Although a degree of uncertainty hangs over the upcoming summer, it feels safe to say that gatherings could very well make a comeback. We’re talking about house parties, trips to the movies, live sporting events – and with the most bullish outlook, concerts in the next few months. But grilling and barbecue season might be the closest thing to a lock, which is already underway for a sizable chunk of Americans.

According to a recent CivicScience survey, two-thirds of adults grill or smoke meats to some extent every year – with 36% grilling several times per month or more.

Gen Z consumers are the least likely to grill at all, perhaps surprisingly followed by adults 55-and-older. Adults aged 35-to-54 are most likely to be frequent grillers or smokers, but the younger crowd isn’t far behind, tracking closely to that 36% figure for the Gen Pop.

Grilling Habits Align With Pandemic Comfort

Red meat has become something of a political football in the past week, creating ideological fault lines where they probably shouldn’t exist. But there’s a noticeable correlation between grilling habits and comfort with being in public spaces right now. Weekly grillers are significantly less likely than infrequent grillers to be concerned about being in public, with the inverse holding true for infrequent grillers.

Americans Give a Slight Edge to Gas Grills

The last time CivicScience checked up on grilling preferences, consumers preferred charcoal to gas by a 3-to-2 ratio. Those preferences have nearly flipped around this time, with 43% of Americans opting for gas, to charcoal’s 30%. Smokers remain a largely niche interest, which tracks with the challenges of pulling off a great smoke.

Smokers are also more preferred among higher earners, with nearly one-tenth of Americans who make $100,000 or more opting for smoked meat as their preferred method of cooking. Interest in gas grills also rises significantly with income, and Americans making under $50,000 are significantly more likely to not cook meat outdoors altogether.

As the correlation between grilling habits and comfort in public spaces might indicate, cooking meat outdoors is still a largely social enterprise. As the weeks warm up and comfort gathering  gradually ticks back up, expect to see even more grilling than we did at this time last year.