Smoked Turkey Legs: Better Than Disney

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As a child, did you ever attend to a fair or a carnival? Some come for the rides, some for the activities, but I came for the food, especially the smoked turkey legs!

There’s something amazing about going about with a massive piece of smoked pork in your hand and feeding your face in between rides, games, and other attractions.

With Thanksgiving approaching, I thought it would be a good opportunity to teach you how to smoke your own turkey legs at home and relive some of your childhood memories with family and friends.

Smoked Turkey Legs

Smoked Turkey Legs: Better Than Disney

The majority of smoked turkey leg Disney imitation recipes will instruct you to inject the legs with a curing solution.

This will contain a unique curing salt known as Prague Powder #1, which is used to create cured ham and gives the turkey legs their distinctive pink hue.

There is no harm in employing a curative brine injection.

It does give the turkey legs a very salty, almost ham-like flavor, so I chose to stick with more traditional barbecue ingredients for this dish.

Where to buy turkey legs

If you want to prepare the super-sized, caveman-friendly turkey legs seen at Disneyland, you must get male tom turkey legs. Each of them may weigh between 1.75 and 2 pounds.

These are difficult to come by. You will almost certainly need to arrange a special order with your butcher.

Smoking the smaller hen legs is the best choice. They should be widely accessible at most supermarkets. In addition, they cook quicker and are a better size for most people.

Brining turkey legs

When I’m preparing a whole turkey, I usually brine it for 24 hours. It is particularly vital for preserving moisture and taste in the breast, which is prone to drying out.

To be honest, nothing is worse than dried turkey.

Fortunately, turkey legs are not as lean and have a higher fat content, which allows them to retain more taste and moisture throughout the cooking process. That is why I opted not to brine for this cook, but if I were making a complete turkey or just the breast, I would absolutely do it.

You may use our chicken wing brine recipe to brine your turkey legs.

What kind of wood is best for smoked turkey legs? 

For smoking turkey, you may use a variety of woods. Some have a strong taste, while others are light.

I used pecan wood for my turkey legs because I like a smokey taste with sweet undertones. Fruit woods are also excellent choices since they are sweeter and gentler than other woods. Apple and cherry are usually good options for poultry.

I would avoid woods like hickory or mesquite since the smoke taste is generally too strong for chicken and may quickly overshadow it.

Also, if you discover that wood chunks produce too much smoke for your tastes, consider using wood chips to reduce the amount of smoke you produce.

How to smoke turkey legs

1. Oil and rub the turkey legs

Remove the turkey legs from the box and massage them all over with oil. This will function as a binder, allowing the seasoning or rub to stick uniformly to the legs.

Avocado oil is one of my favorite cooking oils because of its high smoke point, taste, and health benefits.

Sprinkle on a fairly uniform coating of spice after applying the oil to the turkey legs.

I used Kosmos Q Dirty Bird BBQ Rub for this recipe. This is one of my favorite chicken spices since it has a wonderful mix of tastes, but if you want to create your own, try our BBQ Turkey Rub recipe.

I normally let the spice soak on the turkey legs for 5-10 minutes before putting them on the smoker.

2. Smoke the legs

I used my Large Big Green Egg with Fogo Charcoal for this meal.

Preheat your smoker to 225F-250F. When your smoker has reached temperature, add your smoke wood.

After you lay the turkey legs on the smoker, you will smoke them until the internal temperature reaches 140F. At this time, I raise the temperature in my smoker to 350°F.

The reason I do this is because the high heat helps to crisp up the turkey skin. These turkey legs have no rubbery skin!

I also like to spray the turkey legs with water many times throughout the cooking process. Not only does spritzing protect the turkey from drying out, but it also aids in the formation of a bark on the skin.

If you find that the bottom of the leg is cooking considerably quicker than the top or is burning, cover it in foil to preserve the flesh.

3. Glaze the legs

When the internal temperature of your turkey legs hits 165°F, they are done. I like to brush the turkey legs with barbeque sauce just before pulling them from the smoker.

Although not everyone who smokes turkey legs adds sauce, I believe it’s a lovely addition that adds another depth of taste.

Sweet Lady Love, I used Best Damn BBQ Sauce. Use our basic BBQ sauce recipe for a simple DIY alternative.

I cooked the sauce on the smoker and applied many applications. I allow the sauce to adhere to the turkey legs for approximately 5 minutes before removing them to rest for 10 minutes.

If you have it, put a layer of newspaper or butcher paper over the bottom of each leg to make it easier to handle without getting your hands dirty.

Check out our other Thanksgiving turkey recipes below for additional ideas:

  • Cranberry and Port Glazed Smoked Turkey Breast
  • Spatchcocked Smoked Turkey with Pan Stuffing
  • Recipe for Smoked Turkey: The Best Method for Juicy BBQ Turkey

A note about poultry safe eating temperature

The safe internal temperature for eating fowl is 165F. When I’m cooking a full turkey or bird, I’ll sometimes pull it from the smoker around 160F and let it rest. The beef will reach 165°F while resting.

When cooking turkey legs, however, there is more wiggle space since the flesh does not dry up as soon. When the internal temperature of the turkey reaches roughly 175F, I remove the legs. You may do anything you want as long as the interior temperature is above 165F.

When I’m cooking dark meat like legs, wings, or thighs, I often leave them on for even longer and they still keep a lot of moisture.

A decent quick read thermometer is essential for ensuring that your food is cooked to the proper safe temperature. There are several on the market, but I suggest the Thermapen ONE from Thermoworks because of its precision and quickness.


Are Disney turkey legs healthy?

The Disney Turkey Legs are no exception. According to a 2013 New York Times report, the Jumbo Turkey Legs at Disney are high in salt and have 720 calories and 36 grams of fat. That is not the healthiest dinner available at the Magic Kingdom, but it is also not the most unhealthy.

Are smoked turkey legs healthy for you?

Furthermore, the black flesh of the smoked turkey leg has more zinc and selenium than the white meat. Overall, smoked turkey leg is a nutritious cuisine that may be enjoyed as part of a well-balanced diet.

What is the secret of Disney turkey leg?

Disney’s turkey legs are larger than the typical bird’s. This is because they are descended from a specific breed of turkey known as a “tom” turkey. They can weigh up to 50 pounds! Uncle John’s Pride sells them to Disney.

Does smoked turkey leg taste like ham?

No, they are first cured using a curing salt (particularly, sodium nitrite). This is what gives them their characteristic pink hue that resembles ham. Some individuals even think the turkey legs taste like ham. This is most likely because of the beautiful, equal saltiness across the leg.

Are turkey legs healthier than chicken?

Turkey is lower in calories, fat, and salt than chicken, and it has a slightly greater amount of iron. However, there are certain benefits to eating chicken. For example, chicken is higher in niacin (Vitamin B-3), a vitamin that aids in the conversion of food into energy.

Are turkey legs high in cholesterol?

To recap, turkey meat offers low amounts of total lipids, cholesterol, and polyunsaturated fatty acids, making it an appealing alternative for diets aimed at decreasing blood cholesterol levels.

Is smoked turkey considered processed meat?

Turkey and chicken are often suggested as healthier alternatives to red meat. However, if they are preserved, they are considered processed meats and are unhealthy. Nitrates have most likely been added to roasted chicken and roasted turkey in deli meat packs or at the deli counter. Turkey bacon does as well.

Is smoked turkey better than roasted?

Cooking the turkey in the oven provides a number of benefits, including the ability to control the temperature. With no additional flavor from the smoke, you’ll have to be a little more creative with your seasoning.

Is smoked turkey leg processed meat?

Although it has less fat than other meats such as beef or pig, smoked turkey is still classified processed meat, which has been linked to heart disease and diabetes by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Smoked turkey is also heavy in salt, making it inappropriate for people on a low-sodium diet.

What are the big turkey legs at Disney?

It’s a ’80s throwback.

The gigantic turkey leg, a cheesy concession that Renaissance fairs have provided for years, first appeared at Disney World in the late 1980s. It was initially only available from one food cart at Magic Kingdom’s Frontierland, near Big Al’s.


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