Oven-roasted, flavorful and juicy herb-roasted turkey legs for days when a whole turkey is just too much food or you are cooking for a smaller party.
For the longest time, turkey to me was a big giant bird served at big family gatherings. It was usually flavorless and dry unless I drowned it in gravy so I always gravitated towards the dark meats – which I find is usually the most flavorful and juiciest part of the bird. So I took this thought and I ran with it – I usually brine my roasted chicken to make it juicier and flavorful, why can’t I apply the same technique to a turkey?
When I came up with this recipe, I thought about what the holidays meant to me and how the holidays are not always going to be huge family gatherings for everyone. There are a lot of single or households of 2 (like ourselves) that want to enjoy turkey during the holidays but having a whole turkey is not very practical because it’s a lot of food! In situations like these, why not cook the turkey in smaller portions right?
This roasted turkey legs recipe is not limited to just special occasions but because of its long cooking time, they also make awesome small Sunday dinners as well in place of roasts 🙂
INGREDIENTS FOR HERB ROASTED TURKEY LEGS
- Turkey Legs – I like to use the turkey drum for this recipe, but you can definitely use the thigh or breast as well. You can also substitute chicken in place of the turkey legs as well but you will need to adjust the cooking time and cook it for less time.
- Light soy sauce – I use light or low sodium soy sauce for this recipe.
- Dark soy sauce – Dark soy sauce is syrupy and usually less salty than regular or light soy sauce. It is mainly used to give the meat some color. If you can’t find it, you can use regular soy sauce instead but it won’t have that dark color.
- Herb Glaze – For the herbs, you can basically combo any of your favorite green herbs for this recipe but try not to overdo it on the really strong flavored ones like dill. I have not tried using fresh herbs for this since fresh herbs are expensive in the winter and my herb garden decided it wanted to give up on me this year. I will update the recipe when I can get a hold of fresh herbs again. I put lemongrass in this herb mixture for additional flavor, this is optional but I HIGHLY recommend using it if you can get your hand on it.
INGREDIENTS FOR THE BRINE
For this roasted turkey legs recipe, I kept the brine somewhat simple and used salt, water, bay leaves, garlic, and black cardamom. You can omit the black cardamom for the brine without a big difference in flavor but I highly recommend keeping in the garlic and bay leaves.
BRINING THE TURKEY LEG TO KEEP IT JUICY AND FLAVORFUL
Whenever I cook any type of poultry, I like to use a brine. It’s a little more work but well worth the effort. Brining meats keeps the meat juicy by using the salt to draw the water into the meat – food science! I like to brine meats between 4 hours to 24 hours.
When you are working with salt and brining, it is also very easy to overdo it which can make meats very salty. Through trial and error, I found my sweet spot is 3 tablespoons of salt with 8-9 cups of water. Go with 8 cups of water if you prefer saltier meat, go with 9 cups of water for less salty meat. My rule of thumb is the more diluted the brine the longer you should brine it – so a diluted brine with 4 hours of brining won’t give you great results.
LOOKING FOR MORE OVEN ROASTED RECIPES? TRY THESE!
- Oven Roasted Five Spice Peking Chicken
- Sweet and Spicy Honey Sriracha Chicken
- Sweet and Spicy Coca Cola Ribs
DID YOU MAKE THIS HERB ROASTED TURKEY LEG RECIPE?
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Herb Roasted Turkey Legs
- 4 turkey legs
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce (light or low sodium)
- 1/2 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 1/2 onion
- 2 tablespoons oil (to make the onion paste)
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup oil (any oil except olive oil)
- 1 teaspoon lemongrass
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1 teaspoon tarragon
- 1 teaspoon rosemary
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dill
- 1/2 teaspoon basil
Brining the Turkey
- In a large bowl, combine the water and salt together and stir until the salt has dissolved
- Add in the the bay leaves, crushed garlic cloves and black cardamoms (optional)
- Add in the turkey legs and brine it for 24 hours in the fridge.
Making the Herb Glaze
- In a food processor, blitz half an onion with 2 tablespoons of oil until it becomes a paste. (If you don't have a food processor, you can grate the onion instead)
- Melt the butter and combine the onion paste, 1/4 cup of oil, soy sauces, and herbs into 1 bowl and mix well. Set aside for later to glaze the turkey. (Note: the glaze may thicken, as the butter cools - not to worry, it will melt back into a oil once you brush it on the hot turkey!)
Roasting the Turkey
- Pre-heat the oven to 350F (177C)
- Use a roasting pan and put a rack in it to suspend the turkey, so there is air flow between the pan and the bottom of the turkey. If you don't have a rack, you can take tin foil and roughly press it together to create a rough and bumpy texture and place the turkey legs on top so it is not sitting completely flat against the roasting pan.
- Once the oven is up to temperature, place the turkey legs in the oven and set the timer for 30 minutes
- Once 30 minutes is up, we can start to glaze the turkey with the herb glaze every 15-20 minutes
- The turkey legs should take between 1 hour and 30 minutes to 1 hour and 45 minutes but use a meat thermometer to be sure. The internal temperature should be 165F (74C). When you cut into the turkey, the juices should be clear and not bloody.
- Enjoy! 🙂
- The dark soy is used to give the turkey a bit of colour and a bit of sodium. If you do not have it, you can use regular soy sauce.
- The herb glaze can be doubled or tripled with no issues if you would like to use this on a whole turkey! 🙂
- I like to use the turkey drum for this recipe, but you can definitely use the thigh or breast as well. You can also substitute chicken in place of the turkey legs as well but you will need to adjust the cooking time and cook it for less time.
All calories and info are based on a third party calculator and are only an estimate. Actual nutritional info will vary with brands used, your measuring methods, portion sizes and more.
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