Pavochón (Puerto Rican Roasted Turkey)

Pavochon roasted turkey recipe

​The Spruce / Anfisa Strizh

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 3 hrs 30 mins
Marinate: 2 hrs
Total: 6 hrs
Servings: 8 to 10 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
876 Calories
30g Fat
35g Carbs
113g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8 to 10
Amount per serving
Calories 876
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 30g 39%
Saturated Fat 5g 27%
Cholesterol 403mg 134%
Sodium 4169mg 181%
Total Carbohydrate 35g 13%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Protein 113g
Calcium 114mg 9%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

The word pavochón is a combination of the Spanish word for turkey, pavo, and the word lechón, which means suckling pig. Roasting a turkey for Thanksgiving in the manner of lechón has been a tradition in Puerto Rico since the island became an American commonwealth and adopted the holiday.

On the Spanish-speaking Caribbean islands, the meat of choice for the holidays is roasted suckling pork. So it only makes sense to combine the tradition of the islands with an American classic and serve turkey that is reminiscent of roasted pork for Thanksgiving. This flavorful recipe is a nice change of pace from the typical bird and will match well with both American as well as Latin Caribbean side dishes such as mofongo stuffing.


  • 1 head garlic (cloves separated and peeled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 3 tablespoons adobo
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 (14-pound) turkey

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients. Preheat the oven to 325 F.

    Ingredients for pavochon roasted turkey
    ​The Spruce / Anfisa Strizh
  2. Mash the garlic cloves and salt into a paste using a pilòn (mortar and pestle).

    Mash garlic
    ​The Spruce / Anfisa Strizh
  3. Add the peppercorns and adobo and crush the ingredients into the paste.

    Add the peppercorns
    ​The Spruce / Anfisa Strizh
  4. Stir in the olive oil and apple cider vinegar.

    Stir in olive oil
    ​The Spruce / Anfisa Strizh
  5. Rub the mixture under the turkey’s skin and inside the cavities, then rub the rest of the mixture on top of the skin. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine.

    Rub mixture
    ​The Spruce / Anfisa Strizh
  6. Let the turkey sit for 2 hours uncovered at room temperature.

  7. Place the turkey in a roasting pan and roast for about 3 hours, until the breast meat reaches 165 F and the thigh is 175 F.

    Roast turkey
    ​The Spruce / Anfisa Strizh
  8. Let the turkey rest for 30 minutes, uncovered, and then carve.

  9. Serve with your favorite sides and enjoy.


  • Make sure not to leave the turkey at room temperature for longer than 2 hours.
  • For a more intense flavor, place the seasoned turkey in the refrigerator, uncovered, for several hours or up to two days. If you leave the bird uncovered, the skin will crisp up nicely in the oven.
  • If you've refrigerated the turkey, bring it to room temperature before roasting.

Turkey Roasting Tips

Whether this is your first Thanksgiving bird or you just want to brush up on technique, following a few tips will assure your holiday centerpiece will be a success.

  • Choose the right size: Estimate 1 1/2 pounds of uncooked turkey per person. This factors in a range of appetites as well as leftovers.
  • Thaw a frozen turkey: It may surprise you how long it takes to defrost a turkey—calculate 24 hours in the refrigerator per 4 to 5 pounds. The fridge is the recommended method.
  • Roast 15 minutes per pound: No matter what size turkey you buy, calculate 15 minutes per pound in a 325 F oven.
  • Cook the stuffing on the side: Although a stuffed bird is traditional, placing the stuffing inside the turkey cavity can create safety issues; it is challenging to bring both the turkey meat and the stuffing up to the proper temperature without over or undercooking either.
  • Use a meat thermometer: It is best not to rely on the pop-up timers that come with some turkeys; instead use an instant-read thermometer for more accuracy.
  • Make sure to rest the bird: Letting the turkey sit after it comes out of the oven allows the juices to redistribute, making for moist and juicy meat.