Grilled butterflied turkey legs with lemon butter sauce – crispy, buttery, handheld meat on a stick. Who would not love that?

grilled butterflied turkey legs on platter with lemons.

By Christie Vanover | Printed July 20, 2022 | Final Up to date July 20, 2022

Disclosure the National Turkey Federation compensated me for this recipe.

Simply have a look at the crispy turkey pores and skin with touches of paprika, lemon pepper and garlic butter. These are proper up there with smoked amusement park turkey legs, however they cook dinner a lot quicker as a result of butterfly approach.

grilled butterflied turkey legs on platter with lemons.

Butterflied Turkey Legs Elements

  • Turkey legs: This recipe is for 2 legs, however you may double or triple it to feed a crowd.
  • Kosher Salt, Lemon Pepper, Smoked Paprika: this trio of spices create an amazing rub that enhances the lemon butter sauce.
  • Cooking Spray: You may both brush the legs with olive oil after which apply the seasoning or give them a fast spritz with cooking spray.
  • Butter: Use salted butter as a base for the lemon butter salt. For those who solely have unsalted butter, add some salt to style.
  • Lemon: You’ll use juice and zest from half of a lemon. You should use the opposite half as garnish.
  • Garlic: Mince recent garlic for the very best, freshest style.

Substitutions: As a substitute of the salt, lemon pepper and paprika rub, you may apply your favourite poultry rub. Attempt my Turkey Rub recipe or seize a bottle of my Chicken Rub.

bottles of BBQ rubs on black background
  • Reducing Board and Boning Knife: To butterfly the turkey legs and take away the tendons.
  • Grill tongs
  • Small Pot: Make sure that it’s secure to make use of on the grill.
  • Basting Brush
  • Instantaneous Learn Thermometer: My choice is a Thermapen One. It offers you a learn out in a single second.

Butterfly Turkey Legs

First, I’ve to begin by giving credit score to my buddy Brad over at Chiles and Smoke. He confirmed the world easy methods to butterfly rooster legs, and the approach went viral. I simply knew I wished to do this with turkey legs.

The benefit of the butterfly approach, is that you simply create extra floor space on the meat, which permits the meat to cook dinner extra evenly, faster and delivers extra crispy, tasty bits.

two raw turkey legs on black board.

One most important distinction between a rooster leg and turkey leg, aside from the dimensions, is that the turkey leg has a number of thick tendons inside. That’s what makes this system one other bonus, as a result of butterflying make them simple to take away.

Begin by putting the knuckle up like the highest leg within the image above. Use a boning knife to softly slice alongside all sides of the leg bone. Then, press the meat flat to create the butterfly impact.

pulling tendons from turkey legs.

Really feel round inside for the more durable items. These are the tendons. You may carry them up from the meat and slice them proper off together with your knife or a pair of scissors.

tendons removed from two turkey legs.

You’ll see that every leg can have a number of tendons inside. For those who miss one, it’s not the tip of the world. However eradicating them supplies a greater consuming expertise, as a result of they’re exhausting and gained’t break down through the cook dinner.

Now they’re prepared for seasoning.

Season Butterflied Turkey Legs

I’ve saved this seasoning recipe tremendous easy. You most likely have already got the components in your pantry.

butterflied turkey legs seasoned.

For 2 legs, you’ll want one teaspoon kosher salt, one teaspoon lemon pepper and one teaspoon smoked paprika.

The lemon pepper offers the legs a pop of citrus, and the paprika is usually used to offer an attractive ruby coloration.

Season either side and allow them to relaxation on the counter when you warmth the grill. Simply earlier than grilling, give them a spritz with cooking spray to maintain them from sticking to the grill.

Grill Butterflied Turkey Legs

These may be cooked on a charcoal, gasoline or pellet grill. Simply warmth your grill to 400-425F levels with a direct warmth zone. For those who’re utilizing wooden chunks, chips or pellets, pecan and cherry woods present a pleasant accent to this taste profile.

butterflied turkey legs on grill.

As soon as your grill is heated. Place the legs on the grill pores and skin aspect down. This may enable the pores and skin to begin crisping up instantly, forming a barrier to guard the tender meat.

You’re going to cook dinner these for about 35 minutes, flipping each 5 minutes.

pot of lemon butter on grill next to turkey leg.

Whereas the turkey legs are grilling, set a small pot on the grill subsequent to the legs. Add the butter, lemon juice, lemon zest and minced garlic.

As soon as the legs have been on for 20 minutes, begin basting them with that lemon butter.

brushing grilled turkey legs with lemon butter.

After about half-hour, the legs will attain an inner temperature of 165F levels. I wish to cook dinner them for five minutes past that. Legs are darkish meat, to allow them to deal with extra warmth than turkey breasts.

USDA Protected Cooking Temperature for Turkey Legs

Poultry has reached its secure zone at an inner temperature of 165F levels. Place your instant read thermometer into the meat with out touching the bone to get an correct studying. As a result of turkey legs are darkish meat, you may cook dinner them even longer with out drying out.

DONENESS finished
TEMPERATURE 165F / 74C levels
RESTING TIME 5 minutes

Serve Grilled Butterflied Turkey Legs

The easiest way to serve these is on a platter the place everybody can simply attain for one and dig in.

grilled butterflied turkey legs on platter with lemons.

We love strolling round amusement parks carrying our large smoked turkey legs. No plates wanted.

These are not any totally different aside from they’re flavored with that wonderful lemon butter and the pores and skin is tremendous crispy.

GCG Professional Pitmaster Suggestions

  • Take away the tendons from the turkey legs
  • Flip the legs on the grill each 5 minutes for even cooking
  • Baste with lemon butter for added taste and moistness

Ceaselessly Requested Questions

How lengthy does it take to grill turkey legs?

As a result of we’re utilizing the butterfly impact, the legs can be cooked via in 30-35 minutes.

Can I exploit this methodology to make smoked turkey legs?

Completely. As a substitute of grilling them at 400F levels over direct warmth, set your grill as much as 275F levels with oblique warmth. Then, place them on the grill pores and skin aspect down and smoke them to an inner temperature of 170-175F levels.

What can I do with the leftover turkey?

When you have any leftovers, take away the meat from the bone and toss it in a turkey salad or chop up the meat and serve it with mashed potatoes.

close up of grilled butterflied turkey legs.

What to Aspect Dishes Go along with Grilled Turkey Legs

Need much more nice grilling recipes? Subscribe to my publication and observe me on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok for my newest grilling adventures. For those who make this recipe, I’d love to your to depart a remark and score beneath. Thanks.

grilled butterflied turkey legs on platter with lemons.

Grilled Butterflied Turkey Legs

Grilled butterflied turkey legs with lemon butter sauce – crispy, buttery, handheld meat on a stick. Who would not love that?

Prep Time 15 minutes

Cook dinner Time 35 minutes

Servings 2


  • 2 turkey legs
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp lemon pepper
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • cooking spray
  • 4 tbsp salted butter
  • 1/2 lemon juice and zest
  • 1 tsp garlic minced


  • Butterfly Legs: Place the leg flat on the chopping board with the knuckle going through up. Run a boning knife alongside all sides of the bone and press the meat down. Do not lower all through.

  • Take away Tendons: Really feel across the meat on the lookout for the exhausting tendons. Pull them out together with your fingers and the knife. There can be a number of in every leg. Discard the tendons.

  • Season: Sprinkle the salt, lemon pepper and smoked paprika on either side of the legs. Allow them to relaxation at room temperature when you warmth the grill.

  • Warmth the Grill: Whether or not you are utilizing a gasoline, pellet or charcoal grill, warmth it to 400F levels with a direct warmth zone.

  • Grill: Spray the turkey legs with cooking spray and place them on the grill pores and skin aspect down. Flip them each 5 minutes for 35 minutes.

  • Make Sauce: Whereas the legs are cooking, place a saucepot on the grill. Add the butter, juice and zest from half a lemon and the garlic. Let that soften collectively.

  • Baste: After the legs have been cooking for 20 minutes, baste them with the lemon butter and proceed cooking for quarter-hour, basting each 5 minutes as you flip them.

  • Relaxation: As soon as the turkey legs attain an inner temperature of 170-175F levels, take away them from the grill and allow them to relaxation for five minutes earlier than serving.


Eradicating the tendons is a vital step to make sure the meat bites proper via. 
Be at liberty to combine up the seasonings. You should use 3 teaspoons of any sort of rub.
As a substitute of lemon butter, you can even baste the turkey legs with barbecue sauce or a Korean Sticky BBQ glaze


Energy: 1191kcalCarbohydrates: 4gProtein: 133gFats: 68gSaturated Fats: 28gPolyunsaturated Fats: 13gMonounsaturated Fats: 20gTrans Fats: 1gLdl cholesterol: 541mgSodium: 1846mgPotassium: 1935mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 1224IUVitamin C: 15mgCalcium: 139mgIron: 12mg


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