Chelada Turkey Tacos

A Chelada is the name for the drink when you add lime and salt to a beer.  Sometimes people add hot sauce, herbs and spices, sometimes tomato juice, sometimes even Clamato.  They are also called Micheladas and what you may have gathered by now is that they're no real rules beyond salt and lime.

Well, ever since the weather started to warm up here in San Diego, we've been making more and more cheladas.  So when Honeysuckle White approached us to come up with a grilled turkey recipe, Chelada Turkey Tacos came immediately to mind.  They sent us the turkey and they even sent us a Flip HD camcorder to make videos.  Boo-yah!

The Chelada Turkey Tacos encompass four recipes:  the Chelada brine, a Roasted Corn Salsa, the Chipotle Sour Cream Sauce, and Alfredo's Tortillas.  Make each separately and assemble them to order, grill-side, for some delicious summertime BBQ-ing. 

The morning of, we butterflied the turkey, removed the backbone, and quartered it.  This would allow for the turkey to grill more evenly since the dark meat takes slightly longer to cook than the breast.  We then made a chelada brine to season the meat and to keep the meat moist on the grill. Here is a video on how to make the Chelada Brine:

Chelada Brine from Papawow on Vimeo.

Chelada Brine

  • 32 ounces V8 or tomato juice
  • 2 beers, Mexican beer works best
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice plus the zest from the limes
  • 1/2 cup of salt
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of dried Mexican oregano
  • 5 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, smashed well

Once the meat has spent 2-3 hours in the brine it is ready for the grill.  Place the meat on a hot grill and cook, turning occasionally until the meat is done.  This can be anywhere between 25-45 minutes depending on the thickness of the meat and the temperature of your grill.  Turkey should be cooked to an internal temperature of 180 degrees F.

When the turkey goes on begin to roast your corn and red bell pepper for the Roasted Corn Salsa.  Go ahead and shred some cabbage and prepare the Chipotle Sour Cream Sauce also.  Make sure to keep the sour cream sauce in the fridge or cooler until it is ready to serve.

I'll be honest, the star of this recipe and the key to making them absolutely amazing is "Alfredo's" tortillas.  Alfredo was a guy in Mexico who taught my friend's father the technique of dipping the tortillas into a dressing before you grill them.  There is nothing quite like it.  

We didn't make Alfredo's exact recipe, we modified it to pair more closely with the Chelada turkey but the technique remains.  Below is our recipe and at the end of the post I will give the original Alfredo dip.

Alfredo's Dip (our version)

  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
  • 1 tablespoon seasoned salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

Simply dip the tortillas into Alfredo's for 2 seconds on each side before throwing them on the grill.  Cook them, turning once, for about 60 seconds a side.  Plate and fill with toppings for tacos or burritos. 

Roasted Corn Salsa

  • 2 cobs of corn, shucked and grilled until they become spotty with grill marks, the cut from the cob
  • 1 red bell pepper, grilled and diced fine
  • The juice of one lime
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced cilantro
  • Salt and pepper

Mix all of these together and set aside in a bowl.  This is a wonderful universal salsa that goes great on almost everything.


Chipotle Sour Cream Sauce (printable recipe)

  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, smashed up fine plus 1 Tablespoon of adobo sauce
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

Incorporate all of the ingredients and fill a squirt bottle with them.  You may need a funnel to fill the bottle.  Keep the sauce refrigerated or in the cooler until you are ready to eat.   

How to assemble a Chelada Turkey Taco:

How to assemble a Chelada Turkey Taco from Papawow on Vimeo.

Once the turkey is done, shred it into bite-sized pieces.  Shred some cabbage.  Dip a tortilla, grill for a minute or two, add some turkey, the cabbage, the Roasted Corn Salsa, and squirt some of the Chipotle Sour Cream Sauce on top and you have yourself a Chelada Turkey Taco!


Alfredo's Original Tortilla Dipping Sauce (which is also a marinade)

  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup corn oil
  • 1 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon season salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic
  • up to 1 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoons Lea & Perrin's Worcestershire Sauce
Authordavid koch
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Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits with BBQ pulled Turkey - photo by my amii

I really wanted to make Pulled BBQ Turkey for a healthier option to pulled pork.  However, I looked all over the internet and could not find a recipe which I wanted to imitate.  I've made Emeril's BBQ Pulled Pork before, which turned out great, so I used the same principles (specifically, the wet basting sauce) and incorporated them into my own turkey version.

Pulled Turkey with Homemade BBQ Sauce

3-4 lb turkey breast, on the bone with skin
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne

Wet Basting Sauce adapted from Emeril Lagasse 
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 T red pepper flakes
1 T salt
1/2 T pepper

Barbecue sauce
3 T butter
1/2 of a yellow onion, finely chopped
1 tsp garlic, chopped
1/2 cup ketchup
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 T Worcestershire sauce
3 T brown sugar
3 T mustard powder
2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 cup water
1 T tomato paste

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Place the seasonings for turkey (salt, pepper, paprika and cayenne) in small bowl.  Rub spice mixture on turkey - be sure to rub under the skin while leaving skin in tact. Let marinate for 30 minutes.

Prepare wet basting sauce:  Combine vinegars, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and whisk to combine flavors.

Barbecue sauce: Saute onions in butter until soft, add garlic and sauté for 30 more seconds.  Add ketchup, cider vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire, mustard powder, paprika, cayenne, water and tomato paste.  Let simmer for 30 minutes. Puree with blender (emersion or regular), and add back to pot. Taste and adjust seasonings.  NOTE: This sauce is a sweet style barbecue.  If you prefer a spicier sauce try adding 1 T chipotle in adobe sauce to mixture while simmering.

Place seasoned turkey in a baking dish and cover with foil. Roast in oven for 20 minutes, then baste with wet sauce, continue basting every 20-30 minutes.  Slow roast turkey for about 2 hours. Once cooked, remove turkey to cutting board and let cool. Discard skin and bones and shred turkey meat.  Pour prepared BBQ sauce over shredded meat.

Serve on buns with pickles and coleslaw.

Serves 4

AuthorAmy Koch
2 CommentsPost a comment

photo by Average Jane

It is just two days before "turkey day" and if you were even thinking about making turkey, know that brining helps keep meat moist and flavorful during cooking.  I've been looking around and started running into some intriguing ingredients that chefs were putting into their brines.  

Some of the more unusual brines or unusual ingredients in brines we’ve run into are: 

7)  Apple juice - from Andreas Viestad via

6)  Allspice berries - from Alton Brown via

5)  Candied Ginger - also from Alton Brown via

4)  A whole bottle of wochersher sauce [sic] - from N7uvh at

3)  Dark Beer - from Emeril Lagasse via

2)  Riesling - from NcMysteryShopper,at (There's also a Riesling Gravy there)

1)  Spiced rum, "such as Captain Morgan Original" - from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel


You can find myriad methods online but there seems to be common themes that nearly all of them stick to.  Here is a recap of some of the steps involved:

1.       Dissolve salt and sugar in boiling water
     a.      Keep your “salt to sugar” ratio between 2:1 and a 1:1
     b.      Your brine can anywhere between a 4:1 and a 10:1 “water to salt/sugar” ratio
     c.      Cups to cups, quarts to quarts, it doesn’t matter.  Just watch the ratios.
     d.      Don’t worry about this too much

2.       Add your aromatics 'at will'
     a.      Crushed garlic
     b.      Pepper or Peppercorns
     c.      Chopped onions
     d.      Rosemary
     e.      Cilantro
     f.       Thyme
     g.      Sage
     h.      Really anything, even just “poultry” or “Italian” seasoning will work fine

3.       Chill the brine solution in the refrigerator for a while – or chill immediately with ice

4.       Place the bird into a container and cover it with the chilled brine
     a.       An easy way to do this is to start by placing it in a double layer of oven bags then into a cooler or an ice chest,
     b.      Keep the bird cold with either ice, ice packs (outside of the oven bags)
     c.      You’re allowed to worry about this step, keep it cold! 

5.       Brine for 4-24 hours
     a.      Ensure the bird is well dried before placing it in the oven, you can use paper towels
     b.      Or, you can even dry it overnight in the fridge on cooling rack in a rimmed baking sheet

 Try our Chelada Turkey Brine!  It's amazing.


Authordavid koch