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Air Fryer Turkey Legs

by Capri Lilly

Air Fryer Turkey Legs are a full-flavored entrée seasoned with a smoky butter rub for a crispy outside with a juicy, tender inside. With easy prep, these turkey legs are ready in less than 45 minutes, with most of that time dedicated to cooking in the air fryer. (This simple but delicious recipe is completely gluten-free!)

For a full-on meal, pair your turkey legs with sides like Sourdough Stuffing, Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes4-Cheese Mac and Cheese, or Homemade Honey Cornbread!

Air Fryer Turkey Legs garnished with rosemary, cranberries, and parsley

These crispy Air Fryer Turkey Legs are enhanced with a smoky flavor that will have you savoring each and every bite. While this recipe is reminiscent of smoked turkey legs you’d normally get at Disney Land or amusement parks, it would actually be perfect for Thanksgiving! With a quick and easy cleanup, it’s the ideal, hassle-free addition to a holiday feast. (If you’re wanting to make a whole turkey for Thanksgiving, try my popular spatchcock turkey recipe, and cook an entire turkey in less than 2 hours.)

close up to show texture crispy air fryer turkey legs

So you may be wondering, “Can you cook turkey legs in the air fryer?”

Yes, you most certainly can AND should! Cooking turkey legs in the air fryer is a super quick and easy way! However, if you do not have an air fryer, you can roast turkey legs in the oven and yield similar results.

Ingredients to make turkey legs: Turkey Legs/Drumsticks (2-3 lbs), Turkey Legs/Drumsticks (2-3 lbs): You can typically find this at your local grocery store or butcher in packs of 2 or 3. If cooking lean turkey legs, adjust the cooking time.
Smoky Butter Rub: You'll need melted butter, smoked paprika, garlic powder, dried thyme, poultry seasoning, Herbs de Provence, salt, and pepper.

Ingredients to Make Air Fryer Turkey Legs

  • Turkey Legs/Drumsticks (2-3 lbs): You can typically find this at your local grocery store or butcher in packs of 2 or 3. If cooking lean turkey legs, adjust the cooking time.
  • Smoky Butter Rub: You’ll need melted butter, smoked paprika, garlic powder, dried thyme, poultry seasoning, Herbs de Provence, salt, and pepper.
Smoky Butter Rub: melted butter, smoked paprika, garlic powder, dried thyme, poultry seasoning, Herbs de Provence, salt, and pepper.
Smoky Butter Rub For Turkey Legs

How To Cook Turkey Legs In The Air Fryer

IT’S SUPER EASY & EFFORTLESS!

  1. Cover turkey with seasoned butter rub. Try to get under the skin as well
  2. Place turkey legs in the air fryer basket. Try to leave space between them if possible. 
  3. Cook for 40 minutes, or until the internal temperature of 165 is reached.
  4. Let the turkey legs rest for 5 minutes. Enjoy!
image steps for how to make turkey legs.

Crispy Air Fryer Turkey Legs

Forget those comments about dry Thanksgiving Turkey! The air fryer is the perfect way to cook crispy turkey legs while leaving the inside tender and juicy. Plus, you get mouthwatering smoky turkey legs without the hassle of having to use a smoker or grill!

close up of turkey legs cut to show tender, juicy meat.

Common Questions

How Long To Cook Turkey Legs In The Air Fryer?

It takes about 40 minutes to cook turkey legs in the air fryer. Cook time may vary depending on your particular air fryer and how many turkey legs it can hold at one time. The best way to check is to use an instant thermometer. The internal temperature should read 165°F when done.

How To Reheat Turkey Legs In The Air Fryer?

In order to reheat smoked turkey legs in an air fryer, preheat the air fryer to 350F. Then cook them for 10 minutes, flipping halfway through to ensure they heat evenly.

How Do You Defrost Turkey Legs Quickly?

Submerge the frozen turkey legs in cold water (do not remove the turkey legs from the packaging). They should defrost in 2-4 hours. You can also leave the turkey legs in the fridge overnight to thaw. For. the best results, thaw the turkey legs before cooking.

Air Fryer Turkey Legs garnished with rosemary, cranberries, and parsley

How To Air Fry Lean Turkey Legs?

If you are cooking lean turkey legs, reduce the cooking time to prevent the turkey legs from drying out. Start by cutting the cooking time in half, then cook longer if necessary. An instant thermometer should read 165°F when the turkey legs are done.

Should You Brine Turkey Legs Before Air Frying?

Brining the turkey legs is completely unnecessary if you are cooking them in the air fryer. The air fryer does a great job of keeping the inside of the turkey moist and tender. Plus, with the help of the butter rub, these turkey legs will be absolutely flavorful and juicy.

What To Eat With Your Air Fryer Turkey Legs?

Turkey legs are so versatile and pair well with just about anything! Here are a few side dish ideas:

Air Fryer Turkey Legs garnished with rosemary, cranberries, and parsley

I hope you enjoy this Air Fryer Turkey Leg Recipe!


If you try the recipe, don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know what you think in the comments below! Take pictures, tag #goodfoodbaddie, and share them with me on Instagram! I love seeing my recipes come to life in your kitchen.

Want More Delicious Air Fryer Recipes? Check These Out:

Air Fryer Lobster Tail With Lemon Garlic Butter 

Gluten-Free Air Fryer Fish

Air Fryer Cheese Stuffed Meatballs 

Air Fryer Fried Chicken Wings

Honey Garlic Air Fryer Salmon

Air Fryer Turkey Legs garnished with rosemary, cranberries, and parsley
Print Recipe
5 from 9 votes

Air Fryer Turkey Legs

Air Fryer Turkey Legs are a full-flavored entrée seasoned with a smoked paprika butter rub for a crispy outside with a juicy, tender inside. With easy prep, these turkey legs are ready in less than 45 minutes, with most of that time dedicated to cooking in the air fryer.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Gluten-Free
Keyword: air fryer, crispy, easy grilled chicken, gluten free turkey, quick meal, turkey, turkey legs
Servings: 2
Calories: 436kcal
Author: Capri Lilly

Equipment

  • Air Fryer

Ingredients

  • 2 Turkey Legs/Drumsticks (2-3 lbs)
  • 1/3 cup Butter melted, reserve 1 tbsp to baste halfway
  • 2 tsp Smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp Poultry seasoning
  • 1 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Pepper or to taste
  • 1 tsp Dried thyme
  • 1 tsp Herbs de Provence (or Italian seasoning)
  • 1/2 tsp Salt or to taste

Instructions

  • Pat the turkey legs dry with a clean cloth or paper towel.
  • Prepare the smokey butter rub by mixing the seasonings with the melted butter.
  • Cover turkey with seasoned butter rub. Try to get under the skin as well.
  • Preheat the air basket to 400°F for 3 minutes. Then, place turkey legs in the air fryer basket. Try to leave space between them if possible.
  • Air Fry at 400°F for 20 minutes. Then open the air fryer basket, flip turkey legs and lightly spray with cooking oil. Baste the flipped side with the remaining seasoned butter. Close the Air Fryer basket and cook for 20 more minutes. (Cooking time may vary depending on how big your turkey legs are. Cook for ~40 minutes, or until the internal temperature of 165 is reached.)
  • Let the turkey legs rest for 5 minutes. Enjoy!

Notes

How To Reheat Turkey Legs In The Air Fryer?

In order to reheat smoked turkey legs in an air fryer, preheat the air fryer to 350F. Then cook them for 10 minutes, flipping halfway through to ensure they heat evenly.

How Do You Defrost Turkey Legs Quickly?

Submerge the frozen turkey legs in cold water (do not remove the turkey legs from the packaging). They should defrost in 2-4 hours. You can also leave the turkey legs in the fridge overnight to thaw. For. the best results, thaw the turkey legs before cooking.

Should You Brine Turkey Legs Before Air Frying?

Brining the turkey legs is completely unnecessary if you are cooking them in the air fryer. The air fryer does a great job of keeping the inside of the turkey moist and tender. Plus, with the help of the butter rub, these turkey legs will be absolutely flavorful and juicy.
nutrition facts for air fryer turkey legs: calories 438, total fat 38.1g, cholesterol 152mg, Sodium 642mg, Total Carbohydrate 4.2g, Protein 21g

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19 comments

Elizabeth November 2, 2021 - 11:38 pm

This recipe is making me think about my own holiday season appetizers! I badly want to get an air fryer now….

Reply
Capri Lilly November 3, 2021 - 12:42 am

Definitely get an air fryer! I use mine almost every day! You won’t regret buying one. 🙂

Reply
Rob November 3, 2021 - 12:06 am

5 stars
I love how flavorful these turkey legs come out! Such an easy recipe for a busy weeknight.

Reply
Capri Lilly November 3, 2021 - 12:41 am

Hi Rob! I agree! I love air fryer recipes because they are so simple and time-saving! Thanks for leaving a review!

Reply
Jamie November 3, 2021 - 12:20 am

5 stars
This was so good that I’ll be making it again for Thanksgiving! The smoked paprika and dried herbs add so much flavor!

Reply
Capri Lilly November 3, 2021 - 12:41 am

Hi Jamie! I am so glad you enjoyed the recipe and found it flavorful!!

Reply
Amy November 3, 2021 - 1:28 am

5 stars
Oh my! I’m so glad turkey is on sale right now. So affordable! Totally making these turkey legs with a side of Mac and cheese. My family will love it.

Reply
Capri Lilly November 3, 2021 - 5:58 am

That sounds like a great meal! Enjoy!

Reply
Jessica November 4, 2021 - 1:11 pm

Alight, that’s it. I have got to purchase an air fryer. We missed out on turkey legs at the Ren Fest this year and were so disappointed. These turkey legs look so succulent and flavorful that I’m sure they will make up for that disappointment, however. Literally can’t wait to try them!

Reply
Capri Lilly November 5, 2021 - 4:44 pm

Yes, definitely get one! You will be so happy you did. 🙂

Reply
Angela November 22, 2021 - 10:37 pm

5 stars
I am loving this way to easily cook turkey legs!!

Reply
Capri Lilly November 22, 2021 - 10:38 pm

Hi Angela! I am so glad you like1

Reply
Alexandra November 22, 2021 - 10:48 pm

5 stars
these turkey legs are so tasty!

Reply
Addie November 23, 2021 - 3:37 am

5 stars
So easy and delicious!

Reply
Andrea White November 23, 2021 - 4:01 am

5 stars
love that this is in the air fryer!

Reply
Kristina November 23, 2021 - 8:49 pm

5 stars
Great alternative to frying up a whole turkey!

Reply
Capri Lilly November 24, 2021 - 12:41 am

For sure! Fried turkey is delicious, but def requires the right equipment. It’s a good thing spatchcock is just as juicy and good! Thanks for leaving a review 🙂

Reply
Shifruk Tatiana November 24, 2021 - 4:50 am

5 stars
Juicy and super easy to make, didn’t take much time either

Reply
Capri Lilly November 24, 2021 - 5:49 pm

Hi Shifruk! I am glad you liked!

Reply

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