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Thanksgiving Power Outage? 5 Ways to Have a Mouth-Watering Turkey Dinner Without Power

Roast Thanksgiving turkey on a pan in the oven being taken out by a cook.
Roasting Turkey in the Oven for Holiday Dinner

Finally, 2020 is almost over! It’s time to celebrate making it through this wild year, and for most of us that means a delightful roast turkey Thanksgiving dinner.

Unless (as is all too common in California) the power goes out.

Then it’s all too easy for a joyous day to morph into a wild scramble of trying to save the food. And what if the star of the show — the turkey itself — isn’t cooked yet?

Fortunately, there’s no need to panic. Because we are here to teach you how to cook without power!

So just in case the power goes out, here are five Thanksgiving tips to save the dinner and save the day:

1. Grill Your Turkey

This mouthwatering method works whether your turkey’s still raw or partially cooked when the power goes out. Some chefs even say that grilling can result in a juicier, moister meat than traditional roasting.

If your turkey’s still raw, follow the instructions in this deep-dive recipe How to Grill a Thanksgiving Turkey for the full traditional thanksgiving flavor. In fact, you can plan a grilled turkey well before Thanksgiving Day with this step-by-step guide that starts with how to choose the perfect turkey from the store. That way, no power outage will throw you off your groove.

For a fresh take on the traditional Thanksgiving turkey, you can also check out this apple and white wine-laden BBQ Turkey Recipe.

Even if your turkey’s already in the oven, a grill allows you to save all the hard work you’ve put into it. Follow the USDA’s instructions on how to safely transfer your turkey to a grill to finish cooking.

2. Smoke the Turkey

Smoking your turkey is a step beyond grilling: it takes longer, but the irresistible woodsy flavor is so worth it.

Smoking your turkey doesn’t necessarily require a different smoker: it can be done on a grill with wood chips. Turkeys do particularly well when smoked with a light fruit wood, such as cherry or apple.

Follow Taste of Home’s How to Smoke a Turkey for Thanksgiving to smoke your bird on a gas, charcoal, smoker, or pellet grill.

3. Don’t Wait Until Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving dinner is already hectic enough: there’s no law that you have to cook the turkey on the day itself. Roasting it ahead of time ensures that power outage or not, it will be fully cooked on Thanksgiving.

See William Sonoma’s recipe for How to Roast Your Turkey Ahead of Time and enjoy a calmer, more relaxed roast turkey Thanksgiving dinner.

4. Save It For Later

If you’re caught short of power on the day of and don’t have a grill, you might not be able to have turkey that day…but you could later on. If your turkey isn’t cooked yet, it will keep for up to 4 hours in a refrigerator and 2 days in the freezer, which should tide you over until the power’s back on. Thanksgiving dinner might be a bit later, but you’ll have saved your bird.

In this case, make sure to follow California’s Guidelines for Food Safety During Power Outages.

5. Keep Cooking That Bird — And Everything Else — with a Generator

Thanksgiving dinner isn’t just about the turkey. Crunchy green bean casseroles, creamy mashed potatoes, pumpkin pies, and stuffing also depend on electricity — and unlike turkeys, not all of these do well if they’re thrown on a grill halfway through!

A portable or standby generator lets you continue your cooking without a hitch — including a traditionally oven-roasted turkey. Moreover, as Duthie’s own Korry Talbott discovered during last year’s blizzard blackout, a generator lets you celebrate Thanksgiving in warmth, comfort, and style no matter what happens!

Generators don’t have to be large or expensive either: check out our “Portable or Standby?” infographic to see if a portable generator could suit your needs. And if you decide on a standby generator, we’re here to help you choose and install the perfect fit for your home and family.

A very happy Thanksgiving to you and all your loved ones!

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