Our cajun turkey recipe is packed with the bold flavor of cajun spices; it’s tender, juicy, and a must have on the table during the holiday season.
This flavorful turkey is going to make a ton of juice, so be sure to use those drippings to make a spicy version of our gluten free turkey gravy. If you grew up with a family like mine, you can alternately opt for giblet gravy.
Although a little less popular at the holiday table, the flavors of this turkey pair well with dirty rice. The creole seasoning that is used is a little similar, but not overpowering when served together. But let’s not skip the sweet potato souffle and honey butter skillet corn, these are always requested around here!
- yellow onion and lemon – dice into large chunks and stuff inside the cavity of the turkey for flavor while cooking
- butter – melted or softened will work, if you prefer, you can coat your turkey with a vegetable oil. I don’t usually use olive oil because it’s not meant for long hours of cook time.
- Spices: smoked paprika, garlic salt, black and white pepper, onion powder, dried thyme and oregano, cayenne pepper.
- Turkey – be sure it’s thawed first. Also, see our notes for brining.
For a full list of ingredients and their measurements, 📋 please view my printable recipe card at the bottom of the post.
Substitutions and Variations
- Store bought seasoning – if you don’t want to make your own cajun seasoning, use a store blend.
- Turkey brine – I recommend using this citrus turkey brine. It adds more flavor and keeps it juicy, pairing well with all of the spice.
- Fresh herbs – if desired add a few sprigs of thyme or oregano to the cavity with the lemon and onions.
- Smoked – use this same cajun rub and make this easy smoked turkey recipe instead.
PREP: Slice the onion and lemon into wedges and preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Pat turkey dry with paper towels.
Step 1: Rub the softened butter over the whole turkey and inside of the cavities.
Step 2: Combine all of the herbs and spices into a small bowl. Sprinkle evenly to cover the turkey, then rub into the skin.
Step 3: Add the lemons and onions to the main cavity and tie the legs together.
Step 4: Place turkey in a large roasting pan (breast side up), and bake for about 3 hours. Use a meat thermometer to ensure the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
Pro Tip: During the final hour or two, baste the turkey every 15-30 minutes to keep the skin moist. Allow it to continue roasting after the final basting for 10 more minutes and the flavorful skin will crisp up.
SLICE: Allow the juicy turkey to rest for a few minutes – 15 minutes or so is good, then use a sharp knife to carve.
Cajun Turkey Recipe Tips
- The cooking time may vary based on the size of your turkey. I have a roasting chart below.
- When taking the temperature, insert the meat thermometer into the thickest part of the breast for the most accurate reading.
- Getting the turkey dry and bringing it to room temperature helps to crisp up the skin while baking.
- We had a 14 pound turkey and this recipe worked great. You may need to double ingredients for larger birds.
- If you don’t have a fresh turkey, make sure you sit out the frozen turkey with enough time to spare. The thawing process takes longer the bigger the turkey is.
Did you know that turkeys can run up to 25 miles per hour? – The Gazette
Keep leftover turkey in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or freeze for 2 months.
Wet brining involves submerging the turkey in a liquid solution, while dry brining requires rubbing the turkey with a salt mixture directly. The wet brining also takes longer. While wet brining adds liquid to the turkey, making it juicier, dry turkey brining initially draws out moisture but can lead to a more flavorful and tender result.
If you tried this Cajun Butter Recipe or any other recipe on my website, please please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how you liked it in the 📝 comments below.
Cajun Turkey Recipe
- 1 yellow onion cut into large chunks
- 1 lemon cut into wedges
- ½ cup butter softened or melted
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon garlic salt
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 12-14 lb. turkey thawed *see note about brining
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Slice onion and lemon into wedges.
- Rub softened butter all over the outside of the turkey and inside the cavities.
- In a small bowl, combine all herbs and spices. Sprinkle evenly over the exterior and interior of the turkey, rubbing into the skin.
- Stuff the onions and lemons inside the main cavity of the turkey and tie legs together. (Tying the legs together helps keep the turkey more balanced and it also helps to prevent the legs from drying out.)
- Roast the turkey for about 3 hours, or until a thermometer inserted into the breast alongside the leg registers 165°F.