Braised Turkey Legs

Turkey legs recipe, browned and then braised slowly. Sauce is further reduced. Hearty winter dish.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 2 hours
  • Yield: Serves 6-8.


  • 2 turkey legs and 2 thighs, about 4 lbs
  • Olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 1 cup of finely chopped celery
  • Salt, pepper, and cayenne
  • Water or other braising liquid (dry wine or stock)
  • Corn starch
  • Parsley, chopped, about 1/4 cup

Optional winter vegetables such as:

  • Potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • Carrots, chopped
  • Turnips, quartered
  • Rutabagas, quartered
  • Parsnips, chopped


1 Sprinkle turkey thighs and legs with salt and pepper. Brown the turkey thighs and legs on medium high heat in a little bit of olive oil in a large sauté pan with high sides. Add chopped onion and celery to form a nest under the turkey pieces. Sauté an additional 5 minutes.

2 Add enough braising liquid - either water, stock, wine, or a combination - so that the liquid covers the bottom inch of the pan, about 1 cup. Bring to a simmer. Lower heat and simmer covered for an hour and a half, or until the turkey is so well cooked and tender that the meat easily falls off of the bones. Remove the turkey meat from the pan and remove the bones, taking special care to remove the many small narrow bones of the legs. Remove the skin.

Optional: At this point you can use the liquid remaining in the sauté pan to cook the potatoes, carrots and turnips. Add the vegetables to the pan and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Cook covered until they are done, about 20 minutes. Remove from pan so you can reduce the remaining liquid without overcooking the vegetables.

3 Reduce the liquid remaining in the pan to intensify some of the meat juices for added flavor. Take a teaspoon of cornstarch and dissolve in a 1/2 cup of water. Add cornstarch mixture a little at a time to sauce, adding more liquid, until the sauce achieves the desired body. Adjust seasoning. Add salt and pepper if needed, add a little cayenne or Tabasco sauce. If the sauce is too sweet, add a little vinegar or lemon. Add parsley.

4 Add the turkey meat back in the pan with the sauce. Serve immediately over rice or bread or with the vegetables if you have chose to make them.

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  • Amber

    Making this tonight. Elise, do you think it would work to just throw in the veggies during the last 20mins of cooking?

  • Mari Anne

    I made this yesterday. The family loved it. I’ll be making it again, soon. Thanks.

  • Sarah

    I could not believe how rich and flavorful this was for using so few ingredients! I used water and white wine for the braising liquid and potatoes and carrots for the veggies, and also added some dried thyme and a bay leaf. Didn’t really need the cornstarch as the potatoes thickened it up nicely. Going back the store to see if I can score some more drumsticks at .99/lb so I can make this a bunch more times!

  • tiff

    Wow…I just made this tonight and about cried from how delicious it was! Exaggeration aside, it’s been a very long time since I’ve had such tender, juicy, and flavorful meat. I plan to make this for Thanksgiving!

    Thanks for the recipe!

  • Julie Disc

    My husband and I made this recipe last night and it was fantastic! The only thing we modified was the onion – we cut it to 1/2 cup because I am a bit sensitive to onion lol. This one is going in my book of bests :)

  • scott

    I just made this tonight. My wife doesn’t like dark meat, this was a perfect way to use up the leg/thigh from thanksgiving. Very easy to make and I suspect the leftovers will reheat very well tomorrow night. Thanks.

  • Sarah Romero

    This looks great, how would you suggest cooking this if using a slow cooker?

    I don’t usually cook with a slow cooker, so wouldn’t know what to advise. ~Elise

  • Jennifer K.

    A friend had given me a few turkey legs and I had no ideas how to make them other than roasting them in the oven. I was very happy to have found this recipe. The recipe is easy to make and it tasted great! As for vegetables, I used onions, celery and carrots. Sauteed them altogether and braised with the turkey legs. I think next time I will take off the skin when I brown the legs as the sauce was a bit oily for me (but so full of flavor). I served this over basmati rice (added some chopped parseley). We gobbled up the whole dish for lunch and dinner. I was sad when there was nothing left! Yum!!

  • Lacoste

    This is a fantastic recipe! I love this recipe so much that I am making it again and it has only been 1 month since Canadian Thanksgiving!!!! I wouldn’t change a thing.