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How to Cook Turkey Drumsticks

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Learn how to cook turkey drumsticks (gravy included). Roasting turkey legs in the oven couldn’t be easier – just a few ingredients for a delicious festive meal.

Do you feel that cooking a whole turkey for Thanksgiving or Christmas might be too much for your family? Turkeys usually come in extra-large, and one whole bird can be too much if your family is small. How about cooking this turkey drumstick recipe? Tender meat smothered in the most fantastic sauce made with roasting juices and vegetables.

But just in case you want a whole bird, have a look at the Dutch Oven Turkey or the Red Wine Turkey. And use the leftovers to make Turkey Fricassee, Leftover Turkey Risotto, or Leftover Turkey Lasagna.

Why you will love this recipe?

  • Simple: A basic recipe for cooking turkey drumsticks. Brown and simmer shortly on the stove, transfer to the oven.
  • Budget recipe using just a few simple ingredients. Drumsticks are much cheaper than a whole turkey, and the remaining ingredients are super cheap as well. A delicious Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner without overstretching your budget.
  • Great for a small family. You can scale the recipe up or down the way you need to.
  • Gravy included.

Ingredients

listed ingredients for cooking turkey drumsticks in the oven.
  • Turkey drumsticks: large ones weighing about 1 lb/500 g each.
  • Vegetables: Onion, garlic, carrots, celeriac (or 2-3 celery sticks depending on size), bell pepper, garlic. The veggies will be smothered with the legs, and you will need them to make the gravy.
  • Stock: I use homemade turkey stock most of the time. Bought or homemade chicken stock is fine, but if you buy it, make sure you get low-sodium to avoid overly salted dishes.
  • Spices: salt, ground black pepper, sweet paprika.
  • Other ingredients: vegetable oil and one tablespoon tomato paste.
  • Large ovenproof pot with a lid. A Dutch oven would be perfect, but another heavy-bottomed pot is fine.

Step-by-Step Instructions?

  • Prepare turkey: Dry turkey drumsticks with kitchen paper and season them generously with salt, pepper, and sweet paprika powder (1).
  • Brown and simmer: Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or another large ovenproof dish. Brown the meat on all sides (2).
  • Simmer: Add 1 cup of the chicken stock, cover, and cook gently on the stovetop for 15 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit/ 200 degrees Celsius.
  • Prepare vegetables while the drumsticks are simmering. Whisk the tomato paste in the remaining ¼ cup stock. Add both to the pot. Cover the pot (3).
  • Bake covered for 35 minutes.
  • Bake uncovered for about 10 minutes until the skin is crispy and the internal temperature of the meat is 170 degrees Fahrenheit/ 77 degrees Celsius (4).
  • Transfer meat to a large platter and let rest for about 15 minutes. In the meantime, make the gravy.
collage of four pictures of raw turkey legs, frying in the pot, simmering and in sauce.

How to make the gravy?

  • Remove about 1/3 of the vegetables from the pan and set them aside.
  • Blend the remaining veggies until smooth.
  • Season with salt and pepper, but only if necessary. If the stock was salty enough, you might not need to add anything anymore.

Recipe FAQ and Expert Tips


How to check if the turkey drumsticks are done?


The best way to check is with a digital meat thermometer; this ensures that the meat is safely cooked without being overcooked. Otherwise, make a small cut into one leg close to the bone; the meat should be white, there should be no traces of red anymore (Amazon affiliate link).

Smaller drumsticks?


Depending on their size, they will be done sooner, so start checking 10-15 minutes earlier.

Can I cook this in advance?


Yes, you can prepare the dish one day in advance, let it cool and refrigerate it. Reheat well in the oven. Remove the legs and keep them warm. Make the sauce and serve.

What to serve with the dish?


Serve the turkey drumsticks with the remaining vegetables, sauce, boiled or mashed potatoes, noodles or dumplings, salad, or any vegetable side dish.

How to store leftovers?


I prefer to store the leftover meat and the leftover gravy separately in airtight containers in the refrigerator. They will keep for 3-4 days.
I prefer to keep the two separated because I might use the meat for other recipes where I don’t need the gravy (like a sandwich or a Leftover Turkey Pasta Bake).
Use leftover bones to make Turkey Bone Broth or stock.

Can I freeze the leftovers?


Yes. Freeze the meat and the gravy separated. The meat will be OK for at least 2-3 months, but the sauce should be consumed within 2-3 weeks. You can serve the defrosted and reheated gravy with other meats as well; we love leftover gravy over meatballs and mash.

overhead view of turkey legs, one of them cut to show the white meat.

More festive turkey recipes:

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close up round platter with two turkey drumsticks and cooked vegetables.

How to Cook Turkey Drumsticks

Roasted turkey drumsticks, tender meat, crispy skin, and delicious gravy included. Cooking drumsticks in the oven couldn't be easier.
4.45 from 9 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Poultry
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Servings: 4
Calories: 722kcal
Author: Adina

Ingredients 

  • 4 turkey drumsticks Note 1
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 ¼ cup chicken stock divided (Note 2)
  • 1 onion
  • 3 medium carrots
  • 1 large piece of celeriac about 7 oz/ 200 g (Note 3)
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • sweet paprika powder
  • salt and pepper
  • some parsley

Instructions

Turkey drumsticks:

  • Prepare turkey: Dry the turkey legs with kitchen paper. Sprinkle them generously with salt, pepper, and sweet paprika powder.
  • Brown: Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or another large, heavy-bottomed ovenproof dish. Brown the turkey drumsticks on all sides, about 3 minutes on each side.
  • Simmer: Add 1 cup (250 ml) of the stock, cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Preheat oven: In the meantime, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit/ 200 degrees Celsius.
  • Prepare vegetables: Clean and chop the vegetables. Whisk the tomato paste into the remaining chicken stock. Add the vegetables and tomato paste to the pot.
  • Roast covered: Place the pot in the oven and roast for about 35-40 minutes. Baste the drumsticks with the cooking liquid twice while roasting. If necessary, add a bit more chicken stock.
  • Roast uncovered for another 10 minutes to allow the skin to get crispy.
  • Check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer; it should be 170 degrees Fahrenheit/ 77 degrees Celsius (Note 4).
  • Rest meat: Transfer meat to a large platter and let rest for about 15 minutes. In the meantime, make the gravy.

Gravy:

  • Remove about 1/3 of the vegetables from the pan and set them aside.
  • Blend the remaining veggies and adjust the taste with salt and pepper if necessary.
  • Return the reserved vegetables to the sauce, sprinkle with parsley, and serve.

Notes

  1. Large turkey drumsticks, about 1 lb/ 500 g each.
  2. Chicken or turkey stock. If buying it, it is preferable to use low-sodium stock.
  3. If celeriac is unavailable, use 2-3 celery sticks or replace them with the same parsley root.
  4. The best way to check is with a digital meat thermometer (Amazon affiliate link); this ensures that the meat is safely cooked without being overcooked. Otherwise, make a small cut into one leg close to the bone; the meat should be white, there should be no traces of red anymore.

Nutrition

Serving: 1drumstick with gravy | Calories: 722kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 85g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 10g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 297mg | Sodium: 532mg | Potassium: 1662mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 8652IU | Vitamin C: 48mg | Calcium: 123mg | Iron: 8mg
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