How to Cook a Turkey Thigh in the Oven

When you need a smaller, faster alternative to a whole roast turkey but prefer something less messy than drumsticks, turkey thighs are the perfect solution. These tender, flavorful poultry pieces roast beautifully in the oven, and they're a cinch to prep and season. While roasting an entire bird is a famously daunting task, even novice home cooks can readily handle this job. The hardest part is deciding which mouth-watering combination of your favorite herbs and spices to use.

Step 1

Prepare a seasoning paste to apply to the turkey thighs by combining olive oil and a few of your favorite fresh herbs and spices, such as garlic, sage, thyme, tarragon, basil or rosemary. If using whole or large spices, you can mash them together with a mortar and pestle or whirl them in a food processor. Then drizzle a small amount of olive oil over the herbs and stir until the mixture has a spreadable consistency.

Step 2

Cut a few deep slits into the turkey skin with a sharp knife or loosen the skin at one edge. Apply a coating of your rub to the entire surface of the meat with a cooking brush. Stick the thighs in the refrigerator for several hours to marinate.

Step 3

Take the thighs out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before you're ready to cook them. They'll cook more quickly and evenly if they're not too chilled when they go into the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line the bottom of your roasting pan with foil and grease its rack with nonstick spray.

Step 4

Place the turkey thighs on the roasting pan, skin-side down. Put the pan in the middle of the oven, and roast for 30 minutes. Turn the thighs over and continue cooking them until their centers reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit, as measured by a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thighs. Make sure the stem of the thermometer isn't in contact with bone while taking a reading. It should take about another 30 minutes to finish cooking, with larger thighs taking a bit longer than smaller ones.

Step 5

Transfer the turkey thighs to a plate, and tent loosely with foil. Let the thighs rest for 15 minutes or so before serving.

Things You'll Need

  • Herbs and spices

  • Olive oil

  • Knife

  • Cooking brush

  • Roasting pan

  • Aluminum foil

  • Nonstick spray

  • Meat thermometer

  • Plate


Store fresh, raw turkey thighs in the refrigerator at 35 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit for up to two days, then cook or freeze them. Refrigerate any leftover cooked turkey promptly and use within two days.


To prevent foodborne illness, wash your hands -- and any utensils, dishes or countertops that came in contact with raw poultry -- with hot, soapy water.

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