Grilling season officially begins

The 22nd annual Weber GrillWatch survey of 1,000 Americans finds that 7 percent of Americans report spending more than 10 hours each week cooking outdoors during their "grilling season. Almost half (49 percent) of respondents said they grill or smoke-cook year-round, including 37 percent at or below freezing temperatures.


U.S. grill and smoker owners cook an average of five hours per week, and 22 percent are grilling "more" this year compared to last, indicating increasing zeal for outdoor cooking. Nearly 78 percent say that grilling is an "extremely important" or "pretty important" activity when entertaining guests at their home. Among those who grill primarily on charcoal (who also tend to be more passionate about grilling overall), an impressive 92 percent agree with either statement.


Dinner remains as the primary meal grilled on a regular basis (89 percent), followed by lunch (35 percent) and breakfast (3 percent). Although eight out of 10 grillers respond that they have never grilled breakfast outdoors, more than half are interested in learning. The top five foods grilled most often during the last year include: Hamburgers (69 percent); steak (46 percent); chicken pieces (42 percent); hot dogs (39 percent); and ribs (17 percent).


Most challenging foods to grill include: Desserts (34 percent); fish and pizza (both at 27 percent); shellfish (25 percent); and fruits (22 percent). While 96 percent of Americans grill burgers outdoors, beef burgers are the country's favorite at 93 percent, followed by turkey (14 percent) and vegetables (6 percent). Favorite burger toppings are onions (62 percent), tomatoes, (61 percent), lettuce and ketchup (both 59 percent), and mustard (50 percent).


Men are still the primary griller in most U.S. households (61 percent) with 20 percent reporting that it's a shared responsibility among men and women. Independence Day remains as the favorite grilling holiday at 81 percent, followed by birthdays at 67 percent, Labor Day at 66 percent, Memorial Day (61 percent compared to last year's 71 percent), and Father's Day at 48 percent.


But let’s not forget the meaning of Memorial Day. Originally called Decoration Day, it is a day of remembrance for those who have died serving our nation, and a national moment of remembrance takes place at 3:00 p.m. local time. May all our active soldiers stay safe; we salute and thank them for their service.