ingredients
  • whole turkey, thawed and giblets removed 1 12-18 lbs
  • Garlic cloves, minced 24
  • adobo all-purpose seasoning 2 tbsp
  • sazon seasoning 6 tsp
  • Ground black pepper 2 tsp
  • Dried oregano 2 tsp
  • Extra virgin olive oil 3 tbsp
  • Apple cider vinegar 3 tbsp

If you're tired of making boring old roasted turkey for Thanksgiving, why not mix things up with some pavochon this year? Pavochon, or Puerto Rican Thanksgiving turkey, is a tender, juicy roasted turkey that's been marinated in classic Latin seasonings like adobo, sazon, and oregano, plus plenty of garlic. The skin is perfectly crisp on the outside, while the turkey meat is perfectly succulent and moist.

Pavochon is the perfect Thanksgiving dish to serve when you want to offer your guests something that's packed with flavor and anything but boring. Serve it with other classic Puerto Rican dishes like pastelon and arroz con gandules. It's one Thanksgiving dinner your loved ones won't forget!

What is Pavochon?

The name pavochon is a portmanteau of two Spanish words, pavo, which means turkey, and lechon, which is the word for roast suckling pig.

As the name suggests, pavochon is a turkey that has been seasoned and roasted like pernil, or Puerto Rican roast pork. No traditional Puerto Rican Thanksgiving is complete without it.

How to Make Pavochon

Making pavochon isn't too different compared to roasting an American-style Thanksgiving turkey. Start by patting the defrosted turkey dry. Grab a small bowl and combine the minced garlic, adobo, sazon, pepper, oregano, olive oil, and apple cider vinegar until the ingredients are well mixed.

Next, making sure to be very careful not to tear the skin, loosen the skin from the turkey meat. Spread the marinade between the skin and the flesh of the turkey. Once you've applied the marinade, generously season the turkey with adobo. Cover the turkey and leave it to marinate for at least 4 hours up to overnight.

When it's time to get cooking, preheat your oven to 325F. Lay the turkey breast side up in a roasting pan along with vegetables you may want to roast with it. Cook the turkey for 15 minutes per pound, occasionally basting the bird with its juices to keep it moist and flavorful. Remove from oven and let it rest at least 30 minutes before carving the turkey and serving to your guests.

Tips for Puerto Rican Thanksgiving Turkey 

If your turkey is browning too quickly, tent it with foil.

The longer you're able to leave the turkey to marinate, the more flavorful it will be. Aim for at least 4 hours, but overnight would be best.

Roast the turkey for 13 to 15 minutes per pound. For most turkey, this means 3 to 4 hours of cooking.

Once you take the turkey out of the oven, be sure to let it rest for at least half an hour up to 90 minutes before carving and serving it. Allowing the turkey to rest ensures it stays moist and juicy and won't dry out.

What to Serve with Pavochon

Serve your pavochon with classic Puerto Rican Thanksgiving dishes like chicken or beef empanadas, arroz con gandules, pastelon, slow-cooked pork shoulder, and asopao de pollo.

For dessert don't forget the coconut flan, natilla, Puerto Rican bread pudding, rice pudding, or mantecaditos.

How to Store Pavochon

Once cooled, wrap the turkey or place it in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days.

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Instructions

Pat the turkey dry.

Combine the minced garlic, adobo, Sazon, pepper, oregano, olive oil, and apple cider vinegar in a bowl.

Gently loosen the skin from the turkey, making sure not to tear it. Spread the marinade between the skin and the flesh of the turkey. Season the turkey with 2 to 3 teaspoons of adobo. Cover the turkey and leave it to marinate for at least 4 hours up to overnight.

Preheat your oven to 325F. Lay the turkey breast side up in a roasting pan. Roast the turkey 15 minutes per pound, occasionally basting the bird with its juices. Remove from oven and let the turkey rest about 30 minutes before carving and serving.

Notes

The turkey will be finished cooking when a meat thermometer reads 160F in the breast and 180F in the thighs.