Pecan Smoked Cajun Turkey

This Smoked Cajun Turkey has been one of my go-to Thanksgiving Turkey recipes for years. It's a solid. I tried different woods and many variations of this and you will not be disappointed.


1/4 cup chile powder
1/2 cup smoked paprika
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons chile de arbol
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
1 1/2 cups kosher salt
1/4 cup light brown sugar
4 whole cloves garlic
2 fresh bay leaves
1 large Spanish onion, quartered
One 9 to 12-pound fresh turkey (Try just the Turkey Breast if you are in a pinch)


Two days before cooking:

Combine the smoked paprika, chile powder, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, thyme, chile de arbol and cayenne in a small bowl.

Remove 1/2 of seasoning for use in the wet brine.

Dissolve the salt and sugar in 2 gallons cold water in a large (at least 16-quart) stockpot or a clean bucket.

Whisk in half of the remaining spice rub, the garlic, bay leaves and onion.

Add the turkey, cover and refrigerate or set in a very cold place (that stays somewhere between 32 to 40 degrees F) for at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours.

Day before cooking:
Rinse well under cold water and pat dry to remove the seasoning brine.

Let air-dry in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Cooking Day:

In your charcoal smoker:

Light a large chimney filled with charcoal wood chunks and allow to burn until all the charcoal is covered with a layer of fine gray ash.
Empty the coals into the grill.

Top with some of the wood chunks or chips if using. You want use soft/fruit wood. (We recommend Pecan, Apple, Cherry)

Put in the ceramic deflector plates and then the grill rack.

Close the lid to let the smoker heat up.

Brush the turkey with oil and rub the entire turkey (including the cavity) with the remaining spice rub. (You may want to consider creating a compound butter with seasoning and put between the skin and the bird.

Tie the legs together if needed or spatchcock the turkey. (Spatchcock will cut your time down)

Maintain an internal temperature of 350 degrees F. (Adjust the grill vents when needed.)

Roast the turkey for 2 hours to 2 hours and 15 minutes, until a meat thermometer inserted in the thigh reads 165 degrees F.

Remove from the grill, tent with foil and let rest for 30 minutes before carving. (To keep skin crispy, do not leave foil the turkey too long.)

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