Grilling season is officially upon us! What better way to kick off summer festivities: sunshine, outdoor activities, lots of delicious food and National Hamburger Day!
When I host backyard BBQs, I like to keep it simple. What’s simpler than a build-your-own-burger bar? Guests can dress their juicy burgers with an assortment of their favorite toppings – and I like to give them lots of options! It’s a great conversation starter and an even better meal, plus it always sparks a juicy debate: what goes into the best burger ever?
For the meat, I like to stick to a traditional 80/20 ground beef blend, seasoned with salt and pepper and grilled. Simple, yet delicious. Grilled chicken, turkey, portobello mushrooms and even salmon work great as well.
I lay out different cheese options: American, cheddar, Swiss, pepper jack – anything your family enjoys. Guests can grab their cheese(s) of choice, bring it over to the grill and place it on top of the patties to melt. The bun choices range from the traditional sesame to Hawaiian, pretzel, or you can be extra decadent with brioche buns.
Now comes the fun part – toppings galore! Of course, I include the traditional options: pickles, sliced tomatoes, avocados, red onions, ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise. But I like to mix it up a little and also bring out toppings people may or may not be used to, such as grilled pineapple rings, grilled onions, cilantro slaw, caramelized red onions and sautéed mushrooms and jalapeños. For the sauces, I purchased a couple, but also made a few. Your favorite barbecue sauce is always a great addition to a barbecue cheddar burger topped with some caramelized onions. The topping and condiment choices are endless, so have some fun and get creative.
My family is a sucker for Thousand Island on their burgers. I decided to indulge their cravings and mixed together some mayonnaise, ketchup, sweet relish, vinegar and tabasco, and they all loved it. I am all about anything with a little kick; jalapeño lime mayo is my go to. I blend mayonnaise, lime zest, lime juice, finely diced jalapeños, chopped cilantro, salt and pepper to add a spicy and tangy kick to my favorite burger. Check out some of the burger combinations we came up with.
The Classic Burger is topped with American cheese, caramelized onion, tomatoes and Thousand Island, all on a toasted sesame bun.
The Southwest Burger is topped with pepper jack cheese, jalapeño lime mayonnaise, avocado, and sautéed mushrooms and jalapeños. This is my personal favorite.
The Hawaiian Burger is topped with Swiss cheese, teriyaki sauce and grilled pineapple, all piled high with creamy cilantro coleslaw.
I hope this burger bar inspires you to get creative and design your own “best burger ever.”