Smoked Turkey Legs

A Recipe For Household Smoked Turkey Legs

We were overjoyed two years ago when my aunt began to grill some smoked turkey legs on a charcoal grill in her backyard. These are great option that is almost identical in flavor and simple to whip up in bulk.

We visited them in Western New York over the Fourth of July holiday and insisted on eating and filming these.

Some flavors leave such a lasting impression that they border on obsession, and this is one of them. Read on if you have the same insatiable craving for smoked chicken.


For the Brine:

  • 1 gallon of water
  • 3/4 cup of kosher salt
  • ½ cup of brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons of onion powder
  • 3 tablespoons of dried thyme
  • 3 tablespoons of dried sage
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon of ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon of liquid smoke

You’ll Also Need:

  • 10 turkey legs
  • marinade injector
  • Charcoal grill
  • natural hardwood lump charcoal
  • Charcoal chimney starter
  • Smoking wood chips


  1. Bring the brine ingredients to a boil in a large pot. Restrain yourself until the temperature drops. If time is of the essence, you can boil the brine with only 2 quarts of water and then quickly cool it to 1 gallon by adding 64 ounces of ice.
  2. Rinse your turkey legs and set them aside in a large container while that’s going on (one that will fit into your refrigerator). If possible, divide the contents between two storage units. After cooling the brine, pour it over the turkey legs to completely submerge them. Put in the fridge overnight covered. (Use a marinade injector if you have very large turkey legs or if time is of the essence.
  3. Brine each turkey leg by injecting it with 2–5 syringes. The turkey legs with injections can be brined for only 5-6 hours instead of the recommended 24 hours. If you’re using larger legs and want to guarantee flavor, brine for the full 24 hours after injecting.
  4. The charcoal should be heated when the turkey legs are ready to be grilled. For this recipe, you’ll need a chimney starter, charcoal, wet wood chips, and a charcoal grill. Put some charcoal inside your chimney and light it with some newspaper. Wait until the coals are nearly white hot, which should take about 15 to 20 minutes. As the coals are heating, soak a couple of handfuls of wood chips in water.
  5. Turkey legs can now be injected with brine to keep them juicy and tender before cooking. If you haven’t done so already, fill 4-5 syringes with brine and inject them at various points around each leg.
  6. Place the wood chips in the center of the grill and then add the coals. Put the grill rack directly on top of the coals. Close the grill after you’ve placed the turkey legs on the rack.
  7. If you have a standard-sized charcoal grill, you only need one chimney’s worth of coal to get things going. Every 20-30 minutes, depending on the charcoal you’re using until the first chimney of coal is completely consumed.
  8. Add more wet wood chips to the fire when more smoke is required. The smokiness of the smoked turkey legs is amplified by adding more wood chips. This can be adjusted to suit your unique tastes. While I enjoy a smoked turkey leg with a robust ham flavor, my aunt leans toward a more subtle, natural smoke. Choose one!
  9. The secret to success is using a slow cooker. Turn the turkey legs over occasionally and keep the grill at a steady 300°F to 325°F (150°C to 160°C). If you’ve never done this before, expect some trial and error as you monitor the cooking process and adjust the charcoal, wood chips, and temperature.
  10. Keep the grill going with the charcoal and wood chips until the turkey is fully cooked, about 312 to 4 hours.
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