Cajun Smoked Turkey
It’s not Thanksgiving without a smoked turkey, and this year I’m doing a spicy Cajun Smoked Turkey version for my family.
This bird is loaded with flavor from a 24 hour soak in spicy brine and a good dose of Cajun Butter injection along with plenty of spices on the outside. It’s one fine eating Cajun Smoked Turkey and here’s how it’s done:
I start with a 14lb turkey that I let thaw for 5 days in the refrigerator. Remove the turkey from its package and rinse under cool water. Be sure to remove the neck and the giblet bag located in the cavity.
Also toss out the pop-up thermometer located in the breast if it has one. Those things are unreliable.
Cajun Smoked Turkey Brine:
- 6 quarts Water
- 2 cups Sugar
- 1 cup Salt
- ½ cup Cajun Seasoning (recipe below)
- 6 cloves Garlic
- 2 stalks celery cut into quarters
- 1 Medium Onion quartered
- 4 Bay leaves
- 1 Tablespoon Whole Black Peppercorns
- 1 bundle of Fresh Poultry herbs (Rosemary, Thyme, & Sage)
- Juice of 2 lemons
For the brine, start with 2 quarts of water in a large pot over medium high heat. Add sugar, salt, and Cajun seasoning (recipe is below). Bring this mixture to a boil and stir occasionally until the dry ingredients dissolve.
Pour the mixture into a gallon container and add the remaining ingredients. Top the mixture off with 2 quarts of water and let it steep for an hour at room temp.
Place the turkey in an over-sized zip lock bag; you can find these in the storage container section of Walmart or Lowe’s. Pour the brine over the turkey and add 2 more quarts of water to completely cover the bird.
Squeeze as much air out of the bag as possible and store the bag in a cooler. Place a couple bags of ice on top and below the turkey to weight it down in the brine and keep it cool.
After 24 hours remove the turkey from the brine and rinse off any excess seasoning. Pat the outside dry with paper towel and stuff the cavity with quartered apples and onions.
Tie the legs together to hold everything in the cavity and inject the turkey with a Cajun Butter injection.
Cajun Smoked Turkey Butter Injection:
- 14oz can of Chicken Broth
- 1/4 cup melted Butter
- 2 Tablespoons Killer Hogs Hot Sauce
- 1 teaspoon Cajun Seasoning
Combine these ingredients into a jar and shake or stir. Shoot the legs, thighs, and breast evenly with the injection mixture. I use my BDI Injector for this job.
Spray the skin of the turkey with vegetable cooking spray and sprinkle the outside with the Cajun Seasoning.
Cajun Smoked Turkey Seasoning:
- ¼ cup Killer Hogs AP Rub (or a good quality All Purpose seasoning)
- 2 Tablespoons Paprika
- 1 Tablespoon Dried Oregano
- 1 Tablespoon Dried Thyme
- 1 Tablespoon Onion Powder
- 1 Tablespoon Dried Parsley
- ½ Tablespoon Cayenne Pepper
- ½ Tablespoon White Pepper
Let the turkey hang out for a few minutes while the grill comes up to temperature.
I’m using my Yoder pellet smoker for this cook but you can use any smoker set up for indirect heat. Run the pit at 300⁰ and use your favorite wood for smoke, pecan is my favorite on turkey.
Place the turkey on the pit and smoke it for about 3 ½ hours. To keep the skin from drying out and turning too dark, spray the outside every hour with additional cooking spray.
If it does start to turn dark, you can lay a piece of aluminum foil over the turkey. This will shield the heat and stop the browning process.
After 2 hours on the pit, you want to start monitoring the internal temp. I use a DOT thermometer from Thermoworks set for 165⁰ in the breast.
Once the alarm goes off you know the turkey should be done. Verify the temp reading in the opposite breast and the thigh – I use my Thermapen for this.
Turkey is done when it hits 165 in the breast and 175 in the thigh/leg areas.
Remove the smoked turkey from the pit and cover loosely with foil for 20 minutes before carving.
This Cajun Smoked Turkey is incredible, the brine packs the flavor into the meat and the injection keeps it super moist. It is spicy but not hot and the skin on the outside is just as good as the meat.
Give this one a try this Thanksgiving!
Cajun Smoked Turkey