The Flavor of Peruvian Christmas: Savory Roasted Turkey

Peru borrows a custom from the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, but with a Latin American twist.
December 12, 2019 - Peru

Tía Carmen cooks rice to serve with the roasted turkey.

During this festive holiday season, the NPH Peru family loves to come together for Christmas dinner. It is tradition in Peru for families to have roast turkey on Christmas day: a custom that has been adopted from the American Thanksgiving meal.

Nowadays, families have turkey for Christmas dinner—a perk often included in their Christmas bonus at work. Turkey is usually very expensive in Peru, so many families prefer to use chicken.

The recipe varies according to the region of the country. Some people include lamb, tamales, chicken, and grilled pork ribs or roasted pork, which is another very traditional Christmas meal.

Tía Carmen, our kitchen manager, offers a step-by-step guide for preparing Peruvian Roasted Turkey. She insists, with the authority of a practiced professional, that each ingredient is necessary to give the turkey a delicious flavor and create a rich and savory sauce.

Recipe for Peruvian Roasted Turkey

For the stuffing

2 red onions (S1)

10 cloves (S2)

200 grams pork (S5)

2 1/2 cups bacon (S10)

100 grams ham (S2)

200 grams beef (S4)

100 milliliters red wine (S10)

100 grams almonds (S7)

100 grams raisins (S2)

2 1/2 cups parsley (S2)

3 eggs (S1)

6 slices bread, crust removed (S6)

salt and pepper, to taste (S2)


First, heat the pan with a little oil. Add onion and garlic and sauté them for one minute. Then add pork. While the pork is frying, add bacon, ham, and beef. Mix and fry ingredients until golden brown. When everything is fried, add a little red wine, parsley, almonds, and raisins. Mix and set aside. In a separate bowl, mix 3 eggs and add 6 slices of bread. Mix well until you get a doughy mass. Add salt and pepper. Then combine the dough with the meat mixture. Mix well. The stuffing is now ready to fill the turkey.

For the turkey

7-kilogram turkey (S100)

you also can prepare this dish with a 4-kilogram chicken (S35)

100 grams chicken liver (S2)

50 grams ají panca or Peruvian red pepper (S1)

20 grams mustard (S1)

50 grams yellow pepper (S1)

100 grams garlic (S2)

1 lemon, squeezed (S1)

1 tablespoon honey (S5)

100 grams each oregano, rosemary, thyme (S3)

1 cup orange juice (S3)

1/2 cup white wine (S10)

salt and white pepper, to taste (S2)


Place liver in a bowl. Crush it and mix with ají panca, yellow pepper, and mustard until a paste is formed. Then smear the turkey with this paste. In another bowl, mix the other ingredients: ground garlic, lemon, mustard, honey, oregano, rosemary, thyme, orange juice, white wine, salt, and white pepper. Spread mixture on the turkey. Be careful not to remove the first layer of liver paste and chili peppers. Leave the turkey to marinade for about three hours. Heat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. When hot, lower the temperature of the oven and place the turkey inside. Check regularly and baste turkey every 15 minutes to make sure it does not dry out. Once ready, serve turkey with rice, mashed potatoes, and Russian salad. This dish serves up to seven people.

Costs for a typical family

The total cost of preparing this recipe with a turkey is about S185, approximately US$55. According to The World Bank, in 2017 as much as 9.8% of Peruvians lived on less than US$3.20 a day, with 21.7% of the 31.4 million population living below the poverty line. Therefore, it is no surprise that Peruvians tend to prepare roasted chicken. Turkey is a luxury for the average Peruvian family.

S is the symbol for the sol, the national currency of Peru.

Scarleth Mendieta
Communications Officer in Peru




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