Kitchen Creations: Nearly 4 in 5 Americans Say Dinners At Home Mean Cooking From Scratch

NEW YORK, N.Y. – June 23, 2016 – Amidst a sea of cooking shows, culinary empires, and celebrity chefs, there’s no shortage of ways to get a cooking fix without even turning on the stove. But just how often are Americans turning up the heat in their own kitchens and what exactly does “cooking” mean?

For a majority, eating dinner at home entails cooking from scratch (78%), followed by heating up something from the fridge or freezer (45%), and cooking using shortcuts such as precut veggies or pre-marinated chicken breasts (37%).

But eating at home doesn’t always mean cooking from scratch or even using a microwave. Other eating at home options include:

  • Picking up restaurant carryout on the way home (23%);
  • Picking up pre-prepared items at the grocery store on the way home (22%), which is favored by Millennials compared to older generations;
  • Having restaurant takeout delivered to home (15%); and,
  • Using a meal/meal ingredient delivery service, such as Blue Apron or Plated, also favored more by Millennials compared to older generations.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,236 U.S. adults, along with representative oversamples of 510 Hispanic Americans (interviewed in English and Spanish) and 179 Asian Americans (interviewed in English), surveyed online between March 16 and 21, 2016.

Cooking enjoyment

Who are the home chefs? A majority of Americans enjoy cooking (57%), with over one quarter (27%) enjoying it a great deal. It’s no surprise that those who enjoy cooking the most are also more likely to cook from scratch compared to those who don’t (86% vs. 67%). Cooking is enjoyed more by:

  • Women (61% vs. 53% of men);
  • Adults with children under 18 in the house (65% vs. 53% of those without kids in the house);
  • Millennials (65%), Gen Xers (56%), and Baby Boomers (57% vs. 42% of Matures); and,
  • Hispanics (68% vs. 55% of Whites and 46% of Asian Americans).

To cook or not to cook? That is the question

Whether they like it or not, nearly all Americans cook (97%) and a vast majority cook at least once a week (84%), while about 3 in 10 (31%) cook every day. Those most likely to cook everyday tend to be women (37% vs. 24% men), married (35% vs. 28% unmarried), adults with children in the household (37% vs. 28% without kids in the house), and those who enjoy it (43% vs. 16% who don’t enjoy cooking).

When looking to cook something up, Americans turn to “back pocket” recipes (42%), a recipe of their own design (32%), or a recipe passed down from a family member (25%). Technology also plays a role for some, with 17% taking recipes from a website and 12% from a cooking-related TV show.

Pass the takeout, please

Among those who say they don’t enjoy cooking, the top reasons include: they’re not good at it (35%), they don’t have time (31%), or it simply isn’t fun (31%). Not surprisingly, different people have different explanations for why they don’t enjoy cooking:

  • Men are more likely than women to cite never learning how to cook as a reason (23% vs. 11% of women), while women are more likely to say they don’t have time (37% vs. 25% of men).
  • Millennials are about twice as likely as all other generations to say it’s easier to order something in (30% vs. 15% Gen Xers, 10% Baby Boomers, 6% Matures) and that they don’t have the attention span (29% vs. 16% Gen Xers, 8% Baby Boomers, 7% Matures).




This Harris Poll was conducted online, in English, within the United States between March 16 and 21, 2016 among 2,236 adults. Additionally, oversamples were collected in English and Spanish among 510 Hispanic (representing Spanish-dominant, English-dominant and Bilingual profiles) respondents and in English among 179 Asian respondents. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.  Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. 

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.

Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

The Harris Poll® #47, June 23, 2016

By Leslie Krohn, Senior Vice President, The Harris Poll