Turkey Leg: A Nutritional Powerhouse with a Few Caveats

Hey there, fellow health enthusiasts! Today, we’re diving into the world of turkey legs, specifically the large variety. These succulent morsels are a staple at Thanksgiving dinners and backyard barbecues alike, but how do they stack up in the nutrition department? Let’s get real and separate the facts from the fluff.

The Nutritional Breakdown of a Large Turkey Leg

A single large turkey leg, cooked and with the bone removed, packs a whopping 593 calories. This might seem like a lot, but it’s important to remember that this is just one serving And when you consider the nutritional benefits, you might find that it’s worth the splurge.

Here’s a closer look at the nutritional profile of a large turkey leg:

  • Calories: 593
  • Fat: 28.05 grams (36% DV)
  • Saturated Fat: 8.739 grams (44% DV)
  • Trans Fat: 0 grams
  • Cholesterol: 242 milligrams (81% DV)
  • Sodium: 1149 milligrams (50% DV)
  • Carbohydrates: 0 grams
  • Dietary Fiber: 0 grams
  • Sugars: 0 grams
  • Protein: 79.6 grams

As you can see, turkey legs are a good source of protein, providing nearly 80 grams per serving. They’re also relatively low in carbohydrates and sugars, making them a good option for those following a low-carb diet.

However, it’s important to note that turkey legs are also high in fat and cholesterol. The majority of the fat is saturated fat which can raise your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels if consumed in excess. Additionally, the high sodium content can be a concern for individuals with high blood pressure.

Comparing Turkey Leg to Other Turkey Cuts

So, how does the large turkey leg compare to other turkey cuts in terms of nutrition?

  • Ground Turkey: Ground turkey is a leaner option, with less fat and calories than a turkey leg. However, it also contains less protein.
  • Deli Turkey or Chicken Breast Meat: Deli turkey or chicken breast meat is another lean option, with even less fat and calories than ground turkey. However, it can be high in sodium, depending on the brand and preparation.
  • Turkey Breast Meat: Turkey breast meat is the leanest option of all, with the least amount of fat and calories. However, it can be dry and flavorless if not cooked properly.

Ultimately, the best turkey cut for you depends on your individual dietary needs and preferences. If you’re looking for a lean protein source, ground turkey or deli turkey breast meat are good options. If you’re looking for a more flavorful option, turkey leg might be a better choice. Just be mindful of the fat and sodium content.

Tips for Enjoying Turkey Leg in a Healthy Way

Even though turkey legs are high in fat and cholesterol, there are ways to enjoy them in moderation as part of a healthy diet. Here are a few tips:

  • Remove the skin: The skin of a turkey leg is where most of the fat is concentrated. Removing the skin before cooking can significantly reduce the fat content.
  • Bake or roast instead of frying: Baking or roasting turkey legs is a healthier cooking method than frying. This will help to keep the fat content in check.
  • Pair with healthy sides: Serve turkey legs with healthy sides like roasted vegetables, quinoa, or brown rice. This will help to balance out the meal and make it more nutritious.
  • Limit portion size: A single turkey leg is a large serving. Consider sharing it with a friend or family member, or saving half for later.

Turkey legs are a delicious and nutritious food that can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet. However, it’s important to be mindful of the fat and cholesterol content and to choose healthy cooking methods and sides. By following the tips above, you can enjoy turkey legs in moderation without derailing your health goals.

Additional Resources

  • FatSecret: Calories in 1 large Turkey Drumstick and Nutrition Facts
  • Prospre: Turkey Leg Nutrition


This information is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Please consult with a healthcare professional before making any changes to your diet.

Detailed Nutrient Information Vitamin C

  • 3 oz (85 g)
  • 1 unit (yield from 1 lb ready-to-cook turkey) (71 g)
  • 1 leg, bone removed (546 g)
  • Excellent source of Zinc
  • Excellent source of Selenium
  • Good source of Riboflavin
  • Good source of Niacin
  • Good source of Pantothenic Acid
  • Good source of Vitamin B6
  • Good source of Copper

‡ – As defined by Health Canada guidelines.

Nutrition Facts Source: USDA


  • Very High Protein
  • Moderate Fat
  • Zero Carbs
  • Foods with similar macro profiles:

Profile of Protein in Item Recommended Protein Powder Shop for high-quality whey protein supplements at Transparent Labs. Shop Whey Protein Purchases made through this affiliate link support Prospre. Essential Amino Acids

Essential amino acids are critical for building protein. For more information, see the Wikipedia page about them.

Protein Quality Score: 100% †

Limiting Amino Acid: Leucine

  • Legumes, meat, nuts, fish, soy, hemp, and legumes are a few foods high in leucine.

† – Not adjusted for digestibility. For more information, see the protein digestibility tables.

100g of Turkey Leg contains 27. 9g of protein, which is about the same as 4. 6 eggs, 1 chicken breast, or 2 cups (541g) of black beans.

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