These fall-off-the-bone slow cooker turkey legs are perfect for the holiday season. Serve the crock pot turkey drumsticks with a smooth gravy made with pan juices.
Slow cooker turkey legs are a great alternative to cooking a whole bird for Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas. For instance, an entire Slow Cooker Turkey, Red Wine Turkey, or Dutch Oven Turkey is excellent, but if your household is small, you’ve probably already considered cooking just some smaller turkey parts.
For more inspiration, check out this popular Dutch Oven Turkey Breast, learn How to Cook Turkey Drumsticks in the oven, or How to Cook Turkey Thighs. Or make Baked Turkey Wings or Slow Cooker Turkey Wings.
The slow-cooked turkey legs make a delicious meal for any occasion, not just during the holidays; this is an easy recipe requiring a minimum of prep work, one of our favorite ways of serving juicy turkey legs regularly.
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- Turkey legs (drumsticks): 2 large or 4 smaller ones. Those I had were huge (about 1.2 lb/ 550 g each) and were enough to serve four people. You will need one leg per serving if you have smaller pieces (½ - ¾ lb/ 220 – 350 g).
- Seasoning: I mixed salt, black pepper, sweet and smoked paprika powder, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and dried herbs.
- However, your favorite poultry seasoning will be excellent (See Expert Tips). You will need 4-5 teaspoons of seasoning to rub the legs generously.
- Olive oil for rubbing on the legs.
- Chicken stock: Preferably low sodium to avoid gravy that’s too salty. You can use homemade chicken stock or Turkey Bone Broth if you like.
- For the gravy: Pan juices topped with chicken stock to get 2 cups/500 ml.
- Butter and all-purpose flour.
👩🏻🍳How to cook turkey legs in the slow cooker (crock pot)?
Crockpot turkey legs:
- Season: Mix the spices in a small bowl. Dry the turkey drumsticks with paper towels, rub them with the oil, and sprinkle them with the mixed spices. Rub them well all over.
- Cook: Pour the stock into the bottom of the slow cooker and place drumsticks over it (1). Slow-cook the turkey legs for 3-4 hours on high or 6-7 hours on low (2).
- Check the internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer; it should be 165°F/ 74°C.
- Broil on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil for 3-4 minutes on each side. Keep an eye on them; they should get golden brown and crispy but not burn (3).
- Rest for 10-15 minutes, and make the gravy while the meat rests.
- Measure the liquid from the slow cooker in a measuring jug. If you have less than 2 cups, top with chicken stock.
- Combine: Melt the butter, add flour, and stir it for about 1 minute, until golden.
- Slowly add chicken broth while whisking continuously to avoid clumps (4).
- Simmer the gravy until it thickens slightly; it will happen fast. Don’t let it become too thick, as it will also continue to thicken slightly after you remove it from the heat.
- Seasoning: If you substitute the spices with a store-bought spice mixture, check if the seasoning mix contains salt. Use salt accordingly.
- If the seasoning mix contains salt, sprinkle the legs only lightly with salt before rubbing them with the seasoning. If it doesn’t have any salt, use 1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt (or Kosher salt) to season the meat.
- Fat: You can remove some of the fat before using the pan juices to make the gravy. Transfer the liquid to a large bowl and refrigerate it for about 15 minutes. Use a spoon to remove fat from the top of the liquid. Please don’t remove it all; some fat makes the gravy more flavorful.
- Broil: Don't skip broiling the drumsticks; it's the only way to get crispy skin.
No. According to USDA, washing poultry will only spread the bacteria in your sink and working surfaces. Only heat will destroy the bacteria anyway.
No, 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.
The best way of checking is with a meat thermometer (Amazon affiliate link). However, if you don’t have one, it is also easy to check without it. The meat should easily come off the bone, and there should be no red or pink traces inside.
Refrigerate the drumsticks in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
Refrigerate the gravy in a separate container.
Freeze for up to 3 months and defrost in the refrigerator. Reheat before serving.
Reheat in the preheated oven at 350°F/ 180°C in a baking dish loosely covered with foil. It will take 20-30 minutes for larger pieces. If the meat is off the bone or shredded, check after about 10 minutes already.
Reheat the gravy in a small pan on the stovetop. Add a splash of broth to loosen it if it seems too thick. Stir frequently, and don’t let it catch at the bottom of the pan.
🍽️How to serve?
The slow-cooker turkey legs are perfect for a smaller Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.
Serve them with your favorite festive side dishes. Try our Canned Cranberry Sauce, Crispy Garlic Smashed Potatoes, Garlic Parmesan Mashed Potatoes, Cast-Iron Cornbread, and Green Bean Casserole without Soup.
More slow cooker recipes
Slow Cooker Turkey Legs (with Gravy)
- Slow cooker (Crock pot)
- 2 turkey legs (drumsticks) large, Note 1
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 ½ teaspoon fine sea salt Note 2
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon oregano or thyme
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 cup chicken stock low sodium, Note 3
- 2 cups Pan juices + more chicken stock if required to have this amount 500 ml
- 2 tablespoons butter 30 g/ 1 oz
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour 30 g/ 1 oz
- fine sea salt and black pepper to taste
- Mix the spices in a small bowl.
- Dry the turkey drumsticks with paper towels and rub them with the oil.
- Season: Rub them with the seasoning all over, trying to get under the skin when possible (where the skin is already loose).
- Assemble: Pour the stock into the slow cooker. Place the legs in the slow cooker as well.
- Slow-cook the turkey legs for 3-4 hours on high or 6-7 hours on low. Check the internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer; it should be 165°F/ 74°C.
- Broil: Preheat the broiler. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the turkey legs on the baking sheet and broil them on each side for 3-4 minutes. Keep an eye on them; they should get golden brown and crispy but not burn.
- Rest for 10-15 minutes, loosely covered with aluminum foil to help keep them warm. Make the gravy while the legs rest.
- Measure the liquid from the slow cooker in a measuring jug. Top with chicken stock (if necessary) to have 2 cups/ 500 ml.
- Melt the butter in a small pan. Add the flour and stir on medium heat for about one minute until the flour is golden (not brown).
- Slowly pour the stock into the flour mixture whisking continuously to avoid clumps.
- Simmer gravy until thicker; it will happen pretty fast. Adjust the taste with salt and pepper if necessary.
- My turkey legs were large, one weighing about 1.2 lb/ 550 g. If you have smaller drumsticks (½ - ¾ lb/ 220 – 350 g), you will need one per person.
- You can substitute all the spices with the poultry (chicken) seasoning of your choice. Check if the mixture contains salt and adjust the amount you use accordingly. If the mix contains salt, sprinkle the legs only lightly with salt before rubbing them with the seasoning. If it has no salt, use 1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt (or Kosher) to season the meat.
- Preferably low sodium to avoid gravy that’s too salty. Turkey stock or turkey bone broth is excellent as well.