requires just a fraction of the effort needed to cook a whole turkey – no brining necessary!

Ingredients

Pull together this easy turkey leg recipe with pantry staples and easy-to-find ingredients.

Ingredients for roasted turkey legs
  • Turkey legs: Make sure the size of the turkey legs is similar (mine were about 2.2 lb each, bone-in and skin-on), so they cook evenly. You can use turkey thighs, or whole legs (baking time will vary).
  • Lemon slices: Add extra flavor and moisture to the meat. Sliced onion would also work (or a combination of both).
  • Rosemary: Use fresh rosemary sprigs for the best flavor. Other herbs like sage or thyme would work, too.
  • Olive oil: To help the spice rub adhere to the meat and create crispier skin. Softened or melted butter would also work.
  • Seasonings: Garlic powder, onion powder, (regular or smoked) paprika, sea salt, and black pepper.

You might also like adding a pinch of sugar for extra caramelization (I didn’t) and/or cayenne pepper for spice. For even more flavor, use a knife to create 2-3 slits into the legs and stuff with either celery or onion.

How to roast turkey legs

Bring the meat to room temp: For about 40 minutes. Then pat it dry with paper towels.

Preheat the oven: To 350ºF/175ºC, and place the oven rack so the legs can cook in the center of the oven.

Mix the spices: Combine all the spices in a small bowl and mix well. Then add the oil and stir again. Then, cut the lemon into ¼-inch slices.

Season the turkey: On a plate/dish, pour the spice oil mixture over the turkey legs and use your hands to massage it all over the legs, ensuring they’re thoroughly coated (above and beneath the skin). Then, place the lemon slices and rosemary sprigs on a parchment or foil-lined roasting pan and place the seasoned legs on top.

Steps for preparing turkey legs for baking

Roast the turkey: Roast the turkey legs in the center of the oven for 1 ½-2 hours (mine took 1 hour 35 minutes – cook time will vary based on size and oven), basting them with some of their juices in the last few minutes. And if the legs are browning too quickly, loosely cover them with foil as they roast. 

For the richest and juiciest roasted turkey legs, generously baste them in their juices several times during the cooking process. I only do it once when running low on energy, since I still like the results without the added effort.

For extra crispy skin, also broil the legs right at the end for a few minutes. Monitor them carefully, though, to avoid burning them.

Leave it to rest: Remove the baking dish from the oven and leave the meat to rest, loosely covered with foil, for 10-15 minutes for the juices to settle and redistribute. Serve and enjoy!

How do you know when they’re done?

The exact time to roast turkey legs will depend on their size and your oven. Therefore, to ensure turkey legs are properly cooked, insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the leg, avoiding bones. The internal temperature should read 165ºF/74ºC to be safe to eat. If you don’t have a thermometer, cut into the thickest part with a knife – the juices should run clear and the meat should not be pink.

What should I serve with them?

These flavor-packed roasted turkey legs are just as at home on your Thanksgiving and Christmas table along with all your favorite sides (like mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, cranberry sauce, and gravy), as they are with:

You can also remove the meat from the bone and serve it in salads, wraps, soups, curries, and more. The bones can be kept to make bone broth.

A fork poking into baked turkey legs

Storing leftovers

Store: Leave the turkey legs to cool and store any leftovers (on or off the bone) in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

Freeze: I prefer to remove the meat from the bone and freeze it in Ziplocks for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight before serving chilled or reheated.

Reheat: I prefer to reheat them on a foil-covered baking sheet in the oven at 350ºF/175ºC until heated (about 15 minutes). If you’ve removed the meat from the bone, reheat it on the stove or in the microwave with a splash of broth/gravy to keep the meat moist.

More Holiday recipes

If you try this easy oven-roasted turkey legs recipe, let me know how it goes in the comments below. I’d appreciate a recipe card rating and would love to see your recipe recreations – tag me on Instagram @Alphafoodie!

The Best Roasted Turkey Legs

5 from 4 votes
By: Samira
Make low-fuss, perfectly roasted turkey legs – tender and juicy inside with wonderfully crispy skin – perfect for the holidays and any gathering!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings: 6 or more

Ingredients 
 

  • 4.4 lb turkey legs (2 large) – best to be of a similar size
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil or softened/ melted butter
  • 1 lemon and/or sliced onion
  • 4-5 sprigs rosemary fresh sprigs
  • 1 tsp paprika regular or smoked
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Instructions 

  • Bring the meat to room temp for about 40 minutes. Then pat it dry with paper towels.
  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF/175ºC, and place the oven rack so the legs can cook in the center of the oven.
  • Combine all the spices in a small bowl and mix well. Add the oil and stir again. Cut the lemon into ¼-inch slices.
  • On a plate/dish, pour the spice rub over the turkey legs and use your hands to massage it all over the legs, ensuring they’re thoroughly coated (above and beneath the skin).
  • place the lemon slices and rosemary sprigs on a parchment or foil-lined roasting pan and place the seasoned legs on top.
  • Bake the turkey legs in the center of the oven at 350ºF/175ºC for 1 ½-2 hours (mine took 1 hour 35 minutes – cook time will vary based on size and oven), basting them with some of their juices in the last few minutes.
    For the richest and juiciest meat, generously baste them in their own juices several times during the cooking process. I only do it once when running low on energy, since I still like the results without the added effort.
  • Check for doneness around the 1.5-hour mark. You can insert a thermometer into the thickest part of the meat without touching the bone. The internal temperature should read 165ºF/74ºC to be safe to eat. If you don't have a thermometer, cut into the thickest part with a knife – the juices should run clear and the meat should not be pink.
  • For extra crispy skin, also broil the legs right at the end for a few minutes. Monitor them carefully, though, to avoid burning them.
  • Remove from the oven and leave it to rest, loosely covered with foil, for 10-15 minutes for the juices to settle and redistribute. Serve and enjoy!

Notes

The exact time to roast turkey legs will depend on their size and your oven. Therefore, to ensure turkey legs are properly cooked, insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the leg, avoiding bones. The internal temperature should read 165ºF/74ºC to be safe to eat. Any juices should also run clear.
I like to remove them from the oven at about 160ºF/71ºC, as the residual heat continues to cook them while they rest.
If the legs are browning too quickly, loosely cover them with foil as they bake. 
Experiment with the spice blend: Play with the seasoning to make this recipe your own.
To store: Leave the turkey legs to cool and store any leftovers (on or off the bone) in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
Check the blog post for serving suggestions!
Course: Main
Cuisine: American, Global
Freezer friendly: 3 Months
Shelf life: 3-4 Days

Nutrition

Calories: 443kcal, Carbohydrates: 1g, Protein: 54g, Fat: 23g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g, Monounsaturated Fat: 9g, Cholesterol: 196mg, Sodium: 598mg, Potassium: 771mg, Fiber: 0.3g, Sugar: 0.1g, Vitamin A: 178IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 52mg, Iron: 5mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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