Cajun Smoked Turkey

Cajun Smoked Turkey

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.

Cajun Smoked Turkey

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.

Cajun Smoked Turkey

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.

Cajun Smoked Turkey

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.

Cajun Smoked 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.

Cajun Smoked Turkey

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.

Cajun Smoked Turkey

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.

Cajun Smoked Turkey

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!

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Cajun Smoked Turkey

Ingredients

  • 12-14lb Whole Turkey
  • 1 ½ gallon Turkey Brine*
  • 16oz Cajun Butter Injection*
  • 1 Medium Size Onion
  • 1 Medium Size Apple
  • ¼ cup Cajun Seasoning*
    Cajun Turkey Brine:
  • 6 quarts Water
  • 2 cups Sugar
  • 1 cup Salt
  • ½ cup Cajun Seasoning
  • 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
  • Bring 2 quarts of water, sugar, salt, & Cajun seasoning to a boil in a large pot over medium high heat. Stir to dissolve and pour into gallon pitcher. Add remaining ingredients along with 2 more quarts of water and steep for 1 hour or until mixture cools to room temperature. Pour over turkey and add remaining 2 quarts of water to completely submerge turkey in the brine.
    Cajun Butter Injection:
  • 14oz can of Chicken Broth
  • 1/4 cup melted Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons Killer Hogs Hot Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun Seasoning
  • Place ingredients into a bowl or mason jar and whisk to combine. Shake or stir well before injecting.
    Cajun Seasoning:
  • ¼ cup Killer Hogs AP rub
  • 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
  • Combine ingredients and store in airtight container for up to 1 month.

Instructions

  1. Thaw frozen turkey in refrigerator for 5 days; check cavity for neck/organs (discard or save for making stock).
  2. Place turkey in an XXL Ziplock bag and pour brine* over bird. Store in a cooler with ice around the bag to keep cool. Brine Turkey for 24 hours replacing ice as necessary.
  3. Prepare smoker for indirect cooking at 300⁰ using pecan wood for smoke flavor.
  4. Remove turkey from brine and rinse under cool water. Pat skin dry with paper towel.
  5. Place quartered apples and onion in the cavity and tie the legs together with butcher twine. Inject the breast, legs, and thighs with Cajun injection*. Coat the skin with vegetable cooking spray.
  6. Season the outside of the turkey with Cajun seasoning* and place on preheated smoker.
  7. Smoke the turkey for 3 ½ hours spraying the skin with additional cooking spray as necessary. Remove the turkey from the smoker when internal temperature reaches 165⁰ in the breast and 175⁰ in the thigh.
  8. Cover turkey loosely in aluminum foil and rest for 20 minutes. Carve into desired portions and serve.

Malcom Reed
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Cajun Smoked Turkey

Comments 18

  1. I have a master built electric smoker, it will only go to 275. What do I need to do differently to make up for the cooking time?

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  2. Made this for Thanksgiving this yesterday – man was it GOOD! This recipe is perfect, just enough heat, just enough spice, and so many flavors. Thanks!

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  3. Hey Malcom, I just finished dinner and it was the first time I have smoked a turkey on my new Traeger pellet smoker. I wanted to thank you for sharing this recipe and making the video. I followed this pretty closely and it turned out AMAZING! I got many compliments on how juicy the turkey was. I can’t wait to try a few of your other recipes on your site. Nice job. Keep up the great work!

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  4. Aloha Malcom, You helped me get started a few months ago I watched tons of you videos. I have made 4 turkeys so far and doing two more this weekend, They were on sale for 0.49 cents/Lb!
    I use this recipe as my starting point each time. They are the best turkeys you can ever eat! Thanks for all your guidance.
    Cory

  5. Greetings from Orlando,

    We have a Jamaican friend who helped us to adapt your recipe to Jamaican Style Jerked Turkey. It is toned down to fit the Gringo’s heat index but all the techniques you have given seem to make the transition to the Caribbean beautifully. The smoking process adds a wonderful flavor as in their famous Jerked Chicken. He didn’t write anything down just started winging it with cinnamon, nutmeg, thyme, and allspice. He used a little cayenne to heat things up and commented that a scotch bonnet pepper would be more authentic. We substituted his spice combination for your cajun version and it all worked! The seasoned butter and chicken stock injection is a killer idea that really kept it all juicy. I’m sure you could do a better job with the idea, I’ll watch for Malcom’s version to show up.

    Thanks for all your great tips!!
    dc

  6. Just did my first set of ribs on my UDS. First time ever smoking anything. I used your recipe and the ribs were great!! I’d like to test run this recipe before Thanksgiving. How would I adjust this for a UDS?

    Thanks, and
    Q-DAT

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      If you can keep the temps steady – you can cook this recipe on any smoker. So you don’t really need to adjust anything – but I wouldn’t put too much wood in a UDS for a turkey because it’s a white meat and the UDS gives some serious smoke flavor.

  7. I followed this exactly last Thanksgiving with 2 smaller birds. Everyone said it was the best turkey they ever had. Great instructions!

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