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Cajun-Spiced Turkey

Cajun-Spiced Turkey

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  • 1 12–14 pound turkey, patted dry
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup (or more) olive or vegetable oil

Recipe Preparation

  • Set a rack inside a large heavy roasting pan. Season turkey lightly inside and out with salt and pepper, then with spice mix, massaging it into the skin. Transfer turkey, breast side down, to prepared pan and refrigerate, uncovered, overnight.

  • Remove turkey from refrigerator; let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.

  • Preheat oven to 375°. Mix celery, pepper, and onion in a medium bowl. Fill turkey cavity with vegetable mixture, scattering any remaining vegetables over bottom of roasting pan. Brush turkey with oil.

  • Roast turkey, basting occasionally, for 1 hour. Using paper towels, flip turkey. Roast, basting occasionally, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of thigh registers 165°, 1–1 1/2 hours longer. Transfer to platter. Let rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.

,Photos by Anders Overgaard

Nutritional Content

12 servings, 1 serving contains: Calories (kcal) 483.8 %Calories from Fat 46.5 Fat (g) 25.0 Saturated Fat (g) 6.6 Cholesterol (mg) 170.5 Carbohydrates (g) 2.2 Dietary Fiber (g) 0.7 Total Sugars (g) 1.1 Net Carbs (g) 1.5 Protein (g) 58.7 Sodium (mg) 581.3Reviews SectionFamily fave for Thanksgiving!AnonymousNew York11/22/18

Cajun Turkey Brine Recipe

Spice up your holiday this year with this easy-to-make and spicy-delicious cajun turkey brine.

This brine adds a kick of spicy Cajun flavor to your turkey. We think it’s a fun way to make a turkey that’s a little different than normal without going too crazy! What do you think of the recipe? Did you make any changes? Let us know in the comments below!

What is Brining?

Brining your turkey is an excellent way to help it stay moist and flavorful throughout the entire cooking process. By soaking the turkey in a liquid with salt present, the turkey will soak up water, and then retain some of the moisture while it cooks. In addition to the extra juiciness of the finished bird, brining is an excellent opportunity to add more flavor to the bird.

If you’d like to learn more about brining, check out our flavor school article on wet brining.

The Meatwave

Thanksgiving is nothing without tradition, and I have my tried-and-true turkey recipe I make each year without fail. There's another tradition that has developed more recently though, one of a full Thanksgiving meal made about month prior to the holiday, where I gather my friends and turn them into human guinea pigs to taste test new turkey and other recipes I've been developing for the blogs. This annual event is now about five years old, and with each passing year, finding a new and unique take on grilled or smoked turkey has become more challenging. I've increasingly been turning away from the traditional notion of holiday birds and to doing more inventive incarnations, like this Cajun smoked turkey.

A turkey is actually a thrilling prospect. Gone are the days of dreaded dry cardboard birds, and ushered in its place has been a renaissance of juicy and flavorful turkey masterpieces. So what has been the big change? It's a one-two punch of brine and smoke that breaths life into this blank canvas.

Yes, I'm a slave to the brine, and preach it wherever I go. I thought it was the end all, be all for juicy and flavorful poultry for a long time, that was until I started dabbling in injections.

Like a brine, an injection can add moisture and flavor into meat, but at a much quicker pace. I find overall it's not quite as effective in altering the moisture and texture of the final bird, but it does a better job of adding flavor throughout, effectively embedding deposits of seasoning into the meat.

I thought an injection was better than a brine in this case, where I wanted to season the turkey throughout with Cajun flavor. Liquid crab boil was the dominante seasoning used to accomplish this, but it had some help in the way of garlic, Worcestershire, Creole seasoning, and hot sauce as well. Beer acted as the liquid that supported all the seasoning, and butter was added to enhance the richness of the meat.

Once throughly injected, I coated the bird with a Cajun spice rub to add another layer of flavor that rested on top of the skin. While a brine would have made the entire prep process take about twelve hours, this bird went from packaging to the smoker in just over 20 minutes.

It's the smoker that's the second part of the equation to the most delicious turkeys ever. Having a lightly flavored meat, any addition of flavor is sure to be picked up, and while the injection gets us a long way there, the introduction of smoke only makes it all the better. Less is more here though, since over smoking can quickly turn a bird from delicious to acrid. Just one chunk of a light smoking wood&mdashlike apple or cherry&mdashis all that's really needed to give a turkey a smooth smokey flavor.

While past brined birds have had a more subtle flavor, this one came out packing a punch. The injection left the meat juicy and heavily spiced throughout, giving it a heat that was always present, but not so strong that it overwhelmed the light smokiness. The biggest surprise here though was the skin. While most smoke turkeys I've done have come out with tough and leathery skin, this was thin and crisp. Not sure if it was thanks to the bird, process, or a littler of both, but the entire thing was a delight to eat. Now I don't think this bird will replace my usual on this year's Thanksgiving table&mdashI'm a sucker for tradition and it'd be hard to get me to change my ways&mdashbut if you're looking for something a little different, this Cajun smoked turkey is worth giving a shot.

Published on Tue Nov 6, 2012 by Joshua Bousel

Cajun Smoked Turkey

  • Yield 8-10 servings
  • Prep 20 Minutes
  • Cook 2 Hours 30 Minutes
  • Total 2 Hours 50 Minutes


  • For the injection
  • 1 12-ounce bottle beer, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 6 large garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoon Creole seasoning
  • 1 tablespoons liquid crab boil
  • 1 tablespoon Louisiana-style hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 12-14lb natural turkey, rinsed and patted dry with paper towels
  • For the rub
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 fist-sized chunks of apple wood or other light smoking wood


  1. To make the injection, place beer, butter, garlic, Worcestershire, Creole seasoning, liquid crab boil, hot sauce, salt, and cayenne pepper in the jar of a blender and puree until completely smooth. Using a meat injection syringe, inject mixture into meat of turkey all over with each injection spaced about 1-inch apart.
  2. To make the rub, combine paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, oregano, cumin, salt, black pepper, and cayenne in a small bowl. Season turkey inside and out with rub. Fold wings under the body and tie the legs together, then brush entire turkey lightly with vegetable oil.
  3. Fire up smoker or grill to 325 degrees, adding smoking wood chunks when at temperature. When wood is ignited and producing smoke, place turkey in smoker or grill and smoke until an instant read thermometer registers 165 degrees in thickest part of the breast, about 2 to 3 hours.
  4. Remove the turkey from smoker and allow to rest, uncovered, for 20 to 30 minutes. Carve and serve.

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Nicole Klein Pete! I had no idea (and now I'm beginning to) that you were such a chef, photographer and writer. I've been following for a few months now and cannot believe the level of cooking and sharing you do - while having a full time job and 3 kids. You should teach a class - I would come - I don't know enough about cooking meats - I could swamp you some bread or cheesecake??
W O W - truly impressive. Posted Wed, Nov 7 2012 9:03PM

Nicole I meant "swap" not swamp. dear lord - I need spell check
n Posted Wed, Nov 7 2012 9:04PM

Chris Sounds like a great injection! Did it discolor the meat any? Posted Tue, Nov 13 2012 5:06PM

Josh @Chris Yeah, the injection created some orange pockets in the meat. Didn't bother me though, it's not like it's a competition and being judged, it just needed to taste great :) Posted Tue, Nov 13 2012 9:33PM

John Hello,
Beautiful bird. Do you have any idea why the skin turned out better on this one than your last couple of (documented) attempts? Do you think forgoing the brine had something to do with it? I will be smoking this TG and I am sick of leathery skin.

Thanks Posted Wed, Nov 14 2012 10:14AM

Josh @John I'm not really sure why this one came out and others haven't. I don't think forgoing the brine made the difference, since brines don't seem to effect the skins on chickens I cook. If anything, I think it was the butter in the injection, and the temperature in the smoker may have been higher than normal. I know in the oven I roast my turkeys at high temps (400-425) and get much better skin that way. Posted Wed, Nov 14 2012 10:35PM

Ellie Those look soooo good. I just ate and I'm drooling. And they seem like something I can actually do given my busy schedule. I found this cute little comparison of pre-made cranberry sauces and for anyone reading this who is like me and always pressed for time, I'm sharing this because I hope it helps: Love you all. Happy Thankgiving! Posted Wed, Nov 21 2012 11:56AM

Pam I'm trying this with a big chicken. Thanks for the recipe!!
Posted Fri, Nov 29 2013 12:51PM

ShondaB Do I need to put.the turkey on a foil pan before placing on the grill? The bottom won't burn? Posted Sat, Nov 15 2014 8:25AM

Josh @ShondaB No, you should need a foil pan. As long as it's not over direct heat, the turkey won't burn. Posted Sun, Nov 16 2014 10:30AM

Jamie ayychhh This bird turned out amazing!! Our only problem was maintaining temp, in that case, it took about 5 hours-but was WELL worth it. Posted Sun, Dec 18 2016 6:49PM

Keith Could you pour a little beer in the cavity while it cools? Would it help, hurt, or not make a difference? Posted Tue, Nov 21 2017 7:00PM

Keith While it cooks I mean. Posted Tue, Nov 21 2017 7:00PM

Josh @Keith Don't see any reason to do that. It'll likely hurt more than help, creating steam and taking longer to cook and could possibly have a negative effective on getting the skin a little crispy. Posted Tue, Nov 21 2017 7:12PM

Keith Thanks Josh! Posted Wed, Nov 22 2017 8:50AM

DangerDonny925 12oz Beer is pretty vague. We talking Bud light, a stout like Guinness, an IPA like Lagunitas? Etc. Posted Tue, Nov 13 2018 5:45PM

Bk all day I want to try this recipe. however- The smoker at my family members house I will have to use is a barrel style but it's direct heat as it has no water pan like wsm. I was going to spatchcock and flip a few times and aim for 325-375 temp. Do you agree with my assessment? Posted Fri, Nov 16 2018 3:14PM

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Cajun Roasted Turkey is just like your traditional roasted turkey, but with an incredible spice rub that adds some heat and a TON of flavor. We make this recipe with chicken throughout the year, because it’s too good to leave for just the holidays.

For this recipe we’re going to mix the spices with the butter that goes under the turkey skin, soaking all of that flavor into every bite of the meat. Some of it also drips down into the pan, which is what we’ll use to make gravy, giving the gravy a little bit of heat, too. This turkey is also incredibly aromatic, so your house will smell AMAZING while it’s in the oven.


Way to salty, made a whole dish with this and had to Chuck it all away because of the quantity of salt in it. I didn’t use table salt and I halved the amount because i thought it seemed crazy but it still tasted horrible. I would not recommend it.

Way too much salt. Absolutely ruin it. Had to check other recipes to compare and not a single one adds this much salt

This was delicious. Only recommendation is to *let it sit* for a few days. It's a bit harsh at first it takes a day or two for the flavors to mellow. I also reduced the salt and added some MSG (because let me live).

Been using this as my goto spice for breakfast dishes, mostly seafood skillets. Only mod I made was since we like to use pink Himalayan salt , reduced it to same as pepper. So far everyone loves the results,

I followed the instructions on the first try. Delicious. I messed up the second time and used table salt. Way too salty. Threw it out and started again with kosher Salt. Perfection. I use it all the time now.

This is a disaster. WAY WAY too much sea salt. It will ruin any dish it is added to. My advice is cut the sea salt back to 1 tbsp. PS. I love sea salt. So, you know.

WAY too much salt! & the spice a touch numbing to the palate. Regrettably wasted a cup's worth of ingredients.

Delicious recipe. Beware if you use regular table salt that you won't need as much salt as the recipe calls for because regular salt is more compact. Use half the amount of salt that the original recipe calls for.

Outstanding blend. Use high quality spices, esp the paprika.

Outstanding blend. I use it on everything.

Too much salt. 5 tablespoons must be a mistake.

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Easy Cajun Spiced Rotisserie Turkey

When you are holiday entertaining, there are plenty of details to fret over… but your turkey doesn’t need to be one of those details. This Thanksgiving, let the Ronco Rotisserie take care of that turkey- so that you can turn your attention to relaxing and enjoying your guests.

This Easy Cajun Spiced Rotisserie Turkey is a super easy recipe that results in a tasty, delicious and moist turkey every-time.

The method for cooking this rotisserie recipe is to pack the inside of the bird with seasonings and flavors so that as it rotates and cooks, the meat absorbs the flavors from the inside-out. This way of cooking promotes a moister, more evenly cooked bird. Herbs and spices on the outside of your bird can burn or create hot spots.

Easy Cajun Spiced Rotisserie Turkey

  • 14-15 pound turkey (thawed)
  • 1/4 cup Cajun spice blend (we used a pre-made blend for simplicity, but feel free to make your own)
  • 2 yellow onions chopped into quarters
  • 6-8 garlic cloves
  • Bunch of fresh oregano
  • Bunch of fresh thyme
  • 4-5 tablespoons frozen butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoons ground black pepper

1. Remove thawed turkey from refrigerator, drain any juices in the sink and dry inside and out with paper towels.
2.Stuff cavity of turkey by adding in order:

  • Cajun spices (try to coat the entire inside cavity not just one spot)
  • Frozen butter
  • Garlic cloves
  • 1 chopped onion
  • Fresh herbs

3. Add the other chopped onion to the neck cavity.

  • Use the 1st tie to tie the legs together.
  • Use the other 4 ties to secure the legs and wings to the body. Tie one food tie every 2 or so inches along the body by simply tying around the whole body.
  • Tuck the neck skin under one or two of the food ties to hold the chopped onion in place. Trim excess off food ties.

5. Pat turkey dry again and season both sides of turkey with kosher salt and ground black pepper.

6. Place your turkey on the rotisserie spit rod. There are 2 methods* for placing your turkey on the spit rod:

  • Insert spit rod into turkey breast at a 45 degree angle and sliding spit rod into bird and straightening as it comes out toward the leg area.
  • Or placing the spit rod on the carving platform and placing turkey right onto spit rod starting with the breast side first.

*The important thing is to just make sure that your turkey is balanced in the center of your spit rod so that it is not too far out on one side- resulting in one side touching the heating elements.

7. Place your turkey into your rotisserie oven and set to ‘no heat rotate’ for one or two turns to make sure the bird is not touching the heating elements. If so, remove and re-position on spit rod.

8. Set rotisserie oven to roast for 12 minutes per pound.

9. When your turkey reaches temperature* at the breast, set your rotisserie to the no heat rotate setting… allowing your turkey to rest and rotate in the Ronco Rotisserie for 15-20 minutes with the door open.

*Cooking times may vary slightly depending on salt content, water content, environmental temperature, starting temperature of food etc. so we always suggest checking doneness with a meat thermometer. The breast meat should be 165°F and the thigh at least 165°F but ideally 185°F- pay more attention to the breast temperature than the thigh. Start checking temperature 30 minutes before you think your turkey should be done.

10. Remove from rotisserie oven place on carving platform, carve and serve.

Cajun Baked Turkey Breast

This is a Cajun Thanksgiving spread from a sassy Southern Lady, Dorothy from Tennessee.

Dorothy, much like Dozer, has become a regular fixture here on RecipeTin Eats. Though unlike Dozer, who simply trades off his cuteness, Dorothy actually makes valuable contributions. From her cheerful commentary, to her generosity sharing recipes not just with me, but even with readers, and helpfulness sharing her knowledge and experience.

Dorothy is a sensational cook – full stop. We have very similar palettes – big flavours, tasty, hearty simple food. We don’t plate up with tweezers, we don’t cook with trendy ingredients, and though we both have a weakness for all things cheese and bacon, we lean towards healthy-ish meals and avoid deep frying / cooking with blocks of cream cheese.

And today, I’m so honoured to be sharing a Thanksgiving spread starring her recipes.

Turkey is not cheap here in Australia. Dear US readers – be prepared to fall off your chair: We Aussies pay $30+ per kg which is $15 / lb for turkey breast from butchers. Frozen packaged turkey is only a bit cheaper.

Thus you can be sure that any turkey recipe I share is easy and low risk with guaranteed deliciousness. Because with an investment upward of $100 for a whole turkey and even large turkey breasts, there is no way I am taking a punt.

And the minute I read Dorothy’s recipe for this Cajun Baked Turkey Breast WITH Dressing, I knew it was a winner.

Here’s why this has got to be a contender for one of the world’s best baked turkey breast recipes:

1. DOUBLE JUICY – Brining is the key to a juicy baked turkey breast, and this recipe is dry brined with a homemade Cajun rub. But this recipe goes one step further. By baking the dressing / stuffing in the SAME baking dish as the turkey breast, it helps make the turkey even juicier.

The wetness of the dressing protects the lower part of the turkey as well as generally providing moisture all around the turkey as the liquid evaporates because it is baked covered for most of the time.

When you slice this turkey, you are going to be amazed at the wetness of the flesh!

2. EXTRA TASTY DRESSING (STUFFING) – A little food trivia for you: if you stuff it in a bird, it’s called Stuffing. If you bake it separately, it’s called Dressing. I prefer Dressing because I like the golden brown bits on top.

This Dressing is made extra tasty because by baking it in the same roast pan as the turkey, it is soaking up all the turkey juices. It’s the BEST stock that you can ever imagine using for a Dressing. It’s genius.

3. CAJUN DELICIOUSNESS – If you love Cajun food, you’re going to go mad for this! Cajun rub and Cajun dressing. This turkey is just mind blow-ingly delicious.

4. LESS MESS – Have I emphasised enough the sheer convenience of 2 recipes made in ONE roasting pan??

5. EASY – Honestly, read the recipe. There is nothing tricky about this. This is a recipe easy enough for beginners.

6. CHEF RECIPE – Yes, this is a real deal Chef recipe! It is based on a recipe by Chef Paul Prudhomme, an American chef credited with popularising Cajun and Creole cuisine.

7. GRAVY IS PURELY OPTIONAL – Dorothy swore that the Dressing was so moist and flavour packed that gravy is not necessary. And she is absolutely dead set right – you do not need gravy!! The only reason I have provided a Cajun Gravy in the recipe notes is because I think it works well for when this turkey is made ahead (because reheated turkey breast doesn’t retain juiciness as well as fattier meats – but this turkey is still moist when reheated!).

JENNIE-O® Hickory Smoked Cajun Style Turkey Breast

Perfect for sandwiches, JENNIE-O® Hickory Smoked Cajun Style Turkey Breast is a wonderful addition for anything that needs a spicy punch! This turkey has a hint of smoked flavoring and is seasoned with just the right amount of Cajun. It’s a surefire way to take your sandwich to the next level. Look for it in the deli section of your grocery store.

Nutrition Information

Nutrition Facts

Varied servings per container

Amount Per Serving
Calories 50
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g
Saturated Fat 0g
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 25mg
Sodium 480mg
Total Carbohydrate 0g
Dietary Fiber 0g
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 12g
Calcium 0%
Iron 0%
Vitamin A 0%
Vitamin C 0%

* The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.


Seasoning Ingredients: Spices, Salt, Dehydrated Onion, Natural Smoke Flavoring, Dehydrated Garlic, Oleoresin of Paprika, Flavoring. Ingredients: Turkey Breast Meat, Water, Seasoning (Salt, Sugar, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Hydrolyzed Corn Protein, Natural Flavorings, Oleoresin Paprika), Contains 2% Or Less Salt, Sodium Phosphate, Sugar, Sodium Erythorbate, Sodium Nitrite.

Cooking Instructions

Fully Cooked – Ready To Eat:
This product is fully cooked and is “Ready To Eat”.

Preheat grill to 350°F. Attach needle to Injector by turning clockwise until snug. DO NOT OVER TIGHTEN NEEDLE. Pour Marinade into separate container and draw into injector. Inject marinade at points 1 to 2 inches apart into the turkey breast. Sprinkle evenly with Creole Seasoning.

Grill turkey breast, uncovered, about 1 1/2 hours or until internal temperature reaches 170°F. Remove turkey breast from grill. Loosely cover with foil. Let stand 15 minutes before slicing.

To cook Cajun Turkey Breast in the oven:

Place seasoned turkey breast on rack in foil-lined roasting pan. Cover loosely with foil. Roast in preheated 350ºF oven 1 hour. Remove foil. Add 1 cup water to pan. Roast 1 to 1 1/2 hours longer or until internal temp. reaches 170°F, basting occasionally with pan juices. Remove from oven cover loosely with foil. Let stand 15 minutes.

Put all the dried ingredients in a zip-lock plastic bag and give a good shake. Place the turkey steaks into the bag and massage the spice mix into the meat. Allow the spice mix to infuse into the meat for a couple of hours before cooking.

Place the grill onto the fire pit and allow to heat up. Brush the grill with a little oil before placing the turkey breast steaks on. Cook for 3-4 minutes before turning over and cook for a further 3-4 minutes.

Cut the brioche bun in half and place onto the grill, slice the tomatoes and place on the grill to warm through.

When the turkey steaks are cooked stack the brioche with a few salad leaves, turkey steak, tomatoes and a good squirt of mayo or crème fraîche on top.