Recipe: Smoked Turkey Drumsticks with Bourbon


Start your day smelling like Old Spice and end it smelling like smoked meat and bourbon!  Here’s an easy how-to for smoked grip-n-rip domestic, or wild turkey drumsticks. Note: this one-handed paw grab snack leaves the other free for an audacious Manhattan, or Old- Fashioned. Manly, yes, but I like it too!

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4 turkey drumsticks

2-3 tablespoons Morton’s Tender Quick

2-3 tablespoons brown sugar, barley malt syrup, sorghum, or maple syrup

2 Shots Wild Turkey Bourbon (One for you and one for the wet cure.)

½ teaspoon whole cloves

1 jalapeno chopped coarse

4-5 cups water


  • Dissolve Tender Quick and sweetener of choice in water. Add chopped jalapeno. Drink one shot of Bourbon. Add the other to the cure. (OPTIONAL: Drink more bourbon, then add spices, fresh herbs, aromatics, or other flavorings to intensify the seasoning of the cure if you want to move beyond the basics.) Place legs in a bag, or non-reactive sealable container. Pour wet cure over meat. Refrigerate in the cure for 18 to 24 hours.

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  • Remove the legs, rinse with fresh water, and pat the skin dry. Lay on cooling rack on a pan, or plate. Place uncovered in the refrigerator for several hours, up to overnight. This will allow the skin to dry to a sheen, take on smoke, and enhance the Maillard reaction. 
  • On the day you intend to smoke the legs, remove them from refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature. Preheat smoker to 225 degrees and get wood smoking prior to laying on the drumsticks. (Maple, alder, apple, and cherry all work well. Avoid hickory and mesquite as they can be harsh, aggressive and intense on poultry.)  Smoke for approximately 2-3 hours or when the thick part of the meat reaches 160°F.
  • Remove drumsticks and serve alongside a bourbon cocktail of choice.

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Krissie Bio:

Raised a Minnesota farm-girl in a hunting family, Krissie Mason is an outdoorswoman, writer, wild game food enthusiast, and has been reconnecting with my culinary country roots and family hunting traditions. She is a regular contributor to and several outdoor websites and print publications. Krissie fully supports a field-to-fork wild food chain, and especially enjoy expanding pantries and stretching wild game palates with ambitious & delicious family-friendly wild game recipes. Additionally, she is the Editor of Horizons Magazine: a bi-monthly publication of the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers, and has recently been shooting historic, large format, wet plate photography for outdoor brands. For more:

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