When you’re tired of your usual chicken recipes, why not try one of our turkey recipes instead? While it’s popular during the holidays, turkey is a delicious protein source that you can enjoy all year round. Grab your favorite cut of turkey from the store and try my Turkey Tenderloin recipe.
The magic of the air fryer is that it provides that crispy, mouthwatering outer layer- without having to use much oil. The rest of the simple ingredients in this delicious recipe parallel my Turkey Drumstick Recipe, but we’ve cut back on the oil. Here’s what you’ll need:
- For the turkey drumsticks, I used two 12-ounce drumsticks. Drumsticks tend to be more widely available around the holidays, so you can purchase some and freeze them for later if your local grocery store or local butcher doesn’t carry them year-round (just make sure to thaw frozen drumsticks before cooking). You can buy smaller drumsticks or even larger ones, but keep in mind that larger turkey legs may not fit in your air fryer (it depends on the size of your air fryer, too). We used giant turkey legs when first testing this recipe, which ended up burning in the air fryer because they were so large that they touched the top of the basket.
- To make the air fryer turkey rub, gather unsalted butter (or olive oil), garlic powder, onion powder, paprika (or smoked paprika), kosher salt, and black pepper.
How to Cook Turkey Legs in Air Fryer
It’s amazing how easy it is to achieve fair-style, crispy air fryer turkey legs- right from the comfort of your own home! With your handy air fryer, they are ready in no time. Here’s how to cook turkey drumsticks in an air fryer:
- Pat dry the drumsticks: Remove your turkey legs from the packaging and pat them dry with paper towels. Set aside.
- Make the rub: In a small bowl, combine the butter, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper.
- Apply the rub: Apply the seasoned butter rub to the turkey meat, making sure to coat the entire leg evenly.
- Preheat the air fryer: Set your air fryer temperature to 400 degrees F.
- Add the turkey legs: Place turkey legs in the air fryer basket, making sure they don’t hit the top of the air fryer (or they may burn).
- Cook: Air fry the turkey legs for 20 minutes, flip and rotate, and continue cooking for another 10-15 minutes, or until one air fried turkey leg registers 165 degrees F.
- Rest and serve: Carefully remove them from the air fryer, cover them with foil, and let them rest for about 10-15 minutes. Serve.
How to Cook Smoked Turkey Legs in Air Fryer?
Have you ever wondered how to make air fried smoked turkey legs? This method works for pre-cooked, pre-smoked turkey legs only, so ensure that your turkey is pre-cooked before proceeding.
Here’s how to cook pre-smoked turkey legs in an air fryer in only 10 minutes:
- Preheat the air fryer: Set your air fryer to 375 degrees F.
- Place the smoked turkey legs in air fryer: Lightly spray or coat each turkey leg with oil, using about 1 teaspoon of oil for every two legs. Arrange them in the air fryer basket, making sure they don’t hit the top of the air fryer (or they may burn).
- Cook smoked turkey legs in air fryer: Air fry smoked turkey legs for about 10 minutes, rotating halfway through to ensure even cooking. You may need more or less time, depending on the size of your turkey legs. To check for doneness, insert a quick read thermometer into the thickest part of the air fryer smoked turkey legs and ensure they register 165 degrees F.
Whether you’re an air fryer newbie or a seasoned pro, these helpful tips and tricks will help you achieve that crispy skin and juicy meat you’re aiming to achieve. Here’s what you need to know:
- Remove from the fridge in advance: We tested this recipe both ways, but if you do have the time, take your turkey legs out of the fridge about 15 minutes before you plan to cook them. This will allow them to warm up a little, making your job easier when applying the butter rub. If you forgot to take them out of the fridge in advance, you can use olive oil instead of butter, which will be easier to spread. Either way works, but we found that it is easier to spread the seasoned butter on a not-so-cold turkey leg.
- Size matters: There is a direct correlation between the size of the turkey legs and cooking time. Smaller drumsticks, also called lean turkey legs, will have a shorter cook time than large turkey legs. Avoid purchasing really large drumsticks, as they may not fit in your air fryer basket. When we first tried air frying turkey legs, we ended up burning them because they were so large that they were touching the top of the air fryer. So, check to make sure that your turkey legs fit inside the basket properly before cooking.
- Don’t overcrowd the basket: As with all air fryer recipes, it’s important never to overcrowd your basket, as this prolongs the cooking time and results in unevenly cooked food. For best results, depending on the size of your turkey legs, you may need to air fry them in batches.
- Pat dry: Make sure to pat dry each drumstick thoroughly before applying the rub. This will ensure you’ll get that sought-after, crispy, golden brown skin.
- Check internal temperature: Take the guesswork out of cooking these air fryer turkey drumsticks by using an instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature after cooking. I use and love this one (affiliate link.) After cooking, check that the thickest part of the turkey leg registers 165 degrees F.
- Let them rest: Don’t skip this step! Once the turkey legs are cooked, cover them loosely with foil and let them rest for 10-15 minutes. This will give them time to reabsorb any lost liquid, resulting in a juicy turkey leg instead of dry turkey legs.
Yes, you can cook frozen turkey legs in air fryer. Simply follow this recipe but add 5-6 additional minutes of cook time, checking to make sure the internal temperature of each air fry turkey leg registers 165 degrees F.
It doesn’t take long to air fry turkey legs. To air fry turkey legs at 400 degrees F, it can take anywhere from 20-40 minutes. Larger drumsticks need more time, while smaller ones need less time.
To reheat a turkey leg in air fryer, set your air fryer to 350 degrees F and lightly spray or coat the basket with oil. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until heated through.
Other Air Fryer Recipes You Might Like
The air fryer is such a handy tool for quickly cooking all of your favorite meats, veggies, and more without having to turn on your oven. If you’d like to get more use out of your air fryer, be sure to try one of my tried-and-true air fryer recipes below:
If you try this Air Fryer Turkey Leg recipe or any other recipe on Foolproof Living, please take a minute to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. It helps others who are thinking of making the recipe. And if you took some pictures, be sure to share them on Instagram using #foolproofeats so I can share them on my stories.
Air Fryer Turkey Legs Recipe
- 2 Turkey Drumsticks approximately 12 ounces each
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter softened or olive oil
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Prep the turkey legs: Remove turkey legs from their packaging onto a plate and pat dry with paper towels as much as you can. Set them aside.
- Make the rub: Mix together the softened butter, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper in a bowl until well combined.
- Apply the rub: Spread each turkey drumstick with the butter mixture on all sides and under the skin while being careful to not tear the skin.
- Preheat the air fryer: Preheat your air fryer to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Carefully remove the air fryer basket and place the turkey legs.
- Air fry: Air fry the drumsticks for 20 minutes, rotate and flip, and then air fry for another 10-15 minutes* or until the internal temperature of one of the turkey legs registers 165 degrees Fahrenheit when inserted with a meat thermometer.
- Rest and serve: Remove the turkey legs from the air fryer, cover them loosely with foil, and let them rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.
- Cook time: There’s a direct correlation between the size of the turkey leg and its cook time. Keep an eye on your turkey legs while cooking, especially the smaller ones because they cook faster. They’re done when the internal temperature of the turkey legs reaches 165 degrees F.
- Turkey legs and thighs: You can air fry turkey legs and thighs together using this recipe. The cooking temperature would still be the same. The timing would depend on the size of your turkey thighs and drumsticks. However, as long as they are similar (approximately 12 ounces) in size, it should be around 35 to 40 minutes of air frying time. Be sure to flip them halfway through and air fry them until the internal temp reaches 165 degrees F.
- Store: After air frying your turkey legs, let them cool to room temperature. Once they have cooled, place leftover turkey legs in an airtight container and store them in the fridge for up to 2 days.
- Reheat: To reheat them in the air fryer, set your air fryer to 350 degrees F and lightly spray or coat the basket with oil. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until heated through.