Camping Thanksgiving Dinner Timing: Easy Cooking Schedule

Join us for our family’s holiday celebration and I’ll share secrets for a fabulous feast and how these camping Thanksgiving dinner timing tips will have your entire meal hit the table at the same time … without kitchen chaos!

Do you dare attempt a traditional dinner with all the trimmings on a Thanksgiving camping trip? Of course, YES! And, you can do this if you are tent camping or in a big RV motorhome!

Thanksgiving Dinner At The Campsite With The Camping For Foodies Family - Tips For Timing And Cooking Your Thanksgiving Dinner At The Campsite

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Timing The Cooking Of Your Camping Thanksgiving Dinner

I say it often … A little organization goes a long way. Follow these steps to make a totally scrumptious traditional Thanksgiving meal without tons of stress!

Timing is the biggest challenge when cooking a meal with lots of side dishes and different cooking times and methods. Try to get as much prep and cooking out of the way early so you are focusing on just a few time-critical dishes instead of the entire meal preparation feeling chaotic.

Our typical camping Thanksgiving dinner menu includes:

Have A Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner At The Campsite - Tips For Timing And Cooking Your Thanksgiving Dinner At The Campsite
  • Turkey that is cooked in a slightly modified Smokey Joe grill.
  • Gravy that is made on a propane camp stove or in a cast iron skillet over a campfire.
  • Sausage Dressing that is made in a cast iron camp Dutch oven.
  • Cranberry Sauce that is prepared using a propane camp stove.
  • Spiced Sweet Potatoes that are cooked in foil packets over a campfire.
  • Spinach Salad that is mostly no-cook (although we do toast the almonds in a skillet.)
  • Apple Pie that is baked in a cast iron camp Dutch oven.
  • Apple Cider that is heated over a cooking fire on a campfire grate or using a propane camp stove.

Several Days Before The Meal

Prepare Make-Ahead Recipes

The salad

Make the dressing for the Cranberry And Toasted Almond Spinach Salad up to a few days in advance, then store it in your refrigerator or camp cooler. Just before eating, toast the almonds then toss the dressing with the spinach and serve.

The cranberry sauce

Orange Scented Cranberry Sauce - Camping For Foodies .com

You are not going to believe how FANTASTIC 4 INGREDIENTS CAN TASTE until you try this Thanksgiving Camp Meal Orange Scented Cranberry Sauce! This side dish is a super-simple and fast recipe that actually needs to cool and gel a bit before you serve it so make it early and refrigerate it till you’re ready to eat. You can make it a couple of days in advance and seal it in an air-tight container to store in a refrigerator or cooler.

Defrost Your Turkey

If you are cooking a previously frozen turkey, make sure it is totally thawed the day before you cook it. Depending on the size of your turkey, it may take days to thaw. This is an important tip if you are cooking at the campsite or at home!

Prep Ingredients

Look at the recipes you have on your menu. See what ingredients can be cleaned, chopped or prepped before you leave home. Also, you may be able to prepare some recipes as “partial make-ahead” so you can just assemble, dump and cook or reheat at the campsite.

The Morning Of Your Dinner

Start Your Campfire

We have a campfire burning all day on our Thanksgiving camping trip. That allows us to stay warm and produce coals for cooking at different times throughout the day. This also means we have warm drinks throughout the day like camp coffee, hot apple cider and campfire hot cocoa. Get out tips on how to start a campfire the easy way!

Prepare & Prep Recipes

The potatoes

Foil Packet Grilled Spiced Potatoes - Camping For Foodies .com

Prepping the packets of Foil Packet Grilled Spiced Potatoes can be done well in advance of cooking them. They will cook in about 1/2 hour over a campfire which, by the way, we have going all day long on our Thanksgiving camping trips and I suggest you do too.

The pie

Upper Crust Apple Pie - Perfect for making in a Dutch Oven, Camp Oven or RV Oven - Camping For Foodies .com

The hard part about making my Upper Crust Apple Pie early is not eating it as soon as you finish baking it! But, getting the pie done early is a good idea so you can focus on more time-critical recipes later in the day. If you want to serve the pie warm, just place the pie plate in a camp oven at about 200 F degrees until it is slightly warmed.

Late Morning/Early Afternoon Of Your Thanksgiving Dinner

Now that you have done as much pre-prep and pre-cooking as possible, it’s time to focus on the Thanksgiving Turkey and the last-minute sides.

The turkey

Cook Turkey While Camping On A Propane Grill - Camping For Foodies .com

This part is super important: the timing of your turkey depends on the size of your bird, your cooking method and cooking conditions so you are going to have to use a little art and science to determine when you should start cooking your turkey.

We have tips on cooking your turkey using three different methods so check our Camping Turkey Recipe post for details:

  • Grilling with a Smokey Joe takes the longest.
  • Using a propane grill is a little faster and easier.
  • Deep frying your turkey in a turkey fryer is the quickest.
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The dressing

Dutch Oven Classic Sage Sausage Dressing - Camping For Foodies .com

This Sage Sausage Dressing stuffing can be made in a Dutch oven, camp oven or RV oven so depending on which cooking method you choose, you will need to determine timing on this dish.

I like cooking this in a Dutch oven because I have several of them and we can have one camper “assigned” to tend to this side dish wherever they want to hang out around the campsite. Just remember to allow enough time for your charcoal briquettes to get started and heated up to the point of being ready for baking this dish. If you are making this in a propane camp oven or RV oven, your pre-heating time will be shorter.

FREE Printable Meal Plan Template

Use my camping menu planner to stay organized when planning meals for your next trip. It’s FREE and you’ll get it delivered instantly to your inbox!

Camping Menu Template Meal Planner Free Printable by CampingForFoodies features a collage of free camping printables including a camping menu planner template, a campfire stew recipe card and a healthy no cook camping salad with text over the image that reads free camping menu template, tips and recipe ideas.

More Helpful Tips For Your Thanksgiving Camping Trip

Trip Planning Tips

Easy Tips for a Thanksgiving Camping Trip - Camping For Foodies .com

Check out our other Thanksgiving post for 5 Tips To Make Camping On Thanksgiving An Easy And Fun Tent Or RV Trip where you will find tips for trip planning  and meal planning too!

RVing In Winter Conditions

Winter RV Camping Tips - RV Camp Throughout The Year And Love It - Camping For Foodies .com

If your Thanksgiving camping trip will take you to colder locations in an RV, check out our Winter RV Camping Tips post!

Cold Weather Tent Camping

Staying Warm Camping In A Tent - Camping For Foodies .com

Camping in a tent for your Thanksgiving camping trip? Our Staying Warm Camping In A Tent post is one you don’t want to miss!

Proper Cold-Weather Clothing

Winter Camping Clothes - Camping For Foodies .com

Check out our Winter Camping Clothes Keep You Toasty post if your Thanksgiving camping trip will be below 78°F … LOL!

Yes, I really am that wimpy when it comes to cooler weather because something happened to my body after I moved to Phoenix and began living in 100+++++ degree summers where you can actually bake cookies on the dash of your parked car!

More Camp Meal Ideas

You will probably be camping for the entire holiday weekend so make sure all of your other days feature easy camping meals.

If you’re looking for awesome ideas for yummy camping food, you’re in the right place! Here’s our entire camping recipes list.

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What do you think?

Leave me a comment, question or suggestion below. I’d love to hear from you so let’s chat.

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  1. I would love to try this with my family but sounds impossible. I’ll look forward to your tips and think about it for next year.

    1. Kim Hanna says:

      It’s much easier than you think Katie! Keep me posted when you decide to do it…you’ll do great!