37 Thanksgiving Recipes for the Grill and Smoker
Nov 11, 2020, Updated Nov 21, 2023
Looking for ideas on what to smoke for Thanksgiving? We have 30 Thanksgiving Recipe Ideas to cook outside, on the grill or smoker. These Smoker Thanksgiving Recipes (and grill) are some of our most popular tried and true holiday recipes.
For other holidays, especially Christmas, check out our roundup of holiday recipes for the grill and smoker.
We have testing smoker Thanksgiving recipes outside for years because we love the flavor and it keeps the kitchen free to hang out and do smaller prep work. 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.
Table of Contents
- Preparation for Thanksgiving on the Grill
- Thanksgiving Cocktail Ideas
- Thanksgiving Appetizers on the Grill or Smoker
- Thanksgiving Turkey on the Grill or Smoker
- Sides Dishes for Thanksgiving
- Thanksgiving Desserts on the Grill
- Wine Pairing for Thanksgiving
- Post Thanksgiving Dinner Cocktail
- Leftover Thanksgiving Recipe Ideas
- About Vindulge
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. And be sure you give your turkey enough time to THAW! At least three days for the average size turkeys.
- Prep Plan – We cater and that means writing down the timeline and the plan. This makes sure you defrost your turkey in time and have enough time to brine or prepare your other dishes.
- 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 turkey brine. Using a brine is a great technique for smoking Turkey because it helps retain moisture and adds some flavor.
Thanksgiving Cocktail Ideas
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.
Apple Cider Mimosa
Since fall is prime apple season, a little sparkling wine added to fresh apple cider is the perfect Thanksgiving drink idea. Or get inspired from our mimosa bar ideas.
Apple Cider Mimosa Recipe
Bourbon Spiked Hot Apple Cider
Alternatively you can warm up some apple cider and let your guests add Bourbon or whiskey as a warm Thanksgiving cocktail idea.
Bourbon Spiked Hot Apple Cider Recipe
Elevate your mimosa game with flavor and color. Use Pomegranate juice and sparkling wine and finish with fresh pomegranate seeds. It’s a stunning flavor and looks amazing too.
Bourbon Cocktail with Grilled Lemon Simple Syrup
In the theme of make ahead, grill lemons to make a grilled lemon simple syrup. Combine with Bourbon (or whiskey) for a our grilled Bourbon Cocktail.
Bourbon Cocktail Recipe with Grilled Lemon Simple Syrup
Pomegranate Ginger Beer Cocktail
Nothing says Thanksgiving cocktails like using pomegranate. This pomegranate cocktail is not overly sweet with a nice kick from good ginger beer.
Ginger Pomegranate Cocktail
Thanksgiving Appetizers on the Grill or Smoker
When guests arrive it’s great to have some Thanksgiving themed appetizers. 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.
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.
Grilled Baked Brie with Wine and Thyme
Blackberry Jam With Grilled Brie
Buy fresh or frozen blackberries and make this Thanksgiving appetizer hit. It’s ready in minutes and is made at every party we ever host.
Grilled Baked Brie with Blackberry Jam
Grilled Green Bean Bundles
Wrap prosciutto around blanched string beans and grill them for 10 minutes. Easy to make ahead and serve warm.
Easy Grilled Prosciutto Wrapped Green Bean Bundles
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.
Smoked Deviled Eggs Recipe
Thanksgiving Turkey on the Grill or Smoker
Smoked Turkey is the main star. We save Smoked 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.
This seasoning is our go to for any of our smoked turkey recipes. It’s a savory mix with kosher salt, dried herbs, and the distinct flavor of fennel. If you want something with some sugar use our ultimate dry rub.
Easy Homemade Turkey Seasoning Recipe
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.
Smoked Turkey Recipe with Bourbon Brine
Perfect Pellet Grill Turkey
Pellet grills are a great way to add smoke and then crank up the heat for crispy skin. We use our turkey seasoning and we spatchcock for the ultimate pellet grill smoked turkey.
Smoked Pellet Grill Turkey Recipe
Spatchcock Smoked Turkey
The Best way to get an even cook without drying out the meat is to spatchcock. By removing the back bone, you can flatten the turkey and allow things to cook more evenly.
Smoked Spatchcocked Turkey Recipe with Cajun Seasoning
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.
Smoked Turkey Breast 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.
Cajun Grilled Turkey Breast Recipe
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.
Easy Skillet Dinner Rolls
Easy quick-rise dinner rolls grilled to perfection. These golden brown rolls are chewy with that nice crusty exterior with that extra wood fire flavor. Ready in under 90 minutes from beginning to end.
Easy Skillet Dinner Rolls Recipe (on the Grill)
Grilled Wild Mushroom Stuffing
Three varieties of mushrooms, leeks, and crusty bread all combined for a savory and rich wild mushroom stuffing. One Thanksgiving recipe we have on our table every year.
Grilled Wild Mushroom and Leek Stuffing
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!
Smoked Sausage, Caramelized Onion, and Cornbread Stuffing Recipe
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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.
Red Wine Cranberry Sauce Recipe
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.
Grilled Brussels Sprouts Recipe With Bacon and Balsamic
Thinly sliced acorn squash over direct heat and finished with a real maple syrup glaze.
Grilled Acorn Squash recipe with Maple Syrup Glaze
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.
Collard Greens Recipe With Smoked Turkey Leg
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 Mashed Sweet Potatoes Recipe
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!
Grilled Sweet Potato Recipe with Smoked Honey Butter
Grilled Beet Salad with Wine Infused Cranberries
Grilled roasted beets are tossed with bacon, Parmesan cheese, and wine infused cranberries for an incredible salad.
Grilled Beet Salad with Rosé Infused Cranberries and Bacon
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.
Smoked Turkey Gravy Recipe with Bourbon
Grilled Green Beans
Grilled, crunchy, slightly sweet, and finished with some grilled lemon. This is a simple dish with outstanding flavor.
Easy Grilled Green Beans Recipe with Grilled Lemon
Glazed and Grilled Carrots
Grilled to perfection with a simple honey and brown sugar glaze.
Grilled and Glazed Carrots Recipe
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 Apple Pie
This Dutch style apple pie is grilled to perfection using store-bought dough and a delicious butter and sugar crumble. It’s classic apple pie only easier with a smoky flavor.
Easy Grilled Apple Pie (Dutch Apple Pie style)
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 Pumpkin Pie Recipe
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 Maple Bourbon Pecan Pie Recipe
Grilled Apple Crisp
Warm grilled apple crisp topped with vanilla bean ice cream is the most comforting dessert we make. It’s pure fall!
Grilled Apple Crisp
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.
Smoked Whipped Cream
Wine Pairing for Thanksgiving
As we noted earlier, we start with a welcoming drink. For wine, we don’t overthink the options. We like to plan one sparkling, one white, and one red option. Then scale up how many bottles based on how many people are coming.
Portions: The general rule is one bottle of wine per adult.
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.
- Sparkling Wine – Sparkling wine pairs with any type of food. We opt for a good Oregon Sparkline wine or a nice Prosecco. Or you can seek out rarer wines like Brazilian Sparkling Wine or a good Champagne.
- Riesling – Riesling, especially a dry one, stands up to the diverse flavors of the food.
- Zinfandel – Big tannic reds don’t pair as well with Thanksgiving Dinner. But a juicy well made red Zinfandel has great structure and is fruity.
But if you want a few words of advice, check out our wine guide below to help give you some inspiration.
Post Thanksgiving 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.
Mulled Wine Recipe
Leftover Thanksgiving Recipe Ideas
It’s likely you have lots of food leftover. Try some of these to make that meal last.
Smoked Buffalo Turkey Dip
Take your leftover turkey and turn it into a Buffalo style cheese dip. This is comfort food elevated.
Smoked Buffalo Turkey Dip Recipe
Green Chile Turkey
This green chile (or chili) turkey uses green bell peppers and leftover turkey to make a thick soupy and savory soup. You can also substitute the bell peppers with Hatch Green Chile.
Green Chili Turkey Recipe
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 or rate any of the recipes you make.
Mary (a certified sommelier and recipe developer) and Sean (backyard pitmaster) are co-authors of the critically acclaimed cookbook, Fire + Wine, and have been creating content for the IACP nominated website Vindulge since 2009. They live in Oregon on a farm just outside Portland.
Now on 2nd edition
Fire + Wine Cookbook
“This book is a one-stop guide for anyone truly interested in elevating their BBQ experience into a culinary work of art.”
5 out of 5 Stars
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