The survey by analysts Mintel found just 30% of those aged 16 to 24 were confident cooks and 16% perceived cooking as stressful, compared to 11% on average.
The poll revealed 16% of those aged 16 to 24 who live in a house or flat share continued to have their meals cooked for them by parents or guardians, as did 15% of those living in student accommodation.
Just 27% of 16 to 24s cooked from scratch most days, compared with 54% of over-55s, while more than two thirds (68%) of young adults ate prepared meals such as ready meals, pizza or soup more than once a week.
Almost a fifth of adults (19%) chose to cook a meal according to the amount of washing up it generated.
Mintel global food and drink analyst Alex Beckett said: "Considering obesity rates in the UK are climbing, and this country has the highest rate of childhood obesity in Western Europe, the need to encourage young adults to cook and eat healthily is perhaps imperative. However, our research reveals some relatively discouraging attitudes that 16 to 24s harbour towards cooking, which could be having a detrimental effect on their diet. In particular, 16 to 24s are the least likely to have a confident and valued perception of cooking, and the most likely to perceive cooking as stressful."