How to cook store bought smoked turkey legs

I tested 4 ways to cook store bought smoked turkey legs and the results were surprising! 

Photos for this recipe are from Erin Hungsberg (IG: erin_hungsberg)

With the holidays approaching, turkey legs are in high demand and quite popular. But what is the best way to prep and cook them?  Starting from scratch can be a mess and time consuming so I tested 4 ways to reheat store bought smoked turkey legs to find out which method was the best and why.

In this blog post, I will cover and evaluate the 4 methods I chose: oven baked, air fried, smoked and grilled. I will also explore some frequently asked questions about store bought smoked turkey legs.

Why are smoked turkey legs so popular? 

Smoked turkey legs have surged in popularity. Most likely because they are easier to prepare compared to an entire turkey plus tastier too if you’re a fan of dark meat.  

An easy grab and go meal, they are flaunted at most theme parks like Disney as well as fairs and Renaissance festivals.  I mean who doesn’t love smoked meat on a stick? Slow smoked turkey legs as big as your forearm and ready to be devoured like a caveman.  I’m a fan!

Where can you buy pre-smoked turkey legs? 

Pre-smoked turkey legs are readily available at most grocery stores, especially around the holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. I was able to find these turkey legs at Walmart for about $7 each. You can also find them at Costco, Kroger’s, Publix and major food chains. You can order from a variety of online retailers and have them shipped right to your front door. 

How much do turkey legs weigh? 

Most turkey legs range in weight between 1.5- 2.5 pounds. They are 3-4 times the size of a traditional chicken leg drumstick. 

How to cook store bought smoked turkey legs.

Since store-bought smoked turkey legs are already pre cooked, we are essentially warming them back up to temperature. I find that the method in which you do that makes all the difference. Avoid the microwave as it will dry out the turkey and make the skin rubbery. 

Should you season pre cooked turkey legs? 

Turkey legs can be high in sodium already but still lack flavor. To kick it up a notch I like to season with a bbq rub or poultry seasoning that is low in sodium. That way the turkey does not end up too salty, but still has that great bbq flavor that we all love.

I have a great smoked chicken rub that I like to use and just reduce the salt by half. You can also use an all purpose bbq rub of your choice.

How long does it take to reheat turkey legs? 

Like any protein you cook, the time it takes to preheat the turkey legs will be determined by the size of the leg and how hot you are cooking at. It is always best to use a meat thermometer to make sure things are cooked to the proper internal temperature. Never rely on time alone. Trust me I’m speaking from experience and heart-ache! 

Oven baked. 

For this method start by removing the turkey leg from the packaging and patting it dry with paper towels. There is no need to wash the turkey leg but feel free to rinse in cold water if you prefer.

These turkey legs can often taste bland so I like to season them lightly with an all purpose low sodium bbq rub or poultry seasoning. Place the turkey leg on a wire cooking rack on top of a baking sheet and cook at 350°F until an internal temp of 165°F. This took me about 35 minutes.

Baked turkey leg

The turkey legs are already safe to eat as they are pre cooked but taking them to 165°F ensures they are cooked through and hot. To keep the turkey leg moist, place a foil pan underneath with some chicken broth. As the chicken broth warms and starts to create steam, it will help the turkey from drying out.  

The result of this method was what I expected. The turkey leg was nice and baked, had a smoky flavor and was warm throughout. 

Air fried

To air fry, remove your turkey leg from the packaging, pat dry with paper towels, then cover in olive oil and lightly season with bbq or poultry seasoning. You will need to find an air fryer that’s large enough to hold the turkey leg. Cook your turkey at 375 °F until the internal temp is 165°F.

You should flip the leg a few times during this process to make sure both sides are evenly cooked. The result are a tender and hot turkey leg with crispy skin in about 20 minutes! This is one of my favorite methods. 

Air fried turkey leg

Smoked 

Even though turkey legs come pre smoked, smoking them again really wakes up the smoke flavor. Season the turkey with an all purpose bbq rub and smoke at 225°F until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.  I used my pellet smoker with apple wood pellets.  

Fruit woods like apple and cherry are delicate and are great smoking woods for turkey. For a stronger smoke flavor, try hickory or mesquite.

Smoked turkey leg

I also brushed on some bbq sauce towards the end of the cook and raised the temperature of the smoker to 275°F to let the sauce tack up on the meat before removing. This method really created something you’d find at Disney World or a state fair. 

Smoked turkey leg with bbq sauce

Grilled 

Turkey leg on the grill

The grilled turkey legs were also delicious because the grill imparts that flavorful char on the outside of the meat. The turkey also had a great texture.

Coat the turkey legs in olive oil and season them with a bbq rub. With the grill at medium heat, cook the legs, flipping back and forth a few times until reaching an internal temperature of 165°F. 

Grilled turkey leg

Can I use a crock pot to cook turkey legs?

This is a method that I do not prefer. The reason is that the turkey legs became mushy and dried out being left in a crock pot all day. It’s kind of crazy that the turkey leg could be dry and mushy at the same time, but the slow cooker did it.  

The texture was not favorable and it was one of my least favorite methods. I would only use this method if you plan on shredding the turkey meat off the bone for sandwiches or something else. 

How many people will one turkey leg feed? 

Turkey legs are huge but they also have a big bone running through them. The amount of meat on the bone is still quite a bit but not as much as you think. 1 turkey leg will feed 1 hungry person or 2  not as hungry people. 

How to serve a turkey leg. 

I like to take some aluminum foil and wrap the bottom and hand them to my guests to eat. The foil keeps your hands clean while holding onto the leg.  

What sides go with Turkey legs? 

Creamy mashed potatoes

Easy homemade pasta salad

Smoked Mac and cheese with bacon

Easy homemade coleslaw 

How to store left over turkey. 


To store leftover turkey, place them in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to a week. Ideally, you will want to eat them right away as they have already been pre cooked and shipped to your local grocery store for convenience. 

Wrapping up.

No matter which method you choose, baked, air fried, smoked or grilled, you can have delicious results. My two personal favorites are air fried and smoked.

With the air fryer you have the convenience and the crispy skin. On the there hand smoking the turkey a second time and finishing with bbq sauce adds another layer of flavor that reminds me of something from the fair.

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How to cook store bought smoked turkey legs

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  • Total Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients

Scale

Oven baked 

  • 1 store bought, pre smoked turkey leg 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 
  • 1 cup chicken broth (optional) 
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose bbq rub or homemade chicken dry rub

Air fried 

  • 1 store bought, pre smoked turkey leg 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose bbq rub or homemade chicken dry rub

Grilled 

  • 1 store bought, pre smoked turkey leg 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose bbq rub or homemade chicken dry rub

Smoked

  • 1 store bought, pre smoked turkey leg 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose bbq rub or homemade chicken dry rub
  • 1/4 cup of bbq sauce 

Instructions

Oven baked 

  1. Coat turkey leg with olive oil and season with bbq rub or homemade chicken rub. 
  2. Bake in the oven at 350°F for 35 minutes or until the internal temperature of the turkey reaches 165°.  
  3. To keep the turkey moist you can add a pan of chicken broth underneath the turkey leg while it’s baking. 

Air fried 

  1. Coat turkey leg with olive oil and season with bbq rub or homemade chicken rub. 
  2. Place turkey leg in air fryer at 375°F for 20 minutes or until the internal temperature of the turkey leg reaches 165°F. 

Grilled

  1. Coat turkey leg with olive oil and season with bbq rub or homemade chicken rub. 
  2. Grill turkey leg on medium heat, flipping occasionally to ensure even cooking. 
  3. Grill until the internal temperature reaches 165°.

Smoked

  1. Coat turkey leg with olive oil and season with bbq rub or homemade chicken rub. 
  2. Smoke at 225° for a two hours or until the internal temperature reaches 145°F. 
  3. Once the turkey leg reaches 145°F increase the temperature of the smoker to 275°F and brush bbq  sauce on the turkey. Continue cooking until turkey reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. 
  • Author: Jordan Hanger
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes

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