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Backyard Blogging.

Cooking Your Turkey (and the Whole Meal) for Thanksgiving

Our friends at Traeger grills prepared the ultimate cooking guide that we are sharing with you for the best holiday meal! Here’s the information you need for cooking your turkey for Thanksgiving.

Choose Your Size

It’s always confusing to know how much turkey to buy. Generally, you want to purchase one pound per person or a bit extra if you want leftovers. This infographic goes a step further and lets you know how many birds you can grill at once.

grill guide

Prepare for Thawing

The last thing you want to do is wait to thaw your turkey until the day of the big meal. It can take up to five days to thaw the biggest birds, so use this guide to ensure you’ll actually be eating turkey on Thanksgiving.

thawing time

Know How You’ll Cook It

Roast it, smoke, brine, rub, inject or spatchcock it. The method you choose is up to you. It’s even okay to mix methods!

turkey cook methods

Time the Cook Just Right

The first rule of thumb is to cook your turkey until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Farenheit. Use this Traeger guide for the best in cooking times.

cooking times

Time to Serve the Turkey

Once it’s time to serve your beautifully cooked turkey, follow these tips:

  • Let your turkey rest for at least 20 minutes once you’ve taken it out of the oven. This is best for 12-15 pound turkeys. If you have a turkey over 15 pounds, let it rest for at least 30 minutes before carving.
  • Don’t tent your turkey with foil as the steam from the hot turkey will collect on the foil, drip on your turkey skin and take all that crispiness away in just minutes.

Suggested Traeger Timeline

This timeline from our friends at Traeger grills is based on serving dinner at 3 pm. If you want to have dinner later, please feel free to adjust your timeline!

  • 7:30 am – Make/prep the dough for pie (if you’re not using premade). Combine all ingredients for the filling.
  • 7:45 am – Time to fire up the grill. Make sure the hopper is full of pellets and preheat to 325°F.
  • 8:00 am – Place pumpkin pie on the grill. Check about 30 minutes in by shaking it and looking for the center to be set. Overcooking will result in cracking.
  • 8:15 am – Start prepping the turkey. Remove from brine, pat completely dry, place aromatics in the cavity, season the exterior and place in a roasting rack. Place more aromatics, neck, gizzards and a small amount of stock in bottom of roasting pan. Set aside.
  • 8:50 am – By now the pie should be done. Remove and let it cool in kitchen. Reduce grill temp to 300°F.
  • 9:00 am – It’s the bird’s turn. Put the turkey on the grill at 300°F.
  • 10:00 am – Go ahead and set the table. Yeah, it feels weirdly early, but you’ll be glad you did when you realize it’s one less thing to do later.
  • 10:00 am – 1:00 pm – Now it’s time to do some serious prepping for your sides.

For mashed potatoes:

  • Chop garlic.
  • Scrub potatoes.

For green bean casserole:

  • Trim and blanch green beans.
  • Place beans in a pot of boiling water for 5-7 minutes, until tender. Strain and place in ice bath. Drain and dry thoroughly.
  • Cook and chop bacon.
  • Dice bell pepper.

For stuffing:

  • Brown sausage in pan.
  • Dice celery and onion.
  • Chop sage and mince thyme.

Back to the turkey and the rest of the meal:

  • 1:00 pm – Remove turkey from grill once internal temp reaches 160°F (will rise to 165°F while resting). Turn grill up to 350°F.
  • 1:05 pm – Place stuffing, cleaned potatoes, and cream for potatoes on the grill. This is also not a bad time to crack a beer or pour a glass of wine to help you through the final stretch.
  • 1:20 pm – Remove cream for potatoes from grill and keep warm. Start gravy by straining drippings and skimming fat before finishing on stove. Keep warm until serving.
  • 1:50 pm – Remove stuffing from grill and keep warm.
  • 2:00 pm – Place green bean casserole on grill.
  • 2:05 pm – Remove potatoes and take inside to finish.
  • 2:15 pm – Mash potatoes with food mill or by hand and combine with cream mixture. Set aside in serving dish to keep warm.
  • 2:45 pm – Remove green bean casserole from grill and set aside. Initiate grill shutdown cycle. Transfer all finished dishes to the table.
  • 3:00 pm – Present turkey to the table and show off your carving skills (*if you’d rather not carve in front of an audience, you can present the turkey and then take back to the kitchen to carve or carve at 1:30 and keep warm). Then let the feast begin!

Good luck cooking, carving, and serving your Thanksgiving turkey as well as your whole meal. Enjoy your holiday!

Images from Traeger. Turkey Photo by Alison Marras on Unsplash.