Cajun-Spiced Turkey Leg Recipe

Here's the thing about turkey: These big, flavorful birds may be more commonly consumed during the holidays, but they certainly don't need to be ignored the rest of the year. In fact, the best part of the turkey (the legs, naturally) are surprisingly quick and easy to make, offering an excellent main course to pair alongside your choice of roasted veggies on a busy weeknight.

In fact, that's exactly why food photographer and recipe developer Susan Olayinka loves this recipe for Cajun-spiced turkey legs. "It's a great recipe for anyone who wants to try something new and exciting. It's literally marinating, the oven, and it's ready," she says, adding, "I also like the fact that I stab the turkey so the spices can reach the bone." So if you've had a particularly rough day at work, whipping up this recipe (and stabbing those turkey legs a few times) just might help you direct frustration at the bird instead of your family. That's a win-win, right?

Gather your ingredients for Cajun-spiced turkey legs

Aside from the turkey legs themselves, there's very little you need to make this recipe. In fact, if you have a well-stocked spice rack, you may have everything you need. So set out your turkey legs (Olayinka uses 2 30-ounce legs for this recipe), along with dried oregano, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, dried thyme, white pepper, and avocado oil. 

Olayinka points out that it's possible to substitute any oil with a high smoke point for the avocado oil, but that she prefers avocado oil because of its neutral flavor. "It won't interfere with the flavor of the spices or the turkey," she explains.

Prep your turkey legs

With your ingredients laid out in front of you, you're ready to get started. Go ahead and preheat your oven to 375 F. Then, combine all the spices in a small bowl — mix them well and set that blend aside. 

Grab your turkey legs and a sharp knife, then get to work on stabbing the legs all over, down to the bone. "The reason for stabbing the turkey legs is to allow the spices to reach the bone and flavor the meat. This is a key step in making this dish, so be sure not to skip it," Olayinka emphasizes. Then, rub the legs all over with the oil, followed by the spice blend. Work it well to get the spices under the skin (thanks to those stab marks), as well as on top. 

Roast the turkey legs

With your turkey legs oiled and spiced, you're almost ready to put them in the oven. All you need to do first is wrap them in foil ... which you'll take off partway through the baking time. "Wrapping the turkey in foil helps to lock in moisture and keep the turkey from drying out. Unwrapping them partway through allows the skin to crisp up and prevents the turkey from becoming soggy," Olayinka says. 

With your turkey legs wrapped, simply place them on a rack in a roasting pan and pop them in the oven. You'll cook them for 90 minutes total, removing the foil after an hour has passed. The goal is for them to reach an internal temperature between 165 and 170 F. 

Rest the meat before serving

When your turkey legs are done cooking, simply let them rest for 10 minutes, then they're ready to serve! "I would suggest pairing this with a green salad and some roasted potatoes," says Olayinka, although any roasted veggies (especially fall favorites like squash or broccoli) would be good choices. 

Cajun-Spiced Turkey Leg Recipe
5 from 25 ratings
Aside from the turkey legs themselves, all you need to make this stunning main are oil and a spice blend made with some pantry staples.
Prep Time
5
minutes
Cook Time
1.5
hours
Servings
4
Servings
roasted turkey legs plated
Total time: 1.58 hours
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 2 30-ounce turkey legs
Directions
  1. Combine all of the spices in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
  3. Stab the turkey legs to the bone with a sharp knife a few times, then rub them all over with the oil and spice blend. Be sure to get it under the skin as well as on top.
  4. Wrap the turkey legs in foil.
  5. Place the wrapped turkey legs on a rack in a roasting pan and bake for 60 minutes.
  6. Remove the foil and bake the turkey legs for another 30 minutes, or until they reach an internal temperature between 165 and 170 F.
  7. Let turkey rest for 10 minutes before carving. Serve with your favorite sides.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 585
Total Fat 31.1 g
Saturated Fat 8.2 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 250.6 mg
Total Carbohydrates 3.1 g
Dietary Fiber 1.5 g
Total Sugars 0.3 g
Sodium 263.7 mg
Protein 69.6 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
Rate this recipe