Cajun Smoked Turkey Recipe


Each Thanksgiving I look forward to firing up the smoker and seeing what new turkey creation I can come up with to throw in there. So far I've done well with an apple-brine and honey-brine, but I took things to a whole new level this year with a Cajun-inspired smoked bird.

In lieu of a brine, a spicy butter and beer based liquid was injected all over this turkey, which was then coated in a rub and smoked for three hours.

While past birds have had a more subtle flavor, this one came out packing a punch. The injection left the meat juicy and heavily spiced throughout, giving it a heat that was always present, but not so strong that it overwhelmed the light smokiness.The skin was also fantastic—you'll want to eat it by itself.

With such great success—and easier and faster than brining—I've found a new method to keep my turkey experimentation going for years on end. Now if only Thanksgiving happened more often!

Recipe Facts

Active: 15 mins
Total: 3 hrs
Serves: 8 to 10 servings

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  • For the injection
  • 1 12-ounce bottle beer, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 6 large garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoon Creole seasoning
  • 1 tablespoons liquid crab boil
  • 1 tablespoon Louisiana-style hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 12-14lb natural turkey, rinsed and patted dry with paper towels
  • For the rub
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 fist-sized chunks of apple wood or other light smoking wood


  1. To make the injection, place beer, butter, garlic, Worcestershire, Creole seasoning, liquid crab boil, hot sauce, salt, and cayenne pepper in the jar of a blender and puree until completely smooth. Using a meat injection syringe, inject mixture into meat of turkey all over with each injection spaced about 1-inch apart.

  2. To make the rub, combine paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, oregano, cumin, salt, black pepper, and cayenne in a small bowl. Season turkey inside and out with rub. Fold wings under the body and tie the legs together, then brush entire turkey lightly with vegetable oil.

  3. Fire up smoker or grill to 325°F, adding smoking wood chunks when at temperature. When wood is ignited and producing smoke, place turkey in smoker or grill and smoke until an instant read thermometer registers 165°F in thickest part of the breast, about 2 to 3 hours.

  4. Remove the turkey from smoker and allow to rest, uncovered, for 20 to 30 minutes. Carve and serve.

Special equipment

Smoker, Meat Injection Syringe