Spooked by cooking? 1 in 4 Americans too intimidated to use their own kitchen

NEW YORK — For those who feel like making a meal is out of your league, you’re not alone. One in four Americans admit they’re intimidated by cooking in their own kitchen. A poll of 2,000 U.S. adults who regularly cook found nearly one-third (29%) are so overwhelmed by some recipes, they’ll ask others in their house to prepare the meal instead.

Six in 10 found themselves intimidated the most by international foods they love, due to recipes that have too many steps or ingredients involved (45%), seem too complicated (42%), or are easy to mess up (32%). Forty-three percent admitted to even making the simplest recipes unnecessarily complicated.

Commissioned by Fresh Express and conducted by OnePoll, the study revealed the most popular nations producing beloved international dishes are Mexico (36%), Italy (32%), and China (25%).

Meanwhile, many respondents shared their favorite international dishes they love to eat, but fear making at home: pasta from scratch (34%), Beef Wellington (33%), sushi (27%), enchiladas (25%), and pad thai (25%).

Similarly, respondents said if they could learn to perfect just one international dish, they would choose pasta from scratch (27%), enchiladas (27%), or tacos (24%).

When it comes to exploring in the kitchen, 69 percent agreed they would be more likely to make international-inspired dishes at home if they were easier to make and 48 percent said they feel like professional chefs whenever they use international ingredients in their cooking.

“It can be intimidating to dive into preparing new dishes or international cuisines – especially when you feel unsure where to start,” says Marketing Manager at Fresh Express, Arturo Chavez, in a statement. “For those of us who love to experiment in the kitchen, getting cooking inspiration from international recipes can help you discover new ingredients or experience your favorite globally-inspired flavors from the comfort of your own home.” 

Results found Italy and Greece topped the list of nations with the best salads (27%), while Italy was the respondents’ first choice for dinner (51%). France was named the “crème de la crème” for its desserts (26%) and Ethiopia creates the best snack foods (21%). Mexico dominated the early-in-the-day foods, named the favorite for breakfast (28%), lunch (34%), and appetizers (29%).

Over half (57%) said they like using international ingredients in recipes they’re already familiar with for better-tasting dishes — but, if given the choice to add any three ingredients or spices to make any dish taste better, they would choose garlic (58%), cheese (46%), and bacon (39%). 

In addition to adding ingredients, 62 percent look for cooking shortcuts when trying new recipes. The top sources for time-saving inspiration for them were YouTube (53%), cookbooks (44%), online articles (39%), family members (38%), friends (32%), and TikTok (29%).

“While trying out new recipes is one of the many joys of cooking, incorporating international flavors into dishes is often easier that one might think – especially if you know where to start,” says the director of Product Development at Fresh Express, John Wadsworth. 

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 Americans who cook regularly was commissioned by Fresh Express between May 18 and May 25, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

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About the Author

Sophia Naughton

Meet StudyFinds’ Associate Editor, Sophia Naughton. Sophia is a recent graduate from Towson University with a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication directly focused in journalism and advertising. She is also a freelance writer for Baltimore Magazine. Outside of writing, her best buddy is her spotted Pit Bull, Terrance.

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