Smoked turkey is a real treat, so you'll definitely not want to lose any of that delicious flavor and succulence while it is in the oven. Fortunately, cooking smoked turkey legs isn't difficult — it just involves a little patience and a few simple rules.
Reheat Smoked Turkey Legs Safely
It's almost certainly the case that you'll need to only reheat smoked turkey legs, not cook them from scratch, as virtually all pre-smoked turkey sold in the grocery store is already fully cooked and may even be eaten cold if desired. However it's vital to check labels, as there may be some exceptions to this rule.
Either way, the USDA's advice is the same: Set your oven temperature at no lower than 325 degrees Fahrenheit and raise the turkey to an internal temperature of 165 F. It will probably take about 6 to 8 minutes per pound to reheat pre-smoked cooked turkey. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature.
When reheating cooked turkey, the USDA also suggests adding a little broth or water and covering in the oven to retain moisture. Wrapping drumsticks in aluminum foil is ideal.
Don't worry that smoked turkey meat looks pink — smoked turkey legs cooked in the oven still look this pink, but are safe to eat. The hue is due to nitrites found in cured and smoked meats, so you should go on the internal temperature rather than color to judge safety to eat.
Read more: How to Reheat Turkey and Keep it Moist
How to Home-Smoke Turkey
If you have a charcoal smoker and would prefer to smoke your own turkey from fresh, the USDA recommends these steps (for gas and electric smokers, follow the manufacturer instructions).
- Choose a place outside where your charcoal smoker is sheltered from wind and you can maintain a safe cooking temperature.
- To create moist, hot smoke, fill the liquid pan with a liquid such as wine, apple juice or water, and the charcoal pan with good quality charcoal. For extra flavor you can add water-soaked hard or fruit wood chips. Do not use softwood (pine, fir, cedar or spruce) as it gives food a turpentine flavor and can coat it with black resin.
- Light the charcoal and place the cover on the smoker. When the smoker has reached a temperature of 225 F to 300 F, quickly place the raw turkey on the rack and replace the cover.
- Add charcoal every one to two hours, as necessary, to maintain 225 to 300 F. Replenish the liquid as necessary.
- The estimated cooking time in the smoker is 20 to 30 minutes per pound for bone-in turkey (check the internal temperature reaches 165 F).
Are Smoked Turkey Drumsticks Healthy?
Cooking smoked turkey legs will not only produce a delicious dinner, but also one with some good nutritional benefits.
The USDA says a 3-ounce serving of cooked, skin-removed, smoked turkey drumsticks supplies 170 calories and 2.6 grams of saturated fat, but also has 1.96 milligrams of iron. That's 10 percent of the daily value for this mineral, which the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) says is vital for making the red blood cell hemoglobin that carries oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body.
This size portion of cooked, smoked turkey drumsticks also supplies 32.6 micrograms of selenium, which is 59 percent of the daily value. Selenium is important for a healthy thyroid gland and for protecting the body from damage caused by free radicals and from infection, according to the ODS.
A downside of smoked turkey is its sodium content — a 3-ounce serving has 847 milligrams of this nutrient, which the American Heart Association says causes high blood pressure if you consume too much.
Read more: What Is the Healthiest Meat?
- USDA: "Let's Talk Turkey — A Consumer Guide to Safely Roasting a Turkey"
- USDA: "Is Pink Turkey Meat Safe?"
- USDA: "Turkey: Alternate Routes to the Table"
- USDA: "Turkey, Drumstick, Smoked, Cooked, With Skin, Bone Removed"
- National Institutes of Health: "Labeling Daily Values"
- ODS: "Iron"
- ODS: "Selenium"
- American Heart Association: "Why Should I Limit Sodium?"