This stuffed turkey leg recipe is an excellent substitute for an entire roast turkey.
If you don’t want to carve your turkey, these boned and filled turkey legs are ideal for Christmas Day, and they feed a small group with minimal waste.
Read on to find out how to make stuffed turkey leg.
Turkey legs: The star of the show, smoked turkey legs are soft, full-flavored, and juicy. They also work if you like simple turkey legs.
Chicken broth: Adds a delicious flavor while keeping the meat wet and juicy.
Butter: Butter adds a deep flavor to the turkey and helps the seasonings attach to it.
Seasonings: Creole seasoning, garlic powder, and onion powder give the turkey legs an out-of-this-world flavor. It is optional to add red pepper flakes.
Mac & Cheese: The creamy, gooey, cheesy filling pairs well with the savory turkey. Feel free to substitute your preferred recipe.
Cheddar cheese: Melty, cheesy richness elevates these turkey legs.
- 2 smoked turkey legs (about 1-1 1/2 pounds each)
- 1 cup (240ml) chicken broth
- 4 ounces (113g) unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 tablespoon (6g) Creole seasoning
- 1 teaspoon (1.5g) garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon (1g) onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon (1g) pepper flakes (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon (2g) salt
- 1/8 teaspoon (1g) black pepper, freshly ground
- 2 cups (475ml) mac and cheese cooked (I used Southern mac & cheese)
- 1 cup (470g) sharp cheddar cheese, freshly grated
Stuffed turkey legs are best served immediately after baking. However, you may make your mac & cheese ahead of time and have it ready when the turkey legs come out of the slow cooker. Leftover mac and cheese can also be used.
How to Make Stuffed Turkey Leg
Here are the steps to make stuffed turkey leg:
Cook Turkey Legs
Place the turkey legs in the slow cooker and rinse them under running water. Fill your slow cooker halfway with liquid and cook the turkey legs on HIGH for 4-5 hours or LOW for 7-8 hours for delicious smoked turkey legs.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the butter, creole seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, pepper flakes (if using), salt, and pepper. Mix everything together thoroughly. Place aside.
When the turkey legs are done, carefully take them from the slow cooker and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (Be cautious! The turkey will be soft and may fall apart.
Split Turkey Legs
Gently separate some of the meat from the bones of the turkey legs with a fork. Brush the turkey legs generously with the butter mixture to enhance the flavor.
Stuff each turkey leg with macaroni and cheese, then sprinkle with shredded cheese and bake at 350°F/177°C for 5-7 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling.
Garnish the filled turkey legs with additional cheese sauce and parsley and serve.
If you want more Mexican flavor, make a cilantro lime rub using 1/2 cup butter, 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves, and 2 teaspoons lime zest.
Substitute Mexican rice, black beans, avocado, and diced tomatoes for the mac and cheese.
Replace the mac and cheese with your favorite stuffing (you can even use prepared stuffing) for a more traditional Thanksgiving feast.
What to Serve with Stuffed Turkey Legs?
On its own, this is a hearty main dish. For balance, color, and crunch, serve with simple coleslaw or cucumber tomato salad.
Cranberry sauce and homemade gravy are surefire winners when it comes to classic Thanksgiving sides.
Tips and Tricks for Making Stuffed Turkey Leg
- Rub the seasonings on and beneath the skin of the turkey leg to optimize the flavor sensation.
- It can also make this recipe with fresh turkey legs. Season the turkey legs with your favorite turkey seasoning, then set them in the slow cooker with the broth. Cook until the turkey reaches 165°F/75°C, then remove from the oven.
- Allow the turkey legs to rest for 10-15 minutes after removing them from the slow cooker to allow the juices to settle back into the flesh and provide a more luscious experience.
Leftover turkey legs can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. They can be kept in the refrigerator for 4 days if firmly wrapped.
To reheat, place them on a greased baking sheet, lightly covered with foil, and bake for 20-30 minutes at 300°F/150°C.
Alternatively, store leftovers in an airtight jar in the freezer for up to 3 months, thawing overnight before reheating.
How to Tell When Turkey Legs Are Cooked?
A meat thermometer is the best way to tell if they’re done. When the turkey legs are done, they should have an internal temperature of 165°F/75°C.
Is there no meat thermometer? Then, pierce the leg mid-thigh to let the juices drain; if they’re clear, the meat is done. If the juices are still pink, the turkey should be cooked longer.
Can You Cook the Turkey legs in the Oven?
You certainly can. Coat the turkey legs in the rub and set them, skin-side down, on a prepared baking sheet.
Cook at 350°F/177°C for 30 minutes. Cook for 45 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F/75°C.
Why Are the Turkey Legs Tough?
If you don’t boil the turkey legs long enough, they can get tough. Slow cooking at low temperatures softened the muscle fibers, resulting in juicier meat. But don’t be concerned! When you bite into that luscious, savory meat, the extra wait time is well worth it.