If you have ever wanted your whole Thanksgiving dinner in one fried drumstick, then these Thanksgiving Turkey Leg Poppers are for you. Yes, these are over the top. But honestly, they were really good!
This is also a fun recipe to make with leftover Thanksgiving ingredients. Since all its ingredients will likely already be cooked. These are the best turkey legs and just might become your new favorite Thanksgiving recipe!
What Are Thanksgiving Turkey Leg Poppers
Thanksgiving Turkey Poppers combine all your favorite Thanksgiving dinner ingredients into one dish.
First, I cooked my turkey drumsticks until tender, shredded the meat, and mixed it with mashed potatoes, mac, cheese, carrots, and peas.
Then I took a handful of filling and formed it into the shape of a turkey leg on the bones.
Finally, I covered them in flour, egg whites, and breadcrumbs and fried them to perfection!
If you’re more of a purest, I get it. Sometimes, you just can’t beat the classics. If that’s the case, check out my Maple Bourbon Spatchcock Turkey, Smoked Peppercorn Turkey Breasts, Honey Fire Rotisserie Turkey Legs and Honey BBQ Spatchcock Turkey.
Why You’ll Love Thanksgiving Turkey Leg Poppers
I love the holiday season. It’s such a fun time for cooking. Old traditions, and maybe the start of some new ones, come to life this time of year.
So, I’ve got a new one for you this year. Instead of sweating over a whole turkey, you can make these Turkey Leg recipes instead!
I’m not sure why, but my wife and I were pleasantly surprised at how traditional this recipe tastes. We both took a bite, looked at each other and said, “Tastes like Thanksgiving!” It seems obvious that this recipe would taste like Thanksgiving, but it had us laughing at how delicious it really is!
So, maybe you make this for a fun, new Thanksgiving meal, OR it can easily become a fun recipe to make with all those Thanksgiving leftovers!
How to Make Thanksgiving Turkey Leg Poppers
Thanksgiving Turkey Leg Poppers Ingredients
- Turkey Legs
- Chicken Broth
- Tennessee Smoke Rub
- Canola Oil
- Brown Gravy
- Boiled Potatoes
- Cooked Peas & Carrots
- Cooked Mac & Cheese
- All Purpose Flour
- Italian Bread Crumbs
- Frying Oil (olive oil works)
Let’s Get Cooking – Turkey Legs
You first need to preheat your smoker to medium heat at 250 degrees F for indirect cooking.
We’ll cook the turkey legs first. Begin by lathering your raw turkey legs in oil, then generously season with my Tennessee Smoke Rub or your favorite BBQ spice rub.
Then, add to the smoker to cook for about 2 hours until they have a nice color on the outside.
Once your turkey legs are somewhere between 140-150F, add them to a foil casserole dish with your chicken broth and cover it with foil. Then, place back on the smoker, kick the heat to 300F and let the turkey braise until it falls off the bone tender (about 2-2.5 hours).
When I say fall off the bone, I mean it. I couldn’t even pick up a turkey leg without some of the meat falling off the bone.
When tender, pull the turkey meat off the drumstick bone and shred it apart (be sure to discard any small bones or sinew). You can wear gloves to push the meat off the bone and into your foil bin, shredding it in the process. Finally, clean off your entire leg bone thoroughly and set it to the side.
Once your turkey is completely shredded, clean your dutch oven and add it to the grill. Next, add some frying oil to the dutch oven (about 3-4″ deep) and preheat to 375F.
Get Those Poppers Poppin’
As the oil preheats, add your shredded turkey to a bowl along with the boiled and mashed potatoes, steamed peas & carrots, and cooked mac & cheese. Mix thoroughly.
Pro tip: for the best results, make sure all of your fillings are at room temperature or cold when making your poppers so that they stick together.
When the oil is ready (preheated to 375F), take a turkey leg bone and a small handful of the Thanksgiving mixture and add it to the bone mimicking the shape and size of the turkey legs. Make sure everything is nicely sticking together before you move on to the next step.
Once you’ve formed the turkey leg, add it to a bowl of flour and cover it.
Then, add the turkey drumsticks to a bowl with the whipped eggs and cover it until there’s a thin layer of egg all around the “turkey leg”. Finally, add to a bowl with the Italian bread crumbs and cover.
Once fully covered, place the turkey leg in the frying oil and cook for about 1.5-2 minutes. If the popper doesn’t submerge completely, simply stir it around gently as it fries.
Follow the dredging process for each turkey leg popper and cook in batches to avoid overcrowding the oil.
Once they are done, pull them off and let them cool for 2-3 minutes.
Serve the Thanksgiving Turkey Leg Poppers with brown gravy over the top or your favorite dipping sauce, and enjoy!
Bonus: if you love a nice kick of heat, add some jalapeno peppers to make these into Turkey Jalapeno Poppers!
These Turkey Leg Poppers are best enjoyed fresh. However, if you wind up with some leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days.
To reheat your leftovers, you can either pop them in the air fryer, or arrange them on a baking sheet and place them in the oven at 375F until warm.
Enjoy these Turkey Leg Poppers with a holiday cocktail, and you’ve got the perfect meal! Plus, it’s a fun way to enjoy all those Thanksgiving classics with your family and friends in a new way! They’ll be blown away by how darn good these turkey legs are! Be prepared to give out the recipe.
If you give this recipe a shot, let us know how it turned out by leaving us a comment!
Thanksgiving Turkey Leg Poppers
- 3 Turkey Legs skin off
- 24 oz Chicken Broth
- ¼ cup Tennessee Smoke Rub
- Canola Oil as needed
- Brown Gravy for serving
- 2.5 cups Boiled Potatoes mashed
- 1 cup Cooked Peas & Carrots room temperature
- ¾ cup Cooked Mac & Cheese room temperature
- 4 cups All Purpose Flour
- 4 cups Italian Bread Crumbs
- 8 Eggs whipped
- Frying Oil as needed
- Preheat your smoker to 250F for indirect cooking.
- Lather your turkey legs in oil then generously season with my Tennessee Smoke Rub or your favorite BBQ rub. Add to the smoker to cook for about 2 hours until they have a nice color on the outside (around 140-150F internal temp). Next, add to a foil bin with your chicken broth and cover with foil. Place back on the smoker, kick the heat to 300F and let the turkey braise until it is falling off the bone and tender (about 2-2.5 hours). When tender, pull the turkey meat off the drumstick bone and shred apart (make sure to discard any small bones or sinew). Finally, clean off your leg bones thoroughly and set to the side.
- Clean out your dutch oven and add back to the grill. Add some frying oil to the dutch oven (about 3-4” deep) and preheat to 375F.
- As the oil preheats, add your shredded turkey to a bowl along with the boiled potatoes, cooked peas & carrots and cooked mac & cheese (make sure everything is room temperature because if they are hot then they won’t stick together). Mix together thoroughly.
- When the oil is ready, take a leg bone and a small handful of the mixture and add it to one the bone mimicking the size of the original turkey legs. Add to a bowl of flour and cover it. Then, add the leg to a bowl with the whipped eggs and cover it in whipped eggs. Finally, add to a bowl with the italian bread crumbs and cover. Once fully covered, add the to frying oil and cook for about 1.5-2 minutes in total making sure to rotate the poppers if not fully submerged. Follow the dredging process for each turkey leg popper and cook in batches so as to not overcrowd the oil. Once they are done, pull off and let cool for 2-3 minutes.
- Serve the Thanksgiving Turkey Leg Poppers with brown gravy over top or your favorite dipping sauce and enjoy!