The weather warms up, the grill comes out, and the menu at every outdoor party becomes pretty predictable: We’re having burgers. At your next party, change things up a bit and build a burger bar where guests can customize their hamburgers with interesting sauces, cheeses, veggies, and more. Here are a few tips on how to build the perfect burger bar at your next get-together.
1. Burger Patties
You might love beef burgers, but not everybody does. The best burger bars start with a variety of patty options for different dietary needs or preferences. Include beef patties, but also consider turkey burgers or veggie options like black bean burgers or Walnut Quinoa Burgers.
2. Food Prep
It kind of goes without saying, but prepping should be done before the party whenever possible. Some foods can easily be prepped beforehand—including your burger patties. Mix, press, and cool patties in the fridge ahead of time, then start getting accoutrements in order.
3. Location, Location, Location
The best burger bars don’t have an expiration date. Instead, party-goers can grab a burger anytime they like, which takes some of the pressure off your grill chef, who can cook throughout the party rather than trying to get everything done right at the start. So, choose a cool, covered spot where lettuce can stay fresh and other fresh veggies don’t bake in the sun. A tray with cooling inserts also helps keep toppings looking and tasting fresh.
4. Get Organized
Using separate serving trays is a great way to set up your burger bar. Put nonperishable items together, like utensils, plates, and napkins. Burger bar items that need frequent restocking should be on another platter, which makes for easier trips back to the kitchen for more onions, pickles and tomatoes. Grab yet another tray for back-and-forth trips from the grill for the burgers. Plus, cool wicker trays make for a good-looking burger bar.
5. Be Creative
There’s no rulebook outlining the best choices for burger bar toppings. This is where you add some personality to your party. Make it a Mexican-themed burger bar with guacamole and cotjia cheese, or spice things up with jalapeños, hot sauce, and pepperjack cheese. And if kids are part of the party plan, remember the classics like ketchup and mustard—and nobody said your burger bar can’t include cookies, too.
If you need a little more topping inspiration, check out, The Ultimate List of Burger & Hot Dog Toppings. Happy grilling!