Orange Spiced Turkey Legs

This recipe is a long time coming. We made this for New Year’s Eve and I totally forgot all about it. Yeah, it happens a lot, unsurprisingly.

After my Mom’s successful experiment with brining, she wanted to test it out on turkey. I mean, we all know turkey can get super dry and leathery if not done right. So for her, she decided to first use only turkey drumsticks. Secondly, she wanted a brine that not only flavours but tenderizes the meat.

Here’s where I come in. I provided the suggestions. Use vinegar and orange for some tenderizing action. Dried rosemary, cinnamon, cloves,  star anise & peppercorns for herbiness. Plenty of salt. And most importantly, water and time. She brined them for 2 days.
Orange Rosemary Turkey Legs 2

After the brining, I found that the high vinegar content kinda made the skin and flesh white. I guess something with so much acid can begin to cook the meat. But anyway, it was all really good and nice.
Orange Rosemary Turkey Legs 1

Before roasting, I got out the paper towels to give the drumsticks a good drying. This time, it’s roasting, not steaming. So the less moisture, the better.
Orange Rosemary Turkey Legs 3

That orange flavour. Just brilliant with our gamey bird.
Orange Rosemary Turkey Legs 4

We then roasted it for about 2 hours until the internal temperature reached. Because we haven’t made turkey much, my brother and I figured it would be better to use a meat thermometer. Didn’t want to risk getting salmonella infected food!
Orange Rosemary Turkey Legs 5

The turkey drumsticks are at the bottom left, if you can’t find it. We had a massive serving of food. And yes, that pasta is actually this one that my brother and I made. Yeah, it took that long for me to remember to post this recipe. Hmm..

Back to the turkey drumsticks, the meat was juicy and tender. I love that the fragrance of the oranges came through well and paired with the various spices. It was incredible. There was so much to go around that I got to take some home for dinner the next day. Bonus! We ate so much… like really so much.

Some people like to rinse their brined meat before cooking but we didn’t. If you are afraid of too much salt getting to the meat, you can rinse. We chose not to because we didn’t want to dilute the flavours and it turned out just perfect for us. Definitely more turkey in our horizon.






” I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.” (Revelation 22:16)

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Orange Spiced Turkey Legs
makes 7 turkey legs, serves 10-15

7 Turkey Drumsticks/Legs (appx 1 lbs or 450gms each)
2 Oranges, sliced into rings
2 tbsp Black Peppercorns
3 tbsp dried Rosemary (or Italian Herbs)
2 Cinnamon Sticks
1 tbsp Cloves
4 Star Anise
1 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1 cup Brown Sugar
1.5 cups Coarse Salt
4 cups Ice Cubes
Enough Water to cover Turkey Legs (we used about 1 gallon or about 4 litres)*

  1. Make very sure you use a container that fits all the turkey legs as well as the water needed.
  2. To make the brine, bring water & vinegar to a boil. Scatter in peppercorns, rosemary, cinnamon, cloves, star anise & salt. 
  3. Toss in ice cubes and leave brine to cool until room temperature.
  4. Carefully place in turkey legs. Brine them, covered in a refrigerator for 1-2 days. I wouldn’t recommend going any longer because the acid would do funny things to the meat later on.
  5. When ready to roast, preheat your oven to 350F or 170 C.
  6. Remove turkey legs from brine and pat them very dry with paper towels. Lay them on a foil lined baking tray, making sure the tray isn’t overcrowded.
  7. Pat dry orange slices and place over the turkey legs for more flavour and juiciness.
  8. Roast for about 1 hour or until internal temperature reaches 170F or 75C.
  9. Serve with a nice salad and eat with your fingers. 🙂

* I left the measurement for water ambiguous because it really depends on your container and how much it can take. Just measure it out before making the brine, remembering that the ice cubes will also take up some space when melted.


  1. I definitely just pinned this recipe, Jayne, and I look forward to making it if I can find turkey legs because it sounds divine. Y’all did something right with that brining because there is nothing sadder than a dried out turkey (I’m thinking of the one from Christmas Vacation if you’ve ever seen that!)… and I’ve had a few in my day.

    Thanks for sharing this, and I hope y’all have a lovely weekend!

    • Thanks Erin. It is horrifying having dried out meat after investing so much time and effort (and hope?) in something. I love that brining really infuses the meat with so much flavour. I’ll be brining a lot for sure.

  2. Brining is a great idea on any white meat, as it tend to get overcooked really easily. I find dark meat is more forgiving. I’ll have to try this recipe but I won’t brine it for that long. Usually a few hours will suffice. Thanks for sharing!

    • It’s true. I don’t think it needs quite so long too but my mom wanted to be super sure that the flavours would infuse. And also she figured better to start on it earlier than later. It turned out pretty good for us. Can’t wait to read about your own brining experience.


  1. […] posted another turkey leg recipe here using Oranges, Rosemary, Cinnamon and a whole lot of other […]

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