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Puerto Rican Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe (Pavochón)

roasted puerto rican thanksgiving turkey on a large platter
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The holiday season is upon us and it’s time to start thinking about what you are going to make for Thanksgiving dinner. I know that when the holidays roll around, most people like to play it safe with a traditional turkey dinner but this year why not try something different? That’s where Pavochón comes in! This extremely easy Puerto Rican Thanksgiving Turkey recipe will impress your guests and leave them asking for more.

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What is Pavochon?

Pavochón (aka Puerto Rican Thanksgiving Turkey) is a popular Puerto Rican dish served often on Thanksgiving but also during Christmas and the rest of the holiday season. Pavochón combines Puerto Rican cuisine with a traditional all-American Thanksgiving dish. 

The dish consists of seasoning the turkey (pavo) like a spit-roasted pig (lechón). It’s often stuffed with mofongo, or the mofongo stuffing is served on the side. And here’s the recipe for the gravy that we recommend to serve with this recipe.

How Big of a Turkey Do I Need to Make Pavochon?

You should allow 1 1/2 pounds of uncooked turkey for each guest that will be eating Turkey. If you want to have leftovers to make additional meals then you will need to keep that in mind when choosing the right size turkey.

How to Get a Turkey Ready For Pavochon Seasoning

In order to get a turkey ready for Pavochon seasoning or any style of seasoning you first want to make sure that the turkey is fully defrosted and then pat it completely dry with paper towels so the seasoning will stick to the meat.

How Long Does it Take to Defrost a Turkey?

It will probably shock you how long it actually takes to defrost a turkey.

You should allow 24 hours in the refrigerator for every 4 to 5 pounds that your turkey weighs. The fridge is the recommended method.

What is Pavochón seasoning made of?

Pavochon seasoning is made up of some of the most common spices that you will see used in traditional Puerta Rican cuisine.

The Pavochon seasoning takes after the traditional Pernil seasoning. Oregano, Garlic, Sazón, and Adobo are incredible spices that really add a ton of flavor to this Puerto Rican Thanksgiving Turkey recipe.

How to Make a Pavochon Brine

One of the secrets to making the best Pavochon is in the brine. A brine is just a bit of a sauce or seasoning liquid that your protein sits in for a few hours or days to marinade. This really helps to infuse incredible flavor into the meat.

How to Season a Puerto Rican Thanksgiving Turkey

To season your turkey with the Pavochon seasoning, you will want to take your turkey that has been patted dry, and while lifting the skin on the turkey, put a handful of Pavochon seasoning underneath the skin.

Use your hands to rub the seasoning around under the skin until the whole area is thoroughly seasoned. Repeat this process all over the bird wherever you can get the seasoning under the skin.

Then pour the remainder of the seasoning marinade over the top of the turkey and rub it into the surface of the skin.

Once you have the turkey seasoned, then place your turkey into a pan or bowl that will fit into your fridge. Let the turkey brine until you are ready to cook it.

How Long Should a Turkey Be Seasoned Before Cooking?

A turkey can be brined for as little as a few hours or as long as 1-2 days before cooking as this will help to infuse the flavor that you are looking for in your Pavochon recipe. Just place the seasoned turkey into the fridge, uncovered, for a few hours or as long as two days. If you leave the bird uncovered during this time, the skin will crisp up easier in the oven. 

Remember to allow the turkey to come up to room temperature before cooking.

fully cooked puerto rican thanksgiving turkey set on a roasting rack in a large roasting pan

Puerto Rican Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe (Pavochón)

Learn how to make Pavochon with this easy Puerto Rican Thanksgiving Turkey recipe. It’s the ultimate taste of a Puerto Rican Thanksgiving with all of the traditional herbs and spices to make you feel right at home this holiday season.

Ingredients to Make Pavochón

  • 10-16 pounds whole turkey, thawed, neck & giblets removed
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • 25 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp pepper
  • 2 Tbsp adobo seasoning
  • 2 Tbsp sazón seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp lemon juice

How to Make Puerto Rican Thanksgiving Turkey

  1. Rise and clean turkey with 1/2 cup of vinegar diluted in 1 liter of water. Discard the used water. Pat dry.
  2. In a medium bowl, add the minced garlic, salt, pepper, adobo seasoning, sazón seasoning, oregano, 2 tbsp olive oil, and lemon juice. Stir until combined.
  3. Use your fingers and a spatula to separate the skin from the breast, legs, and thighs of the turkey. Rub the seasoning mix liberally under the skin and in the cavity of the turkey.
  4. Rub the outer skin of the turkey with the remaining olive oil and sprinkle extra adobo seasoning, pepper, and sazon seasoning.
  5. Tuck the wings back behind the bird and set the turkey breast side up on a roasting rack inside a large roasting pan.
  6. Cover with aluminum foil. Refrigerate overnight.
  7. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 325ºF and remove the aluminum foil. Roast the turkey until fully cooked through (about 15 minutes per pound), or until internal temperature (meat thermometer inserted in the middle of thigh and breast) reaches about 165ºF. 
  8. Halfway through, check the turkey and if the skin becomes golden brown, cover the top of the turkey with aluminum foil to protect the turkey breast from overcooking.
  9. Remove from oven. Let rest for 15-20 minutes before serving. Carve the turkey and pair it with your choice of sides and sauce or gravy. ENJOY!

Approximate Roasting Times

Turkey Weight / Hours

  • to 8 lbs / 2.5 to 3 hrs
  • to 12 lbs / 3 to 4 hrs
  • to 16 lbs / 4 to 5 hrs
  • to 20 lbs / 5 to 5.5 hrs
  • to 24 lbs / 5.5 to 6 hrs

The general idea is to roast your turkey for 15 minutes per pound no matter how big the turkey actually is.

How to Know When your Thanksgiving Turkey is Fully Cooked

You should use an instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature of the turkey to make sure that it has reached 165 F in the breast.

What to serve with traditional Pavochon?

For a traditional Puerto Rican Thanksgiving meal you can serve your Pavochon with:

  • Arroz con Gandules
  • Ensalada Ruso
  • Yuca
  • Mashed Potatoes with gravy
  • Maduros
  • Twice Fried Plantains
  • Pasteles

No matter whether or not you are having a classic American Thanksgiving or going for a traditional Puerto Rican Thanksgiving with Pavochon, a delicious and well-seasoned turkey is at the center of the table.

We hope you enjoy this delicious and easy Puerto Rican Thanksgiving Turkey recipe. It will bring the taste of Puerto Rico to your home for the holidays. Be sure to share it with others so they can also experience these delicious flavors!

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If you make this Pavochón Puerto Rican Thanksgiving Turkey recipe, please drop a comment below! I’d LOVE to know what you think! Or take a picture and share it on Instagram by tagging @dwellbymichelle so I can repost it on my stories!

roasted puerto rican thanksgiving turkey on a large platter

Puerto Rican Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe (Pavochon)

DWELL by Michelle
Learn how to make Pavochon with this easy Puerto Rican Thanksgiving Turkey recipe. It's the ultimate taste of a Puerto Rican Thanksgiving with all of the traditional herbs and spices to make you feel right at home this holiday season.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs
Marinating Time 12 hrs
Total Time 15 hrs 15 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 10 servings
Calories 324 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 10-16 pounds whole turkey , thawed, neck & giblets removed
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • 25 garlic cloves , minced
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp adobo seasoning
  • 2 tbsp sazón seasoning
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice

Instructions
 

  • Rise and clean turkey with 1/2 cup of vinegar diluted in 1 liter of water. Discard the used water. Pat dry.
  • In a medium bowl, add the minced garlic, salt, pepper, adobo seasoning, sazón seasoning, oregano, 2 tbsp olive oil, and lemon juice. Stir until combined.
  • Use your fingers and a spatula to separate the skin from the breast, legs, and thighs of the turkey. Rub the seasoning mix liberally under the skin and in the cavity of the turkey.
  • Rub the outer skin of the turkey with the remaining olive oil and sprinkle extra adobo seasoning, pepper, and sazón seasoning.
  • Tuck the wings back behind the bird and set the turkey breast side up on a roasting rack inside a large roasting pan.
  • Cover with aluminum foil. Refrigerate overnight.
  • When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 325ºF and remove the aluminum foil. Roast the turkey until fully cooked through (about 15 minutes per pound), or until internal temperature (meat thermometer inserted in the middle of thigh and breast) reaches about 165ºF. 
  • Halfway through, check the turkey and if the skin becomes golden brown, cover the top of the turkey with aluminum foil to protect the turkey breast from overcooking.
  • Remove from oven. Let rest for 15-20 minutes before serving. Carve the turkey and pair it with your choice of sides and sauce or gravy. ENJOY!
Keyword authentic recipes, autumn recipes, dairy-free, dairy-free recipes, dinner, dinner ideas, easy dinner, easy dinner recipes, easy fall recipes, easy lunch recipes, easy recipes, fall recipes, Gluten-Free, gluten-free recipes, lunch, thanksgiving recipes

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4 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Made a trial turkey last night with this recipe (using a smaller turkey). It was my first time deviating from our “normal” Thanksgiving recipe and i’m so glad I did! It was a hit with the husband and i can’t wait to make this next week for our company!