Instant pot smoked turkey legs are flavorful, juicy, and fall-off-the-bone tender! Smoked turkey legs are simpler to prepare for the holidays than a whole turkey and they always taste delicious served with homemade gravy or your favorite sides.
Smoked turkey legs are often used to add more flavor to other dishes, but they make a great main dish when cooked by themselves. Turkey, even pre-smoked turkey can take hours to cook in either the oven or on the stove, so that’s why using an Instant Pot or some other pressure cooker is very handy because they are ready in under 30 minutes!
For this recipe, pre-smoked turkey legs are cooked with turkey broth, onions, garlic, and just a few herbs to infuse wonderful flavor into the meat and keep it moist. The broth ensures that you won’t serve any dry, boring turkey this holiday season.
Outside of the holidays, these smoked turkey legs make a wonderful quick weeknight dinner served with mashed potatoes, steamed veggies, and gravy because they only take 15 minutes to cook!
How to cook Instant Pot smoked turkey legs
Begin by organizing all your ingredients. Wash the onion and garlic under cold running water. Then, with a sharp knife, finely slice the onion into thin crescents. Next, mince the garlic, which means chopping it into really small pieces, almost like a paste. After preparing these, ensure all your spices – dried thyme, black pepper, and bay leaf (if using) – are within easy reach.
Now, set up your Instant Pot on a stable surface. Open its lid and pour in the chicken or turkey broth, making sure it’s spread evenly at the bottom. Add the sliced onions to this broth, spreading them out so they’re evenly distributed. Follow with the minced garlic, sprinkling it throughout the pot for even dispersion.
At the bottom of the Instant Pot, place either the trivet or a steaming basket. This prevents the turkey legs from touching the pot’s base, which could cause them to overcook. Place your pre-smoked turkey legs onto this barrier, trying not to overlap them too much.
Evenly sprinkle the dried thyme and freshly ground black pepper over the turkey legs. For those using a bay leaf, tuck it into the broth. Now, close the Instant Pot’s lid and make sure the venting knob is set to the “Sealing” position.
Navigate to the “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” setting on your Instant Pot, depending on your model, and adjust it to high pressure. Set the timer for 15 minutes. This is the perfect duration for warming the pre-smoked turkey legs and allowing them to soak up the flavors from the broth and seasonings.
Once the cooking is done and the Instant Pot signals completion, carefully turn the venting knob from “Sealing” to “Venting” to release the built-up pressure. When the pin drops down, signaling all pressure has been released, open the lid.
Using tongs, lift the turkey legs out of the Instant Pot, placing them on a serving dish. They’re now ready to be savored and enjoyed.
Smoked turkey legs. Grab pre-smoked turkey legs. They are already cooked and have an intense smoky flavor. They can usually be found in the deli section or meat department of most grocery stores.
Broth. Turkey broth keeps the meat tender and gives even more turkey flavor to this recipe.
Onions and garlic. Added to the broth to infuse savory flavor into the smoked turkey legs.
Seasonings. Ground black pepper and dried thyme. You can optionally add 1 bay leaf if you like.
Easy Holiday recipe
Serving turkey legs for Thanksgiving or Christmas is a great alternative to cooking a whole turkey. By using pre-smoked legs you don’t have to worry about having to thaw the meat the night before and you can ensure that you won’t have too many leftovers that you don’t know what to do with.
These smoked turkey legs are simple and easy to prepare in under 30 minutes and they always turn out tender and juicy.
Broth. Use chicken broth or stock instead if you don’t have turkey broth on hand.
Pre-smoked turkey legs. Use pre-smoked wings or thighs if you can’t find legs or prefer the flavor better. I would recommend using four whole or split wings or 2 – 3 turkey thighs for this recipe.
Seasonings. Use dried rosemary instead or in addition to dried thyme. We don’t want to add too many seasonings or ones that have an overpowering flavor because we don’t want to lose the rich smoky flavor of the smoked turkey legs.
Save the smoked turkey broth. After removing the turkey legs and the trivet, press the SAUTE button on your Instant Pot then add flour or cornstarch to create a gravy, cooking it until it has thickened to your liking.
Feel free to add chopped celery or green bell peppers to the chicken broth for extra flavor.
If you can’t find pre-smoked turkey use fresh turkey legs, cooking them with liquid smoke and/or smoked paprika to give them a similar smoky flavor. Since you are using raw turkey instead of precooked, you might need to add an extra 5- 10 minutes to the cooking time to make sure they are fully cooked before serving.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, most store-bought smoked turkey legs available are fully cooked so all you need to do is reheat them before serving.
Yes. However, since we are cooking pre-smoked turkey legs in an instant pot with broth, they won’t lose their juiciness or become dry. They will instead start to lose their smoky flavor and taste a little bland.
The easiest and best way to do this is by cooking the turkey legs in an Instant Pot/ pressure cooker or slow cooker. If you want quicker results the instant pot is my favorite cooking method for preparing fall-off-the-bone tender turkey legs.
Pair the instant pot smoked turkey legs with mashed potatoes or garlic roasted potatoes and steamed green beans or asparagus. Drizzle some of the juices from the pressure cooker over the sides for added flavor.
OR serve the turkey legs with a side of coleslaw and cornbread or buttermilk biscuits. Add pickles and a spicy mustard for extra zest.
- While chicken or turkey broth is recommended, you can also experiment with vegetable or beef broth for a slightly different flavor profile.
- If you don’t have thyme or bay leaves on hand, consider using herbs like sage or rosemary, which pair well with poultry.
- If you’re not in a rush, allow the Instant Pot to naturally release pressure for about 10 minutes before switching to quick release. This can make the turkey even more tender.
- Don’t waste the flavorful broth left in the Instant Pot! Consider straining it and serving as a light gravy or use it as a base for soups and stews.
- After enjoying the turkey legs, save the bones! You can use them to make a flavorful bone broth in the Instant Pot.
Leftovers and storage
Store leftover pre-smoked turkey legs in an airtight container, ensuring they’re completely cooled first. If possible, add a bit of the flavorful broth to keep them moist.
Refrigerate and consume within 3-4 days. When ready to eat, reheat gently in the oven or microwave until warmed through, ensuring the internal temperature reaches 165°F before serving.
More fall recipes
- Peruvian turkey
- Turkey liver pate
- Cranberry blueberry bread
- Sour cream pumpkin pound cake
- 3 ingredient pumpkin bread
- Oreo pumpkin balls
- Air fryer turkey cutlets
Hope you will enjoy this Instant Pot smoked turkey legs recipe as much as we do. Please rate the recipe if you made it and leave a comment below if you have any questions or suggestions.
- 2 pre-smoked turkey legs
- 1 cup chicken or turkey broth
- 1 onion, sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme (or rosemary, if preferred)
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Optional: 1 bay leaf
- Start by preparing your ingredients: slice the onion, mince the garlic, and gather your spices.
- Open the Instant Pot and pour in the chicken or turkey broth.
- Add the sliced onions and minced garlic to the broth.
- Place the trivet or a steaming basket at the bottom of the Instant Pot. This helps keep the turkey legs elevated from the direct heat.
- Position the pre-smoked turkey legs on the trivet or basket inside the Instant Pot.
- Sprinkle the dried thyme and black pepper over the turkey legs. If you're using a bay leaf, add it now.
- Close the Instant Pot lid, ensuring the vent is set to "Sealing."
- Set the Instant Pot to "Manual" or "Pressure Cook" on high pressure for 15 minutes. This will warm the turkey legs through and infuse them with the flavors of the broth and seasonings.
- Once the cooking cycle is complete, perform a quick release by turning the valve to "Venting." Be careful of the hot steam.
- After the pin drops, indicating the pressure has been released, open the lid.
- Carefully remove the turkey legs using tongs and serve.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 501Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 194mgSodium: 2386mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 3gSugar: 10gProtein: 51g