How Long to Brine Turkey Legs: A Comprehensive Guide to Juicy, Flavorful Turkey

For days when cooking for a smaller gathering or when a whole turkey is simply too much food, try these juicy, flavorful, and herb-roasted turkey legs baked in the oven. contains a basic, mildly salted brine that will keep your turkey drumsticks juicy and moist!

I considered what the holidays meant to me and the fact that they aren’t always going to be large family get-togethers when I developed this recipe for herb-roasted turkey leg.

Many households of two, including ours, would like to enjoy turkey during the holidays, but it’s not very practical to have a whole turkey because it’s a lot of food!

Given that we’re using dark meat, the turkey will always be juicy and tender, so in cases like this, it makes sense to cook it in smaller portions!

However, simply having dark meat won’t keep it juicy and tender; you also need to brine it in a solution of salt.

I also have a recipe for Easy Oven Roasted Turkey Thighs with Coffee Rub if you’d prefer to use turkey thighs instead!

Not only are these roasted turkey legs perfect for special occasions, but because of their lengthy cooking time, they also make fantastic little Sunday dinners in place of roasts

Brining is a culinary technique that involves soaking meat in a salt-water solution before cooking. This process helps to tenderize the meat, prevent it from drying out, and infuse it with flavor. When it comes to turkey legs, brining is especially important, as it helps to break down the tough connective tissue and ensure a juicy, flavorful result.

How Long to Brine Turkey Legs: The Optimal Time

The optimal brining time for turkey legs depends on several factors, including the size of the legs, the concentration of the brine, and personal preference. However, a general guideline is to brine turkey legs for 4-12 hours.

  • For smaller turkey legs (1-2 pounds), a shorter brining time of 4-6 hours may be sufficient.
  • For larger turkey legs (2-3 pounds or more), a longer brining time of 8-12 hours is recommended.
  • For a more intense flavor, you can brine the turkey legs for up to 24 hours. However, it’s important to note that brining for too long can make the meat mushy.

Brining Turkey Legs: A Step-by-Step Guide

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to brine turkey legs:


  • 1 gallon water
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Ice


  1. Prepare the brine: In a large pot or container, combine the water, salt, brown sugar, onion, garlic, peppercorns, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, stirring until the salt and sugar dissolve. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
  2. Add ice: Once the brine is cool, add enough ice to bring the temperature down to 40°F or below.
  3. Submerge the turkey legs: Place the turkey legs in the brine, ensuring they are completely submerged. Cover the container and refrigerate for 4-12 hours, or up to 24 hours for a more intense flavor.
  4. Remove the turkey legs: After the brining time is complete, remove the turkey legs from the brine and pat them dry with paper towels. Discard the brine.

Tips for Brining Turkey Legs

  • Use a food-grade container: Make sure the container you use for brining is food-grade and large enough to hold the turkey legs and brine comfortably.
  • Keep the brine cold: It’s important to keep the brine cold throughout the brining process to prevent bacterial growth. Add ice to the brine as needed to maintain a temperature of 40°F or below.
  • Rinse the turkey legs: After brining, rinse the turkey legs under cold running water to remove any excess salt.
  • Pat the turkey legs dry: Pat the turkey legs dry with paper towels before cooking to ensure they brown evenly.

Cooking Brined Turkey Legs

After brining, you can cook the turkey legs using your preferred method such as smoking, roasting or grilling. Here are some additional tips for cooking brined turkey legs:

  • Preheat the oven or smoker to 350°F.
  • Place the turkey legs on a wire rack set over a baking sheet or roasting pan.
  • Cook for 1-2 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
  • Let the turkey legs rest for 10-15 minutes before carving and serving.

Brining turkey legs is an excellent way to ensure juicy, flavorful results. By following the tips and instructions outlined above, you can achieve perfectly cooked turkey legs that will impress your family and friends.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I brine turkey legs without a refrigerator?

A: Yes, you can brine turkey legs without a refrigerator, but it’s important to take extra precautions to ensure food safety. Make sure the brine is kept cold, either by using ice or placing the container in a cool location. It’s also important to reduce the brining time to 4-6 hours to minimize the risk of bacterial growth.

Q: Can I use other liquids besides water for brining?

A: Yes, you can use other liquids besides water for brining, such as apple cider, beer, or even buttermilk. However, it’s important to adjust the salt content of the brine accordingly, as these liquids can add additional saltiness.

Q: Can I reuse the brine?

A: It’s not recommended to reuse the brine, as it can become contaminated with bacteria from the raw meat. Discard the brine after use.

Q: Can I brine frozen turkey legs?

A: Yes, you can brine frozen turkey legs, but it’s important to thaw them completely before brining. Thaw the turkey legs in the refrigerator for 24 hours per 5 pounds of meat.

Q: Can I brine turkey breasts?

A: Yes, you can brine turkey breasts using the same method as for turkey legs. However, the brining time may need to be adjusted depending on the thickness of the breasts.

How to Make Turkey Juicy, Tender, and Flavorful

I like to use a brine when I cook any kind of poultry or lean meat, such as pork chops.

Food science at its finest—using the salt to draw water into the meat to make it juicier and more tender—makes it worth the extra work!

You should always brine meat overnight.

how long do you brine turkey legs

It is also very simple to overdo brining and salt when working with meats, which can result in overly salty meats.

I discovered through trial and error that my ideal ratio is three tablespoons of salt to eight or nine cups of water.

If you like your meat more salty, use 8 cups of water; if you prefer your meat less salty, use 9 cups of water.

What to Serve with This Roasted Turkey Leg

My Korean Glass Noodle Stir Fry (Japchae) pairs wonderfully with this turkey as well!

how long do you brine turkey legs

How to brine Turkey Legs

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