Turkey Drumsticks with Pumpkin Molasses Glaze for Practice Thanksgiving

Pumpkin Molasses Glazed Turkey Drumsticks

I’ve been practicing for Thanksgiving. That’s how I developed this recipe for Bourbon Brined Pumpkin Molasses Glazed Turkey Drumsticks. But it’s not exactly why I worked so hard on this recipe. You see I’m trying to get the courage to skip the whole roasted turkey this year. I’m thinking it might be fun to serve only turkey legs.

I know it’s a bit bold. Maybe even radical. But let’s face it turkey drumsticks are almost never eaten any other day of the year other than Thanksgiving. Even on Thanksgiving the cooks tend to treat the turkey drumsticks as an after thought. They’re attached to the bird so they get cooked. Other than that they get no special treatment. Everyone has tricks for getting the breast just right. Tips like: “drape it with cheesecloth” or “turn the bird upside down”. But I’ve never read a word of worry over the legs. Which makes no sense. Nobody ever fights over the breast, but there’s always a couple of clowns who plan a whole sneak attack just to secure one of the legs.  See where I’m going with this?

Why not give the turkey drumsticks the star treatment? Bourbon, pumpkin and molasses are all perfectly seasonal and perfectly capable of turning turkey drumsticks into a flavorful, glistening, messy mouthful. Just the kind of thing I like to see at Thanksgiving.

If I attempt this bit of skullduggery people will grouse. I know they will. That’s why I decided to practice Thanksgiving. This is the second post in the series. Practicing Thanksgiving is very practical. It’s the same as regular Thanksgiving, but with way fewer people– and almost none of the kvetching. Check back. I plan to to practice Thanksgiving a few more times this year. GREG

Pumpkin Molasses Glazed Turkey Drumsticks


Pumpkin Molasses Glazed Turkey Drumsticks

Bourbon Brined Pumpkin Molasses Glazed Turkey Drumsticks 

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Inspired by Bakeaholic Mama http://​www​.bakeaholicmama​.com/​2​0​1​3​/​1​0​/​p​u​m​p​k​i​n​-​g​l​a​z​e​d​-​t​u​r​k​e​y​-​l​e​g​s​.​h​tml

Glazed Turkey Legs


  • 10 cup water
  • 2 cup bourbon
  • 1 ½ cup kosher salt (if you use table salt cut this amount in half)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 turkey drumsticks
  • ½ cup plain pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup apple cider
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 1 tablespoon brown mustard
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon 5 spice powder
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper


Brine the drumsticks. In a large pot set over low heat, add the water, bourbon, salt, sugar, peppercorns and bay leaves. Cook stirring occasionally until salt has dissolved, remove from the heat and let cool. Add the turkey drumsticks to a large bowl; pour in the brine. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 24 hours.

After 24 hours, remove the turkey drumsticks rinse and dry them well. Discard the brine and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Meanwhile make the glaze. Add pumpkin puree, apple cider, cider vinegar, molasses, mustard, brown sugar, onion powder, granulated garlic, 5 spice powder, ¼ teaspoon salt, and cayenne pepper to medium sauce pan set over medium heat. Simmer the mixture until it is thick and saucy, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat.

Lay the drumsticks onto a parchment lined baking sheet making sure there is room between each for even cooking. Brush them liberally on both sides with the glaze.

Place the drumsticks in the heated oven and roast them 15 minutes. Remove them from the oven, brush them with more glaze, turn them over and brush the other sides with more glaze. Roast an additional 15 minutes, then. Turn the oven to 325 degrees F. and continue the process of turning and brushing every 15 minutes for a total cooking time of 1 ½ hour to 2 hour, depending on size. You may run out of sauce before they cook all the way and that is just fine. Once they begin to look quite brown on the outside begin checking the interior temperature with an insta-read thermometer. Roast until the turkey legs register 165 degrees F.

Remove from oven. Let rest about 8 minutes then serve warm.