Herb Butter-Roasted Turkey Legs

updated Oct 4, 2023
christmas
Roasted Turkey Legs Recipe

These juicy herb-rubbed, turkey legs are the ultimate easy-prep holiday main.

Serves4

Prep5 minutes

Cook40 minutes to 42 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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Crispy turkey legs on platter.
Credit: Photo: Julia Gartland; Food Stylist: Rebecca Firkser

Is the biggest dispute at your holiday table about who gets the drumstick? The solution: Trade-in a full-sized turkey for simple oven-roasted turkey legs. Give your guests exactly what they want and, perhaps more importantly, make your life easier.

With no need to clear the fridge for brining, this is the ultimate easy-prep holiday main. The drumsticks can be seasoned and refrigerated up to 24 hours in advance then roasted in a hot oven to crispy and juicy perfection. It’s as easy to make as the sheet pan meals you make all year long. Plus, you don’t need to deal with carving a big bird.

The Difference Between Turkey Legs and Turkey Drumsticks

Turkey thighs and drumsticks may be sold together as a single piece, similar to whole chicken legs (aka chicken quarters).”Turkey legs” can refer to either the thigh and drumstick or the drumstick alone, like in this recipe. Bone-in, skin-on thighs are more often sold separately from drumsticks (aka legs).

How Long Does It Take To Cook Turkey Legs?

Turkey legs are ready when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat (without touching the bone) reads 165°F, which will take about 40 minutes in a 400°F oven.

What to Serve with Roast Turkey Legs

Roast turkey legs are the perfect solution if you’re not cooking for a huge crowd. Small holiday gatherings deserve the same pomp and circumstance, so while you might not roast the entire bird, you should still plan to fill the table with traditional sides. A few of our favorites are:

Roasted Turkey Legs Recipe

These juicy herb-rubbed, turkey legs are the ultimate easy-prep holiday main.

Prep time 5 minutes

Cook time 40 minutes to 42 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons

    (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

  • 2 teaspoons

    dried thyme

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    onion powder

  • 1 1/4 teaspoons

    kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon

    garlic powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepepr

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    dried rosemary (optional)

  • 4

    skin-on, bone-in turkey drumsticks (3 to 4 pounds total)

Instructions

  1. Let 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) of unsalted butter sit in a small bowl at room temperature until softened.

  2. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and fit a wire rack onto the baking sheet. (If you plan to use the drippings for gravy, skip the parchment paper to deglaze the baking sheet more easily.)

  3. Add 2 teaspoons dried thyme, 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder, 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary if desired to the butter. Stir with a spatula or mash with a fork until combined.

  4. Pat 4 skin-on, bone-in turkey drumsticks dry with paper towels. Use your finger to gently separate the skin from the meat without tearing the skin. Rub the herb butter under the skin and all over the drumsticks, then arrange in a single layer on the rack.

  5. Roast, rotating the baking sheet halfway through, until the turkey legs are golden and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest portion of the meat registers 165°F, about 40 minutes.

  6. Turn the broiler on high. Broil until the turkey is golden brown and sizzling, 1 to 2 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The butter-rubbed turkey legs can be refrigerated, uncovered, for up to 24 hours. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before roasting.

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days.