Hosting and preparing a feast for Thanksgiving is difficult enough as it is at home. But when the venue is the great outdoors, it becomes even trickier because of the logistical challenges of cooking for a group meal at a campground. Here are some Thanksgiving dinner ideas.
Fortunately, there are easy recipes to make it all possible. So let go of the holiday menu planning and cooking stress and try our list of easy camping recipes for this coming Thanksgiving.
Grilled Turkey Recipe
There are two ways to grill a whole turkey when you’re at the campground: propane grill, which is great if you don’t want to worry about trying to maintain a constant temperature for your bird; and charcoal grill, which is excellent if you want to add some smoky taste to your meat.
- One whole turkey (15-15 lbs.)
- 2-3 lemons (sliced)
- Two medium to large onions (halved)
- One large bunch of fresh herbs that include rosemary, sage, and thyme
- One bulb of garlic (top sliced off)
- Salt and cracked pepper to taste
- 8-12 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted or softened)
- Two cups chicken stock (or more)
- Dried herbs like thyme, rosemary, and safe
- To make the turkey skin extra crispy, there is one easy hack you need to do: The night before grilling your bird, remove any giblets and pat it dry with kitchen towels. Then, let it rest in the fridge overnight uncovered.
- Remove your turkey at least an hour before grilling.
- Preheat your grill to medium-high heat, around 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place your turkey breast-side up in a roasting pan. Next, fill the cavity with one halved onion, garlic bulb, a bunch of fresh herbs, and one lemon. Once you’ve filled the cavity, tie the legs together with twine and sprinkle it with some pepper, salt, and dried herbs.
- Pour 1-2 cups of chicken stock into the roasting pan. Then, add the onions and lemon wedges.
- Place the roasting pan on your grill and set it to medium-low. Make sure the temperature is between 425 and 450 degrees Fahrenheit during the entire cooking time.
- Grill your turkey for 2.5-3 hours, checking it every 30 minutes or so. You may want to pour some juices in the bottom of the pan onto the roasted bird every time you check it. (Only keep the grill open for less than a minute at a time to maintain a consistent temperature.)
- Halfway through the cooking time, rotate the pan to add more stock in its bottom if it starts to look a bit dry.
- After around 2.5 hours, check the roasted bird – you want to make sure that the thigh reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Once cooked, let it rest for at least 30 minutes before slicing.
Helpful tip: do what you can ahead of time with food prep. The less time you have to cook at the campsite the more time you will have to enjoy your friends/family and the food.
So make it a priority to do as much food preparation as you can before leaving.
And that would likely include pre-measuring out all ingredients in plastic bags/containers and pre-baking or cooking things like pies and other dishes that can simply be reheated on the day of Thanksgiving, etc.
(Recipe from How Sweet Eats.)
The Best Turkey Gravy
According to the good people of Damn Delicious: “this is simply the most perfect gravy for your Thanksgiving turkey using pan drippings!” So rich, so smooth, and so easy!
- Pan drippings from your roasted bird
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Two teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
- One tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- Strain the pan drippings from the roasted bird; set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Next, whisk in thyme and flour until the mixture turns light brown.
- Add the pan drippings and bring the mixture to a boil while whisking constantly. Then, reduce heat and continue whisking it until thickened after 5-10 minutes.
- Season the sauce with salt, pepper, and parsley.
- Serve warm.
Helpful tip: just like at home, start cooking early.
But no matter what you decide to cook, just like Thanksgiving dinner at home, you need to start cooking early. Remember that you aren’t in the familiar environment of your kitchen and that you’re likely to spend more time locating things and moving around the campsite than you might initially think.
Additionally, you need to keep in mind the sun setting early and thus, the cold weather if you are planning on cooking and eating outside.
(Recipe from Damn Delicious.)
Spiced-Up Grilled Tater Wedges
This recipe yields four servings. Simply adjust the ingredients if you’re hosting a bigger Thanksgiving party at a campground.
- Four small baking potatoes
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ⅛ granulated garlic
- ⅛ teaspoon mustard powder
- ⅛ ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon dried parsley
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cumin
- ⅛ teaspoon celery
- Vegetable oil (cooking spray)
- ¼ cup sour cream
- Place your potatoes into a pot and then fill with water to cover them. Bring to a boil and wait about 15 minutes when they’re almost done but still firm.
- Drain and cool.
- Once cooled, slice them into wedges. Make sure that you place them skin-down on a plate when you spray them with cooking oil and sprinkle them with seasoning. Let it sit for an hour.
- Preheat your outdoor grill to medium heat.
- Grill the wedges until they turn brown, turning them occasionally to avoid burnt spots.
- Serve with sour cream.
Helpful tip: get everyone involved; try not to think of yourself as the host.
While it’s similar to Thanksgiving at your house, having an RV camping-style Thanksgiving is different in the sense that the potluck style is more feasible than the traditional hosting style.
When camping with large groups, try to have everyone bring a dish a two for Thanksgiving instead of making one person responsible for everything.
Likewise, get everyone involved the day of when it comes to getting everything ready, from chopping firewood to setting the table.
(Recipe from AllRecipes.)
Campfire Apple Pie Packets
Last but not least, we can’t forget the dessert on Thanksgiving.
These scrumptious, no-fuss apple pie foil packets can be made over a campfire or grill, making them an excellent Thanksgiving dessert for any outdoor holiday celebration. Meanwhile, this recipe yields four servings, so adjust accordingly if you have more guests to feed.
(For the apple mixture)
- Two medium to large-sized apples diced into around ¼ inch pieces
- Two teaspoon cornstarch
- Two teaspoons lemon juice
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- Two tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 ½ ground cinnamon
- One tablespoon cold butter cut into around ⅛ inch pieces
(For topping mixture)
- ¼ cup packed brown sugar
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup quick-cook oats (the ordinary one will also work for this recipe)
- ¼ cup cold butter cut into around ⅛ inch pieces
- 1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Preheat your grill to medium heat, around 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Create four packets made of foil; each one should be around 12 x 18 inches in size.
- Combine your diced apples and lemon juice in a medium-sized bowl. Next, add sugar, cornstarch, cold butter, and ground cinnamon. Mix well, then set aside.
- In a separate bowl, combine flour, oats, ground cinnamon, and brown sugar.
- Add your butter to the apple mixture, cutting the pieces with a fork to create this crumbly texture.
- Put half of the apple mixture onto the center of each packet. Then, sprinkle half of the crumb mixture on top of them.
- Seal the packets tightly.
- Place the foil packets on the grill or over the campfire for about 8-12 minutes.
- Remove them from heat and allow them to cool for around 10 minutes.
- You may want to top them with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and serve.
Helpful tip: the key to having a Thanksgiving dessert at an RV campsite is that you prepare it ahead of time. Because the last thing you are going to want to do after cooking and eating your Thanksgiving camping feast is more work.
For example, you can add pumpkin pie filling to a cinnamon graham cracker s’more, or even a sweet potato filling to the traditional s’more ingredients!
(Recipe from Love from the Oven.)
Other Useful Tips When You’re Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner While RV Camping
First things first, be sure to check the weather forecast.
While RV camping in the rain is more than doable, no one likes to get wet when cooking especially when that meal happens to be for Thanksgiving.
Check the weather ahead of time and bring a pop-up tent and tarps if there is even the slightest chance of rain.
And while you can obviously cook inside your RV, it’s never a bad idea to bring a portable grill along with you for your Thanksgiving campout.
Set realistic goals for what you can accomplish
There certainly is nothing wrong with going all out on Thanksgiving but when you’re combining it with RV camping, the experience can become stressful if you don’t set realistic expectations for yourself and the meal.
Remember that most of the cooking will take longer when camping (longer still without food prep), so consider even skipping the turkey and focusing on favorite side dishes instead, for example.
Don’t forget the paper plates with large groups
Similarly, with large groups, it’s also easiest to use paper products for the dinner itself. This will save you a substantial amount of time and water when it comes to washing the dishes.
Get creative with warm cocktails
A Final Word on Preparing Thanksgiving Dinner While RV Camping
Now that you have these easy Thanksgiving recipes that you can cook over the campfire or outdoor grill, there’s no reason for you not to celebrate the holiday with a scrumptious and hearty meal.
So why not find some adventure this Thanksgiving and skip the traditional dining room setting this year? If you haven’t decided yet on the venue for your Thanksgiving outdoor party, go ahead and reserve a campsite in the Sierras, a region known for its hiking trails, scenic views, and unique wildlife?
Bring your friends and the feast with you and let Adventure in Camping do the rest this Thanksgiving! Get in touch with our team at Adventure in Camping and reserve a vacation travel trailer that they will deliver and park in one of 80 campgrounds in the Sierra Region. Call us at (760) 935-4890 or make a reservation online now.