Wilmington family shares traditional Mexican turkey recipe ahead of Thanksgiving

For the Morenos, cooking a turkey is more than a day-long affair-- it's centered around family.
For the Morenos, cooking a turkey is more than a day-long affair-- it's centered around family.(WECT)
Published: Nov. 21, 2021 at 5:13 AM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - For the Morenos, cooking a turkey is more than a day-long affair-- it’s centered around family.

Cleo Moreno has lived in the U.S. for over 20 years after moving from her native home of Tabasco, Mexico. With her, she brought a traditional turkey recipe she grew up eating every Christmas. Now, her family uses it for Thanksgiving.

“The recipe is the love because if you don’t have love, no good flavor,” said Moreno.

Moreno has the recipe memorized by now and has made it her own over the years to fit her family’s taste. After all, family is what the holidays are all about in her home, a tradition Moreno doesn’t plan on breaking anytime soon. That’s why her kids spend Thanksgiving day in the kitchen with her.

“Learning how you cook the traditional Mexican recipe,” said Moreno. “This is good to continue the tradition of Mexico, you know?”

The most precious part of making it the perfect Thanksgiving is what comes after the food is done: sharing it with her loved ones.

“She wants to thank God for everything this year,” said Moreno’s daughter, translating for her mother. “‘It’s been amazing.’”

The Morenos’ Mexican Turkey Recipe:



  • 2-3 cups Moscato or other red wine
  • Naranja Agria
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • Garlic, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • Salt, to taste
  • Ground Beef
  • Bacon
  • Ground Pork
  • Sea Salt
  • Almonds, boiled and chopped (optional)
  • Pecans (optional)
  • Peas (one can per three pounds)
  • Carrots, chopped
  • Red Pepper
  • 2 Apples, chopped, marinated in lime, sugar and water (optional)
  • 1 4.25 oz. can Deviled ham spread
  • Nutmeg
  • Ground Mustard
  • Green Olives
  • Cinnamon
  • Cranberry raisins
  • Hard-boiled eggs, whole
  • Turkey broth
  • Guajillo Chili, boiled and seeds removed
  • Herbs and spices of choice


  1. Wash the turkey off with warm water and vinegar.
  2. Remove the bone from the turkey by cutting down the spine and carving the meat away from each piece. Break bones as you go for easier removal.
  3. Mix marinade ingredients and let turkey soak in it for 24 hours.
  4. Mix ground beef, bacon and ground pork for the stuffing. Add other stuffing ingredients to taste.
  5. Stuff turkey with mixture and pin turkey closed with toothpicks or by other means. Place turkey in oven bag.
  6. Blend salsa ingredients together and rub onto turkey. Add butter and salt if needed. Place oven bag inside pan to go into the oven.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees until turkey reaches an interior temperature of 165-180 degrees.
  8. Let cool and serve.

The Morenos enjoy leftover stuffing as a meatloaf boiled in aluminum foil for about 20 minutes or until finished.

Copyright 2021 WECT. All rights reserved.