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Al Pastor Turkey

Prep Time:

3 hours 30 Minutes

Cook Time:

2 Hours





About the Recipe

Al pastor is typically a dish made with pork, spit-roasted over an open flame—but why should we let pork have all the fun? It's time your Thanksgiving turkey got a little pep in its step. Leftovers are excellent in your classic sandwich, birria tacos...


  • 6 tablespoons crumbled achiote paste

  • 9 garlic cloves, finely grated (2 heaping tablespoons)

  • 6 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, finely chopped (3 tablespoons), plus 6 tablespoons adobo sauce

  • 6 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

  • 4 tablespoons (36 g/1.26 oz.) Diamond Crystal kosher salt

  • 3 tablespoons agave syrup or honey

  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided

  • 1 (12 to 14-lb.) whole turkey, neck and giblets removed, patted dry

  • 1 large pineapple, peeled, cored, quartered and thinly sliced

  • 2 large white onions, halved and thinly sliced

  • Warm corn tortillas, cranberry salsa macha, and cilantro leaves, for serving


1. Use the tines of a fork to break up the achiote paste in a medium bowl so that no large clumps of paste remain. Add garlic, chipotle, adobo, vinegar, salt and stir, using the tines to smash garlic, chipotles and achiote together into a smooth sauce. Vigorously whisk agave and ¾ cup olive oil into achiote mixture until completely smooth.

2. Place the turkey on the center of a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet. Liberally brush with achiote sauce, getting into every nook, cranny and inside the cavity of the turkey. Turkey should be completely coated and there should not be any sauce remaining. Tie legs together with kitchen twine and tuck wings underneath. Let sit at room temperature 2 hours, or set on a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet and chill, uncovered, for up to 2 days.

3. If chilled, let the turkey sit at room temperature 1 hour before roasting.

4. Place a rack in the bottom third of the oven; preheat to 400°F.

5. Toss pineapple and onion with remaining ¼ cup olive oil in a medium bowl, lightly season with salt. Arrange in an even layer on the bottom of a large roasting pan. Place turkey on top of a flat or V-shaped wire rack and arrange over top of the pineapple and onions. Roast turkey, rotating once if it is browning unevenly, until skin is brick red in spots, 25 to 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F and continue to roast turkey, rotating pan if browning unevenly, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of breasts registers 150° to 155°, and thickest part of thighs registers 165° to 170°, about 1½ hours (you can tent the top with with some foil if it’s browning a bit too quickly).

6. Transfer turkey to a cutting board; let rest 30 to 60 minutes, uncovered before carving. Toss pineapple and onion in fat and accumulated juices and transfer to a serving bowl. Serve with warm tortillas, salsa macha, and cilantro leaves.

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