Last summer, at our annual Canada Day party, I kept the menu simple by creating a DIY burger bar for our guests. After hosting the same party for almost a decade, I was looking for a new way to serve our traditional barbecued goods and decided that instead of wowing everyone with fancy fare, I would serve basic burgers and up the ante with a selection of 19 potential toppings for the grilled meat.
The day before the party, I spent a few hours in the kitchen mixing a variety of creations from the condiments in our fridge. Then I sliced and diced a few traditional toppings and in no time I was left with a buffet of options for the hot dog and burger bar.
I opted to made the hamburger patties slider-size (2.5 oz each), ensuring they were perfect for the little hands at the party (I have nine nieces and nephews), but also small enough that the adults could have more than one, allowing them to experiment with the topping options.
Should you be interested in hosting a similar type of meal, here’s how I did it:
- I made the patties by weighing them so they were all the same size, ensuring they would cook through evenly.
- I didn’t add any filler to my burgers – instead I shaped the weighed beef into rounds, and seasoned them liberally with kosher salt and pepper on both sides just before they hit the grill. Don’t season meat with salt too far in advance, as it will draw out the juices that keep it moist.
- I used heartier dinner rolls in order to keep the condiments tucked in nicely; slider buns are thin and small, and don’t offer much room for the toppings.
- Because I had 48 buns, plus an additional 15 rolls for the hot dogs, I didn’t have the space or time to butter and toast them all, but I would have liked to. Lightly buttered and toasted buns provide a barrier between the condiments and bread and the extra step keeps the buns from turning soggy.
- While I prepped the condiments one day in advance, most of the sauces could have been made several days in advance, if you prefer.
Here’s a list of what I included on my burger bar:
- Sliced red onion
- Sliced tomatoes
- Chopped white onions
- Dill pickles
- Grated cheddar cheese
- Pickle relish
- Spicy honey Dijon sauce
- Creamy chimichurri
- Pickled jalapeños
- Bacon and onion jam
- Dijonnaise (combine equal parts mayonnaise and grainy Dijon mustard)
- Sriracha Mayo (3 parts mayonnaise to 1 part Sriracha)
- Ballpark Mustard
- Dijon mustard
- Spicy ketchup (3 parts ketchup to 1 part Sriracha)
- Barbecue sauce
Serve the sauces in a squeeze bottles and the remainder of the toppings in mason jars, bowls and platters. Label each with the name of the condiment written on washi/masking tape and sticking to the front of the bottle/jar.