Short on oven space this Thanksgiving? Consider your grill.

<\/div><\/div>“],”filter”:{“nextExceptions”:”img, blockquote, div”,”nextContainsExceptions”:”img, blockquote, a.btn, ao-button”},” renderIntial”:true,”wordCount”:350 }”>
It’s the perennial theme that plagues us around the holidays: not enough space in the oven. But according to the latest Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association study, 70 percent of homes in the United States own at least one grill or smoker — it’s time to use those appliances as second ovens for the holidays. Here, we spoke to two grilling experts about the best strategies for using grills to help out this Thanksgiving holiday and beyond.

Determine the best use for your specific grill

Knowing what type of grill you own — gas, charcoal, pellet, or wood — will help you understand the specific benefits of using it as a backup heat source this Thanksgiving. If you have a gas or charcoal grill, consider preparing sides like broccoli and corn outside, says Steven Raichlen, author of the Bible for grilling Cookbook series and host of project fire and project smoke on PBS. These dishes benefit from the grill’s direct heat source and can tolerate some charcoal. Raichlen often uses a kettle or pellet grill for indirectly grilled side dishes such as stuffed pumpkin or sweet potato and marshmallow casseroles.

Go to Pellet for consistency

Some types of grills offer more temperature consistency than others, Raichlen says. “Pellet grills are basically like outdoor ovens with a touch of wood smoke,” says Raichen. “So anything you would bake in an oven, from side dishes to dessert, you can make in a pellet grill.” The advantage of a pellet grill is that you “basically set it and forget it,” says Raichlen. There are no flare-ups or temperature consistency issues.

This also makes them ideal for baking, where an even and controlled temperature is required. “We typically want to cook our baked goods between 350 and 400 degrees, and that management is much more difficult on a non-pellet grill,” says Danielle Bennett, Traeger Grills Ambassador, world champion grilled dessert and winner of 24 Perfect 180 Grill Points. She finds the consistency of a pellet grill makes it ideal for baking bread, cakes, and other Thanksgiving baked goods like cornbread filling and buns.

Look at the smoke

Pellet grills also add a smoky flavor to your dish. So if you have recipes in your Thanksgiving repertoire that you prefer on the less smoky side, opt for a gas grill. It’ll impart a less smoky flavor, Raichlen says, thanks to its ventilation: “The smoke just pours out the back,” he says. Gas grills are also what 68 percent of Americans own, so they may be the most accessible option for those looking for a second source of ovens. A gas grill’s side burner can also be used to prepare side dishes like mashed potatoes, gravy and cranberry sauce, Raichlen says, which wouldn’t necessarily benefit from smoke.

On the other hand, if you choose smoke, you should consider the source of the wood you’re working with, says Bennett. “For me, when it comes to preparing recipes on a wood fire grill, the smoke becomes one of the ingredients,” she says. But while an applewood or cherrywood can pair well with an apple dessert, a mesquite — among the stronger smoking woods — can completely overwhelm the dish.

Take the main event outside

If you’ve never cooked a turkey on the grill, this can be a fail-safe way to free up the oven. “I think it actually offers a lot of stress relief over the holidays,” says Bennett. She prepares all of her Thanksgiving dinner, including the turkey, on a large Traeger grill, big enough to hold a variety of side dishes and baked goods in stages. Plus, turkey and a smoky pellet grill are a natural pairing.

Raichlen agrees that cooking the bird outdoors is a great way to reduce the stress put on the indoor oven. It also offers countless opportunities for creativity. “Last year I roasted my turkey on a Kalamazoo gaucho skewer. The year before that I smoked it on a Big Green Egg. Depends on the grill,” he says. In order to cook a bird that won’t disappoint, it must be cooked over indirect heat. “Otherwise you burn the skin but leave the meat raw,” he says.

Don’t skimp on charcoal

While charcoal can be a bit inconsistent when it comes to heat reliability, it also offers exceptional smoky flavor and, Raichlen notes, can be a lot of fun to cook with. Charcoal grills can be upgraded with hardwood shavings and chunks, and dishes that don’t require much temperature stability can be easily cooked on them. Raichlen says side dishes that are typically oven-baked, like baked squash, scalloped potatoes, and even macaroni and cheese, can benefit from the smoke of a charcoal grill and aren’t greatly affected by temperature fluctuations.

Raichlen notes that you’ll most likely set it up for indirect grilling as opposed to direct heat. This involves raking the embers to the periphery and cooking the food in the center, which helps achieve more precise temperatures within a window of around 50 degrees. (This is still not ideal for baking, but it can be fine for most casseroles and side dishes.)

Ready to bring things outside? Here’s a recipe for a smoky apple and raisin galette baked on a grill.