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Course: Mains
Keyword: Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Grill, Make-Ahead, Smoked Turkey Legs, Smoked Turkey Salad, Smoker, Thanksgiving

Smoked Turkey Legs

Smoked Turkey Legs on wire rack
TOTAL TIME: 9 hours
Yield: 6 servings
Standard Renaissance faire fare, smoked turkey legs may not be historically accurate (turkeys didn't arrive in Europe until the early 16th century), but they are darn delicious. Luckily, we can still achieve meaty, smoky goodness in the comfort of our own millennium.
This recipe first appeared in Season 1 of Good Eats: The Return.
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  • 3 quarts hot water
  • 1 1/3 cups plus 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 pounds ice cubes
  • 6 turkey legs
  • 1 cup unsalted chicken broth

Specialized Hardware

Cardboard Box Smoker
Smoked Turkey Legs on wire rack
TOTAL TIME: 9 hours
Yield: 6 servings


  • Place water, kosher salt and brown sugar in an 8-quart plastic container and stir until fully dissolved. Add the ice before submerging the turkey legs in the brine. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or up to 12 hours.
  • Set up your favorite smoker and add a handful of hardwood chunks. If you have heat control, set it to 150 to 170°F and allow the wood to smoke for approximately 30 minutes.
  • While the smoker is heating, drain the legs, pat them dry, and arrange them on a rack. Smoke the legs on the rack for 3 hours, rotating the legs halfway through.
  • Heat your oven to 350°F. Make 2 pouches out of double-layered heavy-duty tin foil, adding 3 legs and 1/2 cup of chicken stock to each pouch. Braise the legs in their pouches for 1 hour, then carefully drain and reserve the jus.
  • Defat the jus, remove the skins and serve the legs alongside the smoky jus.
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