Barbecue Turkey Legs

Barbecue is the best thing ever. Barbecue everything. I am always in the mood for barbecue. Maybe it’s because I’m Midwestern.


So after Thanksgiving, Whole Foods had huge cuts of turkey on sale for like $2.00 per pound. It was astonishing. Even my husband, who is not a big poultry eater, insisted on buying a couple of packages. We got a set of wings and a set of legs. I stuffed them in the freezer, forgot about them, and then rediscovered them recently!


I had some leftover apple butter barbecue sauce and knew they would be perfect with these leftover Thanksgiving turkeys. I prefer a crispy skin, so instead of basting them in the sauce, I created a barbecue dry rub and baked them in the oven. If I had access to an outdoor grill or smoker, I would have loved to cook them that way, but alas, that is not possible when you live on the fifth floor of an apartment building and you have no patio.

I’ll add a recipe for apple butter barbecue sauce later, but for now, enjoy these legs with any homemade barbecue sauce! You really can’t go wrong with barbecue. I served this with a simple salad I threw together of organic spring greens, sliced carrots, broccoli, grape tomatoes, and a homemade dressing of lemon juice, dijon mustard, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. I think cucumbers would be delicious in this too. Side salads are the easiest thing to throw together when you spend so much time and energy on a big chunk of meat!

Barbecue Roast Turkey Legs

I used a barbecue dry rub called “Barbecue 3001” from Penzey’s Spices, and it was pretty perfect for these turkey legs, because it has cinnamon and vanilla powder in it (it’s like Thanksgiving in your mouth!). You can mix your own dry rub, or I might add one to this site later on.

  • 4 large turkey legs
  • 2 teaspoons of sea salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons of your favorite barbecue spice rub

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Dry turkey legs with paper towels, salt generously, and let stand for 15 minutes to reach room temperature.

Evenly sprinkle the barbecue rub all over the legs, making sure there is a fairly thick coating of the spice mixture. You might need more of the spice rub than 3 tablespoons, depending on the size of the legs.

Place the legs on a roasting rack set over a cookie sheet. You'll probably need 2 pans with 2 racks. I place aluminum foil underneath the rack so that cleaning the roasting pan is easier.

Roast uncovered for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until the legs are golden brown and the internal temperature is 180 degrees when taken with a meat thermometer. If you like really crispy skin like I do, then broil on high for 3 minutes at the end for each rack.