Cookout: Recipes Bringing Burgers and Hot Dogs to the Next Level

Burgers and hot dogs are staples of an All-American cookout, and are undoubtedly on the menu for your Fourth of July celebrations. Guests expect to eat them, and hosts plan on preparing both on their grills each year. Consistency doesn’t mean monotony, though, and just because burgers and hot dogs are expected to be at your home doesn’t mean your burgers and hot dogs have to be predictable. To keep your guests guessing while still offering some classic options, here are eight recipes to grill while you celebrate Independence Day.

1. Sweet Spice Rub

Mixed spices

Spices will take your cookout up a level. | iStock.com

With just a tiny bit of heat, Smoked ‘n Grilled’s spice rub is saved from being overly sweet. You’ll have enough with this rub recipe to generously season six large burgers on both sides, but if you’re serving a crowd, you’ll definitely want to make a double or triple batch.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

Directions: Mix all the ingredients together into a bowl. If you have an empty spice container with a shaker top and lid on it, this would work well. You can store any leftovers in the empty spice jar, as well, or in a tupperware container.

2. Peach Salsa Dog

bowl of peach salsa

Peach salsa is an unexpected twist for your hot dogs. | iStock.com

Sweet, summery peaches meet spicy jalapeño in Real Simple’s hot dog salsa, which will set off sparks for everyone’s tastebuds. Make the salsa ahead of time and store it in the fridge until ready to serve.

Ingredients:

  • 2 peaches, chopped
  • ½ to 1 jalapeño pepper, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 4 hot dogs
  • 4 hot dog buns, split

Directions: In a medium bowl, mix together the peaches, jalapeño, cilantro, and lemon juice; season with ¼ teaspoon each salt and black pepper. Let sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the hot dogs according to the package directions. Place one on each bun and, dividing evenly, top with the peach salsa.

3. All-American Burger

man preparing burgers on a charcoal grill

Man cooking burgers on an outdoor grill. | iStock.com

What better day to eat Food Republic’s All-American burgers than on a day when you celebrate all things American? Have all the various garnishes lined up on a table or counter so guests can easily and quickly top their burgers once they are ready.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds freshly ground chuck (at least 80 percent lean)
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 slices deli-counter American cheese
  • 6 large burger buns, preferably homemade, toasted if desired

Garnish

  • Ketchup
  • Mayonnaise
  • Thousand Island dressing
  • Sliced red onion
  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Sliced pickles
  • Fresh lettuce leaves

Directions: In a large bowl, mix ground beef, onion powder, salt, and pepper until just combined. Divide into six portions and form patties, without pressing too hard. They should be uniform in thickness. Smooth out any cracks using your fingers. Make these right before you grill them, so they stay at room temperature. Preheat your grill, grill pan, or cast-iron skillet to high heat and add burger patties. If using a grill, cover with the lid.

Cook until the crust that forms on the bottom of the burger releases it from the pan or grate, about 2 minutes. Gently test, but don’t flip, until it gets to this point. When burgers lift up easily, flip, add two slices of cheese to each, close lid if using a grill, and cook on the other side for another 2 to 3 minutes for medium to medium rare. Remove burgers with a sturdy metal spatula and transfer to a plate. Allow to rest for several minutes, then transfer to buns. Garnish as desired and serve immediately.

4. Chicago-Style Hot Dog

Chicago-style hot dog

Chicago-style hot dogs are classic for cookouts. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

Nestled in a poppyseed bun, when you bite into a Chicago-style hot dog, Vienna Beef wants you to know that you’re participating in a food tradition dating back to the Great Depression, when the dogs were sold for a nickel. It’ll cost you more than that to make this Williams-Sonoma On the Grill recipe, but it will definitely be worth it.

Ingredients:

  • 8 all-beef or beef-and-pork hot dogs, preferably with natural casings
  • 8 poppy seed hot dog rolls, split
  • Melted unsalted butter for brushing
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped tomato
  • 6 banana peppers, quartered lengthwise
  • 1 cup relish
  • Celery salt, to taste
  • Mustard, to taste
  • 2 or 3 small dill pickles, quartered lengthwise

Directions: Prepare a medium-hot fire in a grill. Brush and oil the grill grate. Grill the hot dogs directly over medium-high heat, turning often, until lightly charred and plump, about 5 minutes total. Move the hot dogs to indirect heat. Brush the insides of the rolls with melted butter and grill, cut sides down, until lightly toasted, about 1 minute. Turn the rolls over and grill for about 30 seconds more. Serve each hot dog on a roll with equal amounts of the onion, tomato, banana peppers, relish, celery salt, mustard, and dill pickle spears.

5. Burger Buns

Burger with meat and French fries

Burger with meat and French fries | iStock.com/Lisovskaya

If you’re really out to dazzle this year, make your own burger buns. The process doesn’t have to be overly complicated, and King Arthur Flour has an easy, top-notch recipe that will make eight burger buns. To make the process even smoother, you can follow these tips on using yeast.

Ingredients:

  • ¾ to 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 3½ cups all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1¼ teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast

Directions: Mix and knead all of the dough ingredients — by hand, mixer or bread machine — to make a soft, smooth dough. Cover the dough and let it rise for 1 to 2 hours, or until it’s nearly doubled in bulk. Gently deflate the dough and divide it into eight pieces. Shape each piece into a round ball; flatten to about 3 inches across. Place the buns on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, cover, and let rise for about an hour, until noticeably puffy.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Brush the buns with about half of the melted butter. Bake the buns in preheated oven for 15-18 minutes, until golden. Remove them from the oven and brush with the remaining melted butter to give the buns a satiny, buttery crust. Cool the buns on a rack.

6. Pretzel Buns

forming pizza dough

Rolling out dough | iStock.com

Of course, now that we’ve covered burger buns, we need to give you a show-stopping option for your hot dogs, too. Jeff Mauro’s Food Network recipe for pretzel hot dog buns is just the bread-based way to jazz up your brats; it makes eight buns.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup milk
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 small cloves garlic, grated
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 cup bread flour
  • ½ cup baking soda
  • Pretzel salt or coarse ground sea salt, for sprinkling

Directions: In a small saucepan, heat the milk, ½ cup water, sugar, and honey to 105 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Add to the bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle the yeast over the water mixture and wait for at least 10 to 15 minutes until the yeast blooms. In a separate saucepan over medium heat, add the butter and garlic, and cook until the butter is melted and the garlic is fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.

Combine the all-purpose flour and bread flour in a mixing bowl. Add the flour mixture to the bowl with the blooming yeast, and then add in the melted butter and garlic mixture. Mix on medium speed until the dough has come together and is smooth and elastic in texture and pulling away from the sides of the bowl, 5 to 7 minutes.

Line two baking sheets with silicone mats. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured cutting board and form into a ball. Cut into four equal pieces, and then cut those in half to form eight equal pieces. Using your hands, roll each piece into a ball and place onto a prepared baking sheet. Cover with a dish cloth and let them rest in a warm place for 12 to 15 minutes. Once rested, lightly dust your work surface again and roll the balls into 7-inch logs. Place onto the other prepared baking sheet, cover, place back in the warm spot, and let rest for an additional 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Place one oven rack high and one low. Line two more baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper. In a large pot, bring eight cups water to a boil and then add the baking soda. In batches, place the dough in the water and cook for 30 seconds on each side. Using a slotted spatula, remove the logs and place onto the prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle the logs with pretzel salt as they come out of the water to ensure the salt sticks. Then, cut three diagonal slits on top of the bread, but not too deep. Bake for 10 to 13 minutes, rotating between the top and bottom racks of the oven halfway through the cooking.

7. Bacon-Wrapped Barbecue Burgers

Bacon burger

Bacon burger with beef patty | iStock.com/Arijuhani

Serve your guests bacon and burgers with barbecue sauce, and it is unlikely they’ll complain. Southern Living has all you need to know about grilling four bacon-wrapped burgers in this recipe that can easily be doubled.

Ingredients:

  • 8 bacon slices
  • 1 (4.5-ounce) jar sliced mushrooms, drained and chopped
  • ½ cup chopped Vidalia or sweet onion
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • ½ cup bottled honey barbecue sauce, divided
  • 1½ pounds ground beef
  • wooden picks
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 sesame seed hamburger buns, toasted

Directions: Arrange bacon on a paper towel-lined, microwave-safe plate; cover with a paper towel. Microwave bacon on high 2 minutes or until edges begin to crinkle and bacon is partially cooked. Sauté mushrooms and onion in hot oil in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes or until tender and liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce.

Preheat grill to medium-high heat (350 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit). Shape ground beef into eight (5-inch) thin patties. Place 2 tablespoons mushroom mixture in center of each of four patties. Top with remaining patties, pressing edges to seal. Shape into 4-inch patties. Wrap sides of each patty with two bacon slices, overlapping ends of each slice. Secure bacon using wooden picks. Sprinkle patties with salt. Cover and chill 10 minutes.

Grill patties, covered with grill lid, 5 to 6 minutes on one side. Turn and baste with half of remaining barbecue sauce. Grill 5-6 minutes or until beef is no longer pink in center. Turn and baste with remaining barbecue sauce. Remove from grill and let stand 5 minutes. Remove wooden picks. Serve burgers on buns and top with remaining mushroom mixture.

8. New York Hot Dog Cart Onion Sauce

Onions caremelizing in frying pan

Onions caramelizing in frying pan. | iStock.com/AdeFinlay

Chicago isn’t the only city that has put a distinct stamp and flavor on the hot dog. New York City has its own storied topping, but you don’t need to visit a pushcart to taste it on the Fourth of July. Instead, just follow Food.com’s recipe, and you’ll have enough topping for about four hot dogs.

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, sliced very thinly
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • 1 cup water
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon

Directions: In a small sauce pan, place vegetable oil and onions. Cook over medium heat; sauté until onion is soft; don’t burn it. Quickly stir in ketchup, water, cinnamon, and salt. Stir for at least 20 minutes or until the water is reduced to about half.

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