Air Fryer Turkey Legs are my new favorite way to enjoy juicy turkey meat for a quick and easy dinner. Soaked in salty water brine overnight, I love how they turn golden brown w/ yummy crispy skin & full of flavor.
I have never cooked turkey and chicken any other way since I got my air fryer. Cooking turkey drumsticks or Turkey Breast in the air fryer is currently my (healthy) obsession and, honestly, the best thing! No need to deep fry or bake for hours.
I love to cook turkey legs in the air fryer regardless of the holidays, they are relatively inexpensive, making them a great option for our busy weeknight dinners.
By brining the turkey legs, seasoning them with fragrant spices, and air frying them until crispy, you will end up with tender and juicy turkey legs that everyone will love. More of my pre-soaked favorites are Pickle Juice Chicken Drumsticks, Air Fryer Brined Chicken Breast, and Salt & Vinegar Chicken Wings.
In this blog post, I will show you how to make air fryer turkey legs soaked in salty water brine overnight. I’m positive you will love the tender and flavorful final product!
Brine the Turkey Legs
This simple sugar and salt brine with a bit of lemon juice is the secret to ensuring turkey legs cook up tender. Make a salty water brine for the turkey legs. The brining process helps to infuse the meat with flavor and moisture, which leads to tender and juicy turkey drumsticks. To make the brine, simply mix water and kosher salt in a large bowl or container (one tablespoon of salt for every 2 cups of water). Stir until the salt is completely dissolved.
Then, place the turkey legs in the brine, making sure they are completely submerged. Cover the bowl or container with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 2 hours, or overnight. The longer you let the turkey legs soak, the more flavorful they will be.
How long should I brine the turkey legs?
I suggest a minimum of 2 hours. Best overnight (10-12 hours). The next morning rub your turkey with oil, seasoning, and herbs, and let absorb for at least an hour.
Season the Turkey Legs
After the turkey legs have soaked in the brine overnight, remove them from the container and give them a light rinse with cold water. Pat them dry with paper towels. Then, season the turkey legs with your favorite spices. You can use a dry rub or marinade to infuse them with even more flavor. I added garlic, paprika, rosemary, and thyme to my dry rub mix.
Please refer to the printable recipe card for the ingredient list and directions, at the bottom of this post.
Air Fry Turkey Drumsticks
Preheat your air fryer to 380 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the turkey legs in the air fryer basket, making sure they are not touching each other. Cook for 30 minutes, flipping them halfway through. You want the internal temperature of the turkey legs to reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit for safe consumption. (74 °C).
Note: If your turkey legs are extra large, they may require more cooking time. After 30 minutes cover them with foil (to prevent burning of the skin) and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes. Until cooked through and the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
Let the Turkey Legs Rest
Once the turkey legs are fully cooked, remove them from the air fryer basket and place them on a serving platter. Let them rest for about 5-7 minutes before serving. This resting time allows the juices to redistribute evenly throughout the turkey legs, making them even more succulent.
Serve your air fryer turkey legs hot with your favorite sides. Some of my family’s favorites are Air Fryer roasted carrots - the only way we enjoy carrots lately. Air Fryer mashed potato cakes, or Blooming Sweet Potato.
Make a delicious gravy from the drippings to add another layer of flavor.
Store turkey legs in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer safe bag for up to 3 months in the freezer.
Reheat in the air fryer at 375°F for a few minutes per side until crispy exterior and warmed through middle.
What to do with leftovers? Shred the meat, mix it with some mayo, celery, and spices for a turkey salad sandwich. Besides making a leftover turkey sandwich, chop up the meat from turkey legs and add them to a hearty pot of chili.
Use them as a protein-packed addition to your favorite noodle dish. Or, my personal favorite, make a big ol' pot of turkey noodle soup.
Tips for the Juciest Air Fryer Turkey Legs
- Make sure your turkey legs are thawed completely before air frying. This will help ensure that they cook evenly.
- Season the turkey legs generously with salt, pepper, and other herbs or spices of your choice. This will help to give them flavor.
- Cook the turkey legs on a wire rack inside the air fryer so that they brown evenly. This will also help to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the air fryer.
- Monitor the turkey legs closely as they cook, as air fryers can vary in how quickly they cook food. Check them frequently so that they don't overcook.
- Use the meat thermometer and check when the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
FAQ - Is Brined Turkey too Salty?
Brining, by nature, involves soaking your turkey in a saltwater solution for a good period of time. So, yes, the turkey will be saltier than if you hadn't brined it. However, too much salt in the brine can lead to an overly-salted bird, but just the right amount can result in juicy, flavorful meat
In short, the turkey meat absorbs only a small portion of the saltwater solution, resulting in a perfect not too salty turkey.
Easy Sides for Turkey
Juicy and Flavorful Air Fryer Turkey Legs
- 2 turkey legs, thawed You can cook 4 or more. Just double the ingredients
- 2 Tablespoons Olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ Teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dry rosemary
- 4 cups water
- 2 Tablespoon Kosher salt
- 2 Tablespoons sugar white, brown, or Monk fruit sweetener.
- 1 Lemon Juice of 1 lemon. Plus dump the squeezed lemon into the brine
- ½ medium onion raw onion
- 2 Bay leaf
- 1 spring fresh rosemary
- 4 springs fresh thyme
- In a large pot, add water, salt, sugar, and stir until completely dissolved. Add lemon juice, plus dump the lemon. Add onion, bay leaf, rosemary and thyme. Add turkey legs, ensuring they are completely submerged in water. Cover and put in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or best overnight.
- Preheat the air fryer to 380F/195C.
- Drain and discard the brine. Rinse lightly under cool water. Pat turkey legs dry with paper towels.In a small bowl combine oil and seasoning blend for the turkey rub.Using your hands or a food basting brush, rub the oil and seasoning mix all over the turkey legs, rubbing under the skin, if possible.Place turkey legs directly onto an air fryer rack, basket, or tray.Cook for 30 minutes, flipping halfway. That is 15 minutes per side.