Smoked turkey legs are usually a special treat that you might have from time to time other than thanksgiving time. So, the question always persists, where can you get smoked fall off the bone turkey legs in a pellet smoker?
Well, you can always go to the fair, a carnival, a theme park, or the renaissance fair to get your fix for smoked turkey legs. Usually, these types of events will almost always have a vendor selling smoked turkey legs.
Or, you could always try your game at smoking them yourself at home with your pellet smoker! It’s not that hard to get done. You will need to follow a few directions and tips to get a great end product. So quit letting the carnival’s overcharge you for a meaty smoked turkey leg and start smoking them yourself!
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Preparing the Turkey Legs for the Smoker
It is commonly known that turkey can dry out very easily because of its lack of moisture, low-fat content, and very lean meat structure. So, the methods and process you use for preparing the turkey legs will determine how well they turn out and how moist and flavorful you can keep the turkey legs.
You can do several different things to help keep the turkey meat moist or introduce some moisture. Some of these methods will be using brine on the turkey legs overnight, marinating the turkey legs, or using a flavor injector to introduce other flavors and moisture into the meat.
You can use one of these methods to elevate the turkey legs, but we recommend using all three ways to be sure. Doing whatever you can to make sure the meat stays moist and flavorful is key, so why not do all three?
Using Brine For Turkey Legs
Using Brine is the best way to introduce moisture into the turkey legs. It’s effortless to make, very cheap to make, and there is no effort at all needed to do the procedure. A brine is essentially just a heavily salted water bath that the turkey legs bathe in for a few hours or overnight.
The process is called osmosis, which adds water to the meat to keep it moist while it cooks. If it were just salt and no water, then the salt would draw the water out of the meat.
Note: it is important with turkey to rines it off the brine to prevent it from being too salty. Also, dry your turkey before adding your dry rub, the rub will stick better, and the skin will be more crispy.
Marinating the Turkey Legs
Marinating is another excellent way to add moisture to the turkey legs and bring some new flavors. If you can puncture the meat with some holes first before laying it in the marinade, it will help to soak it into the meat. The turkey legs can sit in the marinade for a few hours or overnight.
Using a Flavor Injector
When you use a flavor injector, you can inject liquids directly into the meat to help them stay moist while they cook. You will also be able to add other flavors and spices on the inside of the meat and not just the outside.
You need to make sure the liquid mixture you use is thin enough to pass through the flavor injector and not get all gummed up in the process. Make sure to insert the injector into the meat and closest to the bone to make sure you can get as much fluid in the meat as possible.
Choosing the Best Smoker
When you want to smoke turkey legs, it will work to your advantage if you use the best available smoker. In this case, we recommend you use a pellet smoker to ensure the smoking process is seamless.
A pellet smoker will allow you to set the temperature you want to maintain throughout the smoking process and for how long you need them to smoke. After that, the pellet smoker will do all the rest of the work for you. Just make sure to fill the pellet hopper with plenty of pellets.
Now other types of smokers can have their advantages, the biggest of which could be the flavor. While an offset smoker can be quite a lot of work to cook with, it is almost a given that when done right will result in the best flavor.
Choosing the Best Wood Pellets for Turkey Legs
This brings us to choose the best selection of wooden pellets for turkey legs. We recommend using a strong and bold flavored wood to penetrate the meat and get a nice strong smoky flavor to the meat.
If you are smoking turkey breast, we recommend going with a milder flavor like pecan because turkey breast is much milder than turkey legs or thighs.
Fall Off the Bone Smoked Turkey Legs
This recipe for smoked turkey legs is sure to impress all your friends and family. There is no need to go to the fair to get a smoked turkey leg anymore with this delicious recipe in your arsenal.
- 8 large turkey legs
For the Brine:
- 1 gallon water
- 1 cup kosher salt (or pickling salt)
- 2 bay leaves
- 15 black or pink peppercorns
- 6 garlic cloves
- 1 yellow onion, quartered
For the Rub:
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 2 tbsp. Garlic powder
- 1 tbsp. Onion powder
- 1 tbsp. Kosher salt
- ½ tbsp. Black pepper
- 2 tsp. Smoked paprika
- 2 tsp. Dry oregano
- 2 tsp. Dry thyme
- 1 tsp. Ground ginger
- ½ tsp. Cayenne pepper
- Place everything for the brine in a large container and stir well until the salt dissolves. Submerge the turkey legs in the brine and place them in the fridge. Allow the turkey legs to brine in the mixture for at least 6 hours or overnight. When they are done in the brine, remove them and discard the liquid. Rinse the brine off of the turkey legs and pat them dry with a paper towel.
- In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients for the rub together well until fully incorporated. Take the rub seasoning and cover the legs in the seasoning. Make sure to rub in all the nooks and crannies of the turkey legs to coat them very well.
- Preheat the pellet smoker to 250 degrees and fill the hopper with pellets. When the smoker is up to temperature, place the turkey legs on the grate and close the lid. Allow the turkey legs to smoke for 4 to 5 hours or until the turkey legs’ internal temperature is 165 degrees. Make sure to check the temperature of the turkey legs next to the bone.
- When they are finished smoking, remove the turkey legs from the smoker and allow them to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving, and enjoy!
TIP: dissolve pickling salt in two cups of hot water for your brine. Add this to your container and fill it to the 1-gallon mark.
Thanksgiving dinner is for the birds. If you know how to create smoked fall off the bone turkey legs in a pellet smoker, then you won’t have to wait all year to have some delectable turkey at your fingertips.
You can always try this recipe with other turkey parts. It will be an excellent rendition everyone is sure to enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you keep turkey legs moist during the smoking process?
The best way to get fall off the bone moist turkey legs is to brine them for six hours before smoking. You can do a few other things to keep the turkey legs moist while smoking, such as using a marinade or injecting them with a flavorful liquid.
If you decide to go with a marinade, make sure the turkey legs stay in the marinade long enough to take on the moisture and maybe poke some holes in the meat before marinating them.
Injecting fluid in the meat, very close to the bone, will also help keep them moist and probably be the quickest method.
How do you get the skin on turkey legs to be crispy when smoking them?
If you want the skin of the turkey legs to be crispy when you smoke them, the skin needs to be dry before placing them in the smoker. If the legs are wet, the skin will not have a chance to crisp up.
Try to pat the turkey legs dry with paper towels before smoking them. You can also add a thin layer of cooking oil to the skin after you dry them to make sure they will crisp up during the smoking process.
How do you keep a smoked turkey moist?
The best way to keep your turkey moist when you smoke it is to brine it beforehand. This will help to lock in that moisture you want to keep in the meat, so you’ll be left with mouthwatering turkey.
Did you know that by brining your turkey before you smoke it, you’ll be locking in up to 50% more moisture than if you smoked it without brining first?
Brining your turkey before you add it to your smoker is also a super easy process to follow. All you need to do is place your turkey in a cooking bag, then add water to this.
It will be important to measure the water as you add this, so that you know how much is needed to cover the turkey.
Next, add 1 cup of table salt, or around 2 cups of kosher salt for each gallon of water. Seal up the bag, then place your turkey in the refrigerator for between 12 to 24 hours.
Once the turkey has had ample time to brine, you can then discard the water and the bag. Make sure you pat your turkey dry, and then it will be ready to add to your smoker.
You’ll want to get your smoker started with a humidity of around 60%, and a temperature of around 140 degrees Fahrenheit. This should help to prevent any moisture from escaping the meat of the turkey, and ensure that you have beautifully moist meat.
Cook your turkey at this temp for around 4 hours, then gradually increase the temperature by around 10 degrees Fahrenheit every 20 minutes, until you get to around 190 degrees Fahrenheit.
You’ll want the internal temperature of your turkey to reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit. The whole cooking process should take between 10 to 12 hours.
Should you wrap a turkey in foil when smoking?
Turkey is one of those meats that is notorious for drying out if cooked for too long. One of the best ways to prevent your meat from drying out or becoming too dark is to cover the turkey in foil.
Check your turkey around the 3 hour mark in the smoking process. If you notice that parts of the turkey’s meat and wings are looking on the brown side, you can cover these with small pieces of foil.
This should help to slow down the browning process until the meat has been thoroughly cooked right the way through.
It will be important to wait for your turkey to reach an internal temperature of around 165 degrees Fahrenheit, so don’t use the color of your meat to dictate when the bird is cooked. It’s best to use a meat thermometer to help you determine when the turkey has been properly cooked.
Do you smoke a turkey covered or uncovered?
There is no hard and fast rule as to whether you should smoke your turkey covered or uncovered. It will mostly be entirely down to personal preference.
If you don’t like your turkey meat too dark, then you can of course cover it with aluminum foil around 3 hours into the smoking process.
However, the vast majority of people will typically smoke their turkey uncovered. This will allow your turkey to absorb the best flavor from the smoking process.
The reason why you should only cover your meat a couple of hours into the smoking process is so that it has some time to allow this flavor to permeate the meat. Your turkey should be able to absorb more of this smokiness if it’s left uncovered in your smoker.
If you’re concerned about your meat drying out during the long smoking process, your best bet will be to brine your turkey before you add it to the smoker. This will help to lock in more moisture, and you won’t have to worry about eating dry, chewy turkey.
Does a turkey stall when smoking?
Yes, a turkey can stall when smoking. There is usually a natural stall point for turkey around the 145 degrees Fahrenheit to 155 degrees Fahrenheit mark, where the meat will continually sit at this internal temperature for between 60 to 90 minutes.
Your turkey will typically stall because of the evaporation of moisture from the meat’s surface. This typically cools the meat down so that the meat maintains a stalled temperature for a certain period of time. It usually occurs when the temperature of the smoker matches the heating rate of your cooking meat.
To get a decent temperature stall on your turkey, it’s recommended that you set your smoker to a temperature of around 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
This should allow the interior of the meat to reach a stall temperature of around 140 degrees Fahrenheit or so, and it will remain at this for between half an hour to an hour.
It’s also worth noting that the length of the stall will also depend on the size of the bird that you are trying to cook.
To ensure that your turkey is properly cooked, you will need to get the internal temperature up to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
It will be best to use a meat thermometer to help you determine when the turkey has reached this temperature. This will also take the guesswork out of the smoking process.
Is smoked turkey better than roasted?
Trying to determine whether smoked turkey tastes better than roast turkey will come down to personal preference in the majority of cases. Some people prefer a classic roasted turkey, whereas others prefer that smokiness that comes from smoking your turkey.
On the whole, smoked turkey tends to be much tastier than roasted turkey. This is because it packs in more flavor, mostly down to the brining process as well as the wood smoke.
Even though the smoking process typically takes longer, if it is followed correctly, you should be left with beautifully pink turkey that’s cooked right through. The outside of the turkey will appear darker because of the smoking process.
If you prefer your turkey to have lots of flavor, we’d recommend trying smoked turkey. This will have lots more flavor than roasted turkey.
The only downside to smoking your turkey instead of roasting it is that you don’t have as great a control over the temperature. However, smoking your turkey will typically take longer than roasting it in the oven.
To ensure that you get the best depth of flavor possible, you should always brine your turkey before you smoke it. This will lock in the moisture you want to keep in place, and will give the meat even more flavor alongside the smoking process.