Succulent turkey legs coated with savory cherry glaze.

Cherry-Glazed Turkey Legs Recipe


Turkey legs are fairly inexpensive these days, compared to other meats and poultry. I’ve always been a fan of the dark side of poultry. It’s not only richer in flavor, but also more moist. This was one of those scrounge around in the pantry and see what happens experiments, and boy is it yummy! The glazing sauce is not too sweet, with just enough savory touches to make it shine. I like to serve a vegetable rice pilaf with the turkey legs, but it will go with just about any side dish. It’s festive enough to serve for small families at Thanksgiving. Kids love it!

Cherry-Glazed Roasted Turkey Legs Recipe

1 cup (about 5 ounces) dried tart cherries (tested with Stoneridge Orchard brand)

3 turkey legs (2 to 3 pounds total weight)
2 teaspoons (about) poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon (about) garlic powder
1 teaspoon (about) onion powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil or butter

Cherry Glaze:
1/2 cup sweet red wine
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
2 Tablespoons ketchup
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Roughly chop the dried cherries. (I use an ulu knife to make quick work of this task.) Set aside. Measure out the ingredients for the glaze and have them ready to go before you begin.

For the turkey legs: Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a roasting pan with non-stick foil.

Season turkey legs on all sides with a light dusting of poultry seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. (You don’t really need to measure, just shake it on.)

Place a large, deep, hard-anodized skillet (see Notes) over medium-high heat. When hot, coat the bottom of the pan with butter or olive oil. Sear the turkey legs on all sides until golden brown. Remove from heat. Place the browned turkey in the prepared pan. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Make the glaze while the legs are cooking.

To make the glaze: Return the same skillet to the burner over medium-high heat. Deglaze the pan with the red wine, scraping up all the browned bits. Cook until the wine has reduced by half. Whisk in the water, balsamic vinegar, ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and Dijon mustard. When combined, stir in the chopped dried cherries. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, until thickened and syrupy. Remove from heat.

After baking the legs for 45 minutes, remove from the oven and uncover. Scoop up 3 to 3 tablespoons of the drippings from the bottom of the pan and stir into the glaze.

Brush half of the glaze on all sides of the turkey. Return to the oven, uncovered, and bake an additional 25 to 30 minutes, until tender. Let rest 10 minutes.

Serve with remaining cherry glaze sauce on the side.

Yield: 3 generous servings (or 4 average meat servings if you carve from the bones)

• You need a hard-anodized, stainless steel, or cast iron skillet in order to get a good sear that leaves behind a yummy fond. Fond is the little browned bits that stick to the pan while browning meats. It is essential to a good sauce. It’s virtually impossible to achieve with a non-stick skillet.

• This method works just as well on turkey thighs, chicken legs, and chicken thighs. Reduce the cooking time accordingly for the smaller chicken pieces.

• Recipe is easily doubled, but you’ll need to brown the turkey legs in batches.

• Dried cranberries may be substituted for the cherries.

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