This Baked Turkey Breast is a genius recipe for a spectacular Thanksgiving centrepiece packed full of big Cajun flavours. A Cajun rubbed turkey breast is baked in the same roasting pan with a delicious dressing (stuffing) which keeps the turkey moist, plus the juices from the turkey flavours the dressing!
This is EASY, the turkey breast is incredibly juicy, and the dressing has a beautiful golden crust but is juicy underneath. You don’t need gravy with this baked turkey breast!!!
This is a Cajun Thanksgiving spread from a sassy Southern Lady, Dorothy from Tennessee.
Dorothy, much like Dozer, has become a regular fixture here on RecipeTin Eats. Though unlike Dozer, who simply trades off his cuteness, Dorothy actually makes valuable contributions. From her cheerful commentary, to her generosity sharing recipes not just with me, but even with readers, and helpfulness sharing her knowledge and experience.
Dorothy is a sensational cook – full stop. We have very similar palettes – big flavours, tasty, hearty simple food. We don’t plate up with tweezers, we don’t cook with trendy ingredients, and though we both have a weakness for all things cheese and bacon, we lean towards healthy-ish meals and avoid deep frying / cooking with blocks of cream cheese.
And today, I’m so honoured to be sharing a Thanksgiving spread starring her recipes.
Turkey is not cheap here in Australia. Dear US readers – be prepared to fall off your chair: We Aussies pay $30+ per kg which is $15 / lb for turkey breast from butchers. Frozen packaged turkey is only a bit cheaper.
Thus you can be sure that any turkey recipe I share is easy and low risk with guaranteed deliciousness. Because with an investment upward of $100 for a whole turkey and even large turkey breasts, there is no way I am taking a punt.
And the minute I read Dorothy’s recipe for this Cajun Baked Turkey Breast WITH Dressing, I knew it was a winner.
Here’s why this has got to be a contender for one of the world’s best baked turkey breast recipes:
1. DOUBLE JUICY – Brining is the key to a juicy baked turkey breast, and this recipe is dry brined with a homemade Cajun rub. But this recipe goes one step further. By baking the dressing / stuffing in the SAME baking dish as the turkey breast, it helps make the turkey even juicier.
The wetness of the dressing protects the lower part of the turkey as well as generally providing moisture all around the turkey as the liquid evaporates because it is baked covered for most of the time.
When you slice this turkey, you are going to be amazed at the wetness of the flesh!
2. EXTRA TASTY DRESSING (STUFFING) – A little food trivia for you: if you stuff it in a bird, it’s called Stuffing. If you bake it separately, it’s called Dressing. I prefer Dressing because I like the golden brown bits on top.
This Dressing is made extra tasty because by baking it in the same roast pan as the turkey, it is soaking up all the turkey juices. It’s the BEST stock that you can ever imagine using for a Dressing. It’s genius!!!
3. CAJUN DELICIOUSNESS – If you love Cajun food, you’re going to go mad for this! Cajun rub and Cajun dressing. This turkey is just mind blow-ingly delicious.
4. LESS MESS – Have I emphasised enough the sheer convenience of 2 recipes made in ONE roasting pan??
5. EASY – Honestly, read the recipe. There is nothing tricky about this. This is a recipe easy enough for beginners.
6. CHEF RECIPE – Yes, this is a real deal Chef recipe! It is based on a recipe by Chef Paul Prudhomme, an American chef credited with popularising Cajun and Creole cuisine.
7. GRAVY IS PURELY OPTIONAL – Dorothy swore that the Dressing was so moist and flavour packed that gravy is not necessary. And she is absolutely dead set right – you do not need gravy!! The only reason I have provided a Cajun Gravy in the recipe notes is because I think it works well for when this turkey is made ahead (because reheated turkey breast doesn’t retain juiciness as well as fattier meats – but this turkey is still moist when reheated!).
THANKSGIVING FEAST 2016
Each year, I share a Thanksgiving and Christmas spread where I provide a menu and all the recipes for a feast. Here’s Thanksgiving 2015, Christmas 2015 and Thanksgiving / Christmas 2014, This years’ Thanksgiving Feast is Cajun themed and centres around recipes provided by Dorothy, with a couple of mine thrown into the mix. 🙂 Here’s the menu – pictured above.
- Cajun Baked Turkey Breast and Stuffing (Dorothy recipe) – The star of the feast! Recommend serving it fresh, not reheated. No need to muck around with gravy, the Dressing is juicy and packed with flavour so it essentially takes the place of gravy. However, if you do make it ahead and reheat it, a quick Cajun flavoured gravy is great to serve on the side. I’ve included the recipe in the notes;
- Corn Casserole (Dorothy recipe – coming Wednesday) – My taste testers were raving about this! It’s like corn bread, but wetter, almost like a pudding texture. It’s sweet and salty, tastes very corny and it is going to blow your mind. I could not stop eating it!
- Louisiana Strawberry Salad with Strawberry Balsamic Dressing (My recipe – coming Wednesday) – Besides how gorgeous this salad is, this is honestly one of the best salads I’ve tried all year. That sweet / tart strawberry dressing….the juicy fresh strawberries….the pops of blue cheese….it’s a magic combination;
- Julia Child’s Potato Dauphinoise – It’s Julia’s recipe. Need I say more? 😉
- Brussels Sprout Salad – This is the mildest flavoured dish in this menu and is intended to be a bit of a palette cleanser. This salad converted a brussels sprout hater – true story!
- Pumpkin Cake (Dorothy recipe – coming Friday) – Dorothy’s Moist Apple Cake is the single most talked about sweet baking recipe on my site amongst my friends. This Pumpkin Cake is right up there with it. It is going to blow your mind!
Two epic Thanksgiving recipes that just happens to be made in one roasting pan: A Cajun brined turkey breast and a Cajun dressing / stuffing.
An extra juicy baked turkey breast.
Less washing up.
No stress, easy recipe.
What else could could you possibly want for a Thanksgiving or Christmas feast centrepiece? THANKS DOROTHY!!! – Nagi xx
This is a genius recipe for a spectacular EASY Thanksgiving centrepiece packed full of big flavours! Avoiding dry baked turkey breast is notoriously difficult, but this recipe tackles that problem in 2 ways: a) Brining the turkey with a Cajun rub; 2) baking the turkey in the same pan as the Dressing (stuffing), it keeps the turkey moist. Plus the turkey juices gets soaked up by the Dressing. No gravy needed - the Dressing has a golden crust but is so juicy underneath, you don't need gravy. Don't stress if you can't get Andouille sausages - refer to the notes. See Note 4 for adjustment for different Turkey sizes. Use Scaler by putting cursor / tap on Servings then move to your turkey weight to adjust recipe scale.
- 1 tbsp kosher salt *
- 1 tsp each freshly cracked black pepper , ground oregano **
- 2 tsp each onion powder , garlic powder, smoked paprika ^
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp. each dried thyme and rosemary
- 8 lb / 4 kg pound bone-in turkey breast ("crown" or "buffe") (Note 1)
- 4 tbsp / 50g butter
- 8 cloves garlic , minced (2 tbsp)
- 2 large onions , finely chopped^^ (4 cups)
- 2 celery ribs , finely chopped (2 cups)
- 2 green peppers / capsicum , finely chopped (2 cups)
- 1 1/4 lb / 650g Andouille sausages (Note 3 for subs!)
- 1-2 tbsp Tabasco sauce , to taste
- 2 cups chicken stock / broth
- 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs (panko breadcrumbs can be substituted)
Mix together Cajun Rub.
Rub turkey breast with 3 tbsp of poultry rub (Note 1). Place on a plate and refrigerate overnight, uncovered (24 - 36 hours).
Remove turkey from fridge - leave out while making Dressing / Stuffing.
Use a food processor to ground the sausages, or finely chop them. If using raw substitute sausages (see Note 3), you can just squeeze the meat out of the casings.
Melt butter in large skillet over medium high heat. Add the garlic, half the onion, half the celery and half the capsicum. Cook for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are softened.
Transfer vegetables into a bowl. If the skillet is looking dry, add a tiny splash of oil. Add sausage and cook, breaking it up as you go.
Add cooked onion etc back into the skillet and add remaining onion, celery and capsicum. Stir.
Add tabasco (start with 1 tbsp) and chicken broth. Bring to simmer, then turn heat down to medium. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Stir in breadcrumbs then remove from heat. It should still be very moist and a bit liquidy, but not like soup.
While Dressing is simmering, preheat oven to 325F / 165C (standard) or 295F / 145C (fan forced / convection).
Place turkey breast in a roasting pan so there is 2"/5cm (or so) around it for the dressing.
Spoon dressing around the turkey.
Cover loosely with foil then bake for 3 1/4 - 3 1/2 hours, then uncover and roast for an additional 30 minutes to brown and crisp the skin, or until the internal temperature of the turkey is 75C / 165F (Note 4).
Remove from oven then loosely cover with foil. Rest for 20 minutes before serving (Note 5).
* Table salt is fine
** Ground oregano is best but can be substituted with normal dried oregano flakes
^ Smoked paprika is best but can be substituted with normal paprika
^^ Brown, white or yellow
1. Turkey breast comes in all sorts of cuts and sizes and this will work with any, though I urge you to use bone in because meat is always juicier when roasted on the bone. The bone in turkey I used is also known as a "crown" or "buffe" - both breasts kept on the turkey bone frame. Essentially it is the whole turkey with just the legs and wings removed. Sometimes in Australia, butchers do not remove the legs and you can keep these on.
This recipe can also be made with a single boneless turkey breast.
See below for adjusted cook times for different turkey weights, and quantity of Rub to use.
2. Technically, when stuffing is stuffed in a bird, it is called stuffing. When stuffing is cooked separately so you get that nice golden crust, it is called Dressing. But they are the same thing, really!
3. Andouille Sausages are a smoked cured Cajun sausage. I understand that even in America, it can be quite hard to find outside of the South. There is nowhere in Australia that I know of that sells real Andouille sausages. However, I absolutely 1000% promise you that this still has amazing punchy Cajun flavours made with an appropriate substitute - even ordinary sausages spiced up with Cajun spices.
Andouille, Kransky and Polish sausages are cured so you will need a food processor to grind them up. Otherwise, you can finely chop them. If using raw substitute sausages like I did, just squeeze the meat out of the casings.
I made this with Cajun sausages I found at Craig Cooks Prime Quality Meats (Sydney and Newcastle). Here are other substitutions:
* Smoked polish sausage - Kielbasa (best sub)
* Kranksy sausage (sold at Woolworths and Coles) (2nd best)
* Good quality pork sausage (must be chunky made with just meat, not uniform pale pink which = fillers) + Cajun spices (below)
Cajun spices - to jack up the Cajun flavour of sausages (if you can't find Andouille): 1/8 tsp each black pepper + ground oregano, 1/4 tsp each onion powder, garlic powder, 1/2 tsp each smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, dried thyme and rosemary.
4. Total cook time guide i.e. includes 30 min uncovered cook time, amount of Rub to use and extra chicken broth to use in Stuffing for different turkey breast sizes:
4 lb / 2 kg: 2 1/2 - 3 hours hours, 2 1/2 tbsp Rub, increase chicken stock by 1/4 cup
6 lb / 3 kg: 3 hrs 15 min - 3 1/2 hours, 3 tbsp Rub, increase chicken stock by 1/4 cup
8 lb / 4 kg: 3 hr 45 min - 4 hours, 3 tbsp Rub, per recipe
10 lb / 5 kg: 4 hr 15 min, 4 tbsp Rub, per recipe
This is based on the turkey I made (2 kg / 4 lb turkey) and the recipe as written from Dorothy (8lb / 4 kg). It is consistent with other turkey cook times I have found from resources online, such as this one and this one from USDA (cook time for this recipe slightly longer because it's cooked covered).
5. Turkey is cooked and safe to consume at 74C/165F (USDA recommendation). Insert thermometer so the tip is in the middle of the thickest part. I check in a few places.
However, do not stress too much about 100% perfect timing / internal meat temperatures because this turkey is brined so it is more forgiving than other roasted turkey recipes.
I've been using the same cheap meat thermometer I got from eBay almost 10 years ago. Best $5 I ever spent on a kitchen gadget!
6. TO SERVE: I always like to place the turkey on the table whole, just so it can be admired in all it's glory before carving it up. Remove each breast, whole (run a knife down the backbone down the middle), then slice each breast as thick or thin as you want. Place the slices back on top of the dressing / stuffing to serve.
MAKE AHEAD: Because turkey is a lean meat, it really is best made fresh rather than reheated. This turkey stays warm for around 45 minutes, covered in foil. However, to make ahead further than this, slice the turkey then reheat in a medium microwave for the minimum time possible, until just reheated. The turkey is not quite as moist as when it is freshly made but it is still definitely more moist than ordinary roasted turkey breast. An option is to make a quick gravy, just to add that extra moisture. Recipe below.
CAJUN GRAVY: Melt 3 tbsp / 50g butter over medium heat, then add 3 tbsp flour. Cook for 1 min, then add 3/4 cup of chicken stock/broth, mix until a paste forms. Then add another 1 1/4 cups of chicken stock, mix until paste dissolves. Then add: 1/4 tsp each black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper plus 1/2 tsp each dried thyme and paprika. Adjust salt to taste, simmer, stirring constantly, until thickened. Take it off the stove before it's the consistency you want, it will thicken when it cools slightly. For make ahead, cover then reheat gently before using.
7. Stuffing cooked inside poultry is called Stuffing, whereas stuffing cooked separately so you get the golden crunchy topping is called Dressing.
8. This is a recipe given to me by a sassy Southern Lady, Dorothy Dunton from Tennessee. A wonderful cook with a palette very similar to mine - big flavours! Every recipe she has shared to me works perfectly every time and everyone raves about - like her Apple Cake and Carrot Cake.
She tells me this recipe is adapted from “Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen” cookbook (an American Chef known for popularising Cajun food).
LIFE OF DOZER
I think Dozer thinks that standing with his paws together makes him extra irresistible? ?
MY OTHER TURKEY RECIPES
Juicy Slow Cooker Turkey Breast – For those times when you really don’t have time to brine, this is the safest and easiest way to cook turkey. Plus, the turkey juices make a delicious gravy!
Dry Brined Whole Turkey – So much more practical than wet brining, and in my personal opinion, tastier. Wet brining can inject tasteless watery juices into turkey whereas dry brining is all turkey!