Cajun Baked Turkey Breast and Dressing (Stuffing)
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.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time4 hrs
Total Time4 hrs 15 mins
Servings: 8 -12
- 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)
Dressing / Stuffing (Note 2)
- 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)
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).