Cajun Smoked Turkey

Active Time: 30 MinsTotal Time15 Hours 40 Mins
Yield: Serves 10

Add some Cajun flavor to your Thanksgiving table this year. With a mix of herbs, this dry rub recipe is an easy way to switch up the flavor of your typical turkey. Dry brining your turkey and leaving it uncovered in the refrigerator overnight allows the brine to really penetrate the skin and get into the meat. This process also dries out the skin, giving you a crisp, deep amber color colored exterior when smoked. We also used the dry brine on the interior, by sprinkling into the cavity, as well as mixing a bit with butter, then rubbing it under the skin before smoking. This ensures a full flavored, juicy, moist turkey. Turkey is safe to eat when the thickest portion reaches 165˚F, but that’s not the temperature to look for when the bird is still on the smoker. Instead, remove the turkey at 155˚F, and cover loosely with foil. The meat will continue to “cook” as it rests and will remain tender and juicy.


  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1(12- to-14-lb.) whole fresh turkey or frozen turkey, thawed
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 cups hickory chips

How to Make It

Step 1

Stir together kosher salt, light brown sugar, paprika, dried oregano, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder in a small bowl; set Cajun rub aside.

Step 2

Remove giblets and neck from turkey; reserve for another use. Pat turkey dry with paper towels. Rub 1 tablespoon Cajun rub in cavity. Reserve 1 tablespoon Cajun rub, and sprinkle outside of turkey with remaining Cajun rub; rub into skin. Chill turkey, uncovered, 10 to 24 hours.

Step 3

Stir together butter and reserved 1 tablespoon Cajun rub. Loosen skin from turkey breast without totally detaching skin; spread butter mixture under skin. Replace skin, securing with wooden picks. Tie ends of legs together with kitchen twine, tuck wing tips under, and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.

Step 4

Meanwhile, prepare charcoal fire in smoker according to manufacturer’s instructions, bringing internal temperature to 225°F to 235°F. Maintain temperature inside smoker 15 to 20 minutes. Place hickory chips on coals. Smoke turkey, breast side up, covered with smoker lid, until a thermometer inserted in thickest portion of turkey registers 155°F, 5 to 6 hours.

Step 5

Remove turkey from smoker, cover loosely with heavy-duty aluminum foil, and let stand 20 minutes before slicing.

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