This Thanksgiving why not give your holiday a Spanish twist with a recipe for keto Cuban mojo turkey. It’s loaded with flavor courtesy of the citrus garlic mojo it’s marinated in.
Having lived the majority of my life in South Florida (Hialeah) where the Cuban culture is prominent, Thanksgiving turkey is more often than not prepared with a mojo marinade.
Growing up in a Cuban/ Dominican household meant that our Thanksgiving dinner looked quite different from the rest of America.
My mom basically treated the turkey like a huge chicken and marinated the turkey the same way she would make her mojo chicken. The use of this marinade basically guaranteed we always had a moist, juicy, flavorful turkey.
Keto Cuban Mojo Turkey
Amp the flavor of your Thanksgiving turkey with this authentic Cuban low-carb mojo turkey recipe. I am promising you that this turkey may just be the best turkey you’ll ever taste!
All the Latin seasoning comes together to produce a turkey that is browned to golden perfection and delivers the maximum amount of flavor. Plus, it’s an easy recipe since no brine is necessary.
If you have ever complained that turkey meat is bland, it’s because you haven’t tried a mojo-based turkey.
What Is Mojo?
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Perhaps you are not familiar with the word mojo, it is simply a Cuban marinade that is often used in their “pernil” roasted pork. I have used a version of this mojo in our keto Cuban pork and our keto Cuban mojo chicken recipe.
Mojo is made with a blend of popular Latin spices and lots of fresh garlic and citrus.
I use readily available sour or Seville oranges in the Cuban mojo. Seville sour oranges are widely used in the Caribbean and other Latin countries as a base for marinades and it’s what gives mojo its sour, tangy goodness!
You can purchase sour oranges at local Hispanic or Caribbean supermarkets labeled as “naranja agria”.
However, If you cannot find them, they can be substituted with a mixture of limes and unsweetened orange juice. This substitution will not have the exact same taste profile but it will still be delicious
Another option is to use bottled sour orange such as Goya’s Marinade, Naranja Agria.
The Ingredients Needed For Mojo Turkey
The following are the ingredients needed to make a Cuban criollo-style turkey. Note that the full printable recipe card is at the bottom of the page.
Please don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients. I promise this it’s super easy to make a keto-friendly Cuban turkey!
- 1 whole 10-12 pound turkey, neck and giblets removed
- Dried oregano
- Ground cumin
- Smoky Paprika
- Black pepper
- Kosher salt
- Cayenne pepper flakes
- Onions cut into quarters
- Garlic cloves, finely minced
- A couple of garlic heads sliced in half
- Sour orange juice (or substitute with lemon juice, and unsweetened fresh orange juice) or Goya’s Marinade, Naranja Agria.
- White wine or white vinegar
- Bay leaves
- Olive oil
- Seville sour orange cut in slices ( optional) Can be substituted for lemon
- Unsalted butter, sliced
How To Make A Keto Cuban Mojo Turkey
The first thing you will need to do before you get started is to defrost the turkey in your refrigerator for about three days. This will depend on the size of your turkey and your refrigerator settings but three days is the average time.
I place my turkey in a large roasting pan to help collect the liquid as it defrosts. You could also place it on a large baking sheet.
Once the turkey has completely thawed I remove the neck and giblets that are stored in the cavity of the turkey and give the bird a good wash and then dry it well with paper towels.
Then prepare the marinade by mixing everything in a bowl. You could also use a processor or blender if you prefer.
You’ll need to gently loosen the skin of the turkey. The best place is to start at the neck and with your fingers separate the skin from the breast then slide your hand down to loosen the skin from the sides do this carefully so that you do not tear the skin.
After you have separated the skin off the meat, lift the skin and proceed to pierce the breast and thighs with a small sharp knife trying not to tear the skin. Although, you can skip this step, it really ensures that the marinade penetrates the flesh of the turkey meat.
Place the turkey in a roasting pan and pour the prepared marinade over the whole turkey, inside the cavity of the turkey, and underneath the skin.
I like marinating the turkey breast side down so that it has a chance to really flavor the meat and ensures that the breast stays juicy.
Once flipped allow the turkey to marinate in the refrigerator for a minimum of 5 hours, overnight if possible.
The day you are ready to cook, flip the turkey breast side up and add the butter slices underneath the skin. Then allow the turkey to rest on the kitchen counter for about an hour or two before proceeding to heat your oven to 450 degrees.
You basically want the turkey to come to room temperature before cooking. This extra step ensures that the turkey meat stays moist and doesn’t toughen up from the shock of the hot oven. It also allows the meat to cook evenly.
Next, it’s time to truss the turkey legs using a cotton string or by cutting slits into the excess skin that is around the cavity. To use this method, simply cut two slits into the flap around the cavity and tuck each leg into the slit.
I then add the quartered onions, sliced whole garlic heads, and sliced sour oranges or lemons around the sides of the turkey and inside the turkey cavity.
Roast the turkey at 450 degrees to brown turkey and crisp the skin. This should take about 15-20 minutes. Then reduce your oven to 325 degrees. Baste the turkey with the pan juices and continue to roast the turkey being sure to baste the turkey every 30 minutes.
Add a sheet of aluminum foil loosely over the top of the bird if the skin begins to brown too quickly. Cook the turkey until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the drum stick registers 165 degrees.
Be sure not to touch the bone when inserting the thermometer to ensure accurate readings. The turkey will take anywhere from 2 1/2 hours to 3 hours to fully cook depending on your oven.
Transfer the turkey to a serving platter and allow to rest for 30 minutes before carving. Lastly, strain the pan juices and serve in a sauceboat on the side as gravy.
Wondering What To Serve Your Mojo Style Keto-Friendly Turkey?
In South Florida, many Hispanic homes accompany their turkey with high carb traditional dishes like black beans and rice, that of course doesn’t make the keto cut.
The good news is that this turkey can be served with any of our favorite keto traditional holiday sides. We like pairing it with our:
- Keto cornbread stuffing
- Keto cauliflower mash
- Keto mac and cheese, made with cauliflower and broccoli
- Keto roasted carrots
In my book, in order to stay committed to a low-carb diet long enough to see the benefits, you should find creative ways to enjoy the recipes you’ve come to love.
I truly believe it’s why as a family we have remained faithful to this healthy lifestyle since 2014.
The quickest way to throw in the towel while doing any dietary changes is to feel deprived. My prayer is that our keto-friendly recipes will make the keto diet a delicious breeze to follow and allow you to experience the changes you are hoping for.
I sure hope you will try out some of this keto Cuban Turkey recipe a try. Once you do make sure you remember to tag us on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. It’s what keeps us encouraged to keep sharing and perfecting our recipes.
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- 1 whole 10-12 pound turkey, neck and giblets removed
- 2 tablespoons of dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons of ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon of smokey paprika
- 1 1/2 tablespoons of black pepper
- 2 tablespoons of kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper flakes
- 2 onions cut into quarters
- 12 cloves of garlic, finely minced
- 2 heads of garlic sliced in half
- 1 ½ cups of sour orange juice (or substitute 1 1/4 cups of lemon juice, ¼ cup of fresh orange juice)
- ½ cup of white wine or ¼ cup of white vinegar
- 3 bay leaves
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
- 1 Seville sour orange cut in slices ( optional) Can be substituted for lemon
- 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, sliced
- Plan on thawing your turkey three days in the refrigerator.
- Rinse well the turkey and pat dry with paper towels. Set it aside.
- Marinade: In a medium bowl, mix together the sour orange juice, white wine vinegar, olive oil, herbs, garlic, cumin powder, paprika, salt, black pepper, and pepper flakes.
- Gently loosen the skin of the turkey. Start at the neck and with your fingers and separate the skin from the breast then slide your hand down to loosen the skin from the sides do this carefully so that you do not tear the skin. Next, lift the skin and proceed to pierce the breast and thighs with a small sharp knife trying not to tear the skin.
- Place the turkey in a roasting pan and pour the prepared marinade over the whole turkey, inside the cavity of the turkey, and underneath the skin.
- Flip the turkey breast side down and allow the turkey to marinate in the refrigerator for a minimum of 5 hours, overnight if possible for maximum flavor.
- When ready to cook, flip the turkey breast side up and add the butter slices underneath the skin. And allow the turkey to rest on the kitchen counter for about an hour or two before proceeding to heat your oven to 450 degrees. You want the turkey to come to room temperature before cooking. This extra step ensures that the turkey meat stays moist and doesn't toughen up from the shock of the hot oven. It also ensures that the meat cooks evenly.
- Truss the turkey legs using a cotton string or by cutting slits into the excess skin that is around the cavity. Gently cut two slits and tuck each leg into the slit.
- Add the quartered onions, sliced whole garlic heads, and sliced sour oranges or lemons around the sides of the turkey and inside the turkey cavity.
- Start by roasting the turkey at 450 to brown the turkey and help crisp the skin. This takes about 15-20 minutes.
- Then reduce your oven to 325 degrees. Baste the turkey with the pan juices and continue to roast the turkey being sure to baste the turkey every 30 minutes. Add a sheet of aluminum foil loosely over the top of the bird if the skin begins to brown too quickly. Cook the turkey until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the drum stick registers 165 degrees. Be sure not to touch the bone when inserting the thermometer to ensure accurate readings. The turkey will take anywhere from 2 1/2 hours to 3 hours to fully cook depending on your oven.
- Transfer the turkey to a serving platter and allow to rest for 30 minutes before carving.
- Strain the pan juices and serve in a sauceboat on the side as gravy.
- Refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 weeks.
Baking time will vary depending on the size of your turkey. A good guide is to bake around 15 minutes for every pound at 325 degrees. Then to check if the turkey is ready, use a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the drumstick without touching the bone until it registers 165 degrees.
Be sure to allow the turkey to rest 30 minutes before carving so that it allows the juices to redistribute and keep the turkey moist. You can keep it warm by covering it with foil until ready to slice.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 295Total Fat: 19.4gSaturated Fat: 7.2gCholesterol: 85mgSodium: 75mgCarbohydrates: 2.9gNet Carbohydrates: 2.4gFiber: 0.5gSugar: 0.2gProtein: 22.2g