#NEVERIDLE JOURNAL   //   Staff Picks

7 Creative Ways To Cook Your Thanksgiving Turkey In An RV

Is there any other holiday where food is more in focus than at Thanksgiving? While food is an integral part of most holiday celebrations, at Thanksgiving, the feast is what’s in focus. Families and friends gather around long tables full of indulgent, festive dishes and at the center: the turkey. It’s like a Norman Rockwell painting.

But what do you do when you’re spending Thanksgiving in an RV about the size of that table in the painting? Or when the turkey in question is larger than the oven in your RV—if you even have an oven? Before you resign yourself to turkey sandwiches this Thanksgiving, try one of these less traditional methods for cooking a turkey in an RV or over a campfire.

With all of these recipes, use a meat thermometer, properly inserted, to be sure your turkey is thoroughly cooked. Nothing spoils the holidays quite like food poisoning. A turkey should reach a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

1. Instant Pot Turkey

The Instant Pot has many features that are ideal for small-space living. It can also cook your Thanksgiving turkey.

What to do:
An 8 to 9 pound turkey can fit in an 8-quart Instant Pot. Use the trivet and set the timer for 6 minutes per pound. An 8-pound turkey will take 48 minutes at pressure. Allow time for the pot to come to pressure, and estimate another 10 minutes for a natural pressure release at the end. Season the turkey according to your taste. If desired, place a layer of chopped carrots and celery in the bottom of the pot before adding the trivet and the turkey. Don’t forget to add 1/2 cup of water.

The skin won’t get crispy in the IP, but the turkey will be tender and juicy! Pro tip: Use the drippings to make your gravy and stuffing.

More detailed instructions

2. Deep-Fried Turkey

Many people with perfectly good, full-sized ovens still choose to deep fry their Thanksgiving turkey. The turkey cooks faster than in a traditional oven, and the skin gets crispy while the meat inside is tender and juicy. If you have a deep fryer or a large stock pot that will fit your turkey with margins, this is a great choice to cook your bird.

What to do:

Heat oil—peanut oil is recommended—to 350 degrees Fahrenheit before adding the turkey. Be sure to have enough oil to submerge the turkey, but not so much that it overflows when the turkey is added. The turkey should be cooked for 3 minutes per pound, plus about 5 minutes. For example, a 10-pound turkey should be fried for 35 minutes.

Use a poultry rack or similar holder to make sure the turkey can be lowered in and removed safely. Let the turkey rest for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

More detailed instructions

3. Foil-Wrapped Turkey on Campfire Coals

Get back to basics and cook your turkey using coals from your campfire—no special devices or appliances required!

What to do:

Season the turkey as desired, but be sure to rub oil onto the exterior of the turkey. Wrap the turkey generously with cheesecloth and seal it tightly in four layers of aluminum foil. Don’t forget to insert the thermometer.

Build a campfire with hardwood logs and allow about an hour for them to burn down into a good supply of glowing coals. Meanwhile, dig a hole about 6 inches larger than your turkey in all directions. Rake coals into the bottom of the hole, add the turkey, and surround the turkey on all sides with coals. Cover your little oven with dirt and wait about 3 hours. When the thermometer indicates the turkey is well-cooked (at or above 165 degrees Fahrenheit), dig it up and let it rest in the foil for 20 minutes before unwrapping and enjoying.

More detailed instructions

4. Dutch Oven Turkey

Instead of digging a hole, which might not be appreciated at some campgrounds, campfire coals can also be used to cook the turkey in a Dutch oven.

What to do:

A rather large Dutch oven is needed to ensure that the turkey does not touch the sides in any direction, which would prevent the oven from heating properly and evenly.

Don’t forget to insert your meat thermometer before closing the lid tightly and surrounding the Dutch oven with coals. A 12-pound turkey will cook in approximately 3 hours, and should rest for 20 minutes before serving.

More detailed instructions

5. Trash Can Turkey

Don’t have a large enough Dutch oven, but don’t want to dig a hole in the ground? This variation involves creating a makeshift Dutch oven out of a (new) metal trash can.

More detailed instructions

6. Beer Can Turkey on the Grill

If you have a grill with a lid, a roasting pan, and two cans of beer, you can try a less traditional approach to your Thanksgiving turkey.

What to do:

Heat the grill to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and season your turkey as desired. Remove the top of a beer can with a can opener, pour about 1/3 into the roasting pan and put the can in the pan. Place the turkey onto the beer can, legs down.

Pour half of the second beer into the roasting pan and move the pan to the grill, being careful to stabilize the turkey. Close the lid and cook for 2 hours and 30 minutes. After the first hour, pour the other half of the second beer over the turkey. An hour later, baste the turkey and monitor the temperature until the turkey is fully cooked.

More detailed instructions

7. Campfire Rotisserie Turkey

Perhaps one of the oldest methods of cooking that we know of is roasting on a spit over an open fire. If you’re handy, you could rig your own, but standing and spinning your roasting spit for several hours might not be how you want to spend your Thanksgiving. Thankfully, there are battery powered roasting spits available.

What to do:

Brine and season your turkey as desired, then mount it on the spit and sit back to watch it spin.

Be sure to keep a fire going to refresh the coals every 30 to 40 minutes, and avoid roasting the turkey over an open flame. Use a drip pan to catch the juices as it cooks. An 8 to 10 pound turkey will take between 3 and 3.5 hours.

Remove the turkey from the spit, let it rest, then carve to enjoy a turkey that is crispy on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside.

More detailed instructions


With a little creativity and planning, it’s possible to enjoy both the great outdoors and a traditional dinner this Thanksgiving! Whether you gather around a big dining room table or pull up chairs around the campfire, we wish you a very happy Thanksgiving!

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