The key to tender juicy drumsticks is in the brining of the meat.

Prep Time

Start a day ahead

Brine and Smoke Time

Brine Time: 6-8 hours; Air Dry Time: 4 hours
Smoke Time: 90-120 minutes




4 cups (1L) boiling water
1 cup (250 mL) kosher salt
¾ cup (175 mL) buckwheat honey
8 cups (2L) cold water
4 cups (1L) pilsner beer (2 x 500 mL tins or 3 x 350 mL tins)
3 bay leaves
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tbsp (15 mL) whole black peppercorn
4 -5 dried, cayenne chili pods
8 cloves fresh garlic
1 medium onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
4-6 medium fresh Ontario Turkey drumsticks approximately 1-½ lbs each (750 g)

Chocolate Chili Cinnamon Rub
2 tbsp (30 mL) brown sugar
3 tsp (15 mL) kosher salt
2 tsp (10 mL) ground black pepper
2 tsp (10 mL) ground cinnamon
2 tsp (10 mL) cocoa powder
1 ½ tsp (8 mL) cayenne pepper

Chocolate Chili BBQ Sauce
½ cup (125 mL) hoisin sauce
1 tbsp (15 g) apple butter
2 tbsp (30 g) soy sauce
1 tbsp (15 g) chocolate syrup
½ tsp (3 g) red chili flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp (5 g) lime juice
Black pepper to taste


In a large bucket or pot combine boiling water, salt and honey and stir until the salt and honey is completely dissolved. Add cold water, beer, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, peppercorn, chili pods, garlic and onion. Stir.

Remove turkey from packaging and rinse under cold running water. Pat dry and place turkey drumsticks into brine, making sure that the drumsticks are completely covered. Cover and refrigerate for 6-8 hours.

Remove turkey drumsticks from brine, discarding the leftovers. Rinse drumsticks under cold running water and pat dry. Place on a baking sheet or large pan and refrigerate for 4 hours to allow drumsticks to air dry.

Meanwhile prepare the Cinnamon Ancho Chili Chocolate Rub by combining all ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.

Prepare Chocolate Chili BBQ Sauce. In a bowl whisk together the hoisin sauce, apple butter, soy sauce, chocolate syrup, chili, garlic and lime juice. Season to taste with black pepper. Set aside.

Get Ready to Smoke

Smoked Temperature: 325° F (165°C)

Set up your smoker according to manufacturer’s instructions and set temperature for 325°F (165°C).

Rub turkey drumsticks all over with reserved Chocolate Chili Cinnamon Rub and place into preheated smoker evenly spaced.

Add hickory or apple wood chips or chunks

Close smoker and smoke for 90 to 120 minutes basting with the Chocolate Chili BBQ sauce every 15 minutes during the last 30-60 minutes of cooking or until the internal temperature of the drumstick reaches 170° F (76°C).

Remove from smoker, allowing turkey to rest, loosely tented with aluminum foil for 10 minutes. Serve immediately.