CHICAGO — Menu items that contain the words “snack,” “snackable” or “snacker” have increased by 170% since 2007, and growth is expected to continue as restaurants explore the trend, according to recent research from Mintel Menu Insights, a division of Mintel International.

“Snacks are providing a huge opportunity right now for restaurants ranging from quick service to fine dining,” said Eric Giandelone, director of food service research at Mintel. “By innovating menus with various snacking options, restaurants can boost sales throughout the day and drive guest traffic during non-peak hours.”

According to Mintel, 37% of respondents chose 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. as the most popular time slot to visit restaurants. Only 19% of respondents bought snacks from a restaurant between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. and the average amount spent was $4.26 per person compared with $3.79 across all other time periods.

“Snack options need to be appropriate for the time frame,” Mr. Giandelone said. “Heartier and pricier fare may have more appeal later in the day, while light options may work best in the morning or early afternoon.”

Mintel research found that 64% of respondents look for a beverage when snacking, whereas 61% opt for something portable. Respondents craving an indulgent snack totaled 52%, while 50% wanted something salty. Only 32% of consumers said they chose a healthy option, which, according to Mintel, counteracts the health conscious trend also being seen in the restaurant industry.