Smoked turkey legs (drumsticks) are easy to make by brining, coating with a rub, and cooking in a smoker to perfection. They are moist, tender, and more delicious than Disney's, making a great keto main dish for the holidays or your summer BBQ.
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⅓cupcoarse saltkosher salt. If you only have table salt at home, reduce the amount of salt to 3 tablespoon of table salt.
¾cupSwerve sweetener brown sugaror brown sugar if you are not on a keto diet
2fresh rosemary sprigsor another fresh herb of your choice
½cupSwerve sweetener brown sugaror brown sugar if you are not on a low-carb diet
2tablespooncoarse saltkosher salt. If you only have table salt, use only 1 tablespoon instead.
1tablespoongarlic powderdon't use fresh garlic because it will burn while smoking the meat
½tablespoonfine ground black pepper
1-2tablespoonvegetable oilor another with a high smoking point such as avocado, canola, or sunflower
½cupapple cider vinegar mixed with ½ cup of waterto brush or spritz meat with while smoking. It helps keep moisture in the meat as it cooks. (If you are not on a keto diet, you can mix ⅓ of each with ½ apple cider)
Prep the turkey: Do not rinse the turkey legs because they will contaminate your surfaces. Place the turkey legs in a large container.
Bring half the water to a boil (about 3.5 cups), remove from the heat, and whisk in the brine ingredients (salt, sugar, bay leaves, rosemary, cloves, mustard seeds, and peppercorns) and remaining 3.5 cups of cold water.
Allow the liquid to cool (about 30 to 45 minutes).
Brine: Pour the brine onto the turkey legs, cover, and refrigerate for at least 12 hours (or closer to 48 hours for best results).
When ready to smoke, take the legs out of the brine and pat them dry. Make sure to discard the brine.
Apply the turkey leg rub: Mix the dry rub (sugar, salt, garlic, paprika, and pepper). Brush oil all over the legs and then apply the dry rub mixture generously under the skin and also over the legs.
Let them come to room temperature and absorb the rub while you preheat the smoker.
Set up your smoker according to the manufacturer's instructions and preheat it to 225-250 degrees F. Add the smoking wood and chips (maple, mesquite, or applewood for this recipe) as specified by its manufacturer.
Cook: Then, place the turkey legs on the smoker and close the lid. After 30 to 45 minutes, begin spritzing or mopping the turkey drumsticks every 30 minutes.
Smoke the turkey legs for about 3-4 hours, or until reaching an internal temperature of 165-170 degrees F taken with an instant meat thermometer. TIP: Measure the internal temperature by inserting a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the leg without touching the bone. I cooked mine in a charcoal smoker!
Serve: Remove from the smoker and allow to rest, loosely tented with a foil, for 10 minutes before serving.
Garnish: Transfer to a platter with fresh rosemary springs and some fresh cranberries (if serving for Thanksgiving) or to a tray lined with a piece of parchment paper and a small bowl of bbq sauce as a side (if serving at a bbq party).
INACTIVE TIME (for Brining): 12 hours
In the summertime, brush the legs with your favorite keto barbecue sauce for 15 minutes before taking them off the smoker.
If cooking Smoked Turkey Legs in an Electric Smoker, follow the steps above but preheat your smoker to 250 degrees F. Then, put the brined and rubbed turkey legs on the top rack of the smoke. Close the lid and smoke the turkey legs until they cook thoroughly.
If you prefer to make smoked turkey legs in the oven, put the turkey legs on a rack of a roasting pan. Then, pour just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan (not over the turkey) so the drippings won't burn. Roast in a preheated oven at 325 degrees F—if the legs are small, roast them for 1 hour. For larger legs, roast for 1.5 hours. Lastly, wrap each turkey drumstick in foil for another hour in the same roasting pan. Right before eating, unwrap them and brown them over a charcoal grill, and take their internal temperature with a meat thermometer. This way they will be moist as they are steamed in the oven, and then they'll brown over the hot coals. This oven method is great because you can make it during the winter without problems. But make sure to include liquid smoke in the brine because no wood chips are used for cooking the legs in the oven.
Fridge: Keep cool leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Freezer: Freeze them for up to 2 months.
Thaw them in the fridge overnight!
Reheat: You can reheat smoked turkey legs in the oven (at 325 F for 15-20 minutes), loosely covered with foil, or in the microwave with a ¼ of water, covered with a damp paper towel, for about 2 minutes or just until hot. TIP: Prefer baking smoked turkey legs in the oven because it won’t cause them to dry out easily.
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