Cajun Roasted Turkey

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 Roast 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

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.

Roasted Cajun Turkey

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Cajun Roasted Turkey

Cajun Roasted Turkey made with paprika, cayenne pepper, and other cajun spices is the PERFECT twist on a traditional roast turkey this Thanksgiving!
Yield 25 servings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 15 minutes
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder

Ingredients
 

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

Note: click on times in the instructions to start a kitchen timer while cooking.

Nutrition

Calories: 239kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 96mg | Sodium: 319mg | Potassium: 316mg | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 345IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 16mg | Iron: 1.1mg
Keyword: cajun roasted turkey

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the upcoming cookbook: Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients which is being published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

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Comments

  1. 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!

  2. 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.

    1. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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?

  5. 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!!!

  6. 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

    1. For a smaller amount of turkey, I would reduce the butter and spice mix unless you really like a lot of cajun flavor 🙂

  7. 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

  8. 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!

  9. Hi Sabrina,
    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.

    Philip

    1. 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!!

    2. 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?

      1. 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.

    3. 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!!!!!!