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Talking Turkey: HPBA Tips and Recipes for the Ultimate Thanksgiving Meal

Americans are rethinking tradition this Thanksgiving with more than 70 percent of consumers saying they would opt out of using the oven to instead grill (18 percent), smoke (25 percent) or fry (28 percent) their turkey, according to HPBA's Thanksgiving poll. Turkeys can be fried in less than an hour, smoked over low heat for several hours or even cooked on a grill - each option offers a mouthwatering meal packed with juicy flavor and crispy taste.

According to the National Turkey Federation (NTF), an estimated 46 million turkeys will be cooked this holiday. Based on HPBA consumer poll responses, that means up to 32.2 million turkeys could be getting the boot from the oven! Americans agree that grilling, smoking and frying are preferable to the oven for a number of reasons:

  • Allows you to try something new (54 percent of respondents)
  • Gives you a more tender or juicy turkey (54 percent of respondents)
  • Frees up space in your oven for other cooking (53 percent of respondents)
  • Easier clean up (52 percent of respondents)

To heat up Thanksgiving meals, HPBA and NTF have the tips and recipes for a winning holiday feast:

Tips for Outdoor Cooking and the Ultimate Turkey Experience

  • Check to make sure the grill, smoker or fryer is in working order.
  • Be sure to read the owner's manual for safety precautions.
  • Stock up on enough charcoal, propane, oil or wood chips needed to cook the meal.
  • Be sure to use the grill, smoker or fryer outside only - never indoors and make sure that it's set-up on a flat, stable surface, preferably on a protective grill pad, and away from any combustible materials.
  • Purchase a whole turkey according to the weight recommendations in your grill's, smoker's or fryer's owner's manual.
  • Thaw the turkey completely and pat it dry. Cook the bird un-stuffed.
  • Brine the turkey for increased flavor and moisture.
  • Outdoor cooking times depend on many factors: the size and shape of the turkey, the distance from the heat and the outside air temperature. Allow more time on cold or windy days and at high altitudes. Allow less time in very hot weather.
  • Have a food thermometer handy to measure the internal temperature of the bird; the temperature should be 165° F to 170° F in the breast and 175° F to 180° F in the thigh.

Don't Forget The Trimmings!

Did you know?

More than one-third of Americans plan to cook some part of their Thanksgiving meal outdoors this year. - According to HPBA’s Thanksgiving poll

Beyond the bird, seven in ten Americans admit that they would like to see grilled side dishes on their Thanksgiving platters, including grilled vegetables (51 percent) or grilled bread, fruits or desserts (18 percent). While the turkey is the centerpiece of the meal, Thanksgiving's savory side dishes and trimmings can all be cooked outdoors. Try America's Outdoor Cooking Experts Bill and Cheryl Jamison's recipes for crispy smashed potatoes, grilled apples slices or grilled vegetable orzo.


For more information about turkey cooking, nutritional information and recipes, visit NTF at


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