Cajun Smoked Turkey: An Unusual Recipe for Your Next Thanksgiving

We give you in-detail instructions on how to prepare and smoke a whole turkey, as well as share some hacks.
Jeremy Bivens
Jeremy Bivens
Research Writer
Jeremy Bivens is a passionate writer and grilling enthusiast. He's been working as a freelance journalist for over 15 years now and has a particular interest in food writing read more
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Bruce Williams
Bruce Williams
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Claims that grilling is the art that he has been learning all his life long and is not planning to stop. Has been grilling for as long as he can remember. Author of numerous read more
Last updated: August 10, 2023
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Pitmasters and cooks at home are increasingly wanting to try something different Trusted Source To Cook The Best Thanksgiving Turkey, Head Outdoors with their Thanksgiving turkey, according to new research. There are many excellent ways to prepare a turkey, but the cajun recipe is one way to give it a real smoked taste. The cajun smoked turkey recipe is not a lot different from the classic way of smoking turkey. You only need to add butter injection or butter spray, among other items to your list of ingredients.

If you don’t have a smoker, this turkey recipe can still be smoked with a barbecue grill. You can also get that smoky taste of what you’re looking for that is a little different from traditional roasting turkey in the oven. Your turkey will still be moist and delicious as long as you follow the instructions on how to make cajun smoked turkey breast.

Smoked Cajun Turkey Recipe

We combined several ingredients to arrive at this recipe that turned out quite tasty! Get a 12-pound turkey, take out your smoker andbest smoker accessories, and try it out, by following the instructions.


  • 12 to 14 lbs of turkey
  • 2 teaspoons of garlic powder
  • 3 teaspoons of brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of dried oregano
  • 3 tablespoons of kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons of paprika
  • Butter cooking spray, as needed
  • 1/4 liter of mesquite wood chips, soaked in water and drained

Instructions (Preparation)

Step 1. If you bought a frozen turkey, it will likely contain some organs – kidney, liver, heart, gizzards, etc. Remove everything and set aside.

Step 2. Rinse the turkey. Run it under running water inside and out to wash it. Pat to dry or leave it in the air for a while.

Cajun Smoked Turkey: An Unusual Recipe for Your Next Thanksgiving

Step 3. Choose whether or not to brine the turkey. Although, this is optional). A brine Trusted Source Brining - Wikipedia is a saltwater bath in which to leave the bird for 24 hours.

Step 4. Thaw the turkey completely. If you choose not to brine it and bought it frozen, you will need to defrost it completely. It takes longer in the refrigerator, but it is the safest method.

Step 5. Stir the kosher salt, brown sugar, dried oregano, paprika, garlic, powder, and cayenne pepper together in a small bowl. Then set the Cajun rub aside. You can also choose to purchase your all-in-one Cajun rub.

One of the best available Cajun rub for turkey is the Badia Louisiana Cajun Seasoning Powder. The 23-ounce bottle contains dehydrated vegetables, paprika, salt, and more. Available in a sauce bottle, the Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce is also another all-in-one ingredient for turkey preparation. The all-natural kosher contains distilled water vinegar, sugar, salt, onion, water, garlic, cloves, chili pepper extract, and more.

Step 6. Remove the bird’s neck and giblets and pat-dry the turkey with paper towels.

Step 7. Reserve 1 TBSP of the Cajun rub and put part of the mixture in the cavity and part under the skin.

Step 8. Stir turkey butter and the reserved Cajun rub. Loosen the turkey breast’s skin without detaching the skin. Spread the butter mixture underneath the skin and secure the skin back with wooden picks.

Cajun Smoked Turkey: An Unusual Recipe for Your Next Thanksgiving

Step 9. Tie the end of the legs with some kitchen twines. Tuck the wing tips underneath and let the turkey remain at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Instructions (Smoking)

Step 1. Pre-cook the turkey (optional). Of course, if you have some time on your hands and don’t want to rush the whole process, you won’t need to pre-cook it. If you are running out of time and want quicker cooking, you can pre-cook it and smoke it later instead. To pre-cook it, place it in a baking dish and cover it with aluminum foil or a lid. Let it cook for 30 minutes at 180 degrees.

Step 2. Prepare the smoker grill. Grease it with oil or coat it with aluminum foil to prevent the meat from sticking. A pellet grill is one of the best smoked for this recipe.

Step 3. Turn on the smoker. The best temperature for smoking a turkey is around 230 degrees Fahrenheit, but anywhere between 230 and 260 is acceptable. It will take about 45 minutes to get to the temperature.

Step 4. Once the smoker is on and preheated, add the moistened bits of wood. If you want, you can also vary with the liquid to moisten. For example, let’s say you use mesquite or walnut chips to smoke your turkey. Why not dip them in bourbon? Or if you choose bits of apple tree, why not use cider? Add flavor to the wood by dipping it in a complementary liquid.

Cajun Smoked Turkey: An Unusual Recipe for Your Next Thanksgiving

Step 5. Place the turkey on the smoker. Place it on the grill with the chest up. The best part of the grill to place it on will depend on where the heat is concentrated. Usually, the turkey should be placed on its side, “away” from direct heat. Cover the smoker.

Step 6. Consider placing a drip tray under the turkey. If you want to collect the fluid and fat for a smoked sauce, place a pan under the grill to catch any leaking turkey.

Cajun Smoked Turkey: An Unusual Recipe for Your Next Thanksgiving

Step 7. Keep the heat at about 235 degrees. Check every hour so that heat and smoke do not disperse. Add more charcoal, bits of wood, or water as needed. If your smoker doesn’t have a built-in thermometer, you can put an instant-read thermometer inside to gauge the temperature yourself when you open it. You can also use one of best smoker thermometers for a perfect result.

Step 8. Wait for the internal temperature to reach 155 degrees. Calculate the minimum suggested time for complete smoking. When it has passed, open the lid, and with the meat thermometer in your hand, measure it, inserting it into the thickest part of the thigh. If it reaches 155 degrees, the turkey is ready.

If it’s still not ready, put the lid back on and let it go for another 30-45 minutes. Check the desired temperature a second time.

Step 9. Once the bird is removed from the smoker, let it sit for about 30 minutes before cutting it. In this way the juices will settle in the meat, making it softer.

Smoked Cajun Turkey Video Recipe

Hacks and Tips

  • You can use the internal organs for the stuffing. Sauté them with a little oil and add in moderation to give it flavor.
  • Many choose to make broth with the organs. Cut them together with an onion, a couple of carrots, and a few stalks of celery and put them in a pot of water to boil. Add a little salt, pepper, and a few bay leaves and let it go for a few hours, skimming it from time to time. Talking about pepper and spice, the bestselling allspice which is also recommended by online cooks is the The Spice Lab Cayenne Pepper Powder. Ideal for Indian and Mexican cooking, the pepper spice is gluten-free and organic.
  • Experiment with different woods to vary the flavor of the meat. Among the wood with a milder smell, we find alder, apple, cherry, maple, mulberry, orange, and peach; among the most intense are walnut, mesquite, oak, hazelnut, and the wood used for whiskey barrels.

Final Thoughts

Smoking is a great alternative to grilling. However, making a cajun smoked turkey is not a task for impatient cooks, even if the result is as good as roasting or frying it. If the weather promises a nice day or you’ve always wanted to try smoking a turkey, take out your smoker and follow our easy Cajun smoked turkey recipe.

When it’s all done, you can enjoy your smoked turkey over a dinner that also includes sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green beans, stuffing, and cranberry sauce.


To Cook The Best Thanksgiving Turkey, Head Outdoors
Brining - Wikipedia

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