How to grill turkey legs
Don’t know how to grill turkey legs? Well you’ve hit the jackpot, because we are here to show you how to grill turkey legs with moist, flavorful meat and crispy skin.
Before Your Turkey Legs Hit the Grill
Before putting your turkey legs on the grill, you need to prep them. Properly prepping your turkey legs will help reduce the risk of the meat drying out on the grill. It will also flavor the legs and ensure that every bite is savory and moist. Below are the steps needed to prep your turkey legs before grilling.
Brine Your Drumsticks
Wet brining your turkey legs involves submerging the drumsticks in saltwater and placing them in the fridge for 24 to 48 hours.
Brining will soften the turkey meat, ensuring it takes less time to grill. It will also infuse the turkey legs with extra moisture to prevent the meat from drying out while it grills. Lastly, brining allows the salt to penetrate deep into the turkey for more flavor.
If you don’t have the facilities to perform a wet brine, you can dry brine your turkey legs. Dry brining involves evenly coating your turkey legs with salt and refrigerating them for 12 to 24 hours before grilling. Wet brining delivers the moistest turkey legs while dry brining guarantees the most flavorful meat and crispy skin. Learn more about how to wet or dry brine turkey here.
After wet brining your turkey, take it out of the saltwater bath and dry it with paper towels. If you dry brined the drumsticks, wash off the brining salt before drying the legs.
Find Your Ideal Seasoning
After drying your wet brined turkey legs, you need to season them. A dry rub is your best choice if you want turkey legs with crispy skin. You can make a dry rub by mixing salt, brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder and other spices of your choice. Alternatively, you can buy a pre-made dry rub. Before applying your dry rub, coat the legs with oil or butter. The oil or butter coating will help the dry rub adhere to the skin.
A wet rub will contain many of the same seasonings as a dry rub but includes oil, vinegar or another liquid base. After applying your wet or dry rub, put the turkey legs in the fridge for at least an hour so they can absorb the seasonings.
Instructions for Perfectly-Grilled Turkey Drumsticks
After brining and seasoning your turkey drumsticks, it’s time to grill. You can use an electric, gas or charcoal grill. Many people prefer charcoal grills because the wood smoke adds more flavor, but gas grills are more user-friendly.
Regardless of the type of grill you have, follow these steps to grill your turkey legs to perfection:
- Prepare the Grill: Clean the grill grates with a moist cloth. After cleaning, apply canola, peanut or another cooking oil with a high smoking point to the grates. Cleaning and oiling the grates will help prevent the legs from sticking to the grill.
- Light the Grill: Wipe off excess oil from the grates and light the grill. If you have a charcoal grill, after lighting it, let it burn for about 30 minutes before pushing the hot coals to one side. Place a drip pan beneath the grates where there are no coals. If you have a gas grill, preheat half your grill to 350°F.
- Sear the Drumsticks: Put the turkey legs over the hot coals or lit part of your gas grill to sear each side of the drumsticks for three minutes.
- Start Grilling: After searing your turkey legs, move them to the unlit part of your gas grill or the part without coals in your charcoal grill. Doing this will allow you to grill your drumsticks with indirect heat and prevent turkey legs that are burned on the outside but raw on the inside.
- Cover the Grill: Close the grill lid and baste the turkey drumsticks with your wet rub or olive oil mixed with your dry rub every 30 minutes. Keep basting and flipping every 30 minutes until the drumsticks reach an internal temperature of 165°F in the thickest part. You can verify the internal temperature with a meat thermometer.
- Leave to Rest: Once the drumsticks reach 165°F on the inside, take them off the grill and let them rest covered for five to ten minutes before eating them.
Explore Our Turkey Drumsticks Recipes
Now that you know how to grill turkey drumsticks with high scores for flavor and juiciness, you are probably looking forward to making some. Get high-quality and fresh turkey drumsticks by discovering where to buy Shady Brook Farms near you. If you need more turkey-inspired recipes, try these out:
- Smoked Turkey Drumsticks: Once you’ve mastered the grill, try cooking your turkey legs on the smoker. Smoking involves cooking the turkey at a lower temperature for a longer period of time. The end result is a delicious, smokey-flavored meal.
- Slow Cooker Turkey Drumsticks: Is the weather not cooperating with your grilling plans? That’s ok! You can make amazing turkey drumsticks indoors with your slow cooker.
- Cranberry Slow-Cooked Turkey Drumsticks: If you’ve decided to slow-cook your turkey instead of grilling, here’s a recipe that can bring a taste of Thanksgiving to your table.
Grilled Turkey Drumstick FAQs
The exact amount of time it will take to grill your turkey legs will depend on the heat of your grill, drumstick thickness, and if you brined the meat. Indirect heat on a 325°F to 350°F grill can cook a brined medium to large turkey leg within 40 to 60 minutes. According to the USDA, your turkey leg is ready and safe to eat when it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. We recommend letting them rest for 5-10 minutes after reaching this temperature.
Wrapping your turkey legs in aluminum foil will prevent them from sticking to the grill. It will also prevent moisture loss, ensuring that you end up with juicy turkey meat. However, avoid wrapping your turkey legs too tightly before grilling.
Wrapping too tightly will restrict heat circulation, leading to an unevenly cooked turkey leg. Also, take off the foil wrap towards the end of your cook time to crisp up the turkey’s skin on the grill.
If you want crisp turkey legs, follow these tips:
- Dry brine your drumsticks before grilling and do not season them with a wet rub
- Pat the turkey legs dry and coat with oil or butter before seasoning with a dry rub
- Sear the drumsticks over direct heat before grilling with indirect heat
Reheating your turkey legs in a microwave will lead to dry and flavorless meat. Instead, reheat grilled turkey legs in the oven by placing them in a covered dish. Covering the dish will prevent the legs from losing moisture and drying out while reheating. Coating the legs with stock, gravy, or butter can also keep the meat moist, but make sure to reheat with low heat for no more than 40 minutes to prevent them from drying out or over-cooking.
Alternatively, you could reheat your turkey legs on the grill, but first, you must cover the drumsticks with a cooking oil that has a high smoking point. Grill uncovered for twenty minutes, then cover the legs with foil and keep grilling until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.
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