posted November 04, 2021
Cajun Smoke-Fried Turkey
This Cajun smoke-fried turkey is bold, spicy, bright, and exciting. A far cry from traditional turkey flavors like sage and thyme, the homemade Cajun turkey injection makes this turkey a shining star on your holiday table.
Smoked Then Fried Cajun Turkey
A Cajun smoked turkey breast was actually the first thing my husband and I ever smoked. With the help of my father-in-law, my old, free gas grill, and a pie tin full of wood chips, I tasted my first bite of home-smoked meat. I was hooked!
Years later, I wanted to recreate some of that flavor and nostalgia in a turkey that had all the flavor of a Cajun smoked turkey, combined with the crispy skin of a fried turkey. And thus, smoke-fried turkey was born!
With flavors like Worcestershire sauce, lemon, and spicy creole seasoning infused into the injection butter, your breasts, thighs, and legs will be juicy and delicious. Add in the smoke, then deep fry for your cooking process and you’ve got a turkey filled with flavor and amazing texture from the inside out.
One quick tip for this recipe: skip the seasoning. This turkey is seasoned from the inside out, so I don’t think it needs an additional dry rub. Additionally, the rub will mostly come off in the fryer. If you want to add some additional flavor, sprinkle the turkey with some of the creole seasoning used in the injection after slicing. That little dusting of color looks and tastes great on the finished bird.
Cajun Turkey Brine
To brine or not to brine? This is a very serious question when cooking turkey. For this particular turkey recipe, I don’t believe an additional brine is necessary.
However, I do recommend purchasing a pre-brined turkey injected with a saline solution. Most commercial turkeys you will find at the grocery store come pre-brined and I think this is a great way to go. We are adding a ton of flavor in the injection, so I don’t want to muddy those flavor notes with the extra pizzazz from a brine like my Apple Spiced Turkey Brine.
How to Safely Deep Fry a Turkey
Deep frying anything can be risky, but a whole turkey is always a challenge. Many, many fires break out each year with people trying unsuccessfully to fry their holiday turkeys. Here are a few safety tips to keep your family dinner from being ruined and the fire department from being called.
- Use a dedicated turkey fryer. Most can be picked up for around $100. The pots are exceptionally deep (usually 28-30 Liters) and can hold both the turkey and the oil without too much risk of spillover.
- Make sure your propane has a regulator and an automatic shut-off valve. A lot of the turkey fryer kits you can purchase have this regulator built into the line. This safety feature can prevent an explosion.
- Don’t overfill your turkey pot with oil. Refer to step 1 in the recipe card below for detailed instructions on how to accurately gauge how much oil you will need to successfully cover and fry your turkey.
- Dry your turkey before frying. Removing moisture from the turkey before frying is a crucial step to preventing oil from splashing and bubbling. I use paper towels inside and outside the cavity to pat dry.
- Keep your fryer set up far away from any house, roof, deck, or yard structures. If your oil does catch, it can spread very far, very quickly. Keep the fryer as far away as possible from anything that could possibly ignite.
- Wear an apron and good shoes. Hot oil can spit several feet, even from a deep fryer.
More Smoked Turkey Recipes
If deep-frying is a bit out of your comfort zone, I highly recommend trying out these other smoked turkey recipes. They’ll all turn out delicious, juicy, and bursting with flavor.
Smoked then Fried Cajun Turkey Recipe
Whether you’re cooking up this turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, or you’re just looking for something amazing for a special occasion, this turkey is ready to deliver! Make sure to drop me a note in the comments section below letting me know how your turkey turned out!
Smoke-Fried Cajun Turkey
- 1 18-20 pound turkey (neck and giblets removed)
- peanut, canola, or soybean oil (for frying)
Cajun Turkey Injection
- 8 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 Tablespoons Creole seasoning
- 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 Tablespoon onion powder
- 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 lemon (juiced)
- 2 teaspoons Tabasco Sauce
- ½ cup chicken stock
- Prep the turkey. Ensure your turkey is completely defrosted, and pat thoroughly dry. Place the turkey in a large bag and set the bag in your frying pot. Fill the pot with water to where it just covers the turkey. Remove the turkey from the bag and place it on a flat roasting rack above a cookie sheet to catch any drippings. Mark the fill line in your pot where the water hits. This line is your fill line for the oil when it is time to fry. Dump the water out of the pot and dry completely.
- Make the Cajun turkey injection. Combine all the ingredients for the Cajun turkey injection in a small saucepan. Simmer together over medium heat for 5 minutes to soften all of the herbs and spices. Pour the butter mixture into a narrow vessel (like a cup or liquid measuring cup) with the 1/2 cup chicken stock and stir to combine.
- Inject the turkey. Using a meat injector, fill the syringe with the blended injection liquid. Insert the needle into the center of the turkey breast and depress the syringe about ⅓ of the way. Pull the syringe back slightly, but not completely out of the breast, and reinsert it at a different angle. Depress the syringe another ⅓ of the way. Pull back slightly (again, not all the way out), and reinsert at yet another angle and depress the syringe entirely. Repeat on the other breast, in each thigh, and in each leg. The goal is to distribute the injection as evenly as possible while creating as few holes in the skin as possible.
- Marinate the turkey. Place the injected turkey, uncovered, in the refrigerator and leave for at least 1 hour, or up to 24 hours.
- Smoke the turkey. Preheat your smoker to 225 degrees F with your favorite hardwood. I like a strong wood flavor with this Turkey, as the smoke time is short and some smoke flavor is lost in the fryer. Oak, hickory, even mesquite would be a good option here if you want to taste the smoke. Pat the turkey dry on the exterior once again (it should be pretty dry) and Place directly on the smoker grates. Close the lid and smoke for 3 hours.
- Prepare the fryer. Fill your fryer pot with oil to the fill line you marked in step 1. Preheat the oil to 350 degrees F. Ensure your fryer is set up on a flat surface, far away from your house or any exterior structures.
- Fry the turkey. After the turkey has been smoking for 3 hours, pat dry once again, including the interior cavity of the bird (you don't want any excess moisture on the turkey when it hits the hot oil). Slowly and carefully lower the turkey into the oil. The oil will bubble up and spit, but should not boil over. Fry the turkey for about 2 minutes per pound. An 18-20 pound bird will take approximately 30-40 minutes. Test the doneness of your turkey with an internal thermometer. You want your breasts to hit 155 degrees F and your thighs should be closer to 165-170 degrees F.
- Rest the turkey. Carefully transfer your fried turkey to a flat baking rack over a cookie sheet. Allow the turkey to rest and the excess oil to drip away from the bird for the next 30 minutes. The carry-over heat will bring the turkey up to a finished temperature of 165 degrees F.
- Carve and enjoy! After the turkey has rested, carve the meat onto a serving platter and dig in.
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