We have what you need to throw this summer's best burger bash, complete with juiciest burger in the country. Summer party ideas? Check. Easy side dishes? Check. Outdoor games for kids? Right after our favorite summer desserts.

By Emily VanSchmus
Updated April 28, 2021
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Serve up a delicious summer party right from the grill. Chevalo Wilsondebriano and his wife Monique, owners of the Charleston Gourmet Burger Co., share their simple tips, easy decorating ideas, and tasty recipes for creating an unforgettable summer gathering. The key? A really great burger. After years of impressing their friends and family with their signature burgers at cookouts, the couple bottled their secret into an all-natural marinade now sold in grocery stores around the country, and on QVC. We've bottled their secrets to a great party, and now you can host the best summer burger bash in town, too.

Keep in mind that while pandemic-related restrictions are beginning to lift, you should still follow safety guidelines when getting together. Here's what you need to know about safely gathering this summer.

fourth of july burger party table spread of food burgers and corn
Credit: Annie Schlechter

The Spread

Skip the fussy dishes and serve up a stunning spread of summer favorites. Make the most of in-season ingredients like sweet corn, tomatoes, and juicy peaches. Buying local produce at it's peak means tastier and less expensive dishes!

To get the look, layer an outdoor table with a simple white tablecloth and top it with oversized wooden cutting boards ($38, Wayfair). Set up a top-your-own burger station, grilled sweet corn tray, and fill in with plenty of sides.

fourth of july burger party family on lawn deocratoins
Credit: Annie Schlechter

Pick a Party Theme

Themes are fun, funky, and make decorating so much easier. Red, white and blue is a classic, but you can serve your burger bash in a backyard beach party, a floral fiesta, or any theme you choose. To get the look, head to the party supply store for inexpensive outdoor decor like balloons ($5, Target), streamers, and tablecloths. Placing clusters of balloons and streamers around key party points like the buffet or porch is a great way to control the party's flow and lets guests know where the action is!

Want to DIY your party decor? Don't worry, we've got your back with easy handmade decorations.

Berry Lemonade recipe picnic tumblers glass spoon patriotic
Credit: Annie Schlechter

Pick a Party Theme

Summer, lemonade, we get it. But this is a party! Perk up your next batch of homemade lemonade with plenty of juicy, sweet raspberries and strawberries. It's so much better than lemonade from concentrate! Serve up your big batch drink in a large glass vessel ($26, Target) and let guests serve themselves. No reason to get stuck refilling glasses at your party! Garnish the spread with colorful paper straws ($4, Target) and a patterned runner for a festive DIY drink station that's ready to party.

Chevalo’s Marinated Burgers wooden table gingham napkins
Credit: Annie Schlechter

Serve the Best Burger

This summer party's all about one thing—a great burger! Chevalo shares his tips for perfecting summer's favorite food.

  • Choose the Right Meat: Chevalo says buy 80/20 ground beef. “It has the best fat content for moisture and flavor,” Chevalo says.
  • Add a Marinade: Gently work in the marinade with your hands until just distributed (you shouldn’t see any of the marinade). Don’t overwork the meat or you’ll end up with a tough burger.
  • Perfect the Size: Chevalo starts with a quarter pound of meat, shapes it into a ball, and flattens it to about ½ to ¾ an inch thick and slightly bigger than the bun. If you press your thumb into the center to make a dimple, the patties will cook more evenly, stay flat and shrink less.
  • Timing Matters: Chevalo prefers the flavor you get from a charcoal grill, but a gas grill or cast-iron skillet on the stove also turns out delicious burgers. Cook 4 to 5 minutes on each side for medium doneness. With the marinated meat, medium well, or even well-done burgers will still be juicy.
fourth of july burger party toppings spread buns tomatoes lettuce pickles
Credit: Annie Schlechter

Creative Toppers

A great burger gets even better with an assortment of creative toppers. Serve up a tray with the expected favorites like lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese but throw in a few surprises! Try adding bowls of hot peppers, pickled okra, avocados, and flavored mustard to the mix for a build-your-own burger bar that's anything but boring.

Buttermilk Herb Slaw picnic table white bowl
Credit: Annie Schlechter

Side Dishes Layer the Flavor

Party-worthy sides don't have to be complicated or stuffy. Serve up a spread of familiar favorites with fresh twists. Head to your local farmers market for a bounty of fresh ways to take classic dishes over the top.

Take the Peachy Rice Salad, which adds fresh peach slices to cherry tomatoes, blueberries, basil, and a spicy pepper jelly vinaigrette that brings all the flavors together.  Or, adapt regional recipes with new ingredients, like Grilled Corn with Pimiento-Cheese Butter or Buttermilk Herb Slaw. This isn't a regular slaw—notice the torn kale and pickled banana peppers added to the traditional cabbage and carrot combo. You can put it on the burgers, too. In fact, we recommend it.

S'mores Icebox Cake recipe square white dish
Credit: Brie Passano

End the Day With Something Sweet

We've found the perfect dessert recipes to pair with this summer meal like this gorgeous S'mores Icebox Cake. All the classic s'mores ingredients are here but served up in a glass baking dish ($12, Target) right from the fridge. Finish your summer cake with a toasted marshmallow topper and chocolate chips.

fourth of july burger party kids petting puppy
Credit: Annie Schlechter

Fun for the Kids

Make it a party with an assortment of outdoor games! Set up a few game stations and let imaginations run wild. Perfect for kids (and adults!) our DIY outdoor game ideas are easy to set up and inexpensive to make. Try organizing a few friendly competitions during party time and let the games begin.

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