Burgers and hot dogs are staples of the classic American backyard get-together—easy to prepare and sure-fire summertime party pleasers. But they don’t have to be bland and boring with the same toppings time after time. In fact, you can host a tasting party-centered just around these grilling-season favorites. Take the equivalent of a culinary road trip around our country and you’ll find a variety of ways to prepare burgers and dogs, depending on the region.
And whether your creation is authentic to a region or merely inspired by it, make it your own, make it delicious, and enjoy!
The New York System Weiner from Rhode Island is a four-inch wiener cut from a rope of sausage instead of the traditional hot dog links. The wiener is griddled, placed in a bun, and topped with yellow mustard, meat sauce, chopped onions, then sprinkled with the secret ingredient—celery salt.
The Coney Island Dog originated at the famous amusement park in New York. The hot dog is dressed in spicy brown mustard, sauerkraut, and griddled onions.
In New Jersey, the hot dogs are deep-fried and topped with a sweet and spicy bright yellow relish.
For a Philly-inspired burger, look to the city’s namesake steak sandwich. Top your burger with provolone cheese and griddled peppers and onions.
Rochester, NY, makes the hot dog or burger patties the topping in their Garbage Plates. Start with a plate of macaroni salad and home fries, then add two hot dogs split down the middle or two burger patties, and top with hot meat sauce, chopped onions, and yellow mustard. Real Rochesterphiles incorporate one of the regions other specialties—white hots. And hold the bun!
Probably one of the most famous regional burgers comes from Minnesota–the Jucy Lucy. This is a gob of cheese stuffed inside two burger patties, which are sealed together to form a single burger full of gooey, melted cheese. Just be careful when you bite in!
Another famous regional burger also hails from this region–the Goober Burger (or Guber Burger), which was created at the Wheel Inn, originally in Sedalia, MO. To recreate this classic, top your burger with lettuce, tomato, mayo, and melted peanut butter. The combination sounds strange, but fans say once you try it you’ll be hooked.
From “America’s Dairyland” comes another great burger–the “butter burger”. Top your patty with a pat of real, fresh butter while cooking, then top it with another once it’s on the bun.
Ohio takes the Coney Island Dog and turns it into the Cincinnati Cheese Coney. Start with mustard, add chili, a handful of chopped onions, and a heaping mound of grated cheddar cheese. You can add the same toppings to a burger for a Cincinnati Chili Cheeseburger.
For the Chicago Dog, start with a poppy seed bun, chopped onion, and neon sweet relish. Add tomato slices, sport peppers, a pickle spear, yellow mustard, and celery salt.
If you’re from the South, yours is probably a Slaw Dog. Start with a hot dog in a bun, add a blanket of meat sauce and mustard, then pile it high with a sweet, finely chopped, mayonnaise-based slaw. A burger can be served the same way!
For a Miami-inspired burger, look to the favorite local sandwich–the Cuban. Top your burger with ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard, and mayo, the put the whole thing in a sandwich press before serving.
For a South Carolina-style burger, make it a pimento cheeseburger–top your burger with a mound of shredded cheddar, pimentos, and mayo.
It’s rumored that Texas invented the carnival favorite—the corn dog. Dip a hot dog in cornmeal batter and deep fry it. This state is also a great inspiration for a Cowboy Burger–top it with BBQ sauce, onion strings or rings, bacon strips, and white cheddar cheese.
The Sonoran Hot Dog originated in Arizona with high Mexican influence. It is a bacon-wrapped grilled hot dog, topped with pinto beans, tomatoes, onions, mustard, mayonnaise, and jalapeños.
For a Southwest-inspired burger, think spicy! Pepper-jack cheese, chipotle mayo, and jalapenos–candied, pickled, or fresh.
West Coast and Beyond
For a taste of Seattle’s Cream Cheese Dog, grab a bun and spread cream cheese on one side of the bun and dijon mustard on the other side. Plunk your hot dog in the middle and cover with caramelized onions and sauerkraut.
For a California-inspired burger, think farm-fresh produce and dairy: crisp lettuce, ripe tomatoes, and tangy pickles topped with homemade guacamole. Fresh crumbled goat cheese is a welcome addition, as is a sweet and tangy balsamic drizzle or glaze.
Have you ever enjoyed the wonderful caramelized treat of grilled pineapple? Make your burger extra delicious by going Hawaiian-style. Glaze your burger with teriyaki sauce and top with grilled pineapple and shaved ham.