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Cook Turkey Legs

How to Cook Turkey Legs Carnival Style

Want to cook turkey legs?The state or county fair or a carnival is coming. The local TV news person is there letting everyone know that it has opened by standing on the midway holding a large turkey leg while talking about some of the exhibits. Or if it is a Renaissance Faire you might see a picture of the king chomping on a turkey leg. Now, they didn’t actually have turkeys during the renaissance, but this image has become a symbol of opulence and excess associated with royalty of the era. Or, if you have visited Disney World you might remember that giant turkey legs are one of their signature dishes of Frontierland.

These legs are good, and although probably too much for one person they are a decent value if shared – even at inflated carnival prices. They are also an unexpected “extreme food” that you can easily and inexpensively make for  picnics and parties.

turkey leg


Recipes vary from place to place, but what they have in common is that the turkey legs are usually brined and or injected with a flavored salt solution, or simmered in a flavored stock   - then smoked, and finished on a grill to crisp the skin. They are seldom bathed in sticky b-b-q sauce – that would be just a bit too messy without a readily available bath.

The bottom of the leg is usually wrapped in paper or aluminum foil for easy handling.

Below is our recipe for carnival style turkey legs.

How to Cook Turkey Legs Carnival Style

For 4 large Turkey Legs

The turkey legs will not get most of their flavor from sauce so use a wet brine and a rub.

For more information about wet brining and for salt brand substitutions click here:

Wet Brine

To cook turkey legs carnival style, start with a brine:

1 gallon of water

3/4 cup Morton Kosher Salt

1/4 cup Brown Sugar

1 bunch of thyme

1 1/2 teaspoon of peppercorns

Place legs into cold brine for 2 hours up to overnight.

Remove the turkey legs from the brine - rinse and dry them.


Add a Rub - use your favorite or:

1 Tablespoon paprika

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

1 Teaspoon garlic powder

1 Teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

Spray the turkey leg with cooking oil or brush lightly with oil (don't wash off your Rub.)


Smoke the legs

For more information about smoking turkey click here

The traditional smoke flavor is hickory, but use whatever you like

Set up your smoker or set your grill for indirect cooking and cook your turkey legs slowly until the internal temperature is 170 F.

If you wish you can move your turkey legs to the direct heat part of the grill after they are fully cooked if you want to crisp the skin.

You can also cook your turkey legs to this point and refrigerate to finish within 2 days. They are good cold or can be reheated on the grill.

Rest or Refrigerate

Allow your legs to rest under loose aluminum foil for 10 minutes.

This recipe works with drumsticks the traditional carnival piece, but also works very well with turkey thighs.

There are many uses for this great tasting turkey leg in addition to just eating it whole. If you want to see other recipes that include this turkey leg along with a time saving alternative to making this turkey leg check out the related article: Summer Turkey Leg Recipes

Smoked Turkey Thigh

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Copyright © 2009 - 2019 The Perfect Turkey
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