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posted October 10, 2022

Smoked Turkey Legs (Disney Copycat)

These Smoked Turkey Legs are an awesome Disney copycat that tastes just like the ones in the theme park. They are large and in charge, coming ‘atcha with tons of smoky flavor. So go ahead and skip the theme park, and make your very own smoked turkey legs at home!

Smoked turkey leg with a bite taken out of it with text overlay - Smoked Turkey Legs.

Disney Smoked Turkey Legs

That’s right folks, today we’re making a Disney smoked turkey legs copycat. You know when you’re walking through the park and you pass that cart just overflowing with all the good turkey smells? Now you can have them at home!

Now, before we continue, these turkey legs are not the same as if you were to throw a turkey leg on the smoker. No no, first they are cured with a curing salt (specifically sodium nitrite). This is what gives them that signature pink color that looks almost like ham.

In fact, some people say these turkey legs taste like ham. This is most likely due to that gorgeous, even saltiness throughout the leg.

And for those of you who have never been to Disneyland or who have never tasted the glory that is a Disney turkey leg, jump on this recipe ASAP. It’s sure to be one of the best bites of food you ever treat yourself to.

Turkey legs in a brine.

Where to Buy Turkey Legs

Okay, you’re ready to begin the great turkey smoke, but where do you find those ginormous turkey legs? The legs at Disneyland are male tom turkey legs. These guys are anywhere from 1 ½ -2 pounds a piece! They can easily feed two people, and they’re a great option when you’re in the park and need a major protein refuel.

But if you head to your local grocer, you’ll find that most turkey legs at the grocery store are hen legs. These are smaller than those sold in Disneyland and are approximately  3/4 -1 pound a piece. For today’s recipe, we’re going with these hen legs. Even though they aren’t as big as the tom turkey legs, they’ll still taste just as delicious, and they are more readily available. I personally like cooking hen legs; they don’t take as long, and they’re a more logical serving size per person.

If you’re really gung-ho about smoking the big tom legs, you can occasionally you can get your butcher to get tom turkey legs. This takes a bit of extra time and preparation, but if you can get your hand on some of these, I say go for it! This same recipe will work for these giant turkey legs, just keep in mind you’ll have to increase the cooking time to get them up to a safe consumable temperature.

Brined turkey legs being pat dry with a paper towel.

Smoked Turkey Leg Brine

The magic step to making these smoked turkey legs comes from the brine. This magically wet curing liquid does 3 things to the turkey legs:

  • It helps tenderize the meat.
  • The brine gives the turkey that gorgeous signature pink color.
  • It gives an even saltiness throughout – talk about a major flavor baby!

This brine combined with the smoke makes for a flavor explosion, with tender, fall-off-the-bone meat.

Smoked Turkey Leg Seasoning

These smoked turkey legs are seasoned throughout, but it is a super simple salt flavor. If you want to amp up the overall flavor of the turkey leg, you can rub it down with a seasoning blend. I highly recommend using my homemade Smoked Turkey Rub. It is an awesome combination of sweet, savory, and herby. If you’re worried about things getting too salty with the brine AND the rub, you can reduce the salt in the rub by half.

Turkey legs on the smoker reading a temperature of 175 degrees F with an instant thermometer.

How to Cook Smoked Turkey Legs

Smoking these turkey legs involves a 2-step process (3 if you count devouring these bad boys!):

  1. Brine. First up, prepare the brine and add the turkey legs. Place in the fridge and allow the legs to cure for 24 hours. I like to cure my turkey legs in a gallon zip-top bag to make sure they’re fully submerged.
  2. Smoke. After your turkey legs have been curing for an entire day, remove them from the brine, rinse them with cool water, and pat dry. With your smoker preheated to 225 degrees F, you’re ready to place your turkey legs directly on the grill grates, close the lid, and smoke for approximately 1.5 hours with your favorite wood. Pull the legs off the smoker when the internal temperature has reached 175 degrees F. 

Give the turkey legs a moment to rest and come down in temperature before eating. Oh, and don’t even think about pulling out any silverware. This food should be attacked by hands and teeth only. I like to wrap mine in my Hey Grill Hey butcher paper for looks AND to have the paper as a nice handle to keep your hands clean.

How Long to Smoke Turkey Legs

It takes approximately an hour and a half to make these smoked turkey legs.

Most poultry needs to be cooked to a final internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Turkey legs are dark meat, so they’re fattier. You want these to fall off the bone without resistance. Smoking them to 175 degrees F will get you that super tender fall-off-the-bone bite. Keep a reliable meat thermometer handy to keep track of the temperature as you’re smoking.

Smoked turkey legs on a plate.

More Smoked Turkey Recipes

Winner winner…uh…turkey dinner? Honestly, you’ll feel like a winner when you cook up these other smoked turkey recipes. They’re perfect for Thanksgiving, Sunday dinners, or anytime you have a hankering for some good-tasting food.

Smoked Turkey Leg Recipe

Follow the smoked turkey leg recipe below and let’s make something delicious! I’m all about helping you make better BBQ, feed the people you love, and become a BBQ hero. If you want to see more of my recipes, tips, and behind-the-scenes action, follow along on my social channels. You can find me on InstagramFacebook, and YouTube!

This post was originally published in November 2019. We recently updated it with more information and helpful tips. The recipe remains the same.

Hand holding a large smoked turkey leg.

Smoked Turkey Legs

Susie Bulloch (heygrillhey.com)
Smoked Turkey Legs are an awesome Disney copycat that taste just like the ones in the theme park. They large and in charge, with tons of smoky flavor.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time : 15 mins
Cook Time : 1 hr 30 mins
Cure Time : 1 d
Total Time : 1 d 1 hr 45 mins
Servings : 4
Calories : 548.57kcal

Video

Ingredients
 

  • 4 turkey legs

Wet Cure

  • 4 cups cool water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon Prague powder #1 (curing salt)

Instructions

  • Make the curing liquid. Make the curing liquid by dissolving the salt, brown sugar, and curing salt (Prague powder) in cool water. Stir in the black peppercorns and the bay leaves.
  • Cure. Place the turkey legs in a gallon zip-top bag, and pour the curing liquid over the legs. Put the bag on a plate and cure for 24 hours in the refrigerator.
  • Preheat. Turn on the smoker and allow it to preheat to 225 degrees F using your favorite wood.
  • Prep. Remove the turkey legs from the refrigerator and take the legs out of the brine. Give them a quick rinse under cool water and pat them dry.
  • Smoke. Place the turkey legs directly on the smoker. Close the lid and smoke them for 1 1/2 hours or until the internal temperature of the legs reaches 175 degrees F.
  • Enjoy. Remove the turkey legs from the smoker, allow them to cool slightly, and dig in!

Nutrition

Calories: 548.57kcal | Carbohydrates: 1.64g | Protein: 73.83g | Fat: 25.39g | Saturated Fat: 7.79g | Cholesterol: 267.3mg | Sodium: 291.61mg | Potassium: 1061.02mg | Fiber: 0.63g | Sugar: 0.01g | Vitamin A: 13.68IU | Calcium: 82.58mg | Iron: 6.72mg
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