Outdoor grillers turning to healthier choices, grilling more often

19th Annual Weber GrillWatch Survey released

Thirty-one percent of American grill owners are grilling more than they were one year ago because they’re “trying to eat healthier,” according to the 19th Annual Weber GrillWatch Survey released Monday.

More than one-third (39%) of survey respondents said they are grilling leaner meats, more vegetables (38%), more poultry (34%) and more fish (22%) than they did one year ago. Six percent are grilling more meat substitutes such as veggie burgers and tofu, and 5% are grilling more fruit. Women are significantly more likely than men to grill more vegetables (43 versus 33%) and more fruit (7 versus 4%). 

Grilling trends upward
More than half (57%) of all grill owners said they grill throughout the year. Among owners of different grill types, those who use outdoor electric grills (65%), gas stand-ups (61%) and smokers most often (60%) are more likely to define their grilling season as year-round than charcoal grill owners at 53%.

For the first time, researchers asked how many hours a week Americans grill during their grilling season. While the overall average of all respondents was 4.4, one-third said they spend five or more hours grilling each week. Sixty-seven percent said they spend up to four hours. Seventy-one percent reported they fire up their grill at least once a week during their grilling season, up from 69% last year, and 47% said they fire it up “at least a few times per week” compared to 43% last year.

While 95 percent said they grill dinner “on a regular basis,” 37% said they now grill lunch on a regular basis, and 2% grill breakfast or brunch on a regular basis.

American grill owners also reported they entertain family or friends in their home an average of 10.7 times a year, slightly more than the non-grill owner average at 9.6 times. In addition, grill owners used their grills seven out of the 10.7 times they entertained during the year.

Grill ownership results
Charcoal grill ownership continues to trend upward – 53% of grill owners said they have one, up from 50% last year and 47% in 2005. On the flip side, gas grill ownership is on the decline with 63% ownership versus 70% ownership in 2005. Ownership of smokers and outdoor electric grills has stayed relatively constant during the past two years at 17% and 6%, respectively.

Whereas gas grills are still preferred over charcoal as the grill type used most often (56% versus 38%), the number of Americans who declared they use charcoal most often has steadily increased during the last three years (38% this year versus last year’s 36% and 2005’s 32%). Twenty-three percent of respondents said they equally use both gas and charcoal.

Once again this year, almost one-third, 29%, of American grillers reported they own multiple grills. Among owners of different grill types, those who own smokers are most likely to own multiple grills – 75% said they own more than one, followed by outdoor electric grill owners at 57%.

Cooking on the grill
While Weber GrillWatch Survey respondents said hot dogs (81%) and burgers (75%) are the easiest foods to grill, they said fish is the most challenging (44%) followed by shellfish (38%). 

When asked which foods they’d like to know how to cook better on the grill, respondents most often cited beef roasts (24%) and beef brisket (20%). These were followed by whole chicken and whole turkey at 19% each; ribs and pizza at 18% each; pork roast/tenderloin at 16%, and cakes at 14%.

Although most grilling experts say otherwise, cutting into food remains the top method that Americans use to decide when to take food off of the grill (58%). Other popular methods include seeing “if it looks done” (44%), “poking it with a fork” (30%), and just plain “winging it” (21%). Twenty-two percent use the more advisable methods of timing their food (22%) and/or using a thermometer (19%). Those with incomes of $100,000-plus are more apt to time their food and/or use a thermometer.

Fashionable Grilling
As last year, one-third of grill owners would prefer color on their next grill. The top individual color choices are blue/dark blue at 10%, followed by red/dark red at 9%. Interest in bronze/copper and green/dark green has each slightly increased to 5% from last year’s 3%. 

When it comes specifically to charcoal grills, 41% of Weber GrillWatch Survey respondents believed the importance of style in a charcoal grill is more important than it was five to 10 years ago. Interestingly, those who use gas stand-up models most often are significantly more likely to feel that charcoal grill styling is more important these days (51%) versus those who use charcoal grills most often (36%). Those under 35 are significantly more likely overall to believe that styling in a charcoal grill is more important now than it was five to 10 years ago (48%).

Accessorize, Accessorize
American grillers have purchased a wide variety of grilling accessories during the last year. Wire brushes and tongs top the list at 35% each, followed by grill lighter tools (28%), forks (25%), and grilling mitts (22%). Younger grill owners under age 35 are the most robust purchasers of grilling accessories.

Grill Gifting
Nearly one in four grill owners (22%) have purchased an outdoor grill for someone as a gift.  Birthdays are the top occasion at 37%, followed by Christmas (23%, up from last year’s 18%), which outpaces last year’s second most popular occasion of Father’s Day (20%). Fourteen percent of respondents said they have purchased a grill as a housewarming present.

Most Popular Grilling Holidays
Americans fire up their grills on just about every major holiday. The Fourth of July again tops the list at 86%t, followed by Labor Day (74%), birthdays (73%), and Memorial Day (69%). Fifty-two percent of grill owners cook outside on Father’s Day compared to 45% on Mother’s Day.

Keep It Clean
Slightly more than one-half of grill owners, 52%, said they thoroughly clean their grill at least once or twice a month, including 25% who said they clean it at least once a week. Another 38% said they clean it less often, from once to a few times per year. Surprisingly, 6% admitted they have never cleaned their grill, and an additional 5% said they do it every couple of years or less.

The objective Weber GrillWatch Survey, conducted by third-party Greenfield Online to ensure statistical integrity, is the nation’s first and most comprehensive study on what, where, when, why, and how Americans cook outdoors. All survey respondents were over age 21 and own a gas, charcoal, or electric barbecue grill or smoker. Respondents were balanced demographically to represent households across the U.S.

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