This Cajun Turkey Recipe is covered with melted butter, mouth watering cajun spices and is roasted until it’s the perfect golden brown. Crispy skin yet moist and full of flavor, this recipe will show you how simple it can be to make a delicious, whole turkey.
Cajun Turkey Recipe
Does the thought of roasting a cajun style turkey sound exhausting? I promise this recipe will prove how easy it is to make a tender and juicy turkey with bold flavor.
While this turkey is perfect for making all year, it’s also perfect for making around the holidays. An herb roasted turkey is traditional on Thanksgiving for most households, but why not switch things up and try a different flavor? Thanksgiving turkey doesn’t always have to be traditional!
Pair it with Jalapeño Creamed Corn, Vegetarian Cornbread Stuffing, and a Healthy Green Bean Casserole for the perfect holiday meal.
Turkey: this recipe calls for a 14 pound whole turkey, but if you cannot find one, a 13-16 pound turkey works perfectly. I recommend using a fresh turkey for this recipe.
If you’re struggling to find a fresh turkey, you can use a frozen turkey as well. Be sure to check out the thawing instructions on the label – it can sometimes take up to 3-4 days to thaw a 14 pound turkey!
Butter: because this recipe calls for an abundance of salt, herbs & spices, I recommend picking up unsalted butter. Please be sure to lay out your butter a few hours before using it so that it is room temperature.
Spices: it may look like a long list, but I promise it’s worth it! You can find all these herbs and spices at your local grocery store, but you may have many already in your cabinet! You will need: paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, fresh oregano, kosher salt, black pepper, fresh thyme, cayenne pepper, and red pepper flakes.
How to make Roasted Cajun Turkey
The Day Before (optional)
Prep the turkey
1. First, preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Then in a small bowl, add half of the spice mixture with your butter; you will use the other half of the spices later.
2. Next, if your turkey came with the neck and giblet, you can go ahead and remove it. Place your turkey into a large roasting pan, pat dry with a few paper towels, and then loosen the skin on the breast.
To loosen the skin, you will hold the neck with one hand while gently massaging so that the connection between the skin and breast muscle breaks. Don’t let this part scare you! It’s much easier than you think.
3. Spread half of your spice butter mixture under the skin of the turkey breast, and then rub the other half over the rest of your turkey. Once the turkey is coated, sprinkle the remaining spice mixture over your whole turkey, making sure you don’t miss a spot! This gives it the perfect cajun turkey flavor.
Cook the turkey
4. Cover the turkey with aluminum foil, but make sure it’s done loosely and not touching the turkey. If you need to use two pieces of foil, that is okay! Wrap one piece on one side and another piece on the other, letting them overlap in the middle. Make sure your wait until your oven temperature is at 325 degrees for even cooking.
5. Next, carefully put your turkey in the oven for about 18-20 minutes per pound. Remember, the turkey is around 14 pounds so use both hands to put it in. Nothing is worse than dropping something when you’re about to put it in the oven!
6. After about 3-4 hours, go ahead and take the foil off and roast it until the temperature in the thigh is about 165 degrees.
I like to take the temperature in the thigh with a meat thermometer because it is the thickest part of the turkey, but make sure you’re checking the temperature of the meat and not touching the bone. The minimum internal temperature is 165 degrees, so make sure you don’t go below that!
Once it hits 165 degrees, go ahead and take the turkey out of the oven and let it rest for about 20 minutes before you start carving. This allows the muscles to absorb all of the moisture.
What is the secret to a moist turkey?
I think we can all agree that biting into a dry turkey is truly the worst, giving the traditional turkey recipe a bad rap. There are a few simple ways to keep that from happening:
Fresh not frozen: choose a fresh turkey instead of a frozen turkey. This is because the ice crystals that form when freezing the turkey can cause muscle cell damage causing the turkey to dry out once thawed.
If you can only find frozen turkeys, that is totally fine! Just make sure your turkey is completely thawed before cooking. I recommend looking on the label to see their recommendations on how to thaw your turkey – you might be surprised at how long it may take.
Butter: everyone loves butter, especially during the holidays! The key to using butter when you roast your turkey is to put it under the skin. While in the oven, the butter melts, and you’re left with a tender and delicious turkey. Feel free to mix your favorite seasonings in with the butter, as well!
What do I put on top of the turkey before cooking?
For this recipe, we are going to make a cajun spiced butter mixture and rub half of it on top of the turkey and under the turkey skin – mainly under the skin of the turkey breast. Not only does basting keep the turkey nice and moist, but it also helps with browning the top of your turkey and keeps it crispy!
Should I cover the turkey while roasting?
Yes! Covering the turkey while in the oven traps the steam, leaving you with a perfectly moist turkey! Be sure to loosely wrap the turkey in aluminum foil so that it doesn’t touch the foil while cooking.
Once your turkey has cooked about halfway, take the aluminum foil off so that your turkey can crisp, leaving you with a beautiful golden brown skin. Using an instant-read thermometer, make sure the internal temperature hits 165 degrees.
Should I brine my turkey?
While this step is 100% optional, I like to brine my turkey to keep the extra moisture and flavor in. You can add all sorts of herbs & spices to add the specific flavor you’re looking for.
The biggest pro for brining your turkey is the salt content in the brine. Turkey brine changes the texture of the muscle tissues, which lets your turkey absorb much more water – or the delicious mix of herbs & spices that you added in!
What should I do with leftover turkey?
This is the best part of roasting a turkey… all the leftovers! You can add it to Leftover Turkey Chili, Leftover Turkey Tacos, or you can even put it on leftover rolls and add some Orange Cranberry Sauce for an explosion of flavor in your mouth! You can pretty much throw the leftover turkey in anything!
Leftover turkey can also be substituted for chicken in most recipes that call for shredded chicken, like this Mexican Street Corn White Chicken Chili or this Chicken Gnocchi Soup.
The day before you plan on roasting your turkey, go ahead and brine your turkey and put it in the fridge overnight.
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- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons onion powder
- 2 tablespoons fresh oregano
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 13-16 pound turkey
- Optional Brine- see notes below if you’d like to brine your turkey for prior to
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- In small bowl mix all the spices together. Combine ½ of the spice mixture with the softened butter.
- Remove the neck and giblet package if provided. Place it in a roasting pan. Pat the turkey dry and loosen the skin on the breast.How to: Hold the skin at the neck with one hand, and with your other hand gently work your fingers in a massaging motion to break the connection between the skin and breast muscle (it is easier than you think!).
- Spread ½ of the spice butter mixture under the skin of the turkey breast then rub the remaining spice butter mixture over the whole outside of the turkey. Sprinkle the remaining spice mixture over the entire turkey to coat it well.
- Cover the turkey with aluminum foil loosely, you don’t want it to touch the turkey, this may require two large pieces of foil.Pro tip: drape the first piece of foil over the turkey and seal on the left side; drape the second piece of foil over the turkey and seal on the right side. The top of the turkey is now covered.
- Roast in the oven for about 18-20 minutes per pound, after about 2.5-4 hours uncover and continue roasting until fully cooked and you have an internal temperature of 165 degrees. The temperature should be taken in the thick part of the thigh not touching the bone.
- Once the turkey is done let it rest for about 20 minutes before carving.
- Servings vary based on size of bird (photos reflect a 14 lb. turkey, so approximately 4-6 servings were possible)
This is one mouthwatering Turkey! Looks so tender and crispy. Loving all the butter and cajun spices on it.
I definitely love the cajun spices on the turkey.Came out tender and juicy with all the cajun flavors. Way better than a plain old baked turkey.
The pumped up spice is just what turkey needs. I can’t wait to make this.
The spices and flavor are incredible. This was so easy to make and has become a weekly staple in our house. Thanks for sharing!
I love this twist on a traditional roast turkey!! The cajun spices add so much flavor!