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How to Host Thanksgiving In Your Outdoor Kitchen
How to Host Thanksgiving In Your Outdoor Kitchen
Hosting Thanksgiving Outdoors [2023]

This year, why not start a new Thanksgiving tradition by hosting the party in your outdoor kitchen? Depending on where you live and if you need to winterize your outdoor kitchen before cold weather arrives, this may be your last opportunity to use your outdoor dining space for the year. The Grillnetics blog has just the tips you need to carve out a perfect plan for outdoor Thanksgiving!


If you need another incentive to host on your patio this year, outdoor dining does make it easier to observe recommended practices to minimize the spread of COVID-19.


Create The Atmosphere

Hosting outdoors will augment the Thanksgiving atmosphere thanks to the fresh air and colors, but don't forget about decorations! You can use your usual holiday decor, though you may want to look for dinnerware and table settings that are heavy enough to stay put in case of windy weather. In addition to decorations, you'll want to put some thought into outdoor lighting — with daylight savings time in full effect, the days are getting shorter.


Turn up the Heat

The days are getting shorter, and the evenings are a little crisper, but that shouldn't stop you from enjoying an evening outside. While many of our readers live in areas where November weather remains mild, for others, well, November weather isn't exactly patio weather — without a proper heating solution anyway. Patio heaters and fire pits are among our favorite subtle solutions, but chimneys and fireplaces are also a great option!


Resume Your Regularly Scheduled Programming

While you are creating a new holiday tradition by hosting Thanksgiving outdoor this year, that doesn't mean every tradition has to go! Bring your favorite turkey TV out with you with an outdoor TV that suits your space. The operative word here is “outdoor” — these types of TVs are built specifically to handle the elements, which may be fairly harsh this time of year, depending on where you call home.


Set The Table & Grab A Seat

The need for proper seating is another thing that won't change about your Thanksgiving this year. You’ll also need outdoor seating sets for the rest of the day, especially for dads and uncles dozing in front of the TV. For a more casual atmosphere, you may opt for bar stools, a party bar or cocktail station, or a firepit conversation set. Check out the Grillnetics blog for more information on heating your outdoor patio.


After The Party

Just because the meal is over, doesn’t mean the night is. Carving out a plan for clean-up will make your job easier, and make sure you can spend your time enjoying an evening with your guests. Don’t leave visitors to fend for themselves while you’re busy tidying up. Set up a spot for guests to gather and relax over after-dinner drinks until you can join them.


Cooking Thanksgiving In Your Outdoor Kitchen

Cooking your turkey outdoors? Absolutely. You’ll get an excuse to be outside and add the unique smokey flavor that outdoor cooking is known for. Let’s start with the main course.


You can prepare a whole turkey using your grill or smoker, as long as it fits (and is thawed out). To grill your turkey, you’ll want to add oil to the grate and sear the top of the breast first. Then transfer the turkey to an aluminum roasting pan, add water and your favorite seasoning, cover with foil, and grill with the cover down for 3 to 4 hours.


How To Grill Your Turkey In Your Outdoor Kitchen
  • First, you’ll want to preheat your grill to medium-high heat. You can prepare the turkey while you wait, or do so beforehand.
  • Next, place the turkey breast side up in a roasting pan, covered in your favorite seasonings.
  • Grill with the cover down for 3-4 hours; you may need to adjust the heat after a few hours to make sure the inside is cooked through
  • Once there is only an hour left, throw in some vegetables and give them time to cook in some of the flavors. Pro tip: use the drippings to make your gravy.


Side Dishes For Your Outdoor Thanksgiving Dinner

What's a turkey dinner without sides? You can easily incorporate your favorite turkey day sides into your outdoor grilling area. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Grilled corn on the cob w/ butter
  • Grilled butternut squash
  • Roasted sweet potatoes (either cooked in foil or grilled as wedges)
  • Roasted white potatoes


And if you have a good quality cast-iron pan, you can even cook stuffing over the grill!


Bonus: 4 Tips for Thanksgiving during covid-19

Per the CDC, outdoor gatherings may help reduce risk of COVID-19 transmission, so if you needed another reason to host outdoor this year, there it is! Good thing you're already going down that path, or you wouldn't be reading this. That said, there is more you can do to keep your guests safe this year, which we've listed below:


How to safely host Thanksgiving during COVID-19:


1. Make a Clear Plan

It's a good idea to look up local and state guidelines regarding the permitted size of gatherings in your area. Those recommended numbers, in addition to the size of your outdoor space, set the bar for how many people you should invite. 


2. keep hygiene in mind

Basic sanitation will go a long way in keeping your guests safe. Offer guests their choice of sanitation products like hand sanitizer, gloves, tissues, disinfectant wipes, and no-touch trash cans.


3. Save Some Room

No more cramming as many people as you can around the dining room table — save some room, both for guests and for seconds. Place chairs and tables at least 6 feet apart.


4. Include Those Who Can’t Make It

If nothing else, one of the benefits that's come out of the COVID-19 pandemic is that we've gotten a lot better at keeping in touch with loved ones over distance. If you live nearby, safely prepare and make a contactless dinner delivery to your elderly or immunocompromised family members. 


For those farther away, offer them a virtual seat at the table so it feels like they're really there. When they can finally attend your outdoor Thanksgiving dinners in person, they'll be able to enjoy the new tradition you've created this year.