Turkey "Carnitas" with Green Mojo

Shredded cooked turkey replaces the more traditional shredded pork in this riff on carnitas tacos, served with a sauce inspired by Cuban mojo.

Turkey Carnitas with Green Mojo
Photo: Photo: Jennifer Causey / Food stylist Chelsea Zimmer / Prop stylist Kathleen Varner
Active Time:
50 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 5 mins

Cooking fresh citrus juice and turkey broth with leftover turkey not only concentrates the flavors but also further tenderizes the meat. The remaining fat in the skillet will fry the meat so it gets crispy on the edges but stays juicy, similar to more traditional versions of carnitas. Be sure to add the white meat a few minutes after the dark to prevent it from becoming dry. If you are using only white meat, allow the liquids simmer for just three minutes before adding the turkey.



  • 1 ½ cups loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves

  • 6 tablespoons fresh orange juice (from 2 oranges)

  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice (from 2 limes)

  • 1 small (1/2-ounce) serrano chile, (unseeded), chopped (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)

  • 1 medium garlic clove, smashed

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • ½ teaspoon kosher slat

  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

Turkey "Carnitas"

  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 small (6-ounce) white onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup), plus more for serving

  • 3 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon)

  • 2 teaspoons ancho chile powder

  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin

  • 0 ½ teaspoon ground coriander

  • 0 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 cup turkey broth or chicken broth

  • ½ cup fresh orange juice (from 2 oranges)

  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice (from 2 limes)

  • 2 (4-inch) oregano sprigs

  • 2 fresh or dried bay leaves

  • 4 cups shredded cooked turkey (dark meat and white meat separated) (about 1 1/4 pounds), divided

  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

  • 8 (6-inch) corn tortillas, warmed


Make the mojo:

  1. Process cilantro, orange juice, lime juice, chile, and garlic in a blender until very smooth, about 45 seconds. Remove center piece of blender lid; with blender running, slowly stream in oil until emulsified and creamy, about 20 seconds. Transfer to a small bowl; stir in salt and pepper. Cover and store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Make the turkey "carnitas":

  1. Heat oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring often, until softened and lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Add ancho chile powder, cumin, coriander, and cinnamon; cook, stirring constantly, until spice mixture is toasted and fragrant, about 1 minute. Add broth, orange juice, lime juice, oregano, and bay leaves; bring to a boil over medium-high. Boil, undisturbed, until orange juice mixture is reduced and just covers onion, about 15 minutes.

  2. Add dark turkey meat to mixture in skillet, and cook, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes. Stir in white meat; cook, stirring occasionally, until orange juice mixture is absorbed into turkey meat, 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in salt, plus more to taste. Remove from heat. Serve turkey mixture on tortillas; top with mojo and additional chopped onion.

Make Ahead

Mojo can be made up to 8 hours in advance and stored in an airtight container in refrigerator.

Suggested Pairing

Citrusy California white blend: Inglenook Blancaneaux

Related Articles