clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Overhead view of two Apple Cider Braised Turkey Legs on a serving platter topped with fresh thyme surrounded by a pitcher of apple cider jus and plates and napkins on a light grey, textured surface.

Apple Cider Braised Turkey Legs

  • Author: Sabrina Russo
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free


If you’re planning to have a small Thanksgiving or just want an alternative to a whole turkey, these Apple Cider Braised Turkey Legs will be the perfect main course.


  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 turkey drumsticks (~2lbs)
  • 4 oz pancetta or slab bacon, cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 1 large rib celery, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 11 ½ cups turkey stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper


  1. Heat oven: Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Brown turkey: Heat a Dutch oven or wide, heavy bottomed pot over medium to medium-high heat. Pat turkey dry and season liberally with salt and pepper. Add oil to pot, followed by turkey. Cook for about 8-10 minutes on first side or until well-browned. Turn and cook an additional 10-15 minutes or until well-browned on all sides. Remove from pan.
  3. Crisp pancetta: Reduce heat to medium-low and add pancetta to pan. Cook for a total of 10-15 minutes, adjusting heat as needed, or until fat is rendered and pancetta is crispy. Remove pancetta from pan using a slotted spoon. Reserve fat in pan.
  4. Cook mirepoix: Add carrots, celery and onion to pan. Season with salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring as needed, for about 10 minutes or until vegetables are cooked down and softened. Add garlic and cook about 30 seconds, making sure to avoid browning.
  5. Braise: Add turkey and pancetta back to pan. Pour in cider and enough stock to go 2/3 of the way up the turkey. Add in bay leaf, cloves and thyme. Cover with lid or foil, and transfer to oven. Cook for 45 minutes, uncover and cook another 15-20 minutes or until the thickest part of the turkey registers 160°F.
  6. Cook down jus: Transfer turkey legs to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Strain braising liquid. Do not discard vegetables and pancetta. I like to serve this on the side. Spoon off fat from top of liquid. Return strained braising liquid to pot and bring to a boil. Cook down until thickened and reduced to about 2 cups. Adjust seasoning if needed.
  7. Serve: Serve turkey legs with apple cider jus and vegetable mixture, if desired. I also suggest some mashed potatoes. Enjoy.


This recipe is adapted from Food & Wine Magazine.

If you’re doubling this recipe, you may not need to double the liquids. Keep all the ratios the same and eyeball enough liquid to go about 2/3 up the way of the turkey.

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
  • Category: Main
  • Method: Braise
  • Cuisine: American


  • Serving Size: 1/2 of leg + gravy + pancetta/veg mix
  • Calories: 500
  • Sugar: 10g
  • Sodium: 520mg
  • Fat: 28g
  • Saturated Fat: 9g
  • Carbohydrates: 16g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Protein: 46g

Keywords: braised turkey legs, turkey legs, Thanksgiving