Sweet & Spicy Thanksgiving

Chef John’s Sweet & Spicy Thanksgiving

  • – Learn how to brine, roast and carve a traditional Thanksgiving turkey
  • – Make Chef John’s original Sweet & Spicy Cranberry Sauce plus Turkey Tacos with mouthwatering Cranberry Salsa, de-lish!
  • – Bring your culinary game to a whole new level with Chef John’s Pro Tips


Traditional Turkey


Frozen turkey

Brine solution: water, salt, pepper and Herbs de Provence

Liquid smoke

Seasonings: garlic, salt, pepper and paprika



  1. 1.  Place frozen turkey in brine solution of water, salt, pepper and Herbs de Province. Brining moistens the turkey and speeds up the thawing process.
  2. 2.  Remove turkey from brine. Remove the giblet pouch and neck. Rinse and pat dry.
  3. 3.  Season turkey with garlic, salt, pepper and paprika.
  4. 4.  Spray turkey with liquid smoke for a little hickory smoke flavor.
  5. 5.  Place in pan and cover loosely with a foil tent.
  6. 6.  Cook at 325 degrees for first 2-3 hours depending on the weight. Then cook at 375 degrees for the last hour to crisp the skin and seal in juices. Turkey is done cooking when the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
  7. 7.  Remove turkey from oven. Let meat rest for 20-30 minutes.
  8. 8.  Carve turkey with tips from Chef John’s video demonstration above.

Pro Tip: Use a boning knife to separate pieces, a carving knife to split the skin and a Chef’s knife to slice the breast.


Pro Tip: Use the Turkey Carcass to make soup or turkey tacos.


Boil carcass in water, add vegetables and season.

Turkey Tacos

Remove meat from carcass and chop. Heat tortilla shells. Add turkey, avocado, cranberry salsa and lettuce.


Sweet & Spicy Cranberry Sauce

Enjoy Chef John’s original cranberry sauce with traditional turkey. To create his mouthwatering salsa, add freshly chopped onion, cilantro, jalapenos and tomatoes to the Sweet & Spicy Cranberry Sauce. Both are incredible!


2, 12 oz bags of fresh cranberries (6 cups)

2, 6 oz containers of fresh raspberries (2 cup)

2, 14 oz cans of pineapple with juice (3 cups)

Orange juice to cover fruit, about 3 cups

2 large onions

3 jalapeno peppers

2/3 bunch of fresh cilantro

28 oz can of diced tomatoes in juice (3 cups)

Seasoning: cumin, salt, pepper, garlic



  1. 1.  Be sure to clean your workspace and sanitize surfaces thoroughly, especially after working with poultry.
  2. 2.  Combine cranberries, raspberries, pineapple with juice in large pot.
  3. 3.  Dice two jalapeno peppers with seeds. Include Jalapeno seeds as they bring a layer of heat to contrast with the fruit’s sweetness. Add to diced jalapenos to sauce.
  4. 4.  Cover with orange juice.
  5. 5.  Bring mixture to a vigorous boil over high heat for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  6. 6.  Dice onions. Add one cup of diced onion to sauce. Reserve remaining onion for salsa.
  7. 7.  Reduce heat to medium continuing to boil until liquid reduces, and mixture becomes a gelatin consistency.
  8. 8.  Remove from heat. Set aside half of cranberry sauce for the salsa. Serve with traditional turkey.


Mouthwatering Cranberry Salsa

Cranberry salsa tastes great with tortilla chips as well as turkey tacos.

  1. 1.  Dice remaining jalapeno. To prevent too much heat, remove seeds from the jalapeno pepper.
  2. 2.  Chop 2/3 bunch of fresh cilantro.
  3. 3.  Add onion, cilantro, jalapeno pepper and tomatoes to remaining cranberry sauce and mix thoroughly.
  4. 4.  Season to taste with salt, pepper, garlic and cumin.

Pro Tip: To chop onions with no more tears, cut off the top of the onion first. Then cut the onion in half slicing through the center of the root. Leave the root connected, and now you have a cry button which prevents your eyes from tearing.

When chopping and dicing onions, leave the cry button in place until the end for no more tears. See Chef’s John’s video demonstration online at PazdeCristo.org/protips/



Did You Know?

Of every dollar given to Paz de Cristo, 93 cents goes directly to help people struggling with hunger, poverty and homelessness.