Tips for Cooking Your Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner Outdoors

Grilling for Thanksgiving - TipsThere are few dinners on the American calendar as iconic as the Thanksgiving dinner, with a golden turkey at the center of the table with all of the bounty of the fall harvest for fixings.

A lot of effort goes into getting the dinner prepared, and with a house full of family and friends it can create a chaotic scene in your kitchen. But by taking your cooking to your backyard grill, you can ease the activity in your kitchen and leave the house for socializing and enjoying your company.

“Your backyard grill is, essentially, an outdoor oven with a versatility you simply can’t replicate in your kitchen,” says Stephen Schroeter, Senior Vice President of Napoleon. “You can add new flavors and bring a whole new experience to your traditional Thanksgiving dinner by cooking the entire meal on your barbecue.”

Stephen offers these pointers for cooking your Thanksgiving dinner on your grill.

Grilling for Thanksgiving - Tips

* The Main Course. Thanksgiving and turkey are near synonymous. Start by preparing your grill for indirect cooking, and placing a drip pan with water above the unlit burners, but below the cooking grate (if possible, try to leave a space between the cooking grates where you can fit a baster). As the barbecue warms up — aim for a steady temperature of 350°F — get your bird ready. Even though you are cooking it on your grill, proceed as if you were doing it in your oven. Stuff it with your preferred mixture, season the skin (Napoleon suggests rubbing the outside of the turkey with butter and then liberally seasoning it with coarse salt, fresh ground black pepper and fresh thyme, sage and rosemary from your herb garden), truss the legs and, when the barbecue reaches the desired temperature, place it on the grill. Check and baste it every hour. Cook until it reaches the desired internal temperature — 165°F, or about 20 minutes of cooking time per pound. Let it rest after your remove it from the heat – but don’t turn your grill off yet.

* Be creative. If you want to bring new flavors to your turkey, fill a smoker tube with apple wood chips and place on one of the lit burners. The natural smoky flavor is something you simply can’t replicate in your oven. If you can’t access the drip tray with your baster, try making a basting liquid with melted butter and white wine.

* The Side Dish. Save the stress on your stove top by doing the potatoes on your barbecue. Wrap your chopped potatoes in tinfoil, with a liberal amount of butter or olive oil (or both!), fresh chopped chives and a minced clove or two of garlic. Place the foil packet on the top shelf and leave it for about an hour, maybe flipping it once. Once they are ready, you are free to serve as is or to mash them up with some butter, cream cheese and milk.

* The Vegetables. The barbecue brings a whole new flavor experience to seasonal harvest vegetables. Brushed with olive oil and lightly seasoned with salt and pepper, the charred, smoky flavors are unlike anything you can do on your stove. Place them directly over low to medium heat, or use a grill top wok to cook up a medley of peppers, zucchini and carrots. Do you have a side burner? Use it to boil corn on the cob. Or grill the corn in its husks.

* The Gravy. The concoction of the turkey drippings (be careful when removing the drip tray from the grill, as it will be hot!) and the white wine-and-butter basting liquid is an excellent base for an incredible turkey gravy. Once the turkey is removed from the grill and is resting, turn on all the burners and place the drip tray on top. As it comes to a gentle boil, whisk together some flour and chicken stock until all the lumps are gone, then whisk that into the drippings. Keep stirring until it is smooth, skim off the fat and pour into your gravy boat.

Napoleon was recognized as one of Canada’s Top 50 Best Managed Companies in 2014, an annual distinction sponsored by CIBC World Markets, Deloitte, The National Post, Queen’s School of Business and CEO Forum. For more information, please visit Follow Napoleon on Facebook.


  1. Patricia Delgado says:

    I never ever thought to cook my turkey on a grill, this sounds like it could be easier than I thought!

  2. rochelle haynes says:

    I never treid this but it sounds good like
    to give this a try one holiday but love my
    ham and dressing in the oven

  3. Tamra Phelps says:

    OK, this might be just bad, but I’m going to say it: I prefer ham over turkey!! Lol, I’m just not a big turkey lover! But the best thing about Thanksgiving is always the cornbread stuffing!

  4. Okay now I am hungry! This sounds amazing. I have got to save this one. I had no idea how to cook a turkey on the grill thanks for sharing. It sounds so nice and easy and we have got to try this. I think the whole family would love it. Hope you have a nice weekend and thanks for another wonderful week of great posts and giveaways.

  5. We just have a charcoal grill, but I have to admit that I considered it for the turkey. I might just test it out on a chicken, though; I sure wouldn’t want to try a turkey for the first time on Thanksgiving! Reading through this post, I think the first tip should be to make sure you have enough fuel–the only part of the meal he’s not cooking on the grill is the pumpkin pie. 🙂

  6. Jo-Ann Brightman says:

    I would love to try a fryer for my turkey. Right Now I brine it and roast it. At this moment we don’t have a grill to use outdoors.

  7. I would love to try this someday. It is always so hard to fit everything in the oven making the timing so difficult. We use our grill all summer long but have never considered using it for Thanksgiving. Probably because the weather is often so stormy.

  8. The best turkey we ever had was cooked on a spit on the grill and basted in butter (the second best was deep fried outside). Never made the gravy on the grill though,…love that idea, I can imagine that would taste incredible.

  9. Great tips. I always enjoy cooking the side items. I am planning to make sweet potato casserole and pecan pie this year. I can’t wait!

  10. I love the idea of cooking my meal outdoors. But I am afraid I will miss the smell in my home. There is something about the smell of the turkey cooking and filling your home with a wonderful aroma!

  11. Chances are good that we could see snow on Thanksgiving so I don’t think this would work very well here.

  12. This sounds great, and in SoCal I could do it ~ but I’m just not brave enough!

  13. Sherry Compton says:

    We love potatoes and veggies on the grill. Often choosing to do individual packets so each person can fill with their own wants. I hadn’t thought about doing the turkey though. We are cooking so many things in the kitchen; this would be a great way to free up some space and time.

    • Sherry, My hubby made a turkey in an outdoor deep frying vat a few years ago and it was the BEST turkey I ever had! He got rid of that outdoor deep fryer when we moved and now I totally miss it. Perhaps it’s time to invest in another one!