Cajun Grilled Turkey Breast

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Grilled Turkey Breast is tender and full of flavor. It’s also a great alternative to a larger whole turkey dinner. Adding a spicy and savory Cajun seasoning gives it that extra kick. If you’re cooking for a smaller crowd and looking for an alternative to a larger turkey roast, this Grilled Turkey Recipe is calling your name.

Sliced and grilled cajun spiced turkey breast with gravy and sides.

Recipe Highlights

  • This grilled turkey recipe does not need a brine (although you can).
  • Two-Zone grilling allows for crispy skin and the perfect finishing temperature.
  • The same method can apply to a whole turkey, or turkey legs and thighs, although we recommend spatchcocking a whole bird when grilling.

Sometimes we just don’t have large crowds for a full Smoked Turkey, or perhaps we’re craving a Thanksgiving Holiday meal experience without so much work. A Turkey Breast is a great way to get those traditional flavors, but in much smaller portions that a full turkey (and less prep work too!).

In this Grilled Turkey Breast recipe we are keeping things very simple by seasoning the breast with our Cajun Seasoning and adding some butter under the skin for additional flavor and moisture.

Just because you ain’t smoking a 15 pound bird doesn’t mean you won’t get those same big flavors! This turkey breast is juicy, tender, and super flavorful.

Purchasing Turkey Breast

You will find two types of turkey breast:

  • Bone-in will most commonly have both breasts attached to the bone. This is great if you have a smaller grilling space, and the bone will help keep the breasts attached for an even cooking experience.
  • Boneless will typically come in one or two separate breasts, depending on the supplier. For ease, we often opt for boneless, as it will still have the skin on and it grills quickly. Boneless is also easier to slice.

Will the bone add more flavor? No, a turkey breast bone has little in it that would add “flavor”, so opt for a boneless making it easier for slicing when done. Either style will work for this recipe (just factor in some extra cooking time if there’s a bone attached). The white meat when cooked to the right temperature will be juicy and tender.

Raw boneless Turkey Breast before being separated.
Separate the two breasts by slicing right down the skin between them.

Preparing for Grilled Turkey Breast

Because we are cooking at a higher heat, brining is an option and will add some additional salt flavor and moisture. If you choose to brine, brine for at least 8 hours, and no more than 36, otherwise it will get a less desirable texture.

In this recipe we do not brine it, instead we use a savory Cajun seasoning and butter to add flavor and moisture. You can season the day before to achieve a dry brine, or you can season just before you put on the grill. We prefer the night before for a touch of added flavor and time for the salt to work into the meat. But if you forgot to season the day before, just do it prior to grilling. Easy peasy!

  1. Remove any webbing or netting from the turkey breast and discard.
  2. Pat the breast down dry with paper towels.
  3. If purchasing two breasts, cut the skin and separate the two breasts.
  4. Using your fingers, gently separate the skin from the meat in a pocket. You won’t completely separate the skin. Just separate enough so you can pack butter into the pocket.
Using fingers to loosen and separate a pocket between skin and meat
Use fingers to make a pocket for butter to sit in.

This will prepare the breast for the cajun seasoning.

Cajun Seasoning

Our Cajun seasoning is a mixture of black pepper, salt, and herbs and spices to bring a savory and mild heat to the turkey. There is no need for olive oil since using butter.

  1. Start by adding 1 teaspoon of our Cajun Seasoning with two tablespoons of room temperature butter in a small bowl.
  2. Take the seasoned butter and stuff it in the two breasts in the pocket you made in between the skin and the meat.
  3. Season the outside of the breasts with the same rub. Plan 2 tablespoons of dry rub for each grilled turkey breast.
  4. If doing this the day before, loosely cover the breasts with foil and store in the refrigerator.
Seasoned meat on a platter prior to grilling.

How to Grill Turkey Breast

  1. Prepare your grill for two zone cooking (or direct/indirect) and targeting 350 degrees Fahrenheit over direct heat. We are using the Flamezone feature of our MAK Two-Star General for the pellet grill equivalent.
  2. Place the turkey breast skin side down on the grill grate over direct heat for about 6 – 8 minutes, or long enough to get some browning color from the heat.
  3. Flip the turkey and continue grilling over direct heat for 4 additional minutes to slightly brown the bottom of the breast.Grilled Turkey breast at 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Move the grilled turkey breast to the indirect side of the grill until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit using an instant read thermometer, like the Thermoworks MK4 Thermapen.
  5. Transfer turkey to a cutting board and let it rest for 10 minutes tented with aluminum foil, and then slice and serve with your favorite sides.
Grilled Turkey Breast with Cajun Seasoning.

Gas Grill – Follow the recipe steps and light one burner targeting medium heat for the direct heat and finish the cooking process over the indirect side. This would be roughly 400 degrees as measured by the dome thermometer.

Chef’s Tip

While the USDA recommends cooking turkey to 165 degrees Fahrenheit in the breast, that doesn’t take into consideration carry over cooking time. If you pull the turkey at 165 it will rest and continue cooking to 170 – 175 degrees which will dry it out.

Pull the grilled turkey breast when it reaches 158 – 160 degrees F. Then while it rests it will continue to cook. You can see more details on the process in our article on the perfect chicken temperature. Turkey follows the same principles.


Other Holiday Small Roast Ideas

Thanksgiving Side Dish Recipes

Wine Pairing For Thanksgiving Turkey

If you’re looking for wine to pair with your grilled turkey breast, or full Thanksgiving Dinner, check out our Guide to Pairing Wine with Thanksgiving (or Holiday Dinner).

About Vindulge

Mary (a certified sommelier and recipe developer) and Sean (backyard pitmaster) are co-authors of the critically acclaimed cookbook, Fire + Wine, and have been creating content for the IACP nominated website Vindulge since 2009. They live in Oregon on a farm just outside Portland.

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Now on 2nd edition

Fire + Wine Cookbook

“This book is a one-stop guide for anyone truly interested in elevating their BBQ experience into a culinary work of art.”
5 out of 5 Stars
San Francisco Book Review

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Grilled Turkey Breast with Cajun Seasoning.
5 from 1 vote

Cajun Grilled Turkey Breast Recipe

Grilled Cajun Turkey Breast with a savory and spicy finish. Add butter just under the skin for more flavor and moisture. A great Thanksgiving recipe for a small crowd or as alternative to a large turkey.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Resting Time: 10 minutes
Total: 1 hour
Servings: 6 people



  • Prepare grill for direct/indirect (or two-zone cooking). Target 350 degrees Fahrenheit in the cooking chamber.
  • Place 1 teaspoon of Cajun seasoning in the butter and mix. Using your fingers, slowly separate the skin from the meat on each breast to make a pocket. Add the butter into the pocket and press down to make smooth. Finish seasoning the rest of the breast with the 1/4 cup of Cajun rub.
  • Place the seasoned turkey breast over the direct heat skin side down. Grill 6 – 8 minutes or until the skin shows a little browning. Flip and grill the other side of the turkey for 4 – 6 minutes. Once a little browning occurs, move to indirect side of heat.
  • Continue grilling turkey breast over indirect heat until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the breast reads between 160 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit using an instant read thermometer. This should take between 30 – 45 minutes depending on the size of the breast.
  • Remove the breast from the grill, and let rest for 10 minutes. Slice and serve with your favorite sides.


Calories: 70kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 6mg | Potassium: 154mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 3500IU | Calcium: 15mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Resting Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Course: Entree, Holiday, Thanksgiving
Cuisine: American, barbecue, Grilled/Smoked Meat, Thanksgiving
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 70
Keyword: cajun seasoning, grilled turkey breast, how to grill turkey breast
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About Mary

I'm Mary, a wine/food/travel writer, Certified Sommelier, mom of twins, former vegetarian turned BBQ fanatic, runner, founder of Vindulge, and author of Fire + Wine cookbook. Thanks for stopping by!

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