How to Cook a Wood Fired Thanksgiving

  • 5 min read

Impress your friends with a wood fired Thanksgiving

To say we are excited about Thanksgiving this year is an understatement.  Thanksgiving is when we feast, and it's a simply tradition to put together a decadent and delicious Fall spread. 

Plus, the fact that you can cook an entire Thanksgiving meal in a wood fired oven just gets us so excited - It’s our time to shine baby!  

So, whether you plan to roast the whole meal or just a dish, we’ve put together a quick guide to help you make a meal to remember this holiday season.

Turkey cooked in a wood-fired pizza oven


Before getting started you will need to map out your approach, get all your ingredients and the right tools put together so that this comes together smoothly.  Here are a couple things to consider as you start getting ready to cook.

Get your cooking utensils and basics all covered:

  • Dried Cooking Firewoodmore on this below
  • Cast Iron Skilletyou may want to have a couple handy
  • Aluminum Foilvery important for cooking and not burning your turkey
  • Grill Pan with Drip Panhelps to keep the inside of the oven grease free
  • Infrared Thermometer – key for cooking each dish at just the right temp

-CLICK HERE- For More Recommendations For Helpful Items To Have On Hand While Cooking


This is hands down the #1 most important factor to consider for smoking a Thanksgiving turkey in a wood-fired oven.  Suffice us to say that not all woods are created equal, and can lead to a dry bird, charred meat, or just not the right flavor profile.  

Here are a couple things to keep in mind regarding smoking a turkey:

  • Best Wood For Cooking – Maple, Pecan, Applewood, Beech, Cherry, Chestnut, Cottonwood, Fig, and Plum.
  • Do Not Use – Pine, Fir, Spruce, Redwood Conifer, Cedar, Elm, Eucalyptus, Sycamore, Liquid Amber, Cypress, Elderberry, or Sweet Gum. Never use lumber scraps, painted wood or wood from old pallets.
  • Un-Soaked Wood Chunks work well and are often better than chips, as they will start to produce smoke quicker and last much longer.
  • No Bark No Bite – Some people swear by only cooking with wood that is with or without bark, but there really isn’t much of a difference in the taste in our opinion.

Best wood for smoking in your pizza oven

-CLICK HERE- For More Info On Selecting The Right Type Of Wood To Cook With


Other than the wonderful smoky taste of cooking on a wood-fired oven, our favorite thing about smoking our dishes is the way an outdoor oven can roast, smoke, sear, and bake food all at once, creating some mouth-watering outcomes.  But getting this just right is all about the right temperatures for each dish. 

Use the chart below to plan this out right, and you will have a smooth symphony of dishes steadily going in and out of the oven as temperatures slowly cool down or heat up, and a perfect flow of delicious food.  

Guide to Wood-Fired Oven Cooking Temperatures

Cooking temperatures for pizza oven

Don’t Worry We Are Here To Help -CLICK HERE- For Our Recommendations For Getting The Temperatures Right


We will start with the most important dish of the day – the turkey!

Turkey cooked in a wood-fired pizza oven

For starters timing will be extremely critical here, as the oven will heat up hot at first, and then cool throughout the day. You may have to add wood during some of the cooking phases to maintain a steady temperature range.

When the oven is at its hottest many of the sides will cook best such as any squash, potato, or other vegetable dishes you are planning.  It is important to make sure you have all your ingredients prepared before proceeding. 

To brine the bird with a fancy brown sugar mix:

  1. The night before cooking, combine the 1 cup brown sugar, 1 1/2 cups Kosher salt, 1/4 cup peppercorns, 2 tablespoons allspice berries, and 2 gallons of water in a 4-gallon container; set aside for now.
  2. Remove giblets and neck from the turkey cavity. Reserve and refrigerate the neck; discard the giblets or reserve them for another use. Remove any wire or plastic holding the legs together. Rinse the turkey inside and out with cold water. Holding the legs, slowly submerge the turkey into the salt-water solution. Cover and refrigerate for 8 to 10 hours.
  3. The next day, remove the turkey from the brine, rinse with cold water, and pat dry with paper towels. Place on a baking sheet and refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 2 hours.

To prep the bird:

  • 1x 13 lb. turkey
  • 1x Lemon quartered
  • 1x Granny Smith apple quartered
  • 1/2 bunch Sage
  • 1/2 bunch thyme
  • 1/2 bunch Italian Parsley
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup water

Compound Butter Recipe

  • 4 oz. softened butter
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • Kosher salt to taste

To smoke the bird:

    1. To get a good heat soak and temperature reduction, light your oven about 1 hour before inserting .
    2. Make the compound butter and rub under the skin of the turkey. Any leftover butter can be rubbed on the outside of the turkey. Salt and pepper the outside of the turkey.
    3. Place the apple, lemon, thyme, sage, Italian parsley in the turkey cavity. Place remaining herbs in the pan along with enough water to cover the bottom of the pan.
  • Keep your wood oven temperature between 350 - 450 degrees.(You do not need to maintain an active flame; rather you can just spread the remaining coals around the edge of the oven. The temperatures will drop slightly as the bird cooks.)
    1. Place the turkey inside the warmed oven and brown for 15 minutes uncovered, then tent with aluminum foil. 
    2. Set a timer for 30 minutes, check progress and rotate 180 degrees. If you find that the temperature drops below 350 degrees, remove the turkey and add some wood.
    3. After about 60-90 minutes, remove the turkey and flip it over, breast side down and repeat the 30-minute interval rotation.
    4. Cook approximately 4 hours(depending on the size of the bird) until it is cooked to the recommended temperature. Use a probe in the thickest part of the bird to determine the temperature or about 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
    5. Remove the foil, turn the bird breast side up and allow the skin to crisp up. Make sure the skin doesn’t burn.
    6. Let the turkey rest for 15-20 minutes before carving.


    Here are some delicious recipe options for Thanksgiving side dishes and desserts, all of which can be cooked in a wood fired oven.




        We hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving just as much as we will, and we can’t wait to hear how everything turns out for you. Make sure to share your delicious creations with us on social media.  

        Tag us @patioandpizza or use #patioandpizza

        Want more ideas?  Check out our 7 Days of Wood-Fired Oven Recipes ebook for more recipes to get you started with pizza oven cooking!  Use the code EBOOK5 to take $5 off the Recipe Book's price.