National Barbecue Month ignites the thrill to grill

National Barbecue Month ignites the thrill to grill

Updated: May 26, 2011 02:48 PM EDT
© Digitalvision / Thinkstock © Digitalvision / Thinkstock

Six-out-of-ten Americans say they can't wait to fire up the grill according to a new poll conducted by the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, kicking off the peak outdoor cooking season with National Barbecue Month in May.

In fact, nearly 90 percent say they plan to enjoy grilled food in their own backyard during the warmer months, indicating that Americans are ready to shake off the winter blues and get a taste of summer.

"After an especially brutal winter nationwide, people are ready to cook outside and enjoy the outdoors," said Leslie Wheeler, HPBA's Director of Communications. "While we are seeing an increase in grilling year round, it still remains the quintessential summer pastime. The warmer months bring people together around the grill for outdoor entertainment and delicious food with the benefits of ease and affordability."

While grilling is a shared pastime, HPBA's 2010 National Barbecue Month poll reveals that flavor preferences and grilling styles vary as widely as the people who use them. The nationwide poll shows America's grilling profile and consumer taste preferences.

Dress up or Strip Down?

  • When it comes to enjoying a meal from the grill, 65 percent of Americans like to "dress it up" with a sauce, marinade or seasoning, and 21 percent prefer to "strip it down" and enjoy grilled food au natural.
  • Some like it hot! Men more than women say they like to turn up the heat with spicy sauce or steak sauce on their grilled meats (42 percent vs. 31 percent).
  • When it comes to grill-side manner, most adults report that they are "all about the meat" (29 percent) or "all natural" (24 percent), followed by "spicy or saucy" (19 percent), adventurous (16 percent) and timid (6 percent).

Top Toppings

For hamburgers and other grilled meat or vegetable sandwiches:

  • In the battle of the bottles, consumers report they use ketchup most often (66 percent of respondents), with mustard (62 percent of respondents) close behind.
  • Two-thirds of Americans say, "Add cheese, please!"
  • Overall, 74 percent of Americans add lettuce, onion and/or tomato. Women lean towards the veggies more than men (80 percent of respondents vs. 68 percent).
  • Seventy percent of adults say they are all about the buns, and prefer a traditional bun to complete their grilled sandwiches.

No matter the preference for mustard or ketchup, bun or none, Americans agree that grilling provides an easy, cost-effective way to get out of the house and enjoy better tasting food during the warmer months. Specifically, Americans say the top pay-offs of grilling versus eating out or oven cooked meals include:

  • More flavorful food (81 percent of respondents)
  • Inexpensive compared to eating out (76 percent of respondents)
  • Easier clean up (67 percent of respondents)
  • Healthier (64 percent of respondents)
  • Less cooking time (53 percent of respondents)

"Now with more accessories and products for grilling on the go, people are taking the benefits of outdoor cooking beyond the backyard and making any event into a special meal," adds Wheeler.

The new poll reports that most adults plan to enjoy barbecuing outside of the home this summer: 74 percent plan to enjoy grilled food at a friend of relative's house, 42 percent while picnicking, 39 percent while camping, and 20 percent while tailgating.

For recipes, full poll results, tips to prep the grill and more, visit

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