What’s for Dinner on Thanksgiving in Puerto Rico?

You’re not alone if you’re asking yourself… “Is Thanksgiving celebrated in Puerto Rico?” As a U.S. territory, Thanksgiving is indeed a well-celebrated holiday throughout the island, but with a slight island twist to the menu, of course. A traditional Puerto Rican Thanksgiving menu most often includes Mofongo stuffing, Arroz con Gandules (rice with pigeon peas), amarillos (fried sweet plantains with sugar), morcilla (blood sausage) Tostones, and Tembleque (coconut custard) or dulce de leche.

Just as the rest of the U.S., the centerpiece to any Thanksgiving meal is the turkey… or this case, Pavochon. According to Delish D’Lites, Pavochon is kind of a made-up word. As they explain it, the word combines the Spanish words for turkey (pavo) & roast suckling pig (lechon).

No matter the etymology of Pavochon, one this is certain, it’s mouth-wateringly good. Don’t take our word for it. Spice up your holiday and try something a little different this Thanksgiving.

Image and Recipe Courtesy of Delish D’Lites

Pavochon: Thanksgiving Turkey Puerto Rican Style

Thanksgiving Turkey, Puerto Rican Style – Courtesy of Delish D’Lites

Prep Time 2 hours 40 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 40 minutes
Total Time 5 hours 20 minutes
Servings 10


  • 1 whole turkey 12-16 lbs, thawed and giblets removed
  • 24 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons Adobo All Purpose seasoning recommended: Goya
  • 6 teaspoons Sazon seasoning (3 packets) recommended: Goya
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar


  1. Defrost the turkey according to the package instructions, remove the giblets and pat it dry. Place the turkey in a non-reactive container or extra large ziptop bag.
  2. Mince up the garlic cloves in a mortar and pestle, or food processor. Add in the Adobo, Sazon, pepper, oregano, olive oil and vinegar. Stir to combine.
  3. Using your fingers, gently separate the skin from the meat. Be gentle, so you don’t tear the skin up too much. Flip the turkey over, and do the same thing on the other side. Spread half of the mixture underneath the skin on the back side of the turkey. Do the same thing on the breast side of the turkey. Lastly, sprinkle the outside of the bird with a liberal amount of Adobo (2 teaspoons).
  4. Cover the turkey and marinate for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight.
  5. When you’re ready to cook the turkey, preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Place the turkey breast side up on a roasting pan fitted with a roasting rack. Don’t cover the turkey with foil, otherwise it won’t brown.
  6. Cook until a meat thermometer reads 165F, basting occasionally. This should take about 3-4 hours, depending on the size of your turkey.

If your family enjoys this traditional Thanksgiving dish, they will certainly love spending their next holiday here at Maria’s. Now is the perfect time to start planning your next big escape… we have room enough for the whole family