Thanksgiving around the…barbecue. Grilling out for Thanksgiving is a practice for one in eight grill owners, according to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA). A new online survey shares the reasons why people love to grill for turkey day.

“Grilling out for Thanksgiving has emerged as a new tradition for many over the last 20 years, as home cooks expand their grilling repertoire and fellow barbecuers fill the web with helpful how-to videos,” said Jack Goldman, HPBA president and CEO. “But the what, how, and why people cook out on the final Thursday of November each year are as varied Thanksgiving side dishes all across the U.S.”

Last month, as part of its ongoing multimedia campaign, #WhyIGrill, HPBA asked followers and friends over social media to share their Thanksgiving grilling plans with 265 responding.

  • The main reason for grilling out: 74% say it’s for boosting flavor, followed by tradition (22%), convenience (18%), lifestyle (15%) and health (12%).
  • On the menu: 62% plan to cook turkey outside, followed by ham (35%), veggies (33%), dressing/gravy (5%) and desserts (5%).
  • Thanksgrillers will use multiple types of grills this year, and often more than one, to cook their feast: 34% use smokers, followed by deep fryers (29%), charcoal (29%), gas (25%) and wood pellets (3.5%).
  • Thanksgrillers grill frequently: 25% have cooked out on turkey day five plus times, 30% for two to four times and 15% just once. Only 30% have never grilled for Thanksgiving.

When survey respondents were asked why they grill for Thanksgiving, responses included:

  • “I love everything about grilling, and it adds a different touch to Thanksgiving.”
  • “You can’t get the same taste from an oven.”
  • “It brings out the flavor of the bird, it brings moisture to the meat, and it’s just tradition.”
  • “The diversity the flavor of the turkey and the yummyiness of the vegetables.”
  • “It’s something I do every year for family and friends.”
  • “We heard about deep frying a turkey and wanted to try it. It was delicious and quick.”
  • “So somebody else can do it while I get other foods ready.”
  • “Because it puts smiles on everybody’s faces.”

“We love grilling for the holidays because it brings a whole new flavor profile to our Thanksgiving turkey, and our friends and family love to flock around the grill as we cook,” said Beth Breeding, vice president of communications for National Turkey Federation, when asked why her team loves to cook out during the holiday. “Plus, taking your Thanksgiving turkey to the grill frees up oven space for your sides. Hello, green bean casserole.”

Home cooks looking for inspiration beyond the traditional turkey can consider these distinct and flavorful recipes courtesy of the National Turkey Federation: Buttermilk Brined TurkeyGrilled Thai Turkey PizzaDry Rubbed Barbecue Turkey Breast and Grilled Turkey Wings.

About the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA)
The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA), based in Arlington, Va., is the North American industry association for manufacturers, retailers, distributors, representatives, service firms and allied associates for all types of barbecue, patio and hearth appliances, fuels and accessories. The association provides professional member services and industry support in education, statistics, government relations, marketing, advertising and consumer education.