american/ Christmas/ Dinner/ Easter/ meat/ Thanksgiving

Roasted Turkey Leg with gravy (fall-off-the-bone meat!)

2 September 2021 | Last Updated: 5 September 2021 By Aleksandra

This roasted turkey leg recipe is the most delicious way to cook whole turkey legs! It’s seasoned with aromatic herb-orange butter and baked until the meat is so tender that it falls off the bones. It’s very easy to make for Sunday dinner but also impressive enough to serve on a special occasion. Serve it with gravy and your favorite side dishes for an ultimate comfort meal.

If you’re looking for more delicious turkey recipes, check out this showstopper turkey roulade, this simple but so tasty baked turkey tenderloin, or another great recipe using turkey leg meat – turkey stew.

Whole baked turkey leg on a white plate with glazed carrots, rosemary springs and orange wedges.
Gravy is being poured over baked turkey leg on a white plate with glazed carrots and potatoes.

Below you will find information about the ingredients and how to make the recipe. Scroll down for a printable recipe card with measurements and detailed instructions.

Ingredients

Here’s what you need to make this delicious baked turkey leg:

  • Whole turkey leg (thigh and a drumstick) – my turkey leg was very big so I used just one for this recipe (just one could fit in my 9×13 inch casserole dish). You need to use bone-in and skin-on meat.
  • Butter – we will spread aromatic butter all over the meat.
  • Fresh herbs: rosemary, thyme, and sage – they are often sold together in packages as ‘poultry seasoning’. You can also use dry herbs but I would chop dried rosemary very finely (or crush it using a pestle and mortar, you can also use a spice grinder) because it is very hard and can be unpleasant to eat. You will get a better flavor if you use fresh herbs. I would also recommend marinating the meat with the herb butter overnight in the fridge to soften dried herbs (and also make the meat more tender and tasty!). I used fresh rosemary and dried thyme and sage. Rosemary is really best fresh.
  • Orange zest – I really recommend using it! It adds so much flavor and it literally perfumes the whole dish. It is something that takes a simple herb butter to another level.
  • Fresh garlic – you can also use dried but fresh tastes much better.

Additionally, if you would like to make the gravy:

  • some vegetables – I used carrots, celery, onions
  • aromatics – any herbs you have on hand (I used rosemary, but parsley or thyme would also be good), fresh garlic, half an orange
  • Worcestershire sauce – add lots of flavor to the gravy
  • flour – thickens the gravy, you can use corn starch instead
  • dry white wine – adds acidity to the sauce, use chicken broth if you don’t want to cook with alkohol, you may need to season your gravy with somethic acidic like lemon juice or apple cider vinegar

Gravy is optional but it would be a waste to discard all those delicious juices from the baking dish. They are especially tasty if the meat is on the bone!

Labeled ingredients for roasted turkey leg with gravy.

How to make whole turkey leg – step by step

Preheat the oven to 350°F (or 180°C/Gas Mark 4), no fan.

You will need a large roasting pan with a rack or a regular, 9×13-inch (22×32 cm) casserole baking dish for this recipe. The meat should be placed on the rack or on top of the vegetables.

Butter, spices, and orange zest in a white bowl. Herb orange butter in a white bowl.

STEP 1+2: Combine soft butter with finely chopped fresh herbs (or dried herbs), orange zest, and pressed garlic cloves.

Turkey leg is being pat dried with paper towels. Turkey leg is being sprinkled with salt and pepper.

STEP 3: Place the turkey leg in the baking dish. Clean it with wet paper towels then pat it dry with dry paper towels.

STEP 4: Loosen the skin from the meat without totally detaching it. Rub the meat thoroughly with salt and pepper, also under the skin.

Turkey leg is being spread with herb butter. Chopped vegetables and herbs on a wooden board.

STEP 5: Spread the herb butter mixture all over the meat, also under the skin. When done, make sure all the meat is covered with skin.

STEP 6: Prepare the vegetables for the gravy: pell the carrots and onions, cut all the vegetables into large chunks.

Wine is being poured into a casserole dish with turkey leg and vegetables.

STEP 7: Place the vegetables in the baking dish. Add some herbs, half an orange, garlic cloves, pour in the wine. The meat should be placed on the rack or on top of the vegetables.

STEP 8: Place the dish in the oven and bake the turkey for about 1h 45 minutes (or until it’s nicely golden brown), then reduce the temperature to 325°F (or 160°C/Gas Mark 3) and bake for 1h 15 minutes.

The reason for reducing the temperature is to avoid burning the meat, so when your turkey is nicely golden brown you can reduce the temperature.

There is no need to baste the meat – it “bastes itself” with the melting herb butter. So this is a kind of dump-and-forget-it recipe!

Baking time – IMPORTANT NOTE: we are baking the meat longer than it’s necessary to reach the safe temperature of 165°F/74°C. This will result in fall-off-the-bone meat. You can do that with just bone-in meat! You can certainly bake your turkey leg until it reaches 165°F, it will take about 1 hour and 15-30 minutes instead of 3 hours. The meat will be good but it needs to be cut off the bone with a knife and it’s just not that tender.

Take the meat out of the oven. Transfer it to a large plate and let rest for 10-15 minutes. This will result in juicy meat. If you cut the meat too soon all the delicious juices will run straight to the dish rather than distribute through the meat.

A collage of 4 photos showing how to make a gravy.

STEPS 9-12: Make the gravy:

  • Strain the liquid from the baking dish, discard the vegetables.
  • Add the liquid to a medium pot, remove with a tablespoon about 1/4 cup of fat that will gather at the top of the liquid (you can discard it). Brown liquid at the bottom of the pot is what you want.
  • In a small bowl, whisk the flour with 2 tablespoons of cold water, add it to the gravy. Add the Worcestershire sauce.
  • Cook the gravy for a couple of minutes over medium heat, whisking from time to time until it’s thickened.
  • Season the gravy with pepper if necessary (if should be already salty enough).

Cut the turkey leg into servings and serve with the gravy.

Enjoy!

Serving suggestions

Storage

You can store this roasted turkey leg for up to 3-4 days in the fridge. Reheat in a 320°F (160°C) oven, in a microwave or gently steam it (this is the best method for reheating poultry meat, without drying it out).

What I also like to do is to take all the meat off the bones and then warm it up with butter in a pan the next day.

You can store unbaked turkey leg for up to 1 day in the fridge. Butter will become solid and won’t look like a paste anymore, but this is fine. Take it out of the fridge 30-60 minutes before baking it.

You can freeze baked turkey leg. Thaw before using and reheating.

Roasted turkey leg on a white plate with glazed carrots, potatoes and gravy.

Did you make this recipe? RATE THE RECIPE or tell me in the COMMENTS how you liked it! You can also add a photo of your dish. It would make me very happy and will help other readers. Thank you!!

Roasted turkey leg with gravy (fall-off-the bone meat!)

This roasted turkey leg recipe is the most delicious way to cook whole turkey legs! It’s seasoned with aromatic herb-orange butter and baked until the meat is so tender that it falls off the bones. It’s very easy to make for Sunday dinner but also impressive enough to serve on a special occasion. Serve it with gravy and your favorite side dishes for an ultimate comfort meal.
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Whole roasted turkey leg on a white plate served with glazed carrots and potatoes.
Print Recipe
No ratings yet
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 20 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 577kcal
Author Aleksandra

Ingredients

for the turkey leg:

  • 1 large turkey leg thigh+drumstick, bone-in and skin-on, 4.3 lbs / 2 kg
  • 3/4 tablespoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 5 tablespoons soft butter 70g
  • 3 tablespoons chopped herbs I used thyme, rosemary and sage
  • zest grated from 1 large orange
  • 2 cloves garlic pressed

for the gravy:

  • 2 small/medium onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 stick celery + leaves
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 sprigs rosemary or thyme
  • 1/2 orange cut into 4 parts
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (or 180°C/Gas Mark 4), no fan.
  • You will need a large roasting pan with a rack or a regular, 9×13-inch (22×32 cm) casserole baking dish for this recipe. The meat should be placed on the rack or on top of the vegetables.
  • Combine soft butter with finely chopped fresh herbs (or dried herbs), orange zest, and pressed garlic cloves.
  • Place the turkey leg in the baking dish (the meat should be placed on the rack or on top of the vegetables). Clean it with wet paper towels then pat it dry with dry paper towels.
  • Loosen the skin from the meat without totally detaching it. Rub the meat thoroughly with salt and pepper, also under the skin. Spread the herb butter mixture all over the meat, also under the skin.
  • Prepare the vegetables for the gravy: pell the carrots and onions. Cut all the vegetables into large chunks and place in the baking dish. Add some herbs, half an orange, garlic cloves, pour in the wine.
  • Place the dish in the oven and bake the turkey for about 1h 45 minutes (or until it's nicely golden brown), then reduce the temperature to 325°F/160°C/Gas Mark 3 and bake for 1h 15 minutes (there is no need to baste the meat, we are baking the meat longer than it's necessary to reach the safe temperature of 165°F/74°C, this will result in fall-off-the-bone meat).
  • Take the meat out of the oven. Transfer it to a large plate and let rest for 10-15 minutes.
  • Make the gravy: Strain the liquid from the baking dish, discard the vegetables. Add the liquid to a medium pot, remove with a tablespoon about 1/4 cup of fat that will gather at the top of the liquid (you can discard it). Brown liquid at the bottom of the pot is what you want. In a small bowl, whisk the flour with 2 tablespoons of cold water, add it to the gravy. Add the Worcestershire sauce. Cook for a couple of minutes over medium heat, whisking from time to time until the gravy is thickened. Season the gravy with pepper if necessary (it should be already salty enough).
  • Cut the turkey leg into servings and serve with the gravy.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

  • Reheating: I like to take the leftover meat off the bones are warm it up with butter in a pan the next day.
  • The recipe yields 4 generous servings or 5 smaller servings.
  • Calories = 1 serving (1/4 of the recipe). This is only an estimate!
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword baked turkey leg, fall-off-the-bone meat turkey leg, roasted turkey leg, whole turkey leg

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