Stress-Free Ways to Make Thanksgiving Dinner Without an Oven

You don't need an oven for a tasty and perfectly timed Thanksgiving dinner. So if your oven is on the fritz, we've got all the ways to work around it.

Published November 7, 2023
serving Thanksgiving dinner

Home remodels, appliance malfunctions, or hosting in an unexpected setting are just a few reasons you may be having a no-oven Thanksgiving. No matter why you need to figure out turkey day without a functioning oven, these ideas will help you host the holiday without all the stress.

Making Thanksgiving Turkey Without an Oven

If you're hosting Thanksgiving and you're oven-less, you may be wondering how on earth you're going to make a large (and tasty) turkey to serve your crowd. Making a moist and delicious turkey doesn't really require an oven at all. You just need to find the right turkey-cooking alternative for your dinner prep plans.

Slow Cook Your Turkey

No, you can't cook a full-sized turkey in your crock pot. At least not in most cases. But you can cook pieces of your turkey in the slow cooker. For example, you can slow cook turkey breast in 5-6 hours. You could even cut your full-sized turkey into smaller pieces prior to slow cooking to get the job done.

Quick Tip

You can also make a turkey breast in your air fryer or instant pot.

Go the Deep-Fried Route

People rave about deep-fried turkey whenever Thanksgiving rolls around, and this might be your year to discover what all the fuss is about. You may love deep-fried turkey so much that you never go the oven-roasted route again.

Grill Out for Thanksgiving

grilling a turkey

If there's a grill master in your home, this might be their true time to shine. Grilling isn't just for summer holidays. You can also use your grill to make your most important poultry dish of the year. While you're grilling the turkey, throw on a few of those sides that you might otherwise roast or cook on the stovetop.

Make a Main Course Swap

Who said you have to serve turkey on Thanksgiving anyway? There are various main dish swaps you can make to save yourself some trouble, oven or not.

  • Try chicken or pork tenderloin in your slow cooker.
  • Grill steak, ribs, or salmon.
  • Serve a stove-top main course like spaghetti, a hearty soup, or stir fry.
  • Order a selection of deli meats ahead of time, turkey included.

Making Sides & Desserts on Thanksgiving Without an Oven

It's not just the turkey you're bringing to the table; you're also planning out all of those beloved Thanksgiving sides and desserts. If you don't have an oven for baking pies and casseroles, try these tips for keeping your cool during dinner prep.

Make Use of Your Toaster Oven

You can make rolls, breads, and even small casseroles in your toaster oven. Whip up other must-have Thanksgiving sides like roasted vegetables and some of your favorite baked desserts in the toaster oven as well. You won't even miss your main oven with your toaster oven on hand.

Need to Know

A toaster oven is truly just a mini oven. Though large ovens take longer to preheat, you can approach cooking dishes in your toaster oven in much the same way.

Whip Up No-Bake Desserts

no-bake pumpkin cheesecake

Let's face it, the most beloved Thanksgiving pies are best fresh from the oven. But that doesn't mean a cool, no-bake dessert can't be just as fitting for the season. Infuse classic Thanksgiving flavors, like pumpkin or apple, into a no-bake dessert that makes you forget all about the pie.

  • No-bake pies are still fun for turkey day.
  • Trifles easily feed a crowd.
  • No-bake cheesecakes are rich and creamy.
  • A Thanksgiving ice cream bar is an exciting option.
  • Puddings, cream cheese bars, and no-bake cookies make yummy desserts as well.

Use Other Small Kitchen Appliances

You may have a gold mine of oven alternatives in your cupboards. Some of your small kitchen appliances can make classic Thanksgiving dishes just as easily as your oven does. Try making sides or desserts with these kitchen tools:

  • Air fryer
  • Slow cooker
  • Instant pot
  • Waffle iron
  • Panini press
  • Fondue pots 
  • Bread machine
  • Microwave
  • Deep fryer
  • Electric grill
  • Electric griddle

Order Sides & Desserts From Local Spots

Why stress over baking your own pie when you could order it from your favorite bakery? If you can't make your grandmother's sweet potato casserole at home, order the next best thing from a local eatery. It might not have the same made-with-love vibes as something fresh from your own oven, but it gets the job done, and people will still come back for seconds.

Thanksgiving Hosting Tips When You Don't Have an Oven

You can use as many small kitchen appliances as you need and prep as much of your dinner ahead of time as possible. But when you're working without an oven, a few important tips can save you from stress when turkey day is finally here.

  • Ask attending guests to bring those must-have oven dishes.
  • Make sure guests know you don't have an oven, so they don't come with half-finished dishes to bake at your place.
  • Use your slow cooker to keep finished dishes warm.
  • Have appetizers at the ready in case prep takes a bit longer than expected.
  • Ask nearby friends, family, or neighbors if you can prepare some items in their ovens ahead of time.
  • Have no shame in your microwave game. If you need to heat things up with the power of convenience, go for it!
  • Let go of the idea of perfection. Even with a functioning oven or a chef's kitchen, no Thanksgiving goes off without a hitch.

No Oven, No Problem

Whether your ovenless kitchen is a temporary problem or just part of this season in life, you don't really need it to host a successful Thanksgiving dinner. With handy appliances and a bit of ingenuity, no one will ever know your entire turkey day feast was made without baking or roasting a single thing.

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Stress-Free Ways to Make Thanksgiving Dinner Without an Oven