CHICAGO — Younger consumers as well as those with children are driving the market for ethnic foods, according to Mintel.

Mintel said about 90% of adults ages 25 to 34 said they prepared ethnic foods at home during the last month in contrast to 68% of those over 65. Additionally, 91% of adults with children under 18 made ethnic food compared with 78% of those without children.

“The ethnic food category has had a very strong performance during the recession, followed by a still positive but slightly lower growth trend, likely driven by a return to restaurants,” said John N. Franck, category manager of consumer packaged goods food and drink at Mintel. “As Americans, especially younger people, have palates that are becoming more adventurous and sophisticated, they are also eager to explore lesser-known cuisines with unique flavor combinations.”

Ethnic food had solid yearly sales during the recession with overall growth of 12% from 2007 to 2009. This performance likely was driven by a move from restaurant eating to more food store purchases for at-home dining due to tight budgets. Sales increased only 4.5% from 2010 to 2012, a lower rate than during the recession. Yet Mintel predicts the ethnic food market will grow 20.3% from 2012 to 2017, driven by continued consumer interest and more product development.

Hispanic foods are the most popular among households with children, with 72% of respondents from households with children preparing Hispanic foods during the last month compared with 50% of households without children.

Hispanic foods are also the most popular with all at-home cooks with 58% saying they prepared it within the last month compared with 55% who prepared Italian food and 44% who made Asian food.