Chipotle Turkey is The Glorious Holiday Bird

Chipotle Turkey

Tired of the holiday bland, dry turkey and want to dazzle your guests?!   

Then, try this Chipotle turkey; it is glorious, spicy, juicy, with perfect crispy skin.

Over the last few years, I made this star dish time and time again, and it never failed me. I wholeheartedly recommend it. 

Chipotle Turkey is Different 

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

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 my family’s and guests’ memory for a lifetime.

How to Make the Perfect Chipotle Turkey

Making this glorious bird bursting with flavors consists of three main steps:

1-Dry Brining

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 brining here. Ideally, you brine the turkey for 24 hours.

Brine goes wonderfully well with this recipe, as it tenderizes the bird’s flesh and infuses it with subtle floral notes from the orange and lemon zest, stripping away the gamy taste and any unpleasant smell.

If you are team wet brine, then find the recipe here.


I marinate my holiday bird always, always with compound butter. It is a powerful vehicle of flavors.

During slow cooking, butter caramelizes, lending the bird its nutty flavor.  The spices folded in the butter waves are released during roasting, traveling wide and deep into the turkey flesh to flavor every bite.

I marinate the Chipotle Turkey with compound butter for 12-24 hours.

One more perk of compound butter is that it is a make-ahead kitchen asset. You make it several days or weeks in advance and then massage your turkey with it on Thanksgiving Eve. 

After applying the compound butter to the turkey, leave the turkey uncovered overnight in the fridge. The fridge’s chill will dry out the moisture of the turkey’s skin, which yields to a perfectly tanned, crispy, and Instagram-worthy bird.

3-Slow Cooking

Butterflying the turkey is the key to an evenly cooked through turkey in half the time. The flesh comes out moist, tender, and juicy, while the skin is golden crispy.

Brine infused with herbs and spices.

Chipotle is the Hero Ingredient 

In this turkey recipe, the chipotle in 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.

To tame any excessive heat, 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 credit

I adapted this recipe years ago from Southern Living Magazine and never looked back.

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.

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Chipotle Turkey & Gravy

Recipe adapted from Southern Living Magazine

Serves 10-12 people


  • 1 whole turkey, 5-7 kilos
  • Dry brine (recipe follows)
  • Compound butter (recipe follows)
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 1 head of garlic, halved
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1-2  carrots, chopped
  • 1 whole apple

Dry Brine

  • 3-4 tablespoons Himalayan salt
  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground and clorases black pepper
  • The zest of 1 lemon
  • the zest of 1 orange

Compound Butter

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • I tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon chipotle pepper (adjust the heat to your liking)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/4  teaspoon salt, optional (don’t add salt if the turkey is brined or Kosher)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry oregano


  1. Butterfly/spatchcock the turkey. For instructions, watch this video.
  2. Dry brine the turkey. Dry the turkey well with kitchen paper first. Massage the turkey with the dry brine mixture thoroughly and make sure to reach the cavities, over and under the skin. Cover the turkey with plastic wrap and keep it in the fridge for 24-48 hours. Rinse the turkey with tap water before the marinade and pat it dry completely with kitchen paper.
  3. Prepare the compound butter. Toss the spices into the room-temperature butter. Mix all the ingredients well until they are well incorporated. Spread the compound butter all over the turkey. Make sure to spread it under the turkey skin, over the skin, and in the cavities. Cloaked in a blanket of butter, the turkey should sit in the fridge uncovered for at least 12 hours for the skin to dry out completely, which ensures a pleasant crispy skin when it is roasted.
  4. Roast the turkey. Preheat the oven to 375º F. Remove the turkey from the fridge and let it come to room temperature. In the meantime, add to the roasting pan, 1/2 cup of water and the chopped vegetables. Place the metal rack on top of the vegetables, and then place the butterflied turkey on top. Roast for 90 minutes to 2 hours, according to the turkey size.  To ensure that the turkey is cooked throughout, insert a food thermometer. It should indicate 160º C (see notes). Remove the turkey from the oven, cover it with foil, and let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes before carving and serving.
  5. 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 a golden paste forms. Gradually add the chicken 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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