Turkey in Mole Sauce Recipe

Mole Poblano de Guajolote

Everyone can enjoy this traditional Mexican Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner recipe of Turkey in Mole Sauce (Mole Poblano de Guajolote) dinner. Mexican Americans and others have put their own gastronomical twist on Thanksgiving meals. Those recipes are the ones I hope to share with you here. These are not “tradition,” nor are they found at all Thanksgiving celebrations, which include Latin American foods, but they are the foods many consider a Thanksgiving meal in the Southwest.

Foods such as this Turkey in Mole Sauce, posole (hominy), Mexican Tripe Soup (Menudo), Enchiladas, Tamales, different varieties of potatoes, Beans, an array of salads, along with other foods, both traditional (to Americans) and not so traditional.

This Turkey in Mole Sauce recipe, comments, and photos are courtesy of Cynthia Detterick-Pineda of Andrews, TX.


Mole Poblano


History: The traditions of Thanksgiving and Christmas were transplanted into the Mexican culture. Most of us know the American tradition of Thanksgiving, and the story of how the Indians and settlers at Plymouth Rock shared a meal and festivities. Did you know that the meal they shared was nothing like the meals we consider a Thanksgiving Dinner now? The meal was probably more like what the Indians across the Americas ate for years, mainly wild meats, whatever vegetables were in season, and no pumpkin pie. It is hard to imagine Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie, but the use of sugar in cooking was rare, especially for the settlers at Plymouth who had only the supply of sugar brought over on the boat.

On November 1, 1872, state of New Hampshire passed a proclamation to make the 28th of November officially Thanksgiving. Over time, Thanksgiving began to be celebrated the third Thursday in November instead of a set day. But whichever day Thanksgiving falls on, it has become a cross cultural celebration with the foods of many different nations being fused into the meal. It has become even more of what the settlers at Plymouth and the Indians had made it then, a celebration of peace among people from different cultures and origins. It was only natural that other countries would take this idea of a celebration and feasting to give thanks and integrate it into their own holidays. Mexico is no exception to that.

Turkey in Mole Sauce Recipe – Mole Poblano de Guajolote:

Turkey in Mole Sauce Recipe - Mole Poblano de Guajolote

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 20 mins. per lb.

Yield: serves many


1 (15 to 20 pound) turkey, fresh or thawed, with giblets and neck removed.
1/2 cup butter, room temperature or softened, divided
Turkey Stuffing or your favorite stuffing/dressing recipe
3 to 4 slices uncooked bacon
Basting Juice (see recipe below) or use the juices that drain off



Clean turkey well, removing any bits of pin feathers and cleaning the cavity of any remaining pieces of innards. Pat dry with paper towels. Secure legs with twine or a clip (optional).

Preheat barbecue grill. Instead of using a roasting pan, it is easier to use a homemade pan from extra heavy duty foil (using three layers of aluminum foil and making it just big enough to hold the bird - the sides need to be about 2 1/2-inches high).

Rub the inside cavity of the turkey with 1/4 cup of the softened butter.

Stuff the inside cavity with your favorite stuffing/dressing recipe. Also place a little stuffing in the neck cavity, tuck the neck skin under and skewer shut. With any remaining turkey stuffing, stuff a little of it between the skin and the breast meat.

With the remaining 1/4 cup butter, rub some over the skin of the turkey.  Salt and pepper the turkey and place the slices of uncooked bacon on top of the prepared turkey.

Place the turkey crosswise on the gas or charcoal grill so that the pan is evenly distributed over the two sets of jets.  Set the flame so that a temperature of 300 to 325 degrees F. is maintained (usually the lowest setting).  Cover with heavy duty aluminum foil for the majority of the cooking time.  Estimated cooking time is approximately 20 minutes per pound at 300 degrees F.

Remove the aluminum foil for the last hour of cooking.  Every once in while, baste the turkey with the juices (or with the basting juice recipe below).  If you have "hot spots" in the jets of the grill, twice during the cooking turn the turkey around (and the pan, of course) so that one side is not more cooked than another.

Toward the end of the cooking time, open the grill and insert the meat thermometer into the fleshy part of the thigh and cook until the internal temperature reaches 165° F. (remember that the turkey will continue to cook after it is removed from the heat of the fire).  NOTE: The USDA has come up with a one-temperature-suits-all for poultry safety: 165° F.  For safety and doneness, the internal temperature should be checked with a meat thermometer.

Thermoworks Smoke ThermometerIt is important to use a meat thermometer with a cable attached to the meat probe tip.  This will allow for the meat probe tip to stay in the turkey during the entire cooking process while the barbecue lid is closed and give you a continuous temperature reading of the meat to ensure it does not overcook.  I recommend using the Thermoworks Smoke Pro Series 2 Channel High Temp Cooking Probe for continuous monitoring of the meat's internal temperature in addition to monitoring the smoker's internal temperature during the smoking and cooking process. Includes wireless receiver to remotely monitor the temperatures from up to 300 feet away.

In the absence of a meat thermometer, pierce the turkey with a fork in several places; juices should be clear with no trace of pink.  NOTE: The old-fashioned way of wiggling the leg to see if it's loose will give you an indication that the turkey is ready, but unfortunately, by the time the leg is truly loose, the turkey is sadly overcooked.  The only reliable test for doneness is to check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh, without touching the bone.

Allow the cooked turkey to sit for approximately 10 to 15 minutes before carving.


Basting Juice:

1/2 cup butter
1 medium onion, chopped
Neck and gizzard
2 teaspoons chopped dried rosemary
3 cups chicken stock or water
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup sweet Marsala wine or port wine*
1/2 cup dry vermouth or white wine*
Juice from two lemons

* I usually use any red wine that I have.  You could also substitute the vermouth for additional red wine.

In a heavy pot over medium-high heat, melt butter; sauté onion until just translucent.  Add the neck and gizzard; continue cooking for approximately 4 minutes.  Add the rosemary and chicken stock or water; simmer until reduced by halve.  Remove from heat and strain well.

Use the gizzard and neck in the stuffing or the gravy.  For the basting juice, mix together the strained stock mixture, marsala or port wine, vermouth, and the juice of the lemons. 



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