Spice Rub Roast Turkey Legs (Brined)

Did anyone say turkey? It’s gobble gobble season ain’t it?

I love turkey to bits but I love it better when I don’t have to mess with cooking a whole bird! It helps that turkey legs crack me up because they look like a miniature club. I dare say you can do some serious damage when these fellas are frozen. But that’s me.

I have never attempted roasting a whole turkey before because they don’t come fresh over here (usually frozen then defrosted) and they cost a bomb. Turkey legs on the other hand (frozen nonetheless) are friendlier to the purse and are so much fun to eat! For about 900gms (appx 1 lbs 15 oz) of turkey leg, it’s about RM14. I think it’s a pretty good deal.

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For this Thanksgiving season, if you’re not sure about roasting a whole bird, this might be an easy way out. Also, if you have only 2 mouths to feed like I do most nights, 2 turkey legs is plenty. When I cook turkey, though, I have to brine it. I somehow feel like turkey is a tougher meat compared to chicken. I don’t usually have to season my chicken too far in advance and they always turn out perfect. But for turkey, I think they need a little extra help to ensure that they’re well seasoned. And the meat always turns out tender so more reasons to brine.

Spice Rub Roast Turkey Legs 1

It’s pretty simple actually. I used some garlic, black peppercorn, lemon, cumin seeds, bay leaves, 5 spice powder, brown sugar, salt, soy sauce & water!
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I firstly try to get a container that’s bit enough to fit the legs. You’d be surprised how many I had to try before finding the right one.
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I toss some of the brining ingredients in. I chose the lemon route instead of vinegar because I feel like vinegar is a tad strong whereas lemon gives a fresher flavour to the end product. Also, natural tenderizer!
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I wanted to ensure that the salt and sugar doesn’t clump up in the brining liquid. Hence I warmed it up in the microwave and made sure everything had dissolved. This tub is going into the fridge in a moment and I doubt sugar and salt crystals melt very quickly in cold conditions. So help it along!
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Lastly, our soy sauce goes in. I like the savouriness this gives. The salt is enough to season but soy sauce just adds a more savoury edge. It’s a complex flavour, no?
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Toss in the bay leaves and we’re set to go!
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8 hours later, after work, we can pretty much proceed to the cooking.
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Just to accentuate the flavours even more, I decided to give the turkey legs a spice dry rubs consisting of 5 spice powder, cumin seeds, paprika & garlic powder. No more extra salt needed if your brined the meat well.
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I left the lemon slices on. There’s still so much juice in the slices I couldn’t bear to toss them away. Lay your turkey legs over whatever root veggies you prefer. I only had carrots, tomatoes and green pepper in the crisper. *shrug*
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This is me trying to use natural “lighting” when the sun has had enough. Not good.
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After a good hour, we have perfectly roasted and spiced turkey legs!
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You know what got me excited though? The browned edges on the lemon slices. I may or may not have chewed on them during dinner.
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And trust me when I say the meat was succulent!
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Look at the juices pooling around the meat! The 2 of us devoured almost the entire dish. It was THAT good! For so little effort and such great returns, you don’t need an economist to do the calculations for you. Do you?

I’ve posted another turkey leg recipe here using Oranges, Rosemary, Cinnamon and a whole lot of other stuff!

Orange Rosemary Turkey Legs 4

I’ve also got an Asian sweet potato dessert recipe coming up tomorrow if you’re looking for a different take on taters.
Mung Beans Sweet Potato Dessert 3

How are you turkeying about this year? Are you doing anything different?


“But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:57)

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Spice Rub Roast Turkey Legs (Brined)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Western
Serves: 4-6
  • 2 Turkey Legs (appx 900gms or 1 lb 2 oz)
  • ½ cup Brown Sugar
  • ½ cup Salt
  • 2 tbsp Black Peppercorns
  • 1 tsp + 1 tbsp Cumin Seeds (separate use), crushed with fingers
  • 3 cloves Garlic
  • 1 Lemon, sliced
  • 1½ tbsp + 1 tbsp 5 Spice Powder (separate use)
  • ¼ cup Soy Sauce
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 4 cups Water (or enough to submerge turkey legs fully)
  • 1 tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tbsp Paprika Powder
  • 1 Tomato, cut into wedges
  • 1 Carrot, peeled & cut into wedges
  • 1 Green Pepper/Capsicum, deseeded & cut into diamonds
  1. Prepare the brine by dissolving salt & pepper in 1 cup water.
  2. Place turkey legs in a non-reactive container with a lid, ensuring that it fits the legs as well as brine.
  3. Pour in solution, peppercorns, 1 tsp cumin seeds, whole garlic cloves, sliced lemon, 1½ tbsp 5 spice powder, soy sauce, bay leaves & rest of the water.
  4. Leave in the fridge to brine for at least 8 hours, up to 24 hours.
  5. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 360F or 180C.
  6. Mix 1 tbsp cumin seeds, 1 tbsp 5 spice powder, garlic powder & paprika powder in a small bowl.
  7. Line roasting pan with chopped carrots & tomatoes.
  8. Pat dry turkey legs and rub with spice mix. Place on top of veggies and leave for 10 minutes to bring it closer to room temperature.
  9. Fish out lemon slices, bay leaves & garlic cloves. Arrange over turkey legs.
  10. Roast for 45 mins - 1 hour or until juices run clear when meat is pricked. If you're the precise kind of person, cook until internal temperature reaches 180F or 82C.
  11. Top with chopped green peppers & serve!

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