Chipotle Turkey: The Glorious Holiday Bird

Are you looking for a holiday crowd pleaser?  If yes, look no further. This Southern Chipotle Turkey is a star dish.

Turkey could be infamous for being bland and dry! Yet, it is about time to prove the haters wrong.

My rendition of Southern Chipotle Turkey is prepped 48 hours in advance, cooked in two hours, and devoured in no time. Yet, it dents family’s and guests’ memory for lifetime.

It is a three step preparation process that consists of:

1-Brining for 24 hours

2-Marinating with compound butter for 24 hours

3-Slow cooking for two hours in the oven

First comes the brine. Brine is a salty solution infused with herbs and spices. Brine is used to tenderize food and pickle vegetables and some fruits.  I wrote a whole blog post about brine. Learn more about brine here.

Brine infused with herbs and spices.

Brine goes wonderfully well with this recipe. The brine laden with spices and fresh herbs tenderizes the bird’s flesh and infuses it with subtle flavors, stripping away the gamy taste and any unpleasant smell.

Second to the brine, comes the compound butter which is a powerful vehicle of flavors. When the chipotle spiked butter melts during the slow cooking, it caramelizes, forming a nutty flavor that is blended with the mixed-in pungent spices. This amalgam of flavors travel wide and deep into the turkey flesh to flavor every bite.

In this turkey recipe, the chipotle in the adobo sauce is by far the hero ingredient. While this magic, canned, fiery pepper infuses the turkey with subtle smokiness without the need for a smoker, the brown sugar in the compound butter tames the heat and creates an amber-hued caramelized skin.

This turkey recipe is foolproof and has been tested no less than four times.

Recipe is inspired by the Southern Turkey with Chipotle Gravy by Food Network. I used the same combination of spices but instead of applying a dry rub, I mixed the spices in the compound butter and added the chipotle to the turkey itself and not the gravy.

If you have any questions about the recipe, please post them in the comments. Your shares and likes are always treasured.

For more iconic recipes from my Egyptian kitchen and nomadic life, follow my IG account @cheznermine.

Chipotle Turkey & Gravy

Recipe inspired from Food Network

Serves 10-12 people


  • 1 whole turkey, 5-7 kilos
  • 16 cups of brine
  • 1/2 cup compound butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 whole cloves garlic
  • 1 stalk of celery, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 whole apple
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped


  1. Prepare the brine. Find the brine recipe here.
  2. Prepare the compound butter. Find the recipe of the compound butter here.
  3. Brine the turkey. Soak the turkey in the cold brine in a deep container and place it in the fridge for 24 hours. If your fridge is small, place the turkey and the brine in an ice box. Add ice to the ice box to keep the turkey and brine cold enough. After 24 hours, remove the turkey from the brine, rinse it under running tap water and thoroughly pat it dry with paper towel. 
  4. Butter the turkey. When the turkey is completely dry, loosen the turkey skin with gloved hands and apply chunks of the butter underneath the turkey skin, trying to cover as much of the turkey flesh as possible. Also run the turkey’s cavity with the compound butter and run the rest over the turkey skin. Cloaked in a blanket of butter, the turkey should sit in the fridge uncovered to dry completely, which ensures a pleasant crispy skin when it is roasted.
  5. Roast the turkey. Preheat the oven to 350º F. Remove the turkey from the fridge and let it come to room temperature. Fill the turkey’s cavity with chopped celery, garlic, onions, and a whole apple. Add 1/2 cup of water (or white whine) to the roasting pan. Roast the turkey in a preheated oven for two hours or until an inserted thermometer indicates 160º C (see notes). Remove the turkey from the oven, cover it with foil and let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes. Please note that butterflying the turkey before roasting could cut down the cooking time in half.
  6. Serve the turkey. Slice the turkey and garnish with grapes, fresh herbs, red chili, and slices of lemon. Serve it with the gravy (recipe follows).

The Gravy


  • 1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, whole
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce (optional)


  1. Sauté the chopped veggies with some butter in a skillet. Add the stock and let it simmer. Drain the broth and discard the vegetables.
  2. In a heavy bottom pan over low heat, add the butter. When it sizzles add the flour and keep stirring until it a golden paste forms. Gradually add the broth while whisking vigorously with a whisk.
  3. Season with salt and pepper. If the gravy is lacking flavor, add Worcestershire sauce, and/or hot sauce.
  4. Add some drippings from the turkey roasting pan. Serve hot with the turkey.
Disclaimer: This turkey photo is not taken by my camera. I pulled it from Canva Pro. 

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