It’s tough to pull off Thanksgiving with one oven. If you learn how to grill Thanksgiving dinner, it’ll be like you’ve gained a second oven.

a whole turkey smoking on a black Weber kettle grill

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During the holiday season having a second oven would come in so handy.

For Thanksgiving, home cooks are expected to roast a turkey and make a cornucopia of side dishes. For Christmas, the family wants a feast with a perfect medium-rare prime rib.

Of course, the family would also enjoy moist stuffing, crispy-topped vegetable casserole, creamy macaroni and cheese, and don’t forget the flaky pies.

Pulling off that menu with one oven is tough. And buying a second oven that gets used twice a year isn’t practical.

So what’s a cook to do?

This year, think “outside” the box. Really, walk outside. You probably already have a second oven – a grill. Whether gas or charcoal, a grill when used properly, can bake or roast just about any dish.

An oven is essentially a metal box that maintains a constant heat. A grill can do the same thing; you just have to be cautious of the flame. The key to using a grill like an oven is cooking over indirect heat. Cooking over fire equals direct heat. Cooking over heat, where the fire is off to the side is indirect heat.

Most gas grills nowadays have multiple burners. For indirect heat, turn one burner to high or medium-high, leave the other burners off and close the lid.

After a few minutes, check the temperature. The inside of the grill should be about 350-400 degrees. That’s the temperature most often used with ovens. All you have to do is place your side dish on the side of the grill where the burners are turned off and close the lid and your dish will cook.

Since one side of the grill is hotter, rotate the dish halfway through for an even cook. And always make sure you have an extra propane tank handy since the grill may be on for a couple of hours.

Indirect Heat on a Char-Broil Kettleman Grill

Can I use a charcoal grill like an oven, too?

You bet! The same concept works for charcoal grills. Light the coals, and once they’re gray, push them to one side or into a large circle.

Then, place your dish over the area with no coals. Monitor the grill temperature by adjusting the vents and adding more coals, as needed.

Check out the complete Charcoal Grilling Guide.

For an added bonus of flavor, try using smoke chips. Place apple, cherry or hickory chips in a pouch of foil. Poke holes in the foil and place over direct heat.

Ready to give this second oven a try?

You can go big and grill the turkey or prime rib outdoors, or you can start small and prepare a few sides. Below are some recipes to get you started.

Thanksgiving Recipes

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Hey BBQ Family

I’m Christie, the head cook and award-winning competitive pitmaster for Team Girls Can Grill. I have won multiple grand championships and top 10 category finishes. I’m an expert grill reviewer for BBQ Guys, and I have appeared on the Food Network and Ninja Woodfire Grill infomercials. I established this website in 2015 to share my BBQ tips and recipes.

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