Des

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Roasted Turkey Thighs

Roasted turkey thighs are the perfect Thanksgiving dinner solution when you have a small family to feed. They’re easy to prepare, juicy, and delicious!

Around the holidays few things say holiday dinner like a wonderfully juicy, perfectly roasted turkey. For many people this means a big 10 or even 20 pound bird. However for those that are having a smaller gathering. Or for those, like me, who really prefer the dark meat, these roasted turkey thighs are the perfect option.  The meat is succulent and flavorful, everything I look for in my Thanksgiving turkey.

These roasted turkey thighs were my first experimental Thanksgiving recipe way back when.  Before I even made a whole turkey.

I found them at my local grocery store, near the ground turkey and turkey cutlets. Once I got them home I simply brushed them with melted butter, rubbed them with a few seasonings and popped them in the oven. Soon after, I was salivating at the wonderful smell of roasted turkey.

What ingredients do you need?

  • TURKEY THIGHS: Bone-in skin on turkey thighs. 
  • BUTTER: Unsalted and melted 
  • DRIED THYME/ROSEMARY/SAGE: These three together are the quintessential Thanksgiving blend. 
  • GARLIC POWDER or GRANULATED GARLIC: either works. If all you have is garlic salt, omit the additional salt in the recipe to avoid making it too salty. 
  • PAPRIKA: Adds a touch of smoky flavor but also color. 
  • SALT/PEPPER

How do you make Roasted Turkey Thighs:  

It could really not be easier! Simply brush the turkey thighs with melted butter, sprinkle with the seasonings and roast. 

I like to start roasting the turkey at 400 degrees before reducing the oven temperature to 325. This helps the skin crisp up nicely while cooking. 

When it comes to what to serve along side roasted turkey thighs,  make sure that you’ve got all of the classics including Mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce and of course, my foolproof gravy recipe.

I hope you have an opportunity to make roasted turkey thighs, too!

Roasted Turkey Thighs

Here are more delicious turkey recipes to try:

Turkey Brie Crostini

Turkey Apple Butter Grilled Cheese

Note: This post was originally posted in 2009. It was updated with new photos, recipe notes, modified cooking time and nutrition information in 2021.

Roasted Turkey Thighs Recipe

Serves 4 Prep Time: Cook Time:
4.6 based on 14 reviews

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds turkey thighs (about 2 thighs)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika

Instructions

1

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2

Using a pastry brush, brush both sides of the turkey thighs with melted butter.

3

Mix together salt, garlic powder, pepper, rosemary, sage, thyme and paprika. Rub seasoning mixture over both sides of the thighs.

4

Drizzle with any remaining butter. Transfer to a roasting pan. Cook for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. Reduce heat to 325 and continue to cook for 1 - 1 1/2 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted reaches 175 degrees. Spoon pan juices over the top every 30 minutes. Note: If you notice the skin getting too crispy, loosely cover the thighs with aluminum foil.

5

Remove turkey thighs from the oven, allow to rest for 10 minutes. Carve and serve.

Notes

After feedback and more testing, this recipe was modified to reduce the cooking from from 2 hours to 1 - 1 1/2.

Be sure to let the turkey thighs rest before slicing. This helps them stay juicier.

Nutrition facts for estimation purposes only.

Nutrition information

Calories: 214 , Total Fat: 17.7g , Saturated Fat: 5.5g , Cholesterol: 23mg , Sodium: 643mg , Carbohydrates: 0.6g , Fiber: 0.2g , Sugar: 0.1g , Protein: 13.7g

Leave a Comment

  • Reply
    Ed F
    August 19, 2021 at 3:40 pm

    The spices sound great, but 2 1/2 hours in the oven starting at 400 degrees? That is enough for an entire 10 pound turkey (at 325 degrees), stuffed. I will try the spice mixture, but will limit the time to about an hour, although I will monitor with an oven safe thermometer.

  • Reply
    Hugh Johnson
    November 27, 2020 at 3:37 pm

    DO NOT FOLLOW THIS RECIPE!!! Cooking thighs to 180 degrees turns them into jerky. I followed the recipe and it ruined the chance to use the leftovers. Fool me once….

    • Reply
      Deseree
      November 27, 2020 at 10:40 pm

      Hugh, I am sorry that you had issues with this recipe! There are different recommendations for doneness when it comes to turkey. Some say to make sure the thigh reaches 180 (Butterball for instance) Technically poultry is safe at 165 but it will still be pink which some people don’t like. Again, sorry you had issues but thank you for your feedback!

  • Reply
    Anne Hansen
    November 27, 2020 at 1:41 pm

    Fantastic. Very flavorful.
    Roasting time way too long, though,

    • Reply
      Deseree
      November 27, 2020 at 10:25 pm

      Thank you for your feedback! Glad you found them flavorful!

  • Reply
    Terry Young
    November 25, 2020 at 11:24 am

    Yikes- My oven is wonky, can only cook at 410, or 111 or 114 (part is back ordered). Do you think I can still cook 4 thighs at 410? They will be buttermilk brined.

    • Reply
      Deseree
      November 25, 2020 at 12:49 pm

      Well that doesn’t sound like fun! I would think that you could cook them at 410. It won’t take nearly as long so keep an eye on them. Also, once they start to brown cover them with aluminum foil so the outside doesn’t burn before the inside is cooked through. I hope this helps!

  • Reply
    Lora Flinn
    November 24, 2020 at 2:38 pm

    I was wondering how this would be without skin on the thighs? I just realized mine came without the skin! I have 8 lbs to cook too! Should I just cook them with foil on them?

    • Reply
      Deseree
      November 24, 2020 at 10:12 pm

      I would think you could do it that way! It just won’t have that crispy brown color nor the extra fat from the skin. Maybe put in some pats of butter too.

  • Reply
    Lynette Courtney
    November 20, 2020 at 8:09 am

    Once I found this recipe & found Jeremy’s wonderful 5 Star reply, I’ve stopped looking for the way I’ll be making this year’s “Tiny Thanksgiving” for 2. We’re both dark meat lovers, so this may become our traditional recipe for holidays & dinners that would help by being festival & easy.
    I just shared this recipe, including Jeremy’s comment, with everyone on My Facebook account & expect to add happiness to all who try it.
    I hope everyone will celebrate small & safely during this crazy & unusual year. “Better Safe Than Sorry!” I look forward to Thanksgiving 2021, when we will all be able celebrate BIG!

    • Reply
      Deseree
      November 20, 2020 at 6:34 pm

      Thank you so much for sharing this with your family and friends! I’m looking forward to our larger Thanksgiving in 2021 too!

  • Reply
    Dark
    November 19, 2020 at 4:58 am

    I want to thank you for this recipe.

    June 2019 my sister passed away and I miss her tremendously. Every holiday we would split the cooking and for Thanksgiving and Christmas she was in charge of the turkey which was legendary in our family. It was always juicy, tender and so delicious. Last year all of the cooking fell solely on me and, coupled with the sadness of her being gone and having to put on a brave face, there was no way I could ever hope to make a turkey as good as hers so we opted for a fried turkey from Popeye’s instead. Being in a better place mentally this year I was ready to tackle the turkey but also wanted to do something different as there was no way I was filling her shoes. I found this recipe, your recipe, did a test run of it (with a few personal tweaks) and it was so good! The thighs were tasty and super tender and I think I’ll be doing my sister proud when I put them on the table this Thanksgiving.

    • Reply
      Deseree
      November 19, 2020 at 3:26 pm

      Oh, I am so sorry for your loss. But I wanted to thank you for sharing your story with me. I started this blog because food was always a big part of my memories too and to know that you are honoring your sister by choosing to make my recipe for your Thanksgiving celebration , well that just humbles me. Thank you so much and I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. :)

  • Reply
    Doadi
    November 16, 2020 at 5:00 am

    Thank you – I have been looking for a basic turkey thigh roasting method and this looks great. We like dark meat and only cook a whole bird for the legs and thighs. I will try your method.

    • Reply
      Deseree
      November 17, 2020 at 9:12 pm

      I hope you enjoy it!

  • Reply
    Jeremy
    March 20, 2020 at 12:37 pm

    Just felt like I should finally share this.
    I’ve been cooking this recipe for years now, at least once a year, and it has a particular sentimental value. There was a point early in my marriage when my wife we flat broke, no food in the fridge at all, and some friends came together and got us enough groceries to make it through a tough stretch. My wife got back from an out of state trip Thanksgiving evening, stores were closed, and the only turkey we had was a couple of thighs that were in the groceries I’d gotten from my friends. We found this recipe online, and it was absolutely perfect, just enough for two people to enjoy a small Thanksgiving in a nearly bare apartment while having to scavenge change from under the car seats to make ends meet. To this day, I’ve shared this recipe with probably a dozen people, and every time I make it, that first bite just tastes like success and making a better life for my family.

    • Reply
      Deseree
      March 23, 2020 at 6:37 pm

      Jeremy- Wow. Thank you so much for this comment. I am speechless and so honored that one of my recipes means so much to you and your family. Thank you for sharing it with others in your life as well. Here’s to much more continued success and a fabulous life for you and your family!!

  • Reply
    Terry Zachery
    October 17, 2019 at 6:04 am

    Recipe sounds delish. This is my first time cooking Turkey thighs and I’m excited about it. I think this will be a thing that I do for now on. Cooking 20 to 30 pound Turkeys can be a little overwhelming when it comes to leftovers. Thanks for the recipe.

    • Reply
      Deseree
      October 17, 2019 at 8:31 pm

      Hope you enjoy it!

  • Reply
    Havanna
    March 19, 2019 at 5:58 pm

    This was so easy and delicious. I think this is better than roasting a whole turkey. Everyone gets breast meat and crispy skin. My breasts reached internal temperature in 1.15.

  • Reply
    Jan Henry
    February 24, 2019 at 1:49 pm

    Instead of melting the butter, I combined it with the spices/herbs. Patted the thighs dry and used a knife to apply the butter to the bottom, turned them over in the baking dish and applied the mixture to the skin. I also had loosened the skin and applied it between the skin and the meat of the thigh. Roasted at 400 for 20 minutes and then 2 hours at 325….Basting every 30 minutes. Covered for the last 30 minutes. Tender and tasty!

  • Reply
    Vernie
    January 27, 2019 at 1:54 pm

    I tweaked this amazing recipe to avoid having to baste. Preheated the oven to 325, seasoned as directed then seared both sides of the four medium size turkey thighs in my dutch oven and set them aside. I added a coarsely chopped onion and six split baby red potatoes to the pot and cooked till the onions were soft. Added 1/4 cup of unsalted mushroom broth to the pot, put the thighs on top on top of the vegetables and roasted for 1 1/2 hour. A delicious one pot meal!!

  • Reply
    Fred Brennion
    December 25, 2018 at 8:17 pm

    OMG! 2 to 2.5 hours? In less than 2 hours the internal temp hit 190 degrees.

  • Reply
    NANCY
    November 22, 2018 at 4:53 am

    I live in France and it is almost impossible to find a whole turkey outside of December. Turkey has a bad rap over here, everyone thinks it is dry. I cooked up 2 huge thighs, served them the next day (reheated) and everyone was amazed at how it moist and tasty it was..me too! My new favorite recipe and I’m never going to stress over cooking a whole bird again.

  • Reply
    Myles Omel
    November 21, 2018 at 2:59 pm

    Excellent!

  • Reply
    Julie Rivard
    April 12, 2017 at 11:15 am

    This recipe is outstanding!!! Made thighs several times with it and they are delish. 😍 Make sure to baste along the way. I even add diced potatoes and carrots in the roaster which add such flavor to juices. Highly recommend!!

    • Reply
      Des @ Life's Ambrosia
      April 12, 2017 at 12:06 pm

      I am so happy to hear that Julie! :)

  • Reply
    leslieloud
    January 11, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    I roasted for 20 minutes at 400 degrees, then when I went to baste after 30 min at 325 degrees they were done, and the smaller thigh was over cooked.

  • Reply
    Darrell Kahoalii
    December 1, 2015 at 11:34 am

    I have two turkey thighs weighing about 1.25 lb per thigh. Would it take 2 to 2 1/2 hours to roast? It seems to be really long for just two thighs? Am I missing something? Thanks for any info

  • Reply
    Nechama Fiddle
    July 14, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    Is the roasting pan supposed to be covered or uncovered?

    • Reply
      Des @ Life's Ambrosia
      July 14, 2015 at 11:57 pm

      Hi Nechama,
      The pan is uncovered, unless the turkey thighs begin to get too dark, then you can loosely cover it with aluminum foil.

  • Reply
    Dani
    November 25, 2014 at 7:31 am

    How do I safely transport cooked turkey leg/thighs? I have about 2 hours from cooking to eating

    • Reply
      Deseree
      November 25, 2014 at 9:57 pm

      The cooked turkey would need to be kept above 140 degrees during transport to keep it out of the danger zone (40 – 140 degrees), which might be hard to do for two hours. Would it be possible to cook, then cool completely then reheat once you get to your destination?

  • Reply
    Simone Genovese
    November 9, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    Excellent recipe!!!. My turkey legs turned out delicious. Moist, tender, and tasty.

  • Reply
    JANE GUSTAR
    February 18, 2013 at 8:32 am

    I ONCE TRIED TO BAKE TURKEY THIGHS AS I PREFER DARK MEAT, BUT THEY TURNED OUT TO BE VERY DRY. I ASKED AROUND AMONGST MY FRIENDS AND IT SEEMS THAT NO ONE HAD EVER TRIED TO ROAST THEM. IT’S STRANGE, BECAUSE THESE SAME FRIENDS TALKED ABOUT LIKING DARK MEAT VS BREAST AND IT WAS A FLUKE THAT MY FAMILY FOUND BOTH BREASTS AND THIGHS PACKAGED SEPARATELY IN THE MEAT SECTION OF THE GROCERY STORE. THAT MEANT THAT WE COULD PURCHASE BOTH/EITHER AND SATISFY EVERYONE WITHOUT HAVING TO BUY A WHOLE TURKEY. THAT MEANT FOR US THAT WE DIDN’T HAVE A WASTED CARCAS (NO ONE LIKES TURKEY SOUP). THANKS FOR YOUR HELP.

  • Reply
    Abigail
    December 3, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    I made this receipe for Thanksgiving, along with a small, frozen turkey breast. Very nice dinner for 2 of us. The thighs are so good, that, as I type this, two more thighs are roasting happily in my oven. The flavor is AMAZING.

    Now I need to peruse your site to see what else you cook. Oh yes, and sign up for your new recipes.

  • Reply
    Susan
    November 14, 2009 at 6:35 am

    Oh my that looks delicious. I will be making these roasted turkey breasts for my boyfriend and I for Thanksgiving since we will be alone here without family near us!

    Can you suggest a good turkey gravy recipe?

    • Reply
      Deseree
      November 15, 2009 at 6:16 pm

      I hope you enjoy them Susan! Keep in mind if you do use breasts instead of thighs that the times may vary. Generally with turkey breasts its 20 minutes per pound. As for the gravy recipe, I plan on posting one this week. After all you can’t have Thanksgiving without it! :)

    Des

    Hey! I'm Des!

    Welcome to Life’s Ambrosia where Dinner is served and memories are made. Here you will find over 1000 tried and true recipes for every possible occasion. In the last 10 years, this blog has helped millions of families put dinner on the table and create food memories. Let me help you too.

    Read more »

    Have new recipes emailed to you.