A slow-cooked turkey leg with tender meat and crispy skin, I can't think of a tastier and easier turkey leg recipe.
This is our favorite way of cooking turkey legs: slow-roasted in the oven until the meat falls off the bone and the skin is crispy. A vegetable sauce made with the vegetables cooked together with the turkey and some oven potato wedges.
This a beautiful and delicious turkey leg recipe suitable for a feast. Yet so easy to make, you could make it on a regular basis. What better recipe for a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner than something delicious which involves so little trouble?
Preparing the turkey leg for roasting takes less than 15 minutes. OK, it needs quite a while in the oven, but there is nothing you have to do during this time except take care of the other dishes you want to serve.
Turkey Leg Recipe
We eat lots of turkey meat; I have lots of turkey leg recipes in my repertoire, like baked turkey drumsticks or other recipes for oven cooked turkey legs.
And many other recipes use the breast of the turkey, something as this Dutch Oven Turkey Breast or Turkey Roulades, recipes for Baked Turkey Wings, or recipes using the neck, for instance, turkey stock or bone broth for soups, and many more.
How to slow-cooked turkey in the oven?
I like cooking meat in the oven at a low temperature. The danger of overcooking the meat when slow cooking is low, and the work involved is minimal; you just need to know exactly when you want to eat and take care to put the meat in the oven soon enough.
That makes this dish such a great fit for Christmas dinner or lunch. Not much hassle, the preparations are done in less than 15 minutes, and 3 ½ – 4 hours later, you have a delicious meal on the table.
The only thing that will drive you crazy is the smell that will start filling the house about one hour after you shove your bird in the oven...
In case you are wondering why my turkey leg looks a bit weird at the joint: the problem was that it was a giant leg, too large to fit into the dish, and I just didn't manage to divide the leg at the joint. So I just cut the meat around the joint, and then I was able to push the two parts together and get them in the dish. 🙂
- Prepare the meat: Clean and dry it. Cut it around the joint, if necessary, just to be able to push it a little and fit it in the cooking dish. If your Dutch oven (or similar pot) is large enough, you don't have to do that.
- Season: Rub with the mustard and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in the Dutch oven or cast iron oven dish.
- Assemble the dish: Place the vegetables and bay leaves in the pot. Pour the stock around, taking care not to wash away the mustard.
- Slow-cook in the oven: Place the dish in the cold oven, and turn the temperature to 150 degrees Celsius/ 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook for 3 ½ to 4 hours until the skin is crisp and the meat very, very tender.
- Check from time to time to make sure that the skin doesn't get too dark. If that starts to happen, place a piece of aluminum foil very loosely on top of the pot; just place it on top without pressing it or trying to close the pot.
- Rest the leg: Remove the turkey leg from the pot and place it on a warmed plate; cover it loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest while you make the sauce.
Make the sauce
- To make the sauce, I use “soup vegetables”; that is what they are often called in Germany. That means onions, carrots, parsley root, or celeriac.
- The parsley root or celeriac can be replaced with a couple of celery sticks, but I find celeriac much better for this purpose; it adds not only a celery taste but, unlike celery sticks, it contributes to making the sauce creamier.
- You will also need garlic, red bell pepper, bay leaves, and some good quality chicken stock; I always use my homemade chicken stock.
- After removing the meat from the dish, puree the vegetables with an immersion blender. Adjust the taste with salt and pepper, if necessary.
No. According to USDA, washing poultry will only spread the bacteria in your sink and working surfaces. Only heat will destroy the bacteria anyway.
Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
Freeze in a freezer container for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator and reheat before serving.
Reheat the meat in the oven or microwave and the sauce in the microwave or on the stovetop.
You can also refrigerate or freeze the leftover meat separated from the sauce. You can use these leftovers for making Turkey Pot Pie with Puff Pastry.
Not really. Slow-cooking turkey legs is a straightforward, forgiving method; there is not much that can go wrong. Make sure you check that the meat is cooked before serving; undercooked poultry meat is not an option.
How to serve?
I always serve the roasted turkey leg recipe with oven-roasted potatoes.
When it comes to vegetable side dishes, I change that according to what I have or what I crave. How about some roasted Brussels sprouts or fried cabbage? You could also roast some carrots or cook green beans.
More turkey recipes
Oven Slow-Cooked Turkey Leg
- 1 large whole turkey leg of about 1.7 kg/ 3.7 lbs
- 2 heaped tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 medium onions
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 medium carrot
- 1 medium parsley root or 1 piece of celeriac about the same amount as the carrot
- 1 small red bell pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ cup chicken stock 125 ml
- fine sea salt and pepper
- Season: Pat dry the turkey leg. Cut it around the joint, if necessary. If your Dutch oven (or similar pot) is large enough, you don't have to do that. Rub the leg with the mustard and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the turkey in the Dutch oven or cast iron oven dish.
- Assemble the dish: Quarter the onions and chop all the vegetables into large pieces. Peel but leave the garlic cloves whole. Place them and the bay leaves in the pot around the turkey leg. Pour in the chicken stock, taking care not to wash away the mustard. Just pour around the leg.
- Roast: Place the pot in the cold oven, turn the temperature to 150 degrees Celsius/ 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook for 3 ½ to 4 hours until the skin is crisp and the meat very tender.
- Check from time to time to ensure that the skin doesn't get too dark. If that starts to happen, place a piece of aluminum foil very loosely on top of the pot, just place it on top without pressing it or trying to close the pot.
- Rest: Remove the turkey leg from the pot and place it on a warmed plate, cover it loosely with aluminum foil and let rest while you make the sauce.
- Gravy: Puree the vegetables in the pot, adjust the taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve immediately with potatoes and vegetables.
Angie@Angie's Recipes says
Me neither, Adina. My husband prefer red meat to poultry, but I can always cook this turkey leg for myself. It looks really tender and juicy.
rosita vargas says
Todas buenísimas ideas para Navidad ,lucen sabrosos y bien jugosos,abrazos.
You are so lucky to buy directly from meat producers! I have been eating almost 100% organic (or sometimes free-range) meat in recent years (as you say, antibiotics free and animals aren't kept in cages...), but I'd prefer to buy directly from the farmer, even at the same price. I have recently discovered at my farmers' market a couple selling beef and lamb from their own organic farm and I'm so happy to buy from them directly!
I have never slow-cooked turkey (I have never baked turkey actually!), but it sounds like a great idea. I bake lamb in a similar way and it's wonderful, so I'm sure even the leanest leg of turkey becomes irresistible.
This was delicious! I had two turkey legs, so I doubled the recipe and baked it in two open glass dishes. Used turkey broth to help purée the veggies for the sauce. Didn’t need all of the sauce. This recipe is a keeper for sure!
I am so glad you liked it, Tori! Tip for the sauce, we always have leftovers too: freeze it and serve it over the following 2 weeks or so with meatballs and mashed potatoes.
Chris McGinnis says
Delicious! I loved every bite!
I am so happy to hear it, Chris. Thank you for the feedback. 🙂
Hi, my favourite mustard is Colman’s English.
I think this is a very strong mustard to be used for turkey.
Can please ask you which mustard you are using for this recipe.
Hi Kate. I use a very common mustard, not hot, not sweet, a typical German mustard. As I remember from England, English mustard is extremely hot, so better choose a milder sort. Dijon mustard should be fine as well, a little hot but not too much.
Joanna Werran says
Hi Kate, this recipe works perfectly with any sort of the polish mustard (European type of mustard which is much milder) - you can get it from any larger Sainsbury's, tesco or polish shops
Thank you, Joanna.
Julie Veaser says
I want to cook this at the weekend having just bought a large turkey thigh. It looks delicious and so easy! I'm not sure what a Dutch oven is. Do I cook it uncovered (unless it starts to brown too much)? Thank you
Hi Julie. A Dutch oven is a very heavy dish. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01839OPSM?ie=UTF8&tag=abec08-20&camp=1789&linkCode=xm2&creativeASIN=B01839OPSM
Cook the leg uncovered, but check it regularly. If it starts to brown too much, cover the pot loosely with foil.
Thanks, it's in the oven now! Smells amazing
Thanks Julie, I hope you liked it! 🙂
Maryna Goodman says
The most amazing turkey I've ever cooked. We've been making turkey for so many years now and no other recipe is this good. Had only thighs and it was just fine. Cooked for 2.5 hours, next time will lower the temperature as my owen runs high, and it was perfect. The sauce puts it over the top. It's just so delicious. Thank you for the recipe.
Thank you for the feedback, it means a lot. It is our favorite turkey recipe as well. 🙂
Hello, looking to do this today for Thanksgiving in France. Is the mustard necessary, just wondering?
I don't have a meat thermometer and the piece of meat I have is 2kg, any idea on time to cook in 150 degree oven?
Thank you, so looking forward to trying this!!
Hi Sophie. The mustard helps with getting a nice crust, I would not leave it out. You will not really taste it, if that worries you. A 2 kg leg is not much larger than the one I had (1.7), so the cooking time will not change much, give the turkey 10-20 minutes more and check. A thermometer is always best, but otherwise stick a skewer into the largest part of the thigh, the juices should run clear, and not be pink or bloody. When I am not sure, I also turn the leg on the other side and cut somewhere near the bone of the turkey to see if the meat is cooked through. Not very professional, but nobody will notice it on the underside. 🙂
Sophie Lvoff says
It was a hit! Thanks! I think my oven is quite off and I didn't get a crust on the skin, so I turned up the broiler/grill on the highest level for about 7 minutes to get the crackle after the 4 hour 15 minute roast. I left the juices as they were to spoon over the top of all the other 5 or 6 Thanksgiving side dishes. I will try it again with the puree next time I find a big piece of turkey!
Thank you for the feedback, Sophie, I am so happy to read this! 🙂
Thank you, thank you, thank you! I cooked so many things for Thanksgiving that I was too tired to puree the sauce into gravy, and my teenagers said to just leave it as and ladle it over the meat and stuffing. I am sure the gravy is phenomenal, but even just left as is, it was a HIT! I got the best food reviews from my teenaged son, ever! 🙂 Delicious!!
I am so happy to read this, Mar!!
Kate Marshall says
I have two turkey legs for Christmas day this year.. Mine are slightly smaller than yours, around 850g & 900g. I was planning to put them in the same cast-iron baking dish. How long cooking time would you advise please?
Hi Kate. I would start checking after about 2 1/2 hours, the meat should be really tender. As the turkey is slow cooked the danger of overcooking it is lower.
Surprisingly moist and tasty.
I had a minor hiccup when the oven was turned off part way through so I had to guess how much time was left! I must have guessed somewhere near.
I'll be cooking this way again.
Thank you. ?
So happy to hear it, Robert. 🙂
I used this recipe today and it turned out delicious! I followed the recipe exactly except for including parsley root or celeriac as I didn't have any, and it really was good. As Adina said, the house smelled wonderful on a wet & cold winter day here in Ireland, and the puree I made from the veg in the roasting pan finished off the dish perfectly. So easy to make and it's one I will definitely have again!
I am so happy to read your comment, Celine, so glad you liked it. It is our favorite turkey recipe, so easy to make and always a delight.
I plan on making this today. Just cut up a 16 lb turkey last night to freeze the parts in the freezer. My grocery store had whole turkey on sale which means I have many future meals for 8.99 total. Thanks for this recipe.
Hi Courtenay, I hope you like it.
I love a meal you can prepare in 15 minutes and leave in the oven to do its magic. Pure comfort food. Thanks Helene
Thank you, Helene.