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Majority of Americans claim they’re better at grilling than their parents

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Man and son barbecuing with family in the background at park
(Photo by ESB Professional via Shutterstock)

Six in 10 millennials (62%) have pretended not to know how to cook to avoid having to help.

That’s according to a recent survey of 3,000 U.S. adults, divided evenly among Generation Z (18–25), millennials (26–41), Generation X (42–57) and baby boomers (58–76).

Overall, more than half (55%) of respondents said they are often reluctant to grill. Most find ready-made meal kits to be more convenient (49%), or simply think others are better at grilling (48%).

While the majority of millennials prefer simple meal kits to traditional grilling (56%), most Gen Zers are reluctant to grill because they think others are better at it than them (47%).

But are millennials downplaying their grilling prowess? Six in 10 (62%) rated their grilling ability as “excellent” or “good.” And nearly three-quarters of millennials (74%) think they’re just as capable of lighting a grill, compared to 61% of boomers.

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of TABASCO Brand, the survey also found that millennials were the most likely to grow up watching their parent or guardian cook food on a grill (69%).

Nearly four-fifths (78%) also believe the student has surpassed the teacher — meaning that they believe they’ve developed better skills than that parent or guardian themselves.

Regardless of generation, the average respondent takes over grilling duties from their parents at age 16, with 58% saying they’ve taught their parent how to cook certain foods on the grill. A whopping 75% of millennials have taught older generations to grill certain foods.

Is it ever too early in the day to grill? Fifty-three percent of millennials said they’ve grilled their breakfast, compared to only 24% of boomers.

Results also revealed the generations can sometimes differ when it comes to their sauce preferences.

Gen Zers were found to like hot and spicy sauce flavors on grilled foods the most (38%), with baby boomers least likely to favor this flavor (28%).

Overall, though, more than three-fourths of all respondents (79%) enjoy their foods dipped, drizzled or smothered in sauce.

“It’s interesting to discover that the ‘meal kit’ generation is also the one that considers themselves to be the most skilled when it comes to grilling,” said Kate Neuhaus, Global Marketing Director for TABASCO Brand. “We’re firing up the grills this summer to see how the generational divide is changing up the rules of backyard grill-outs and rooftop BBQs.”

Boomers were the most likely generation to cook American BBQ (50%) and preferred it to other flavors.

Culinary preferences aside, burgers (45%), chicken (43%) and hot dogs (43%) topped the list of foods people think they’re the best at grilling.

“Interestingly, people of all ages seem to be united in the versatility of BBQ sauces — most (42%) said they use BBQ sauce as both a dip and a marinade,” Neuhaus added. “Whether they find joy in the 24-hour marinade or they would rather spend time on the mix, BBQ is a tradition for all the ages."


  • Burgers - 45%
  • Chicken - 43%
  • Hot dogs - 43%
  • Steak - 40%
  • Ribs - 32%
  • Fish - 29%
  • Veggies - 28%
  • Shellfish - 24%
  • Fruit - 24%
  • Meat substitutes (e.g. tofu, tempeh, etc.) - 22%

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