All the tips and tricks you need for cooking the perfect Thanksgiving dinner on your grill or smoker!
If you’re looking for Thanksgiving Recipes to cook outside, on the grill or smoker, we’ve got you covered. These Thanksgiving dinner ideas are some of our most popular tried and true holiday recipes.
You can also see more great highlights, tips, and tricks from some of our favorite BBQ experts, and fans here.
We have been cooking our holiday meals outside for years because we love the flavor and it keeps the kitchen free to hang out and do smaller prep work. And we have also learned how to stagger a lot of the work so we aren’t scrambling the day of, making for the least stressful Thanksgiving dinner possible.
Preparation for Thanksgiving on the Grill
To execute on successful Thanksgiving recipes, have a plan for the meal starting with how many people you’re having over. Next, have a prep plan for each day leading up to the holiday on Thursday. We find shopping the Friday prior has the least crowds and makes for an easier shopping experience (and most of the ingredients will last the week).
Pro Tip – Pre-Order your Turkey to ensure you have the right size you want, and be sure to account for thawing time.
Delegate – There is nothing wrong with having guests bring something to share. Consider a beverage or delegating a dessert. Or have guests prep one of the side dishes that you can simply finish warming up on your outdoor cooker.
Brining – Plan 24 – 36 hours for a brine. Using a brine is a great technique for smoking Turkey because it helps retain moisture and adds some flavor.
Thanksgiving Appetizers on the Grill or Smoker
Having something to nibble on is always a treat in our house. We start with a basic cheese and charcuterie platter, combined with some of our smoked nuts, and a welcoming cocktail or glass of sparkling wine.
If we have people over, we love to make an easy drink that can serve a crowd. The more complicated the drink, the less time we have for preparing food and hanging with our friends or family. Mimosa’s are a great way to do that.
These almonds are slowly roasted in the smoker for three hours and can be made weeks prior to the day. They have a slight bacon flavor and simply seasoned with kosher salt and extra virgin olive oil. If you want more of a mixed party nut recipe, check out our smoked candied mixed nuts.
Grilled Brie Cheese
As part of our cheese platter, we add a nice goat cheese and a nice hard cheese, like Manchego. For our cows cheese, we grill up a brie round with some wine and serve with crostini. For even more flavor top it with some of your favorite jam in place of the herbs.
Smoked Deviled Eggs
A meat and cheese platter won’t aways satisfy everyone, which is why we also make a batch of our smoked deviled eggs. Smoked eggs, combined with a savory and pickled flavor, is our favorite style. We also top it with bacon or leftover brisket for great presentation.
Thanksgiving Turkey on the Grill or Smoker
Smoked Turkey is the main star. We save Prime Rib and Pork Roasts for other holidays. For a larger crowd we have learned that getting a couple of smaller (12 – 14) pound Turkeys are the way to go to avoid overcooking them. Or, if you’re planning a smaller crowd this year, grab a turkey breast instead of the full bird.
Bourbon Brined Smoked Turkey
Brined with aromatics and bourbon, this tender turkey has been one of our most popular recipes on the web for years.
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Maple Glazed Turkey Breast
A perfect Thanksgiving dinner idea for a smaller crowd. Brine and glaze for the great flavor you expect, without having a ton of leftovers. You can do bone-in or boneless with the recipe.
Cajun Grilled Turkey Breast
Another twist on a turkey breast. Coated with a flavorful Cajun seasoning, and grilled to perfection. Quick, easy, and oh-so-delicious.
Want to try a new technique to cut the turkey in half, speeding up the cooking process? Check out our cookbook, Fire + Wine, for a step by step guide on our Spatchcocked Turkey recipe.
And if you are looking for other fun roast ideas, check out our full holiday list of recipes.
Sides Dishes for Thanksgiving
There is no Thanksgiving without some of our favorite sides. And yes, we do experiment with at least one new side dish every year. But these are our tried and true classics that we have every single year because we love the flavor so much.
Smoked Sausage, Caramelized Onion, and Cornbread Stuffing
Our original inspiration for this dish was a simple cornbread stuffing from Tyler Florence. We eventually modified it to included some smoked hot Italian style sausage and a few other ingredients that just scream fall and holidays. We also cook it directly on the grill!
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Red Wine Cranberry Sauce
Jazz up cranberry sauce with some wine! Yes, that’s right. Everyone is gonna want seconds of this flavorful homemade cranberry sauce.
Grilled Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Balsamic
If you grew up with bland brussels, then you need to revisit them. These are grilled on skewers and topped with some BACON(!) and balsamic.
Smoked Turkey Collard Greens
We didn’t grow up with this dish, it was introduced to us by our dear friend Lynn almost a decade ago. These greens are slowly braised with a smoked turkey leg and vinegar. Combine the two flavors and you have tender and amazing collard greens.
Grilled Mashed Sweet Potato
Thanksgiving dinner has to include sweet potatoes right? Growing up, we were used to the baked version topped with marshmallow, but these elegant grilled sweet potatoes are par boiled, grilled, and then mashed with incredible flavor and texture.
Grilled Sweet Potatoes with Smoked Honey Butter
Instead of candied yams, why not opt for a whole grilled potato and top it with some smoked honey butter. YUM!
Smoked Turkey and Bourbon Gravy
You have to have gravy. And of course, our gravy is smoked. We simmer a smoked turkey leg (or thigh) in some chicken stock until it reduces and thickens into a beautiful smoked turkey gravy.
Grilled Green Beans
Grilled, crunchy, slightly sweet, and finished with some grilled lemon. This is a simple dish with outstanding flavor.
Glazed and Grilled Carrots
Grilled to perfection with a simple honey and brown sugar glaze.
Thanksgiving Desserts on the Grill
Thanksgiving ain’t Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie, right?! It’s a little crazy to think a dessert is needed for such a day of so much food… but yes, we have some pies as well. And this is one we like to make the day before. Top the pie with either ice cream or smoked whipped cream.
Grilled Pumpkin Pie
Since we want Thanksgiving day to be stress free, the grilled pumpkin pie can be made the day prior and ready to serve when dinner is over.
Grilled Maple Bourbon Pecan Pie
Pecan Pie is a classic, and it’s so easy to make. This one has some bourbon and maple syrup for added flavor. Cook it on the grill for a fun smoky twist.
Grilled Apple Crisp
Warm grilled apple crisp topped with vanilla bean ice cream is the most comforting dessert we make. It’s pure fall!
Smoked Whipped Cream
No matter what dessert you make, top it with this simple smoked whipped cream and it will add that “wow” factor to any sweet treat.
Wine and Cocktails for Thanksgiving
As we noted earlier, we start with a welcoming drink. For wine, we don’t overthink the options. Because of the diversity of the food, any combination of white and red wines will work because the food and the company is the main star of this event! But if you want a few words of advice, check out our wine guide below to help give you some inspiration.
Post Dinner Cocktail
If you are looking for a fun post-dinner cocktail, Mulled Wine is a great one to have prepared. The warm holiday cocktail is perfect thing to sip on after all that food.
We hope this list inspires you for some Thanksgiving Dinner ideas for your grill or smoker.
And from us at Vindulge we wish you the most amazing Thanksgiving. We’d love to hear what your favorite dishes are for the day. And if you made any of these recipes don’t forget to drop a comment and rating.