More than half of Americans agree outdoor barbecues are the ideal venue for summer gatherings

The nation's indoor dining rooms may be open again, but new research suggests that Americans still prefer for their family reunions to take place around the grill.

In a recent survey of 2,006 respondents, more than half (51%) highlighted outdoor barbecues as an ideal venue for socializing this summer.

Meanwhile, only 38% said the same of restaurants, and even fewer (34%) opted for their own dining room table.   

Altogether, 47% of respondents used cookouts to catch up on news from friends and family — agreeing that the grill is the non-work equivalent of the office water cooler.

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Bush's® Beans, the survey also found that 72% of those polled have created lasting memories around the grill in the past.

And 42% want to create even more, by attending more barbecues than they usually would this summer.

"This summer has been a time for families and friends to come back together," said Penny Caudill, Bush's Baked Beans brand manager. "And the grill remains a place where we can all get together and enjoy our favorite foods that make summer beautiful, from burgers to hot dogs to baked beans." 

Of course, a barbecue isn't a success without the right food, which may be why 23% of respondents insist on bringing their signature dish every time they're invited to one.

That doesn't mean the classics get ignored, though, with burgers (77%), hot dogs (72%) and baked beans (47%) amongst the list of must-have dishes at a cookout.

Spice is also a hot topic around the grill, with 79% of those polled saying they like spicy barbecue foods, whether added before, during or after cooking.

Some people love spice so much, they can't bear to be without it; 28% of respondents said they carry a bottle of hot sauce with them at all times, just in case.

And when things get too hot, people still reach for milk (34%) or water (31%) more than they do bread, alcohol, soda or other items commonly used as spice neutralizers.

Types of spice are important too, with jalapeño favored by 30% of respondents, compared to 12% who like to get their heat from cayenne. 

Those types of spice are most likely to be added to classic barbecue dishes like chicken wings (45%), burgers (35%), pulled pork sandwiches (27%) and baked beans (22%). 

Caudill added, "It's no secret that a classic barbecue dish can be elevated with the right spice, and this survey shows that an unexpected pop of jalapeño heat is the perfect way to add flair to your favorite summer dishes. That's why Bush's created new Sweet Heat Baked Beans as an easy, delicious option for adding some extra heat to your favorite grilling side dish."