~ Wanna try something different this holiday season? Step outside the kitchen with these delicious Thanksgiving Grilling Ideas! From turkey and other festive main courses, to sides and salads – even dessert. Traditional flavors become so much more unique and exciting when you serve up Thanksgiving dinner from your grill! ~
Wanna shake up tradition just a little? Tired of the same old oven-roasted turkey, boiled and mashed taters, and baked casserole sides?
Oh, I hear ya! As I’ve mentioned before – my fam usually has two or three days of Thanksgiving parties, just to fit in the whole family tree and all its constantly sprouting, far-reaching branches.
So for me, two or three (or four!) “traditional” turkey dinners is just not gonna happen. Bo-ringggg! I’m always on the lookout for new twists … unique but highly festive ideas that still feel like Thanksgiving dinner, but yet are also somehow NOT precisely like Thanksgiving dinner.
This year, I thought I’d bring all of you along on my quest for delicious new inspiration! (Like my idea to serve up holiday-worthy Thanksgiving Chicken Breasts, instead of a whole turkey.)
Today, I’m exploring the idea of taking the feast out to the grill. So cool, so impressive!
What Can You Grill for Your Thanksgiving Feast?
Maybe you want to grill just one part of the meal to free up kitchen space (smart!).
Or maybe you live somewhere that still has glorious weather on Thanksgiving Day (lucky, lucky you!), and you’d like to celebrate outside.
Whatever you choose, I found awesome, awesome ideas for:
grilling or smoking your turkey (whole or just a smaller breast)
lots of other celebratory main dish ideas, if you just don’t want to go the turkey route at all
side dishes and salads, hot off the grill
and even (no kidding!) Thanksgiving desserts you can make on the grill (yup … pumpkin pie’s here, too, friends!)
So, this Thanksgiving, try something new. Get a bit casual, a bit creative, a bit smoky-grill-marked-slightly-charred-this-is-sooooooo-delicious!
Thanksgiving Grilling Ideas
The Main Event: Grilled Turkey Recipes!
From simple grilling techniques, to smoky flavors, or even to a spatchcock version or just a single grilled breast, there's a delicious turkey recipe here that's perfect for your Thanksgiving menu!
This is a step-by-step recipe, for a classically flavored grilled turkey, without using wood chips or a smoker. A fun way to free up that oven and wow your guests with a grilling experience and a tender, flavorful, juicy bird – it's easier than you think!
This brined, smoked turkey is tender, moist and delicious and adds a special, smoky twist to your holiday celebration. This more advanced, comprehensive recipe includes details on everything from the brine, to the wood chips and drip pan, to the best instant read thermometers and instructions for both a smoker as well as a gas grill ... plus a crazy-good homemade cider gravy to go alongside!
This recipe is for everyone who loves injecting their turkey with marinade prior to cooking. A quick salt water brine makes sure the turkey stays juicy while it's hickory smoked on your grill, and the injected apple cider marinade infuses the tender, juicy meat with wonderful flavor as it cooks!
Ideal for pellet grills or electric smokers, this recipe requires no brining and has very little added fat. A dry rub spice mixture featuring garlic powder, cayenne, paprika, thyme, and Old Bay builds great flavor, and the end result is a turkey dinner with tender meat and a fabulous, crispy skin.
So many helpful shortcuts here! This super-moist turkey recipe uses a simple dry brine (no 5-gallon brining bucket required). And spatchcocking (butterflying) your bird slashes cook time and makes carving easier, too.
This recipe uses just the breast, but still includes (optional) brining and a slather of spices, just like you'd do with a whole bird. Perfect for smaller gatherings, or if you don't care for dark meat – but still want to celebrate with classic turkey flavor!
Unlike many "low and slow" smoker recipes, this one is "hot and fast" which allows you to add smoke flavor but cook in way less time.A thorough tutorial walks you through the recipe, which is ideal for a pellet smoker, or any kamado-style ceramic or charcoal grill.
Alternative Thanksgiving Mains
Not a turkey person? Or maybe (like me!) you've got multiple Thanksgiving celebrations every year (so much family to hug and give thanks for!) ... and you just don't want to eat turkey every time. No worries. We've got this!
If you're gonna jettison that turkey, why not go straight to the Cadillac of celebratory dishes?!? These soft, tender lobster tails are easy to make on your grill, and so richly luscious with a bit of lemon garlic butter. Divine!
Sooooo ... I still haven't quite decided, but for the "second Thanksgiving" I'll be hosting this year, I think I'm gonna dub it "Steaks-giving" and serve up this super-easy, no-stress, family-favorite recipe. Everyone will be thrilled, and I'll have plenty of time to relax and enjoy the people I love!
Designed for a smoker or pellet grill, this highly rated recipe takes just 10 minutes of hands-on prep time, and you can smoke one or multiple chickens, depending on the size of your gathering. It yields succulent, tender meat with a crisp skin, thanks to the special dry brining technique.
Spatchcocking is a terrific strategy for ensuring your chicken cooks evenly throughout, with juicy meat on the inside and crispier skin ... all with a shorter cooking time. Lots of great tips for a scrumptiously seasoned bird that's ideal for smaller Thanksgiving parties.
Elevate salmon to a celebration-worthy main course with this cedar plank technique! It's a simple yet elegant way to create restaurant-quality salmon with a delicious smoked, woodsy flavor. A delightful alternative to traditional turkey!
Perhaps the most ultimate holiday-season main dish (besides, of course ... Thanksgiving turkey!). If you're looking for a turkey alternative, give this a shot. It's easy to prepare with a simple garlic rub and step-by-step instructions for a tender, juicy, melt-in-your-mouth prime rib roast. (And even though it's so very special, remember that this cut is high in fat, so keep portion sizes in check and serve it up with lots of the delicious veggie side dishes below!)
When I was a kid, our "second Thanksgiving" dinner usually involved seafood – especially shrimp! If that's your vibe, too, then this easy but flavorful marinated shrimp recipe will be just perfect. Serve it as a main dish, or even as an appetizer!
While there's some historic debate as to whether or not turkey was actually the type of fowl served at the first Thanksgiving, there is evidence that the "Wampanoag arrived with an offering of five deer." So, maybe this venison is actually a more truly traditional choice than turkey?!? Regardless, it's easy to prepare on the grill, and turns out delicious and flavorful with no gamey taste!
Impressive! Your guests will each feel so special having an entire hen on their plate, since one hen makes the perfect serving size. Yet this recipe is so approachable, too, with just 10 minutes of prep and a super-easy marinade. It’s amazing how much flavor you can get out of a few simple ingredients!
Combining all the classic Thanksgiving flavors into an edible bowl, this is the perfect camping meal for a Thanksgiving outdoor getaway! It hits all the notes that conjure up memories of a big family Thanksgiving – turkey and stuffing, pecans, onions, celery and cranberries ... but it doesn’t involve nearly as many dishes!
An eye-catching plated presentation! And these grilled lamb chops are packed full of flavor from a simple mix of minced garlic, thyme leaves, smoked paprika, black pepper, garlic salt, liquid smoke, and olive oil. Fast to make, too, since they're seared on the grill for just 8-10 minutes, until they're tender and juicy with a delicate crust!
This easy recipe takes less than 30 minutes from start to finish. Just marinate, grill, and enjoy! Savory and a little smoky, it's an ideal vegan, gluten-free main dish to have on hand if you're serving a group with diverse dietary needs.
Have some vegan friends joining you for the feast? These ingenious skewers are like Thanksgiving dinner on a stick, with herbed lemon seitan, stuffing, potatoes, and even sweet potatoes with marshmallows. Just add cranberry sauce and gravy! (And you'd better make extras ... EVERYONE will wanna try one!)
Grilled Sides and Salads
If you're already firing up the grill for the main course of your holiday meal, why not make some side dishes there, too? Easy and fun!
Instead of typical mashed potatoes, toss a foil packet of these on the grill, to cook right alongside your main dish. Ridiculously simple and so good! Plus, they're great little chameleons to match up with whatever other flavors you're highlighting in your meal.
Grilled over medium heat, these require almost zero attention and are virtually impossible to overcook! The sweet potatoes develop a delightfully unique, slightly smoky flavor, and when they're done, you just dump them in a bowl, add in some butter, milk and salt, and mash away to your preferred consistency. Easy-peasy!
Asparagus isn't just for springtime anymore. It's a staple at many Thanksgiving celebrations these days, too! This quick, simple version leverages common pantry staples and will pair perfectly with other harvest flavors on your holiday menu.
A foolproof recipe for grilling carrots over indirect heat so they're delightfully tender and not burnt. Try them with a unique North African-inspired lemon harissa sauce, or one of the several other delicious topping and sauce ideas in the post!
So clever – this is definitely the grilled side dish you didn’t even know you needed. Much more exciting than a regular ol' loaf of bread! It's the perfect combination of chewy and crispy, with a touch of rosemary and garlic. (And be sure to note the tip that you can choose a whole-grain loaf for extra nutrition.)
Ditch the gloppy green bean casserole this year, and try making your beans in a cast iron pan on the grill! It's easy and mess-free ... and you still get the grill flavors plus a buttery, seasoned coating. Buh-bye gloppy casserole!
Cauliflower and red cabbage are grilled to roasty-toasty perfection, then tossed with crunchy, toasted almonds, fresh herbs, and a sweet-and-savory Miso Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette for a stunning presentation with lots of bright flavors and great textures!
One of the joys of eating delicata squash is that it tastes like sweet potatoes, but has a fraction of the carbs and calories. This recipe showcases delicata's natural sweetness with a warm, creamy, grilled center. Dress it up for Thanksgiving with spinach, pecans, dried cranberries, and balsamic glaze!
Four ingredients, 10 minutes, and a hot grill is all you need for this easy side dish, kissed with tangy lemon and a generous shower of salty-savory parmesan. (Alternately, you could also go for Grilled Broccolini, too!)
Irresistible chunks of grilled Halloumi are surrounded by a harvest bounty of seasoned veggies. Feel free to change up the vegetables to fit the rest of your Thanksgiving menu. Try it and see why this recipe has so many great reviews!
Grilling kale makes it SO flavorful and a little crispy – kinda like raw kale, sautéed kale, and kale chips all in one! Here it's paired with avocado, lemon, garlic, toasted pecans, and parmesan for a stunner presentation.
Seasoned with a sweet-and-spicy combination of cinnamon and chili powder, this grilled side dish is easy to make and packed with flavor! Includes lots of seasoning ideas and serving suggestions, like drizzling with a bit of sweet maple syrup or adding interesting spice kicks.
In this quick Thanksgiving side dish, perfectly grilled zucchini is drizzled with a rich balsamic glaze, bits of fresh basil, and creamy, salty feta cheese. Mmmmm ... it's light, easy, healthy and delicious!
This fun recipe is actually triple grilled: first the jalapeño is grilled to build flavor, then the pan of cornbread is cooked right on the grill, and finally, individual pieces of cornbread are grilled again to develop alluring "grill marks." A great twist on a Thanksgiving classic!
Wanna know a secret? The best grilled cauliflower just might start with a microwave! Huh! This foolproof method yields cauliflower that's tender, caramelized, smoky and 100% delicious. Take it a step further by nestling it atop a bed of cream-swirled romesco sauce for a real treat!
Grilled Dessert Ideas
Let's not forget about the glorious finale to your feast! To end the day on an impressive note, pull dessert from the grill to thrill your guests and add a final flourish of "WOW" factor!
Grilling the entire recipe adds intriguing new flavors to this classic Thanksgiving dessert. First, ginger snap cookies are smoked (with a very easy, shortcut method!), and then the entire pie "bakes" right on the grill. Your guests will be astonished – what fun!
Holiday flavors take center stage with refreshing oranges and sweet-tart pops of pomegranate. Although you can opt to broil this recipe, you can also toast the cake on the grill, just like in our summer-y Blueberry-Lemon version.
Kind of like a deconstructed apple pie! The apples are cooked in a foil packet with butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar ... and taste just like apple pie, especially topped with granola and a dollop of whipped cream or frozen yogurt!
Want More Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas?
Maybe you don’t want to grill every part of the meal? Want a few indoor recipes to round out your Thanksgiving menu? I’ve got ya! How about …
No matter how many feasts you’re coordinating this year, and no matter where you’re celebrating (indoors or out!) … I hope you have a wonderful holiday full of delicious things to eat and lots of laughter with people you love!