Easy Roasted Turkey Legs

As most of us are looking at smaller holiday gatherings this year, these easy roasted turkey legs are a perfect solution for a party of 4 or less.  Rubbed in a flavorful compound butter and roasted at a high temperature, the legs have gorgeously golden and crisp skin with juicy and tender meat.

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Perfect for a small Thanksgiving gathering - Easy Roasted Turkey Legs flavored with an herb and orange compound butter.

My first time going to a fair in Texas, I kept seeing people walking around gnawing on a turkey drumstick, looking like Fred Flintstone.  I found it bizarre – until I tasted one.  It was so flavorful with skin that was rendered down and crispy and meat that was incredibly juicy, rich, and tender.  I’ve been a turkey leg fanatic ever since.


I’ve tried to replicate the legs you get from a Fair vendor, but I’ve never gotten close.  However, I discovered that turkey legs are very forgiving – unlike the turkey breast that dries out easily.  

Flavored compound butter, both under and over the skin, a few aromatic vegetables, wine, and chicken stock is all that’s needed for a great-tasting and juicy turkey leg.  

You can use anything you like for the butter.  For this recipe, we’re using orange zest, salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning.

Another tip is to roast the turkey legs at a high temperature for a shorter period to get a really golden brown and crispy skin.  Some recipes call for the legs to be roasted at 350 degrees for 90 minutes – and they turn out great but without the crispy skin.

Perfect for a small Thanksgiving gathering - Easy Roasted Turkey Legs flavored with an herb and orange compound butter.


For years, a turkey was something you only had on Thanksgiving.  And as much as I enjoy turkey, roasting a whole bird for only a few people isn’t practical.  Even I get tired of turkey leftovers after a week.

Roasting just part of the bird is the answer to being able to enjoy turkey all year round.  Turkey legs on the grill are out of this world!  

You can usually find turkey legs in the grocery store during Thanksgiving (and they’re cheaper too).  If possible, buy them and freeze them for later in the year.

For our small Thanksgiving gathering in the time of COVID, I’m serving Easy Roasted Turkey Legs with a Spicy Southern Corn Casserole, a Fresh Cranberry Salsa, and Sweet And Tangy Green Bean Bundles.  Next year we’ll do a big traditional holiday meal!

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Perfect for a small Thanksgiving gathering, these easy roasted turkey legs are juicy and flavorful with golden, crispy skins.



¼ cup butter, room temperature

½ teaspoon finely minced orange zest

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon poultry seasoning

4 whole turkey legs (skin on)

1 naval orange, zested and sliced thin

1 head garlic, cut in half

4 sprigs fresh rosemary

¼ cup chicken broth

¼ cup dry white wine


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Grab a roasting pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the butter, orange zest, salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning. Set aside.

Pat the turkey legs dry with paper towels.  Use your fingers to loosen the skin on each of the legs.

Divide the butter mixture between the four legs.  Spread the butter under the skin and then over the skin of each leg.

Place the legs in the bottom of the roasting pan.

Arrange the orange slices, garlic halves, and rosemary around the legs.

Pour the broth and wine around the pan.

Roast the turkey legs, uncovered for 20 minutes until the skin is golden brown.

Loosely cover the pan with foil and continue roasting for 30 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees.

Remove the pan from the oven and secure the foil around the pan.

Allow the meat to rest for 10 minutes before serving.  This allows the internal temperature to climb to 170 degrees and the juices to redistribute in the meat.

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes + 10 minutes resting time
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Roast
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: easy roasted turkey legs, Thanksgiving main dish, Thanksgiving, turkey legs, compound butter,

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