Learn how to prepare perfectly roasted turkey legs the easy way - no flipping or covering with foil required. Simply season turkey legs with a blend of salt, homemade spice mix, and oil, then bake them at 400°F until the skin turns crispy, and the meat cooks to perfection.
About roasting turkey legs
When an entire turkey is too much for your family, or you simply like dark turkey meat more, turkey legs are the perfect choice.
Last year, I shared this air fryer turkey thighs recipe, which is also a popular one at our home.
I usually make 2 turkey legs for three of us (including one kid). But if you plan on serving them to your guests, prepare at least 1 whole drumstick per person.
I prefer a simpler approach without flipping, covering and uncovering them with aluminum foil that requires handling the hot pan multiple times.
I simply roast turkey legs using a high-sided glass dish (or a roasting pan) lined with parchment paper for less clean up. It creates a deep shallow space for the legs to bake evenly while leaving the skin exposed for that perfect crispiness.
Obviously, the roasting time will depend on the size of the legs, as some of them can be huge. But I also noticed, that the cooking time will also depend on the type of a pan (deep or regular baking pan) and whether you cover the meat or not.
From my experience, a regular baking sheet pan takes the least time. But the meat might turn out dry. That's why I like using a deep dish and roast them uncovered - easy, juicy, and with delicious crispy skin.
You can find the quantities for each ingredient in the recipe card at the end of this post.
Turkey legs: fresh turkey drumsticks with the skin on. If you have frozen ones, let them defrost in the fridge overnight. You can also use this recipe to make turkey wings or thighs.
Olive oil: I use extra virgin olive oil. You can also use melted butter or a combination of both.
Salt and spices: I used my favorite home-made spice mix, made with salt, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, dried thyme, dried rosemary, dried sage, dried oregano, black pepper, and a little bit of cayenne (optional).
Fresh rosemary(optional): it adds that extra pine-like woody scent, making even your house smell amazing while you roast the meat. You can also use other fresh herbs, such as sage, thyme, and Italian parsley.
1). Remove the legs from the fridge at least 15 minutes before baking them. Very cold meat will coon unevenly. Carefully, pat dry the legs on both sides with paper towels to get rid of access moisture. Especially, if they were thawed.
2). In a small bowl mix, salt, and the dried herbs. Brush each leg with some olive oil on both sides. You can also use melted butter. Rub the meat generously with the spice mix on all the sides.
3). Line a deep glass baking dish (or a roasting pan) with a large sheet of parchment paper. Place the legs in the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with some fresh chopped rosemary on top. I usually break it into smaller pieces with my hands.
4). Roast turkey legs in a preheated oven (400°F) for about 60-70 minutes. After 60 minutes, carefully take out the pan and start checking if they are fully cooked by inserting the instant meat thermometer in the thickest part. If the internal temperature registers 165 degrees F, the meat is cooked.
Otherwise, place it back in the oven and check again in about 10 minutes. Let the meat rest before serving for about 10 minutes.
- My homemade spice mix (see the recipe card) never fails, but you can also use any of your favorite spices or store-bought poultry dry rub instead.
- To avoid cutting cooked leg just to check if the meat is cooked, use an instant-read thermometer.
- Store leftover turkey meat in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days, or you can freeze it for up to 3 months.
- Cooking time will depend on the size of the turkey legs, the type of baking pan, and the type your oven.
Like any other poultry meat, there are so many ways you can serve this oven-roasted turkey leg. Below, I share a few of my and my family's favorite ways:
- Classic Thanksgiving dinner: serve them alongside traditional Thanksgiving dishes like stuffing, mashed potatoes, roasted green beans, gravy, and cranberry sauce.
- Main dish: To change things up, I like to serve turkey meat as a simple dinner idea with side dishes like rice, pasta, or roasted vegetables.
- Ideas for leftovers: you can use any turkey leg meat leftovers to make soup, add to salads, and sandwiches, or turn them into tacos and quesadillas.
- Bone broth: keep the bones and make a small batch of turkey bone broth. Simply add water, some whole vegetables, herbs and simmer everything on low for a few hours.
Frequently asked questions
Marinating is optional, but it can enhance the flavor of the meat. You can season the turkey legs with the spice mix and let them marinate for a few hours or overnight in the fridge before roasting.
Depending on the size of each leg, it takes between 1 to 1.5 hours to roast the turkey legs at 400°F.
Yes, you can roast them at 350°F but be prepared for a cooking time approximately 30 minutes longer.
If you have frozen turkey legs, it is recommended to thaw them overnight in the fridge before cooking. Cooking the meat from frozen will take much longer time and may result in uneven cooking.
My favorite simple seasoning is a mix of salt, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, dried thyme, dried rosemary, dried sage, dried oregano, and black pepper.
Easy Roasted Turkey Legs
- 1 Deep baking dish or roasting pan
- 1 sheet parchment paper
- 1 small bowl
- measuring spoons
- 2 large turkey legs (drumsticks)
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- ½ teaspoon dried sage
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- Remove turkey legs from the fridge 15 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a deep baking dish with parchment paper.
- Pat dry the drumsticks with paper towels to absorb extra moisture.
- In a small bowl, mix 1 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons paprika, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, ½ teaspoon dried sage, ½ teaspoon dried oregano, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional).
- Brush turkey legs with olive oil on both sides. Next, rub each turkey leg with the salt and spice mix. Place the legs into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with some chopped fresh rosemary.
- Roast turkey legs at 400°F for about 60-70 minutes. After 60 minutes, take them out and start checking the internal temperature with the meat thermometer. If it registers 165°F in the thickest part and the juices run clear, the meat are ready. Otherwise, pace them back into the oven and bake for another 10 minutes or until the temperature reaches 165°F.
- Let the meat rest in the baking dish for 10 minutes before serving.