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How to Make Smoked Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Susie Bulloch using a gas grill outside while looking off into the distance.
heygrillhey/Instgram

For many people, the side dishes, not the turkey, are the highlight of a Thanksgiving feast. With recipes like pork stuffing, creamy mashed potatoes, yams, and casseroles dishes, side dishes are some of the most exciting aspects of the Thanksgiving meal. They can be sweet or savory. They can be hearty or vegetable-forward. But one element that’s uncommon for the Thanksgiving meal is grilling or smoking. For an unconventional twist on Thanksgiving, why not fire up the barbecue?

In Susie Bulloch’s opinion, the barbecue isn’t only a summertime cooking tool. In fact, the addition of smoke is a perfect way to make a variety of unique bbq Thanksgiving sides, giving these classics a fun flair. Bulloch is a highly experienced grillmaster, recipe developer, Guinness World Record Holder, Food Network personality, and founder of the food blog, Hey Grill, Hey. She is also a vocal advocate for breaking stereotypes, particularly in the male-dominated arena of grilling. Bulloch is the perfect expert to help guide us on this Thanksgiving grilling adventure.

Smoked Sweet Potato Casserole with Candied Bacon and Pecans

a wooden spoon scoop of smoked sweet potato casserole with pecans and bacon.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

From Hey Grill Hey

This recipe from Bulloch replicates the classic Thanksgiving flavors of a sweet potato casserole. Only this version is upgraded with salty bacon, crunchy pecans, and sweet potatoes slow-smoked on the grill. When properly done, this dish features a pleasant smoky flavor that doesn’t overpower the natural sweetness of the sweet potatoes. This dish can also be replicated in the oven (without the smoke flavor of course) if necessary. Simply preheat and cook the casserole in the oven at the same temperature as you would for the smoker.

Ingredients

For Sweet Potato Filling:

  • 6 large sweet potatoes (peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes)
  • .75 cup milk
  • 6 tbsp salted butter (melted)
  • ⅓ cup dark brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • .5 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs

For Candied Bacon and Pecan Streusel Topping:

  • .5 pound bacon (chopped)
  • .75 cup pecans (chopped)
  • .5 cup all-purpose flour
  • .5 cup dark brown sugar (packed)
  • 4 tbsp salted butter (melted)
  • .25 tsp salt

Method

  1. Preheat the smoker or oven. Preheat your smoker to 275 degrees Fahrenheit with your favorite hardwood. Pecan is my wood of choice for this recipe. You can also cook this in your oven preheated to the same temperature.
  2. Boil the sweet potatoes. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Carefully transfer the peeled and cubed sweet potatoes to the water and boil for 10-15 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork.
  3. Make the streusel topping. While the potatoes cook, prepare the streusel topping. Preheat a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add in the bacon and cook until crisp. Remove the bacon to a plate topped with a paper towel to drain. Turn the heat off of the pan, but leave the bacon drippings in the pan for later. Place the bacon pieces and chopped pecans in a medium sized mixing bowl. Add in the flour, brown sugar, melted butter, and salt. Stir until the flour and sugar clumps up around the pecans and bacon. Set aside.
  4. Whip the sweet potatoes. Once the potatoes have softened, drain off the water and let them cool slightly. Transfer the potatoes to a large mixing bowl and pour in the milk, melted butter, vanilla, and salt. Using an electric mixer, whip the potatoes until all of the filling is a smooth consistency and has cooled a little more. Add the two eggs and beat together again.
  5. Transfer the sweet potatoes and streusel to a cast iron skillet. Pour the smooth filling into your 12-inch cast iron skillet with the bacon grease still in the pan. Sprinkle the top of the sweet potato casserole filling with the candied bacon and pecan streusel, making sure it is evenly covered.
  6. Smoke the sweet potato casserole. Place the skillet in the preheated smoker and cook with the lid closed for about 60 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the casserole reads 175 to 185 degrees F. This will ensure your eggs are cooked through and the casserole is set without being dry.
  7. Serve warm. Remove your casserole from the smoker and serve warm.

Smoked Deviled Eggs

round plate of smoked deviled eggs on top of a purple plaid napkin.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

From Hey Grill Hey

Deviled eggs are a delicious appetizer and a great start to any Thanksgiving feast. Since the flavors of deviled eggs are salty and rich, the addition of smoke helps lift the flavors to another level. These eggs can also be made in advance and stored in the fridge. To serve, simply take them out when ready to eat.

Ingredients

  • 7 smoked eggs (instructions in recipe notes)
  • 3 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp stone ground coarse mustard
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp Homemade BBQ Sweet Rub (link in recipe notes)
  • 1 tbsp pickled jalapeños (diced)
  • 12 slices pickled jalapeños (for garnish)

Method

  1. Prep the eggs. After you have smoked your eggs, you are ready to fill them. Slice the 7 hard smoked eggs in half. Gently scoop the yolks out into a medium mixing bowl. You can eat or discard the two egg whites that look the most beat up. You need the additional yolk in the filling to make the deviled eggs nice and full.
  2. Make the yolk filling. Add in the mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, BBQ rub, and pickled jalapeños to the egg yolks. Whisk vigorously to combine and fluff up the yolks.
  3. Fill the eggs. Use a spoon to fill each egg white with about 1 tablespoon of the yolk mixture. Top with a sliced pickled jalapeño for each egg and then sprinkle them all with additional BBQ rub. Serve chilled.
Hunter Lu
Hunter Lu is a New York-based food and features writer, editor, and NYU graduate. His fiction has appeared in The Line…
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