How Do You Cook Already Smoked Turkey Legs to Perfection? - BBQ Host (2023)

Smoked turkey legs are a visually appealing staple of theme parks, county fairs, and other festive outdoor arenas. Butdid you know you can buy pre-smoked turkey legs and reheat them,instead of waiting for them to cook through? Here’s how to do it.

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How Do You Cook Already Smoked Turkey Legs?

To reheat pre-smoked turkey legs, brush them with oil, then set them on a grill over medium heat until they’ve reached an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. This process should take 15 to 20 minutes, depending on how big the legs are. You can also use the oven, an air fryer, or a slow cooker to reheat the meat.

What’s The Difference Between Fresh and Smoked Turkey Legs?

When you purchase fresh turkey legs, you’re getting a raw meat product that needs to be thoroughly cooked before it’s safe for human consumption.

Smoked turkey legs, on the other hand, havealready been cooked. What’s more, they’ve been prepared on a smoker, which gives thema rich, succulent flavor.

With fresh turkey legs, you have a blank slate as far as the taste is concerned. Dark meat has a more intense flavor than the white meat on the breast, but it still makes an excellent templatefor bolder ingredients.

How Do You Cook Already Smoked Turkey Legs to Perfection? - BBQ Host (1)

If the turkey legs have already had a stint on the smoker, they’ll have a distinct flavor. You can use sauces or seasonings to complement the flavor, but you won’t be able to get rid of the smoky taste. Fortunately, anyone who buys pre-smoked turkey legs is bound to appreciate this.

Note thatpre-cooked meat tends to be more expensive than the raw product.That’s because a lot of time and effort was put into the preparation. In essence, you’re paying for the convenience of having someone else do the cooking for you.

(Video) How to smoke Turkey Legs

Where To Buy Smoked Turkey Legs

First of all,check your local grocery store.Many well-stocked supermarkets and even some smaller mom-and-pop establishments will carry smoked turkey legs, especially during grilling season.

If you don’t have any luck at the store, turn to online retailers.Kroger and Costco mayhave smoked turkey legsavailable by the case. Specialty retailers like Farmer’s Fresh Meat are also worth a look.

How To Select Smoked Turkey Legs

Take a look at the “sell by” date on the package.This is easy to do when you’re shopping in person, but may not be possible if you’re buying online. Fortunately, most online retailers sell these products in a frozen state, so it’s less of a concern.

Bear in mind that “sell by” dates are only in place to let the retailers know how long a product has been on the shelf. You can use it as a guideline, but it isn’t a reliable indicator of freshness.

In this case,checking the date will give you an idea of how long ago the turkey legs were smoked.If it’s been sitting on the shelf for too long, the meat won’t have the same appealing taste.

Also,look for plump turkey legs with a lot of meat attached to the bone.The color should range from bronze to deep mahogany, with a glistening appearance to indicate moisture.

It’s a good idea to check the price tag as well. As we mentioned, pre-smoked turkey legs are pricier than fresh ones.It’s not a good idea to buy the cheapest product on the shelf, as the quality will probably be in line with the cost.

Finally,take a look at the ingredient list. It should only consist of a few items, all of which you recognize.A long list of complicated ingredients indicates that the product is stuffed full of preservatives, which can affect the taste.

It’s natural for salt or sodium nitrate to be listed as an ingredient.If the sodium content is too high, though, the turkey legs might taste overly salty.Keep that in mind while you’re checking the list.

Do You Have To Cook Pre-Smoked Turkey Legs?

In theory, thesmoked turkey legs are safe to eat because they’ve already been cooked tothe proper internal temperature. To improve the texture, it’s a good idea to heat them up.Obviously, if the product arrives frozen, you’ll need to do this anyway.

(Video) Smoked Turkey Legs Recipe

The trick is to heat the turkey legs without cooking them so much that they dry out. You also don’t want theskin to turn rubberyin the process. Here are a few of the most popular methods.

On the Grill

To give the smoked turkey legs a sense of authenticity, we like to reheat them on the grill or smoker.It doesn’t take a lot of time, and the turkey will get a nice flavor boost.

To begin, preheatthe grill to medium, or 350 degrees if using a pellet smoker. Using a silicone brush, coat the turkey legs with a bit of neutral cooking oil, such as canola.

How Do You Cook Already Smoked Turkey Legs to Perfection? - BBQ Host (2)

When the grill is ready,put the turkey legs directly on the cooking grate. Let them heat up until they achieve an internal temperature of 160 degrees, turning a few times to prevent scorching. This should take 15 to 20 minutes.

During the last minute or two of cooking, brush the turkey legs with your favorite barbecue sauce. We would recommend a Kansas City-style sauce, as the sweet sticky glaze is the perfect foil for the smoked turkey.

Speaking of foil, you might want to use some to wrap the turkey legs after taking them off the heat, thenlet the package sitfor 5 minutes. You can let them rest uncovered, but the foil wrapper will allow the barbecue sauce to further penetrate the meat.

After 5 minutes, unwrap the turkey legs and serve with additional sauce on the side.

In the Oven

Don’t want to take the time to fire up the grill? The oven works well in a pinch, and all you need are the turkey legs and a supply of heavy-duty aluminum foil.

First,preheat the oven to 325 degrees.While it’s heating, set the turkey legs on a long sheet of foil, then sprinkle them with water or chicken stock.

Wrap the foil around the turkey legs, creating a tight seal.If there’s not enough foil to fully enclose the meat, start over with a fresh sheet.

(Video) Amazing Cajun Apple Smoked Turkey Legs on the Ole Hickory (Ace MM)

Set this package on a baking sheet or roasting pan. Place in the preheated oven andheat for about 30 minutes,or until the turkey legs are heated to 160 degrees.

If you want to apply a sauce, do so for the last 5-10 minutes. Otherwise, the sauce might burn, which would impart an acrid flavor to the meat.

Let the turkey legs rest for about 5 minutes before serving.

In the Air Fryer

If you’re really in a hurry, you canuse the air fryerto reheat the turkey legs. This method works well if you just want to grab a snack before heading out the door.

After preheating the air fryer to 375 degrees, set the smoked turkey legs in the basket. Cook for about 10 minutes,rotating them halfway through to ensure even heating.

Once they’ve reachedan internal tempof 160, the turkey legs are good to go. You don’t need to rest them when you’ve used this method, but you still might want to wait a few minutes before digging in, as the meat will be very hot. Add sauce if desired.

In the Slow Cooker

This is our least favorite technique, as it takes the longest and doesn’t contribute much in terms of flavor. However, it doesn’t require much attention, and the meat is virtually guaranteed to remain moist.

Set the turkey legs in the slow cooker and add just enough chicken stock to cover the meat.You can also use beer, apple juice, cider, or plain water.

Close the lid andset the slow cooker to low. Let the meat heat through for about 45 minutesor until an instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees when inserted into the meatiest portion of the leg. Be careful not to touch the bone.

Serve with barbecue sauce on the side, if you’d like.

(Video) Smoked Turkey Legs On The Weber Charcoal Grill | Turkey Leg Recipe

Storage Tips

Alwayskeep your smoked turkey legs in the original packaging until you’re ready to reheat them.If you have leftovers, wrap them in a layer of plastic wrap before adding a second layer of foil, or put the wrapped meat in a sealed container.

If the meat is exposed to air, it will dry out more quickly. Worse, it will deteriorate faster, so the leftovers might not last as long as you’d like.

Smoked turkey legs should keep in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. If they’re frozen, try to thaw and reheat them within a 6-month time frame.

The Bottom Line

When the turkey legs are already cooked, you don’t have to wait as long for the meat to heat through.Best of all, they’re usually sold in bulk. This makes them an ideal choice for casual backyard gatherings.

Best of luck, and happy grilling!

How Do You Cook Already Smoked Turkey Legs to Perfection? - BBQ Host (3)

Darren Wayland

(Video) Smoked Turkey Legs!! | Backyard Test Kitchen

Hi there! I’m Darren Wayland, your BBQHost. My love of great barbecue inspired me to curate this site as a resource for all my like-minded fellow pitmasters out there. When I’m not researching and learning all I can about the latest tips and techniques, you can find me at the grill—that is, if you can spot me at all through the clouds of sweet-smelling smoke. And since you asked, yes, that probably is barbecue sauce on my face. Welcome to the party!


How to prepare pre cooked smoked turkey legs? ›

Reheating – To reheat, place in a baking dish and cover with a loosely fitted piece of foil. Place in a 350°F oven and warm for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until heated through. Turkey legs are cooked when an instant read thermometer registers to 165°F.

How to cook an already smoked turkey leg on the grill? ›

Cooking pre-smoked turkey legs is as simple as brushing them with olive oil and grilling them on medium heat until the thickest part of the leg gets to a safe internal temperature of 165°F. You can also cook smoked turkey legs in the oven, air fryer, or slow cooker.

How do you cook a turkey that's already been smoked? ›

We recommend using a rack in your roasting pan. Add a little water to the bottom of the pan and cover the smoked turkey with foil. Bake at 325 degrees for approx. 10 minutes per pound, or until your meat thermometer reads 165 degrees.

How do you reheat smoked turkey legs in a slow cooker? ›

Cook on low for about 5-6 hours (longer is even better). You'll probably need more water to cover them in the crockpot.

How do you reheat smoked turkey leg without drying it out? ›

Cover the pan tightly with foil—this will allow the turkey to steam and stay moist—then reheat at a low temperature until hot, about 20 to 30 minutes at 300 degrees.

How do you reheat fully cooked smoked turkey legs? ›

The best way to reheat turkey legs is to think of them as small, tasty pot roasts, and treat them accordingly: Warm them slowly in a low oven, with a bit of moisture to keep them from drying out.

Why are my smoked turkey legs tough? ›

Why are my turkey legs tough? There are a lot of tendons and ligaments in turkey legs. The best way to break down all of that connective tissue is to let the legs smoke low and slow for the full 3-4 hours. Too often, removing them early will not give them time to break down the connective tissues.

Do you have to cook a fully cooked smoked turkey? ›

Butterball Smoked Whole Turkeys are fully cooked and ready to eat. They can be used in recipes calling for cooked turkey without prior heating. The pink color of the meat comes from smoking and curing and is not a sign of undercooked meat.

How long does it take to cook a fully cooked smoked turkey? ›

Place turkey breast in 350° oven and heat until warm. 3/4 - 1.5 hours. Check temperature with a meat thermometer. The temperature should be 140° F.

How long to warm a pre cooked smoked turkey? ›

Preheat oven to 350° F. Remove turkey breast from packaging and rewrap in aluminum foil (to prevent sticking, first spray aluminum foil with nonstick cooking spray). Place foil-wrapped turkey breast in shallow roasting pan. Heat at 350° F for 1 hour and 20 minutes.

How long do smoked turkey legs take to cook? ›

Smoke. Heat your smoker to 225°F and smoke turkey for about 4 hours, or until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 165°F.

Will reheating smoked turkey dry it out? ›

If it warms to over 150, it will start to dry out. It's been my experience that a reheated smoked turkey loses some of the smoke flavor.

How do you reheat smoked drumsticks? ›

That's right: Skip the microwave!
  1. Step 1: Preheat your oven to 400°F. You want the oven to heat up fully before you attempt to reheat the chicken. ...
  2. Step 2: Fit a wire rack over a baking sheet. Take your chicken out of the fridge; let it come to room temp. ...
  3. Step 3: Bake for 15 minutes.
Mar 21, 2021

How do you keep smoked turkey moist when reheating? ›

To keep your smoked turkey moist and tender, place it on a rack in a roasting pan with a little water in the bottom. Cover it with foil and reheat it in a low oven.

How do you heat up smoked turkey legs in an air fryer? ›

Once they have cooled, place leftover turkey legs in an airtight container and store them in the fridge for up to 2 days. Reheat: To reheat them in the air fryer, set your air fryer to 350 degrees F and lightly spray or coat the basket with oil. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until heated through.

What's the best way to reheat a turkey leg in the microwave? ›

How to Reheat Turkey in the Microwave
  1. Let the turkey come to room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Prepare and moisten the turkey in a baking dish and cover with a paper towel or a microwave-safe lid (see instructions above).
  3. Heat on low power for 2 to 6 minutes, or until warm.
May 8, 2023

How long to cook smoked turkey legs in microwave? ›

Place the drumsticks in a microwave-safe 9" x 13" baking dish. In a medium bowl, combine the remaining ingredients; mix well and pour over the drumsticks. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and microwave at 80% power for 20 minutes.

How do you get crispy skin on smoked turkey legs? ›

Notes. Crisp-Skinned Variation–For a turkey with crisp skin, smoke it until the internal temperature of the bird reaches 145°F. Transfer the bird to a hot grill preheated to 350° to 375°F and finish it off until the temperature bumps up to 165°F.

How do you keep turkey legs from drying out? ›

Elevate the Legs

Keep your breast from drying out before the dark meat is done by elevating or trussing the legs. Exposing the legs to more heat allows them to cook at the same rate as the breast meat. Combined with a good rub or brine, you'll have a supermoist turkey everyone can enjoy.

Why are smoked turkey legs pink? ›

Scientists have found that pinkness occurs when gases in the atmosphere of a heated gas or electric oven react chemically with hemoglobin in the meat tissues to give poultry a pink tinge. They are the same substances that give red color to smoked hams and other cured meats.

Do you remove the plastic holding the turkey legs before cooking? ›

Speaking of plastic, turkeys usually come with a plastic or metal crimp, called a hock lock, holding the legs together at the back. You can leave it on or take it off; the legs may cook more evenly without it.

Are smoked turkey legs safe to eat? ›

Are Smoked Turkey Legs Fully Cooked? Yes, they sure are! Use an instant-read meat thermometer to make sure the meat next to the bone (in the thickest part of the leg) is 165-F. If the meat appears pink, but the temperature is at least 165-F, then it is from the smoke and is safe to eat.

Can you overcook a smoked turkey? ›

Can you overcook a smoked turkey? Yes, it's possible to overcook a smoked turkey. This is why it's important to use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the turkey throughout the smoking process.

Do I put the turkey directly on the grill when smoking? ›

Smoke The Turkey: Directly on The Grill/Smoker
  1. Transfer the turkey to a pre-heated grill.
  2. Cook for 30 minutes per pound at 225 degrees F, spritzing with the broth every 45-60 minutes. ...
  3. Smoke until the thickest part of the thigh reaches 165 degrees F. ...
  4. Remove the turkey to a large cutting board and let rest for 15 minutes.
Nov 6, 2021

Do you smoke a turkey in a pan or directly on the grill? ›

You can either smoke your turkey directly on the grates of your smoker with a drip tray below it or in a roasting pan on a rack. I prefer to use the roasting pan because I like to collect the turkey drippings to use in gravy or roasted potatoes.

Is smoked fully cooked? ›

The answer, in short, is if it is cured, smoked or baked, ham is considered “pre-cooked,” and would not technically need to be cooked. This includes the ham that is purchased at the deli. In fact, most ham that is sold to consumers is already cured, smoked or baked.

How do you reheat a precooked turkey without drying it out? ›

  1. Wrap leftover portions in aluminum foil, stacking any slices. ...
  2. Place the meat on a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet. ...
  3. Transfer to a 275-degree oven. ...
  4. Heat until the meat registers 130 degrees.
Nov 12, 2021

How do you know when smoked turkey is done? ›

Check these places on your turkey and look for these temperatures:
  1. 180°F in thigh.
  2. 170°F in breast.
  3. 165°F in stuffing.

How can you tell if smoked turkey is undercooked? ›

If your guests doubt you, fear not. Instead, gently remind them that undercooked turkey is squishy and soft with a pallid hue while properly cooked turkey is firm, albeit with the chance of a slightly pinkish tinge at the joints.

How do you cook a precooked turkey? ›

Conventional oven:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Remove turkey breast from the wrapper. ...
  3. Place turkey breast side up, on a flat roasting rack in 2 to 2 1/4-inch roasting pan. ...
  4. Brush or spray skin with vegetable oil.
  5. Place turkey breast in 350° oven and heat until warm. ...
  6. Check temperature with a meat thermometer.

How do you keep a smoked turkey warm for hours? ›

If your oven isn't stuffed full of other dishes, or if you are one of the lucky folks who have a spare oven, then you can hold the turkey there at 200°F, although you should cover the bird to make sure it doesn't dry out. The most common way to keep a turkey warm is to cover it with foil.

What temperature do you reheat pre cooked turkey? ›

First, preheat your oven to 325° F. Remove the turkey from the aluminum foil wrapping and place in a roasting pan. Pour 1 cup of water in the bottom of the pan and cover the turkey with a tented sheet of aluminum foil. For a 10-12 pound cooked turkey, bake for one hour, or until the turkey is 125° F.

How long can you keep a fully cooked smoked turkey in the refrigerator? ›

USDA recommends using cooked turkey within 3 to 4 days, kept refrigerated (40°F or less). Refrigeration slows but does not stop bacterial growth. Turkey can be frozen for 3 to 4 months.

How do you know when turkey legs are cooked? ›

The meat should feel soft and the leg will move easily when twisted. Another check is to run a long-tined fork into thick muscle; the meat should feel tender and the juice should show no pink tinge.

Why do turkey legs take longer to cook? ›

The legs and thighs, when attached to the bird, are surrounded by connective tissue and also more protected by the carcass. They cook by heat conduction rather than direct heat, so take longer to cook on the whole bird.

What temperature is a smoked turkey leg done? ›

Place the turkey legs in your smoker with 3 to 4 wood chunks on top of the hot coals. Cook until the deepest sections of the turkey legs reach an internal temperature of 165°F, or about 2 1/2 hours. Hot TipUse an instant read thermometer to determine the internal temperature of the turkey. 7.

How do you keep smoked meat moist when reheating? ›

Make Sure There's Moisture

You don't want to ruin well-smoked meat that took you hours when reheating it. We recommend spritzing the meat with a low sodium moisturizer, which can be beef broth, apple juice, or even chicken broth, depending on your preference.

Does smoked turkey dry out? ›

Turkey is a delicate meat that doesn't have a lot of connective tissue or fat. It will dry out and darken quickly, as well as absorb the flavors of smoke more than other meat does.

Can smoked turkey sit out at room temperature? ›

Answer: You can safely leave cooked turkey out at room temperature for two hours -- or one hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit -- says the United States Department of Agriculture. Cooked turkey that has been left out for longer than 2 hours (or 1 hour above 90° F) should be discarded.

How do you heat an already smoked turkey? ›

We recommend using a rack in your roasting pan. Add a little water to the bottom of the pan and cover the smoked turkey with foil. Bake at 325 degrees for approx. 10 minutes per pound, or until your meat thermometer reads 165 degrees.

How do you reheat smoked BBQ? ›

When it comes to reheating leftover barbecue, low and slow is the best method. A slow to the moderate oven—300 F to 325 F—works well. Keep the barbecue covered so it won't dry out, and stir it occasionally. Or reheat it in a covered skillet or saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently.

What is the best way to reheat smoked food? ›

Preheat oven to 350°F degrees. Remove all plastic wrap from the food. Rewrap your food in aluminum foil or place it in a pan and cover with foil. Place the foil-wrapped food or pan in the preheated oven and reheat to a minimum internal temperature of 165° F degrees.

How do you reheat smoked turkey legs in an air fryer? ›

Once they have cooled, place leftover turkey legs in an airtight container and store them in the fridge for up to 2 days. Reheat: To reheat them in the air fryer, set your air fryer to 350 degrees F and lightly spray or coat the basket with oil. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until heated through.

How to cook precooked smoked turkey breast? ›

Place turkey breast in 350° oven and heat until warm. 3/4 - 1.5 hours. Check temperature with a meat thermometer. The temperature should be 140° F.
Serve Cold:
  1. Remove turkey breast from the wrapper.
  2. Let meat stand at room temperature 15 minutes to take off the chill.
  3. Carve turkey breast and serve immediately.

How do you cook a precooked turkey without drying it out? ›

  1. Wrap leftover portions in aluminum foil, stacking any slices. ...
  2. Place the meat on a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet. ...
  3. Transfer to a 275-degree oven. ...
  4. Heat until the meat registers 130 degrees.
Nov 12, 2021

Is a pre smoked turkey already cooked? ›

A smoked turkey is an already cooked turkey. Yes, you can eat it cold. Same is true for a ham.

Is a precooked turkey fully cooked? ›

This pre-roasted turkey is fully cooked and delicious served cold. 1. Preheat oven to 325°F. 2.

How long to reheat precooked smoked turkey? ›

Place turkey in a preheated oven and heat for approximately 1 hour, when the internal temperature reaches 140°F.

Can you put tin foil in an air fryer? ›

However, it's pretty tempting to throw a little foil in there to catch any drips and make clean-up even easier, but is that allowed? The short answer is yes, you can put aluminum foil in the air fryer.

How do you make a precooked turkey taste better? ›

Glaze a preroasted bird with olive oil and melted butter before reheating in a 375-degree oven for 15 minutes. Arrange on a beautiful platter and garnish with tiny ears of dried Indian corn, nuts in their shells, clusters of grapes, miniature Lady Apples or Seckle pears.

How do you add flavor to a precooked turkey breast? ›

Never pass up the opportunity to add flavor to turkey by stuffing the cavity with a simple aromatics mix. Fresh herbs like thyme, rosemary, and sage along with a half lemon go a long way to add flavor, and stuffing it into the bird takes almost no time at all.

Can you microwave pre cooked turkey? ›

Slice the turkey up into small, even pieces and place it on a microwave-safe plate. Cover with a paper towel or a microwave-safe lid. Heat on low power for 2 to 5 minutes, or until warm.

What is the secret to crispy turkey skin? ›

Plan to cook your turkey at 400 degrees. “People are always shocked when they hear that, but if you want crispy skin, it's a must,” says Doxon. A smaller turkey will need a slightly higher temperature, and a larger turkey needs slightly lower temperature as to not burn the skin before the bird cooks through.

Should I rub butter or oil on my turkey? ›

Don't butter your bird

Placing butter under the skin won't make the meat juicier, though it might help the skin brown faster. However, butter is about 17 percent water, and it will make your bird splotchy, says López-Alt. Instead, rub the skin with vegetable oil before you roast.


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