Hickory Smoked Turkey Legs

Hickory Smoked Turkey Legs

I know, I know, I don’t post anything for weeks then here I am, BAM, with two posts in one day.

However as it happened, I had this one all ready to go when I decided that I simply must do a post on brining — including ratios if your turkey isn’t the size of a small child — before sharing the recipe for the turkey that was brined. Of course, as all things do these days, it took a bit longer than planned.

And so we return to our regularly scheduled programming, joining the story a few short weeks ago (well maybe a bit over a month or so ago now)…

RJ: *offhandedly* Hey, we should do Thanksgiving this year.

JJ: Um, YES, definitely.

JJ: Oh I could make smoked turkey legs!

JJ: And, where on earth do you suggest we hold this feast?

RJ: *insert wide-eye what have I gotten myself into emoji*

You see the holidays are a tough time for me to be so far away from family and it’s been roughly 10 years since we’ve hosted an Aussie Thanksgiving.

However our apartment can, at its put-all-of-the-things-away best, hold roughly four other people, maybe six. And if I was going to cook a Thanksgiving feast at least 10 guests were required, if not more.

Fast forward a few days to find me messaging a friend who would have been on the invite list anyway but also who, quite conveniently, recently moved into a new inner-city house.

I asked if she wanted to host, possibly dropping a mention of those smoked turkey legs into the communication. Luckily the temptation of a fully delivered feast was too strong to turn down.

It was game-on and before I knew it, in a totally uncharacteristic move and to the utter delight of RJ, I decided to test the turkey legs in advance.

Then somewhere in the midst of menu planning our friendly hosts ended up with a free turkey thanks to the purchase of a new fridge and offered to donate it to the cause.

And so it was that I found myself first cooking two gigantic turkey legs one Wednesday afternoon, followed by a 3.5kg (7.5lb) turkey and another 3.5kg of turkey legs a few days later. We won’t even talk about all the other fixings here — but there is a full menu below if you’re interested!

With a cozy 12 people on the guest list I was convinced there would be far too much food — and for a wee-moment was almost embarrassed to show up with so much… but leftovers are half the fun of Thanksgiving and I’d rather over-cater than under-cater any day.

The final meal was perfect — including a mix of family traditions, Aussie-inspired dishes and, most importantly for this story, Smoked Turkey Legs.

In theory the rest of the dishes will one day be remade and shot to share here but it may well take a while (shocker), so in the meantime I’ll leave you with the menu and an overflowing plate of all the things. If you really want to see the full spread there’s a shocking photo down at the bottom — because sometimes good food and friends are more important than good light.

An Aussie Thanksgiving (Friendsgiving) Menu

Marinated Mushrooms, Goat Cheese, Lavosh

Hickory Smoked Turkey Legs & Oven Roasted Turkey

Kimchi Pork Belly Skewers

Orange-Roasted Carrots & Parsnips with Carrot Top Cashew Pesto

Charred Broccolini & Almonds

Grilled Peaches, Rocket, Radicchio, Parmesan, Lentil Salad with Mustard Dressing

Sourdough Stuffing

Pan-dripping Gravy

Cranberry Orange Sauce

Homemade Butter Rolls

24-hr Salad (it’s a family thing)

Pumpkin Chiffon Pie

Vegan Pumpkin Pie

Baked Apples with Buckwheat Maple Crumble

Mascarpone Whipped Cream

Salted Brownies

Print Recipe

Smoked Turkey Legs

For the impact they’ll have on your guests the hands-on time put into these turkey drumsticks is negligible. It is, however, important to start this the day before as brining is the key to infusing flavour and moisture. A few handfuls of hickory chips and a bbq drum of indirect heat create in irresistible smoke ring (the pink bits in the pictures aren’t un-cooked turkey, they’re smoke) that will inspire third and fourth servings — and create a complete disregard for cutlery in favour of picking remains directly off a cutting board.


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp juniper berries (approx 6)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, bruised
  • 8 cups cold or iced water
  • ¼ c rock salt or kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp coconut sugar
Read the whole recipe on 84th&3rd