Cajun Roasted Turkey made with paprika, cayenne pepper, and other cajun spices is the PERFECT twist on a traditional roast turkey this Thanksgiving!
We’re turkey crazy this week, trying to find every recipe we can to help you have the best Thanksgiving possible with Turkey Brine, Spatchcock Turkey, and Crispy Slow Cooker Turkey.
Cajun Roasted Turkey
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.
HOW DO YOU MAKE CAJUN TURKEY RUB?
The most important step to cajun turkey is the rub. Mix the spices with the butter until really well combined. The paprika is what gives this spice rub that signature red color, while the cayenne adds the heat, so don’t skip these two.
We are going to add the cajun butter between the skin and the meat of the bird, which will add a TON of moisture to the meat. You’re going to get the most tender, juicy cajun turkey you’ve ever had in your life, I promise.
We’re also adding the seasonings to a small food processor like this one because then the dried herbs don’t overpower the bird, its an overall seasoning that is built into the turkey and the skin, plus it doesn’t take over the look of the turkey, it just looks like a deep reddish color.
You can also combine all of these spices together to make a dry rub if you don’t want to use butter. Drizzle the bird with extra virgin olive oil, then rub the spices on the outside until everything is well seasoned, adding more oil as needed.
CAN YOU MAKE CAJUN ROASTED TURKEY IN THE SLOW COOKER?
You can make this in the slow cooker if you have a big enough slow cooker for a whole turkey, at least 6 quarts or larger for a 9-10 pound bird. If you have a bigger bird, you’ll need a bigger slow cooker. If you don’t want to slow cook a whole turkey, check out my Crispy Slow Cooker Turkey Breast or Slow Cooker Thanksgiving for 2.
WHAT TO SERVE with CAJUN ROASTED TURKEY
- Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes
- Slow Cooker Stuffing
- Candied Yams
- Easy Mashed Potatoes
- Easy Cranberry Sauce
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TIPS FOR MAKING CAJUN TURKEY
- If you don’t want to make a whole turkey, you can make this recipe with a whole chicken by cutting the seasonings in half. Or just go for cajun boneless turkey breast.
- Make sure the innermost part of the turkey thigh is at 165 degrees F. This is how you know your bird has come to a food safe temperature and is properly cooked through.
- Make a cajun turkey brine by adding these spices to my Turkey Brine recipe. It basically guarantees that your turkey will come out tender and juicy.
- You’re going to have some cajun turkey lunch meat the next day. This goes PERFECTLY with my Moist Maker Sandwich recipe.
- Try not to open the oven unless you’re basting the turkey. The temperature drops each time, which can make your cooking time longer.
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 turkey 16-18 pounds, patted dry
- 8 cups chicken stock
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, remove the innards from the turkey and pat dry with paper towels.
- Add the seasonings to a small food processor and pulse until its a fine dust then mix with butter to make a paste.
- With the back of a large spoon pull the skin away from the turkey gently being careful not to tear it and slowly add chunks of the butter under the skin then pat it down a bit flatter.
- Add 2 cups of the chicken stock to the bottom of the pan. Cover with pan with foil. Set a timer to go off every 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, baste the turkey with the stock from the bottom of the pan (add 2 more cups any time it gets low)
- After 2 hours, remove the foil and keep basting every half hour for an additional 2 hours.Rest for 20 minutes and serve. Test that the thickest part of the thigh is cooked to 165 degrees for food safety reasons.
Used this recipe on smoker and the turkey was moist and juicy. Melted down some butter with extra Cajun seasoning to baste about every 45 minutes.
Great recipe! I did dry brine overnight prior to using this recipe, and it was a hit!
Planning to use this recipe but using an electric roaster. What is the suggested cook time?
https://dinnerthendessert.com/roast-turkey-in-electric-roaster/?swcfpc=1 I would use this recipe for the cook times.
Hi! I wanted to know can I use the rub to marinate the turkey overnight? And if I can, do I need to marinate when it is completely thawed?
Hi! I made this recipe for Thanksgiving 2020 and it is amazing!! My first turkey I’ve ever made and it turned out so well! I used the paste and didn’t brine the turkey last year (still so flavorful, tender, and delicious!) but I wanted to know if you can brine and do the paste? Or is that too much? Thank you so much for your help!
Hi there – I’m going to make this for Christmas. We opted for a turkey breast since our oven is small – what would you recommend for the seasoning amount – should I half it? Also, I’m assuming I would just put the seasoning and butter mixture on the outside of the breast instead of under the skin? Thank you so much for your help!
Depending on the size of the breast, you may need to reduce it to 1/4 – 1/3 of the seasoning. You can still put it under the skin. I have a great recipe for roasted turkey breast you can use as a reference. Here’s the direct link:
I didn’t use the brine will it still ok. I just notice this recipe.
Brines are great but not necessary. This turkey should be a delicious option for you! Happy Thanksgiving!
If I’m using Better than Bouillon chicken base instead of salt free broth, should I still add salt? The Chicken base seems to have a lot of sodium.
I don’t use salt-free broth but if you have a sensitivity to salt I would say use 1/2 the listed amount. The salt does help with drawing moisture from the turkey skin so I don’t think I’d eliminate it completely unless it is a personal preference/dietary restriction. Happy Thanksgiving!
What step do I apply the butter and spice paste
In step 3. Happy Thanksgiving!
Yummmy and delicious! It was so moist. Looking forward to turkey sandwiches tomorrow. Definitely would recommend this recipe. I followed it exactly as instructed including basting it every 30 minutes. Basting is the secret.
The leftover sandwiches are the best!! Glad you enjoyed the recipe, Denise.
For the brine, do I use the herbs and oranges as called for in your brine recipe as well as the cajun spices or just the cajun spices with the broth/salt?
You’ll want to substitute the herbs and spices in the original with the cajun spices in this recipe. Enjoy!
So to brine the Cajun Turkey, do I just do the peppercorn, salt, broth and Cajun spices ONLY?
Yes, add those to the vegetable broth and brine. Enjoy!
I made this along with my daughter’s assistance. Thought it was a nice recipe for learning to roast turkey, and it totally was. I really loved the process and the way that the turkey came out. Very moist and flavorful. I even think that my family would have handled more spice. So the next time I may add a few more shakes of cayenne!!!
So glad you all enjoyed it!
This has to be the best roast turkey recipe ever. The flavor was out of this world and I couldn’t believe how moist it was. I will be keeping this recipe for next Thanksgiving for sure. Thank you Sabrina
You’re so welcome, Terence.
Hi, it looks wonderful. Making a roulade with a half breast. Should I use half the butter and spice mix? Thank you
For a smaller amount of turkey, I would reduce the butter and spice mix unless you really like a lot of cajun flavor 🙂
Can I put the butter spice mix on the outside of the bird too? It was a lot of butter and could only really fit it in the breast area
This turkey looks too gorgeous to eat! I don’t know if I’d have the heart to actually cut into it! But with all that seasoning, I think I’d have to!
Go for it!
This turkey is PERFECTION!!
YUM!!! I love this delicious version!!!
So glad you loved it, Erin!!
Looks so perfect! What a great way to celebrate the holidays!
This turkey has a perfect texture! I know that everyone will love it! Yum!
I have successfully made 3 of your slow cooker recipes( love the S/cooker.) My questions is tips on doing Cajun chicken in a S/cooker? thanks for your superb recipes keep them coming.
I’m so glad you’re loving the recipes. 🙂 You can make this in the slow cooker if you have a big enough slow cooker for a whole turkey, at least 6 quarts or larger for a 9-10 pound bird. If you have a bigger bird, you’ll need a bigger slow cooker. Enjoy!!
Making this Turkey recipe today for Thanksgiving. Is the leftover broth already a gravy just like that or do I need to mix it with like an instant gravy pouch mix?
You’ll need to heat it over the stovetop and whisk in flour and then add a liquid, such as stock, cream, water or milk and cook until it thickens.
I have for the past 20yrs wanted a Cajun Turkey n few yrs ago our local Barbecue Restaurant started making them this past Thanksgiving I excitedly placed my order n waited with mouth watering anticipation for the day I picked up my Cajun Turkey i got home n couldn’t wait to get a tiny taste but to my disappointment I guess they forgot to season the Turkey bc there was only a tiny lil spec of Cajun Seasoning on the Turkey n the rest was so dry n flavorless so this Xmas I’m going to try make my own Cajun Turkey despite never cooking a turkey b4!!!! Long story short my question is I’m planning on Brining the Turkey so do I follow the Brine Recipe at same time rub the Turkey down w the Cajun Recipe or do I Brine 1st after brining done n b4 cooking do I pat dry n than add the Cajun Rub than put in oven to cook? I hope my question makes sense n I know it’s probably not a very smart question however this is my 1st Turkey n I want this Cajun Turkey to b mouth watering good!!!!!!
i will definately try the spatchcork recipe it looks divine ,thanks for the recipes
You’re welcome, Palesa!
Hi, instead of basting, can I use the cooking bags?
I don’t see why not!
The perfect turkey!! Looks amazing!!
It’s so good, Katerina! Enjoy!
Love this cajun twist. Looks so tasty!!