How to Marinate Turkey Legs: Two Delicious Recipes for Juicy, Flavorful Turkey

Are you looking for a way to make your turkey legs extra juicy and flavorful? Look no further than these two amazing recipes! Whether you prefer a citrusy orange marinade or a savory herb glaze, these recipes are sure to impress.

Orangey Turkey Legs

This recipe from Allrecipes is a classic for a reason. The orange marinade infuses the turkey with a bright, tangy flavor that is perfect for any occasion. The best part is that this recipe is incredibly easy to follow making it perfect for even the most novice cooks.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 (11 ounce) can mandarin oranges, drained with liquid reserved
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 turkey drumsticks
  • Salt to taste

Here’s how to make it:

  1. In a blender or food processor, mix the orange segments, vinegar, and brown sugar. Transfer to a large resealable plastic bag, and mix in the reserved mandarin orange liquid and oil. Place the turkey drumsticks in the bag, seal, and marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  3. Place the marinated turkey drumsticks on the baking sheet, and season with salt.
  4. Cover, and bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove cover, and continue baking 1 hour, basting often with the remaining orange mixture, to an internal temperature of 180 degrees F (80 degrees C).
  5. Note: Leftover marinade may be heated and whisked with water and flour for a gravy-glaze.

Herb-Roasted Turkey Legs

This recipe from Pups with Chopsticks takes things up a notch with a flavorful herb glaze. The combination of fresh herbs and spices creates a delicious crust that is sure to please your taste buds. This recipe also includes a simple brine that helps to keep the turkey legs moist and juicy.

Here’s what you’ll need:

For the brine:

  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • 8 cups water
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • 4-5 garlic cloves (roughly crushed)
  • 2 black cardamom (optional)

For the herb glaze:

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (light or low sodium)
  • ½ tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • ½ onion
  • 2 tablespoons oil (to make the onion paste)
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup oil (any oil except olive oil)
  • 1 teaspoon lemongrass
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dill
  • ½ teaspoon basil

For the turkey:

  • 4 turkey legs

Here’s how to make it:

  1. Brining the Turkey: In a large bowl, combine the water and salt together and stir until the salt has dissolved. Add in the bay leaves, crushed garlic cloves, and black cardamoms (optional). Add in the turkey legs and brine it for 24 hours in the fridge.
  2. Making the Herb Glaze: In a food processor, blitz half an onion with 2 tablespoons of oil until it becomes a paste. (If you don’t have a food processor, you can grate the onion instead) Melt the butter and combine the onion paste, ¼ cup of oil, soy sauces, and herbs into 1 bowl and mix well. Set aside for later to glaze the turkey. (Note: the glaze may thicken, as the butter cools – not to worry, it will melt back into an oil once you brush it on the hot turkey!)
  3. Roasting the Turkey: Preheat the oven to 350F (177C). Use a roasting pan and put a rack in it to suspend the turkey, so there is airflow between the pan and the bottom of the turkey. If you don’t have a rack, you can take tin foil and roughly press it together to create a rough and bumpy texture and place the turkey legs on top so it is not sitting completely flat against the roasting pan.
  4. Once the oven is up to temperature, place the turkey legs in the oven and set the timer for 30 minutes. Once 30 minutes is up, you can start to glaze the turkey with the herb glaze every 15-20 minutes.
  5. The turkey legs should take between 1 hour and 30 minutes to 1 hour and 45 minutes but use a meat thermometer to be sure. The internal temperature should be 165F (74C). When you cut into the turkey, the juices should be clear and not bloody.

Tips for the Perfect Turkey Legs:

  • Marinate overnight: This will allow the flavors to penetrate the turkey and create a more flavorful dish.
  • Use a meat thermometer: This is the best way to ensure that your turkey legs are cooked through to a safe temperature.
  • Don’t overcook: Overcooked turkey can be dry and tough.
  • Let the turkey rest: This will allow the juices to redistribute, resulting in a more tender and juicy turkey.

Additional Resources:


Choosing the Right Marinade

Marinades are a combination of liquids, acids, and seasonings that help to tenderize and flavor the meat. When marinating turkey legs, it’s important to choose a marinade that complements the natural flavors of the meat. Here are a few popular options:

  • Citrus-based marinade: To give the turkey legs a bright, zesty flavor, combine citrus juice, olive oil, and herbs.
  • Herb-infused marinade: To make a flavorful and fragrant marinade for the turkey legs, combine fresh herbs, garlic, and olive oil.
  • Sweet and savory marinade: Soy sauce, honey, and spices can give the turkey legs a wonderful sweet and salty taste.

Once you’ve chosen the marinade, it’s time to prepare the turkey legs for marinating. Follow these simple steps to ensure that the meat absorbs the flavors effectively:

  • To clean the turkey legs, use paper towels to pat them dry after rinsing them under cold water.
  • To help the marinade seep into the meat, score the turkey legs in shallow cuts using a sharp knife.
  • Turkey legs should be placed in a resealable bag so that the marinade can completely cover the meat. After brushing the marinade into the meat, close the bag and pour the marinade over the turkey legs.
  • The turkey legs should be marinated for at least four hours, but preferably overnight. To do this, place the sealed bag in the refrigerator. This will allow the flavors to seep into the meat.

Marinating Turkey Legs: A Delicious and Flavorful Option

When it comes to cooking turkey legs, marinating them can take the flavor to a whole new level. Turkey legs are a delicious dish for any occasion, and marinating them can add depth and richness to the meat whether you’re grilling, roasting, or frying.

Oven Baked Turkey Legs | Easy Baked Turkey Legs | Ray Mack’s Kitchen & Grill


What is turkey marinade made of?

In the clean stockpot, make the marinade by stirring together together sliced oranges, sliced lemons, onion, green bell pepper, parsley, cloves, garlic powder, cinnamon sticks, paprika, olive oil, and pepper. Place the turkey into the stockpot and rub the marinade into the turkey. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

How long is it safe to marinate a turkey?

Most recipes for marinating meat and poultry recommend six hours up to 24 hours. It is safe to keep the food in the marinade longer, but after two days it is possible that the marinade can start to break down the fibers of the meat, causing it to become mushy.

What do they put on turkey legs?

Turkey booties, also known as turkey frills, are little paper caps that people stick on the end of turkey legs, to cover up the unsightly ends of the bones.

Should I brine my turkey legs?

But being dark meat is not enough for it to stay juicy and tender, the secret is you need to brine it in a salt solution. If you’re looking to use turkey thighs instead, I also have a recipe for Easy Oven Roasted Turkey Thighs with Coffee Rub that you may enjoy!

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