AmazingRibs.com is supported by our Pitmaster Club. Also, when you buy with links on our site we may earn a finder’s fee. Click to see how we test and review products.

How to Smoke Turkey Legs, Disney Style

Couple enjoying a smoked turkey leg

You’ll feel like the king of the court, wielding your giant smoked turkey leg like a scepter. 

Visit any of the Disney parks and you will see folks stumbling around delirious with huge smiles and monster turkey legs (actually they are drumsticks, since technically legs include the thigh). These pterodactyl-sized drums have spawned fan pages, scores of videos on YouTube, and rumors (no they are not emu legs). They have become so popular that they were featured on page one of the New York Times once. They are not hard to make at home once you crack the secret recipe, and I have.

Anyone can simply smoke turkey legs and they are wonderful, BUT, the turkey legs served on Disney properties are cured and this is a special process that produces a special taste. Disney legs are injected with a curing solution with a special curing salt that gives it a pink color, and then it is smoked. No wonder most folks say it tastes like ham. That’s how they make wet cured ham. And that’s how they sell more drinks!

Curing is very different from any other recipe because it uses a preservative, sodium nitrite. You must read and thoroughly understand my article on the Science Of Curing Meats before attempting to cure meat or before you ask any questions. That said, do not use the Curing Calculator on this recipe. It doesn’t work for such a small piece of meat with a bone.

two people enjoying turkey legs

For reference, Disney’s supplier, Uncle John’s Pride, uses Tom turkeys, male birds that can grow up to 50 pounds (22.7 k), with legs that run about 1 1/2 pounds (680.4 g). Most legs I have seen in stores are closer to 1 pound (453.6 g) each. This recipe brines/cures in a zipper bag for a few days so you don’t have to inject and so you can make a small quantity. You just need to move the legs around in the bag periodically to make sure the cure is in contact with all parts of the meat.

Smoked Disney-style Turkey Legs Recipe


Smoked turkey leg
Tried this recipe?Tell others what you thought of it and give it a star rating below.
4.28 from 153 votes
There's no need to travel to Disney (or pay the extraordinarily high ticket prices to get inside) for your very own giant smoked turkey leg thanks to this recipe and tutorial.

Course:
Dinner
,
Lunch
,
Main Course
Cuisine:
American

Makes:

Servings: 1 drumstick

Takes:

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Curing time: 1 day

Ingredients

Notes:
About the salt. Remember, Morton's coarse kosher salt is half the concentration of table salt so if you use table salt, use half as much. Click here to read more about salt and how it works.
Metric conversion:

These recipes were created in US Customary measurements and the conversion to metric is being done by calculations. They should be accurate, but it is possible there could be an error. If you find one, please let us know in the comments at the bottom of the page

Method

  • Cure. Dissolve the salt, Prague powder #1, and the sugar in the water and then pour it in a 1 gallon (3.8 l) zipper bag. Add the meat and refrigerate in the cure for about 24 hours, and not much longer or it can get too salty. While they are curing, move them them around a few times to make sure all parts are covered with the liquid.
  • Rinse. Remove the meat from the cure, rinse it so the exterior will not be too salty, and pat the skin dry with a paper towel. You can take them out of the cure and hold them in the fridge uncooked for a day or two until you're ready to smoke them, but I wouldn't push beyond that.
  • Fire up. Set up the grill for 2-zone smoking or fire up your smoker. Shoot for 325°F (162.8°C) on the indirect side.
  • Smoke. Smoke the turkey leg for about 1 hour until the thick part of the meat reaches at least 160°F (71.1°C).
  • Serve. Serve the smoked turkey leg immediately.

Related articles

Published On: 2/1/2015 Last Modified: 10/26/2021

  • Meathead - Founder and publisher of AmazingRibs.com, Meathead is known as the site's Hedonism Evangelist and BBQ Whisperer. He is also the author of the New York Times Best Seller "Meathead, The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling", named one of the "100 Best Cookbooks of All Time" by Southern Living.


If you help us, we’ll pay you back bigtime with an ad-free experience and much more!

Millions come to AmazingRibs.com every month for quality tested recipes, tips on technique, science, mythbusting, product reviews, and inspiration. But it is expensive to run a website with more than 4,000 pages and we don’t have a big corporate partner like TV network or a magazine publisher to subsidize us.

Our most important source of sustenance is people who join our Pitmaster Club, but please don’t think of it as a donation. Members get 21 great benefits. We block all third-party ads, we give members free ebooks, magazines, interviews, webinars, more recipes, a monthly sweepstakes with prizes worth up to $2,000, discounts on products, and best of all a community of like-minded cooks free of flame wars. Click below to see all the benefits, take a free 30 day trial membership, and help keep this site alive.


Post comments and questions below

grouchy?

1) Please try the search box at the top of every page before you ask for help.

2) Try to post your question to the appropriate page.

3) Tell us everything we need to know to help such as the type of cooker and thermometer. Dial thermometers are often off by as much as 50°F so if you are not using a good digital thermometer we probably can’t help you with time and temp questions. Please read this article about thermometers.

4) If you are a member of the Pitmaster Club, your comments login is probably different.

5) Posts with links in them may not appear immediately.

Moderators

  Max

Click for comments...

Spotlight

These are not ads or paid placements. These are some of our favorite tools and toys.

These are products we have tested, won our top awards, and are highly recommend. Click here to read how we test, about our medals, and what they mean.

Use Our Links To Help Keep Us Alive

A big part of this site is our unbiased equipment and product reviews. We love playing with toys and we have no problem calling them the way we see them. Some companies pay a finder’s fee if a reader clicks a link on AmazingRibs.com and buys a product. It has zero impact on our reviews, zero impact on the price you pay, and the sites never tell us what you bought, but it has a major impact on our ability to keep this site alive! So before you buy, please click our links. Here’s a link that takes you to a page on Amazon that has some of our favorite tools and toys: https://tinyurl.com/amazingribs


Masterbuilt MPS 340/G ThermoTemp XL Propane Smoker


This is the first propane smoker with a thermostat, making this baby foolproof. Set ThermoTemp’s dial from 175° to 350°F and the thermostat inside will adjust the burner just like an indoor kitchen oven. All you need to do is add wood to the tray above the burner to start smokin’.

Click here to read our detailed review


Fireboard: The Ultimate Top Of The Line BBQ Thermometer

Fireboard Labs Product Photo Shoot. Kansas City Commercial Portrait and Wedding Photographers ©Kevin Ashley Photography

With the ability to monitor up to six temperatures simultaneously with either Bluetooth or Wifi on your mobile phone, tablet, or computer, Fireboard is the best digital thermometer we’ve tested.
Click here to read our detailed review


GrillGrates Take Gas Grills To The Infrared Zone


GrillGrates(TM) amplify heat, prevent flareups, make flipping foods easier, kill hotspots, flip over to make a fine griddle, and can be easily moved from one grill to another. You can even throw wood chips, pellets, or sawdust between the rails and deliver a quick burst of smoke.

Click here for more about what makes these grates so special



Surely you know somebody who loves outdoor cooking who deserves a gift for the holidays, birthday, anniversary, or just for being wonderful. There he is, right in the mirror! Here are our selections of best ideas, all Platinum or Gold Medalists, listed by price.

Click here to see our list of Gold Medal Gifts


The Pit Barrel Cooker May Be Too Easy


The PBC has a rabid cult following for good reason. It is absolutely positively without a doubt the best bargain on a smoker in the world. Period. This baby will cook circles around the cheap offset sideways barrel smokers because temperature control is so much easier.

Click here to read our detailed review and the raves from people who own them


The Efficiency Of A Kamado Plus The Flexibility Of The Slow ‘N Sear Insert

kamado grill
Built around SnS Grill’s patented Slow ‘N Sear charcoal kettle accessory, this 22-inch kamado is a premium ceramic grill that brings true 2-zone cooking to a kamado.

Click here for our article on this exciting cooker


The Undisputed Champion!

Thermapen One Instant Read Thermometer

ThermoWorks’ Thermapen ONE provides an accurate reading in one second or less. The ONE also includes features that are common on high-end instruments: automatic backlight, rotating display, and water resistant seals. Don’t accept cheap substitutes.
Click here to read our comprehensive Platinum Medal review