Pavo navideño or Christmas turkey

Pavo navideño or Christmas turkey

Pavo navideño o roasted turkey for Nochebuena or Christmas Eve dinner, marinated in garlic, cumin, achiote and chicha or beer.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Ecuadorian inspired, Latin
Keyword Christmas turkey, Pavo navideño, Roasted achiote turkey
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Marinating time 12 hours
Total Time 4 hours
Servings 12 servings


  • 15-18 lb turkey


  • 40 garlic cloves crushed, about ½ cup when crushed
  • 3 tbs ground cumin
  • 3 tbs salt
  • 1 tbs ground achiote
  • 2 liters of chicha use beer if you can’t find chicha

Achiote butter

  • 1 lb of butter 4 sticks of butter – room temperature
  • 4 tbs ground achiote
  • 1 tsp salt if using unsalted butter


  • Rinse the turkey with cold water and pat dry.
  • Tuck the wings underneath the turkey and tie the drumsticks together using cooking twine.
  • To prepare the marinade, mix the crushed garlic, cumin, achiote and salt.
  • Rub the turkey with the marinade, both inside and out.
  • Pour the chicha or beer over the turkey, some of the garlic marinade will fall off the skin, so rub it back on the skin.
  • Let the turkey marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 425F.
  • Put the turkey in a large baking pan on a roasting rack.
  • Mix the butter, achiote and salt until you have a smooth mix.
  • Rub the achiote butter inside turkey cavities and use your hand to gently lift the skin of the turkey, and then stuff it with the butter. Also rub some butter on the exterior skin of the turkey.
  • Fill the inside of the turkey with the stuffing, if desired. Stuffing can also be baked separately.
  • Bake the turkey at 425F for 30 minutes; use a ladle to spoon the liquid over the turkey.
  • Lower the temperature to 375F and bake for another 1 ½ hours, to help keep the turkey moist pour a ladleful of the pan sauces over the turkey about every 30 minutes.
  • Lower the temperature to 350F, cover the turkey with foil and bake for another 1 - 1 ½ hrs or until the internal temperature of the turkey, in the thigh, is 165F. If baking stuffing inside the turkey the temperature of the stuffing should also be 165F. If the turkey is stuffed it will take longer to be done than if the turkey is unstuffed.
  • Serve the turkey with the holiday stuffing, salsa de ciruelas or prune sauce, and your choice of side dishes.