Turkey Leg Ties – What Are They & How To Use Them

Ever wondered if turkey leg ties are necessary? Some people believe that no amount of seasoning will do any good if you don’t truss the turkey.

Trussing is a process of tying poultry with strings or twine into a compact shape that makes it easier to roast them; it is common with Thanksgiving turkey.

Some cooks say you should truss turkey so that it cooks evenly and doesn’t burn. Some other cooks say you don’t have to truss the turkey. Moreover, it gets more puzzling when you see plastic turkey leg ties on store-bought turkeys.

So, must you tie turkey legs before roasting? Here’s some knowledge you should get before your next Thanksgiving turkey.

What can you use to tie turkey legs together?

1. Kitchen twine

Kitchen twine is a common kitchen item that anyone who loves to roast always has at hand. It is an oven-safe, durable twine made of cotton, polyester, or linen.

It is a perfect choice for tieing turkey legs and keeping stuffing from rolling out. This twine is different from regular twine – which may not be made of materials suitable for cooking.

2. Dental floss

Dental floss is unlike other synthetic materials that will melt into the turkey. It is made from nylon, safe for cooking, and strong enough to hold turkey legs together.

However, if you pull it too tight, it can cut into the meat and make the juices leak out.

3. Wooden skewers or toothpicks

For turkey, especially for a large turkey, wooden skewers are the best option. Toothpicks may not be strong enough to hold a turkey with stuffing like breadcrumbs or rice in it.

Soak the skewers or toothpicks in water first to keep them from catching fire when roasting. Then, poke the skewers or toothpicks into the tucked parts of the turkey and grill.

A hint: to avoid a situation where someone accidentally bites into a piece of wood, count the number of toothpicks you used so you know how many to expect when pulling them out of the roast.

4. Cotton strings

Cotton strings are 100% cotton cooking strings that are dye free. These cooking strings should not be mistaken for bakery strings (which are not meant for cooking).

Use cotton strings if you run out of kitchen twine or dental floss.

5. Silicone bands

Instead of rubber bands, you should use silicone bands. Silicone bands are food-grade materials you can get from grocery stores or supermarkets.

They are colorful hot bands that can resist up to 500°F heat. They firmly hold turkey legs together while it roasts.

But you may find taking the bands off the turkey roast a little difficult. You may have no other choice than to cut them off.

6. Cheesecloth

Cheesecloth is light clothing that looks a lot like gauze. It was used in cheese preparation but is now used during different food preparation processes. And this includes roasting turkey.

Be rest assured that the cheesecloth won’t get burned in the oven.

Start with tucking the hands of the turkey underneath the body. Also, tuck the legs into the cavities. Then, dip the cheesecloth in melted butter and use it to wrap the sides and top of the turkey.

While cheesecloth will help retain moisture, it doesn’t give the browning everyone loves. So, when you’re sure the turkey has cooked well, bring it out and remove the cheesecloth to allow browning.

You can do this thirty minutes before the turkey finishes cooking.

7. Gauze

Gauze is an alternative to cheesecloth. However, it is not as sturdy as cheesecloth. It is best to use it as turkey leg ties instead of wrapping the whole turkey.

But if you are sure it is strong enough, you may use it to wrap the sides of the turkey.

Remember that it will also not allow even browning. So, you have to take off the gauze thirty minutes before the turkey finishes cooking.

8. Hock locks

Hock locks are plastic holders that come with turkeys bought from grocery stores. It is made from either metal or heat-resistant plastic. Hock locks are safe to leave on the turkey legs while it roasts.

9. Skip turkey leg ties

If you don’t have anything to tie turkey legs with, you can skip it entirely. Moreover, if you’re not stuffing the turkey, ties aren’t necessary. You can just tuck the wings underneath the body of the turkey.

In addition, you can make small cuts on the sides of the turkey’s cavities and tuck the legs into the opposite sides. The cuts should be small enough to hold the legs tightly.

Why should you tie turkey legs together?

The main reason why it is advisable to tie turkey legs is so that it cooks evenly.

It also helps to retain the juice and keep the wings and legs together with the body. More so, when you do not truss the turkey, it is left loose for air to circulate through.

As a result, your turkey has drier and crispier skin, and some parts may overcook and even burn.

Moreover, tieing turkey legs makes the turkey look more presentable on a Thanksgiving and buffet platter.

How to truss a turkey

What you need

  • Frozen turkey
  • Stuffings (optional)
  • Turkey leg ties


  • Allow the turkey to thaw overnight in the refrigerator
  • Prepare your stuffing in the morning
  • Place the turkey on a clean surface and begin to dress it
  • Remove the neck and giblets from the inner cavity and set them aside
  • Then, go ahead to stuff the turkey through the neck. When you’re done stuffing, pull the neck skin over the filling and poke it with a skewer
  • Afterward, tuck the wings behind the shoulders to keep them from burning
  • Go on to cross the ankles and tie them with a twine or hock lock
  • If you feel the stuffing is not well secured, tie the pope’s nose with the ankles. Slide the twine under the breasts and secure the wings too before you make a tight knot around the neck
  • Make sure they are well fastened to stabilize the turkey on the platter

Are there cons of tieing turkey legs?

No, there aren’t.

Tieing turkey legs do not necessarily make your roast any tastier. Any con you experience will be because you tied or wrapped the turkey too snugly. The skin may not brown evenly.

Moreover, when you roast turkey with tied legs, heat may not circulate properly and reach the inner surface of the joints.

Some parts may end up overcooked, and some will not cook properly. However, you can avoid this if you tie the legs and position the turkey properly.


Can you tie turkey legs with rubber bands?

Rubber bands are not a good idea for tieing turkey legs.

Rubber bands will melt when they come in contact with heat, and this is unhealthy for your food. If rubber bands become your last option, skip trussing instead.

What happens if you don’t tie turkey legs?

It’s not a big deal if you don’t tie turkey legs, but you may end up with a turkey that isn’t well-cooked or burned in some areas.

Moreover, trussing turkey isn’t so much work, so you can take out time to do it and enjoy the gratification of seeing a well-dressed turkey.

Should you remove turkey leg ties before carving the turkey?

Yes, you should.

When the turkey has cooked properly, it’ll remain firm with the stuffing in it. You should remove the ties before carving.

Can you use jute twine to tie turkey legs?

No, you can’t.

Jute twine is not suitable for tieing turkey legs or cooking anything at all. Jute twine is made from a fibrous material that burns easily and breaks into your food.


It’s up to you to use turkey leg ties before you roast. If you got your turkey with plastic holders or hock locks on the legs, it’s okay to leave them on if you’re not deep frying the turkey.

Nonetheless, turkey leg ties are very helpful for Thanksgiving turkeys. They make it look very appetizing and graceful on the platter.

Turkey leg ties also keep the legs from being all over the place. You can improvise with dental floss or aluminum foil if you don’t have kitchen twine.

If your turkey still doesn’t cook properly, here are some mistakes you could be making.

Thanks for reading.

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