This recipe includes both brining and smoking the turkey legs. The brining process is very important and I highly recommend that you do it. Don’t let the unfamiliar word scare you. It is simply a solution of salt and other flavoring that the turkey legs soak in for a few hours causing the flavors to get into the meat of the turkey and make them out of this world delicious.
So with that said.. let’s get started brining our turkey!
Brining Turkey Legs
1 gallon water
1 cup kosher salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 TBS garlic powder
2 TBS onion powder
2 TBS red pepper flakes
2 TBS Cajun seasoning (Tony Chachere’s works great if you can find it)
2 TBS Tabasco hot sauce
1 TBS poultry seasoning
Place gallon of water and all dry ingredients into a very large pot on medium to high heat. Stir occasionally until mixture comes to a boil. Once boiling occurs the heat can be turned off and the brine can be left to cool to room temperature.
Once brine has cooled to room temperature, pour brine into a very large plastic container or two medium size plastic containers and place in fridge for further cooling.
The brine must reach 40 degrees F before adding meat to brine.
When brine chills to required temperature, add 4-6 turkey legs to brine.
Leave turkey legs in brine for 9 hours stirring around several times throughout the process.
After nine hours, remove turkey legs from brine and rinse well under cool water.
Getting Turkey Legs Ready to Smoke
About 30 minutes before you are ready to smoke them, Coat the turkey legs with olive oil and sprinkle on a little cajun seasoning for good flavor. Try to get the seasoning up under the skin wherever possible as this is where the flavor will be the most tasty.
Once you are finished, leave the legs on the counter and go get the smoker ready. I like to prepare the smoker for about 240 degrees with a mix of oak and pecan. Sometimes I use mesquite or other fruit wood just depending on what I am in the mood for and what I have on hand.
Please note that I normally use a wood fired smoker but these can just as easily be done on propane, electric or charcoal as long as the temperature is right and you have smoke flowing, they will taste great.
Smoking the Turkey Legs
Once the smoker is going and the temperature is at 240 degrees F or so, get the turkey legs and place them right on the grate leaving about 1 inch between them to allow the smoke to be able to flow freely all around the meat.
Occasionally.. about once every hour or so, I like to brush on some olive oil or you can use the spray olive oil to make it real easy. This will help to keep them moist and will help to crisp the skin while they smoke.
If you are using an electric, propane or charcoal smoker then I recommend that you keep replenishing the smoke for at least the first 2 hours.. I like to do it the entire time but I like the smoke to be very prominent.
If you like the smoke to be extremely subtle then you may want to go 2 hours and then finish with just heat.
The turkey legs will take about 3-4 hours to reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
Remove the turkey drumsticks from the smoker once they are at temperature and wrap them individually in heavy duty foil. They can be placed in the oven to keep them warm or eaten immediately if you so desire.
How to Re-Heat
They heat up really well.. just pop them in the oven at about 275-300 degrees for 30 minutes or until they are as warm as you like them.
The smoked turkey legs at the fair or at Disney world do not hold a candle to these babies.