A batch of smoked turkey legs is a handy thing to have in the fridge, especially when you are hungry or you need to cook something for dinner quickly. However, let’s be honest, we often end up with pretty much leftover meaty foodstuff that is sent to the refrigerator for later.
And then troubles begin with reheating turkey since it always turns out to be too hard and chewy! Sounds familiar? Then you are at the right place to finally figure out how to make those drumsticks become fall-off-the-bone tender!
How to Warm Up Smoked Turkey Drumsticks
Two different ways exist of how to heat them up properly, each with certain nuances.
If we just toss turkey legs into the frying pan or shove into the oven and heat them up, nothing will change much. We will still end up with a pile of chewy and gummy drumsticks that even our dog won’t probably like.
Is it because the dish was initially of low quality? Or maybe we didn’t use enough oil, or the heat was too low or too high? Or maybe our oven is broken? No, no, and no! The reason is only one: reheating turkey legs like that won’t do.
Fortunately, none of you have to be a super-skilled chef with twenty years of cooking experience in the finest French restaurants to learn how to reheat that turkey! Moreover, we can suggest to you two different approaches, just to have what to choose from.
On the stove method
This is probably the simplest way of reviving those poor turkey legs. You will need a deep large pan with a tight lid for the beginning. Fill it with a few inches of water and place the legs into it.
First, simmer the legs for half an hour under the lid, then drain the water and refill the pan with the fresh aqua. Then simply keep on simmering for one to two hours more. This method is very delicate and the flesh will fall off the bone easily being so soft and juicy!
You see, when we simmer turkey like this, it’s not overheated so the flesh keeps the juice inside which makes it become soft and tender.
A small hint for you: if you guys don’t mind fatty and salty food, feel free to simmer those turkey drumsticks in the same water from the very beginning till the end. But if you need them to be less salty and fatty, opt for changing the water.
For this procedure, prepare a large metal pan and aluminum foil. Heat the oven to 225 F first. Then place the drumsticks into the tank, pour one or two inches of water inside, and cover that all with the foil tightly.
The legs need to stay heated for ninety minutes approximately, then we will have to check how they are doing and turn them over, otherwise, they will become too dry on one side.
After that, return the dish to the oven for another ninety minutes, and check it again when the time runs out.
And remember: if you are using a glass pan to reheat turkey, the cooking time will be longer!
The second approach takes more time so consider that when choosing which one to go for.
How to Cook Smoked Turkey Legs
All right, we figured out what to do with smoked turkey legs if we need to reheat them. But what about cooking turkey legs? People often stumble upon the question “how to cook smoked turkey drumsticks?” when buying a packet of pre-smoked legs since they are not sure whether this foodstuff can already be consumed as it is, or it needs cooking.
First of all, let us inform you that if you buy pre-smoked turkey legs in the supermarket, they are considered fully cooked! It means that we just need to warm them up in the oven, and enjoy the delicious meal.
So how to cook turkey legs in the oven? It’s pretty simple and won’t take much time.
- Preheat your oven to 250 F
- Prepare a baking pan or dish, and pour a dash of water or broth if you have it. It’s needed to keep the poultry soft and avoid drying. Remember that the drumsticks must not float, just make sure they are moist!
- Cover the tank with heat-resistant foil and slide it into the oven
- How long to cook turkey legs? Two hours will be enough only keep on rotating the pan to make the content warm evenly. To check the result, we would recommend leaving a meat thermometer inside one of the legs since the turkey needs to go out when the internal temperature reaches 155 F!
It will be slightly different when dealing with the fresh drumsticks, however, but we are to discuss it below.
Cooking Methods For Fresh Turkey Drumsticks
How To Bake Turkey Legs
When we want to cook some raw poultry like turkey, several methods can become handy hanging upon what is your taste. To give you enough options to choose from, we decided to provide everyone with several most common approaches.
Roasted turkey legs
For cooking the turkey this way, slow roasting is the optimal way. You will need to prepare the meat (wash, dry, etc) and brush the drumsticks with melted butter. Add your favorite seasonings if you like.
The next step is to place the legs onto a greased rack fitted into a baking sheet with rims. Now just spray the legs with avocado oil to keep the spices moist and not burn, and roast uncovered for twenty minutes at 450 F.
After that, cover the poultry with foil and keep on roasting until the internal heat reaches 165 F. Usually, it will take about half an hour or a bit more. Let them rest for ten minutes still covered, and serve.
Fried turkey legs
Frying turkey drumsticks is another, quicker method of cooking them, especially fitting for those who like the fatty crust on the juicy flesh!
To fry the drumsticks, get them ready as usual: wash the poultry, dry it by wrapping with paper towels to absorb the moisture, and once it’s completely dry, sprinkle it with salt and add any seasoning that will suit this dish.
Then fill the deep fryer with oil and preheat it to 375 F. Once ready, immerse the legs into the hot oil and fry until the internal temperature reaches 175-180 F (use a meat thermometer to check that).
How to bake turkey legs
To get delicious, juicy, and soft baked turkey legs, we will need some time for preparation. First of all, the poultry needs to be prepared for cooking which means we need to wash it, dry, and smear with butter all over.
Then add salt and sprinkle the drumsticks with seasonings and herbs. If you like, feel free to add some lemon or orange zest to incorporate more flavor.
Take a rectangular oven-safe pan, cover it with baking foil, and pour in some chicken broth or (if you don’t have it right now) plain water will do.
Place the legs in a pan and keep in the oven at 350 F for eighty minutes. Do not cover them to not overbake and to be able to see how things are doing in there. We would also recommend using a meat thermometer since you will need to keep an eye on the internal temperature of the drumsticks: it must be of 175 F to have them ready.
Also, after baking turkey legs, leave them to sit out for nearly ten minutes to let the poultry redistribute the juices and become perfectly delicious.
How to Cook Pre-Cooked Turkey
Pre-cooked turkey is a truly wonderful invention since it saves so much time for housewives that they would otherwise spend on fussing around the stove. No need to prepare the meat for cooking, no need to wash it, dry, fuss with seasonings, and do all that stuff that takes so much time and effort killing all the delight from consuming this delicious dish!
Since (as you already know) pre-cooked turkey requires no extra preparations, to serve it steaming hot, you will only need to follow several simple steps on the way to culinary perfection:
- Start with preheating the oven to 375 F
- Get the roasting pan ready and place the cold (not room temperature!) pre-cooked carcass into it with its breast-side down. It is needed to allow the fats from underneath the bird to drip down while we will be heating it up. LIke that, we will get a juicy, moist, and tender flesh.
- Once the carcass is ready, cover it all with heat-resistant baking foil and slide into the hot oven. Previously, stick the meat thermometer into the meat to check its temperature: the turkey will be ready to come out when it is 165 F
- Drop the temperature inside of the oven to 275 F
- Reheat the bird for nearly five minutes per pound which means that a 10 pounds bird will take approximately fifty minutes to get ready
This method is especially good when we need to reheat some turkey for Thanksgiving and not spend hours on that. Make sure you do everything right, and you, your family, and guests will be able to enjoy the delicious and tender meat!
Like that, ladies and gentlemen, you are now knowledgeable about reheating smoked turkey and know the step by step instruction of how to cook a turkey leg like a true chef.
As you can see, it is not a big deal to manage this task, just make sure all the instructions are followed precisely.
Frequently Asked Questions
⭐ What is the best way to heat up leftover turkey?
The stovetop method is better since it allows to ensure the meat will be juicy and soft.
⭐ Does smoked mean cooked?
The cold-smoked food is rather uncooked whereas hot-smoked food can be considered cooked.
⭐ Is a smoked turkey already cooked?
Usually, smoked turkey is fully pre-cooked.
⭐ Can I cook turkey the day before Christmas?
You could but what’s the point? Better but smoked turkey and reheat in on Christmas day.