Timing your Thanksgiving dinner is a balancing act.

Especially if you are limited on heating sources. The key is to have everything planned in advance so you’ll know what to cook and when.  Here’s the hour by hour breakdown of cooking so you’ll be able to have your meal done on time.

Traditionally, many people start Thanksgiving cooking by putting the turkey in the oven bright and early.  But really you want to think about the end of the meal first. Whether planning a noonday meal or evening presentation, plan 5 hours for cooking.  We’re listing this out for a 6 pm serving time. (Click here for print version)

Thanksgiving Day Timeline - 7:00 pm

The Night Before Thanksgiving

If you’re going to cook your turkey on the grill, the spatchcock method is the way to go. You’ll need to start this process the night before.

Spatchcock the turkey. To take the backbone out, place the bird breast side down. Cut along both sides of the backbone with kitchen shears, from one opening of the cavity to the other. Flip the bird over and press to flatten.

Place the spatchcocked turkey in the brine bath. Let the bird soak overnight while you get a good night’s sleep for tomorrow’s activities!

Thanksgiving Day Timeline - 10:00 am

Take the Turkey Out of the Brine

Take the turkey out of the brine, empty the brine bucket and put the turkey back in. Set aside (refrigerate) until later - go watch the Thanksgiving Day parade with the kids.

Thanksgiving Day Timeline - 1:00 pm

Get Out Your Unbaked Pie Shells and Fill

Get your unbaked pie shells out and fill. Bake pumpkin pie for 15 minutes at 425°F then lower the temperature to 350°F for 35 - 40 minutes until set.

Let it cool.

Thanksgiving Day Timeline - 2:00 pm

Cooking Your Turkey the Traditional Way?

If you’re cooking your turkey the traditional way, you’ll want to put your unstuffed bird in the oven now at 350°F.

Remove the turkey from the brine. Pat the bird dry with paper towels. Pull the skin away from the meat, but leave it attached. Season the meat under the skin for maximum flavor absorption.

While waiting for the seasoning to set, bake your sweet potatoes on a cookie sheet for about 20 minutes (350°F) then remove from oven and set aside, we’ll get to mashing in a moment.

Thanksgiving Day Timeline - 2:30 pm

Preheat Your Grill to 350ºF

Preheat your Yoder Smokers YS640 pellet grill to 350ºF. Lay the bird flat on a foil lined sheet pan and place the pan in the cooker.

It’s going to cook for about 3 hours (15 lb turkey), until it reaches an internal temperature of 155°F on the breasts.

Remember, if you’re looking, you aren’t cooking! Just trust the process.

Thanksgiving Day Timeline - 3:30 pm

Start the Green Bean Casserole

Now that the bird is on the grill, you can assemble your sweet potato casserole, cover and set aside for cooking later.

If you’re going to make our green bean casserole, you’ll want to start on that now. And once your green beans are cooking, start the water for mashed potatoes. Potatoes should boil for about 15 minutes or until fork tender.

Thanksgiving Day Timeline - 4:00 pm

Soften Up the Butter

Take a stick of butter (or two depending on the number of guests) out of the fridge and put on a butter dish (or bread plate) cover and set aside to soften for dinner.

Mash the potatoes; cover and set aside. You can warm them in the microwave if necessary.

Thanksgiving Day Timeline - 4:30 pm

Sweet Potato Casserole Into the Oven

Put the sweet potato casserole in the oven for about 45 minutes, remove when done - cover and set aside for serving.

Thanksgiving Day Timeline - 5:00 pm

Remove Green Beans from the Grill

Remove green beans from the grill (or an oven if you’re cooking traditionally), cover and set aside for serving.

Make stuffing on the stove top, place in a serving dish, cover and set aside.

Thanksgiving Day Timeline - 5:15 pm

Sweet Potatoes Come Out of the Oven

Take the sweet potatoes from the oven, cover and set aside.

Put dinner rolls on a baking sheet and put in the oven for about 15 - 18 minutes at 350°F.

Heat the gravy on the stove or microwave, pour into a gravy boat; cover and set aside for serving.

Thanksgiving Day Timeline - 5:30 pm

Take the Turkey Off of the Grill

Take the turkey off the grill, let it rest for 20 minutes before carving.

Take the cranberry sauce out of the fridge.

Remove biscuits from the oven and place in a serving dish.

Thanksgiving Day Timeline - 5:50 pm

Set the Table

Bring all the serving dishes of food to the table including beverages.

Remember the gravy, softened butter and cranberry sauce.  The pie can wait in the kitchen until after dinner.

Carve the turkey.  This can be done in the kitchen or at the table.

Thanksgiving Day Timeline - 6:00 pm

Dinner Time

Call everyone on in, follow your family's traditions of gratitude, and dig in!

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