How Should I Cook my Turkey for Thanksgiving?

Smoked turkey is a popular method.

There are seemingly as many ways to prepare a turkey for Thanksgiving as there are potential side dishes. We attempt to cut through the options and let you know the pros and cons of some of the most popular methods. Whether you want to mix it up this year or just want further justification for a method that's tried and true, this list has a little something for everyone.


Pros: This is the traditional method and for good reason, because when done correctly, it produces a juicy, delicious bird. It also allows you to do stuffing at the same time. Two for one!

Cons: It takes a long time to cook a turkey this way, and it takes over your oven (meaning it’s more logistically challenging to bake side dishes and desserts).


Pros: It saves a ton of cook time, frees up your oven, and it’s utterly delicious. You also feel cool doing it.

Cons: You might burn down your house. Seriously though, you have to take care, and this also requires you stock up on oil and propane.


Pros: Imparting a smokey flavor is the main benefit, but it also creates options for anyone who wants to get creative. Cooks can select wood type, marinade, rub, etc. etc. etc.

Cons: Smoking is a long and messy process, and tending the temperature of the fire can be a full-time job … keeping you away from the rest of your cooking.

Beer Can Turkey

Pros: This method basically combines the best aspects of grilling and smoking, imparting lots of flavor in a short amount of time.

Cons: It requires a pretty big grill to pull it off, so be aware of that going in. Also, a poor beer choice will result in a poor flavor.


Pros: Turkey stuffed with duck stuffed with chicken … need we actually go on?

Cons: This is a highly complicated way to do things, meaning a thousand things can (and will?) go wrong.

Got your own preferred method? Tell us about it.