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Citrus-Marinated Thanksgiving Turkey

Make the juiciest Thanksgiving turkey with zesty, citrusy and garlicky flavors.
Make the juiciest Thanksgiving turkey with zesty, citrusy and garlicky flavors.TODAY
Cook Time:
4 hrs 35 mins
Prep Time:
1 hr

Chef notes

There’s something to be said for tradition — filling your Thanksgiving table with familiar dishes is a comforting way to celebrate the holiday. But if you’re looking to switch up your menu this year, our citrus-marinated roast turkey was meant for you. 

We start by making a Latin-inspired marinade using peppers, Spanish paprika, tons of garlic, fresh cilantro and Seville sour orange juice. As the marinade soaks into the skin, it adds a unique flavor to the turkey. And don’t think we were going to roast a turkey without some butter. A thyme, oregano and paprika compound butter is spread underneath the bird’s skin and inside its cavity, which helps keep the meat flavorful, moist and juicy. Once the bird is cooked, we add even more Latin flair by brushing the outside of the bird with guava jam and broiling the bird for a few minutes until the jam turns into a sticky sweet glaze. 

While the flavors may be different from a traditional roast turkey, the technique is tried and true. We fill the cavity of the bird with the usual ingredients (onions, citrus halves and garlic) before trussing the turkey with twine. The bird cooks over a roasting rack and its juices will slowly flavor the mixture of broth and herbs underneath, which can ultimately be turned into homemade gravy. Once you taste this Latin-inspired turkey, we wouldn’t blame you if you make it your new tradition. 


For the Marinade
  • 1 Spanish onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and cut into large chunks
  • 16 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 bunch cilantro, trimmed
  • 4 tablespoons smoked Spanish paprika
  • 3 sour oranges (called Seville oranges), juiced
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
For the herb butter
  • 1 stick salted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
For the Turkey
  • 1 (14- to 16-pound) fresh turkey
  • 1 Spanish onion, quartered
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 1 navel orange, quartered
  • 1 head garlic, whole but with top sliced off
For the Roasting Liquid
  • 6 cups turkey stock or bone broth
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 1 small bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 small bunch fresh oregano
For the Glaze
  • 1 cup guava jam
    Fulfilled by


    Prepare the marinade:

    In a blender or food processor, combine onion, bell pepper, garlic, cilantro, smoked Spanish paprika, sour orange juice, olive oil, black pepper and salt. Purée until smooth. Adjust seasoning to taste.

    Prepare the herb butter:

    In a small bowl, combine the softened butter with the thyme, oregano and paprika until well blended. Set aside and keep at room temperature.

    Prepare the fresh turkey:


    Remove the giblets and turkey neck from the turkey cavity and set them aside to make stock later. Pat the bird dry and use your hands to separate the skin from the breast of the bird. Using your hands, scoop the herb butter and massage into the bird under the skin and inside the bird cavity. Use all of the butter.


    Place turkey on a large rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan and completely cover the bird with the marinade, pouring it inside the cavity, over the entire bird and under the skin. Refrigerate turkey uncovered for 24 to 48 hours.

    To cook the turkey: 


    Remove turkey from the fridge 45 minutes before cooking. Preheat the oven to 325 F.


    Fill the bird cavity with the prepped onion, lemon, orange and garlic (chop the top off the head to expose the cloves). Use twine to tie the legs together.


    Place the bird on a roasting rack.  Fill the bottom of the roasting pan with 3 cups broth, 1 cup orange juice, bay leaves, thyme and oregano. Cover with foil.


    Roast for 2 hours, then remove the foil. Add another cup of broth to the bottom of the pan. Roast uncovered for an additional 2 hours and 30 minutes, or until an instant read thermometer inserted into the thigh reads 165 F.


    Once cooked, use a pastry brush to brush the turkey skin with guava jam. Place under the broiler for 3 to 5 minutes until glaze sets. 


    Allow turkey to rest for about 15 minutes before carving.