Summer’s last three-day weekend is an occasion that can’t go without celebration. Make next week’s Labor Day holiday a memorable one by inviting loved ones over to gorge on all of summer’s most delicious spoils before they’re gone. See all the recipes and tips you need to start planning.
What to Eat
To Start: A Gorgeous Appetizing Platter
Kick off the party with a low-effort appetizer, like Gorgonzola dip with crudités, which will satisfy even the most health-conscious of guests. As an alternative dipping vehicle, set out a big bowl of thick-cut potato chips for guests who are heartier snackers.
For the Main Event: Burgers (duh)
For the main event, serve burgers in three completely different styles so there’s something for everyone. These pimento cheese-stuffed burgers get an extra kick from the Southern staple, while burgers made from ground turkey offer a lighter option. Vegetarians and meat-lovers alike will enjoy Greek portobello burgers, which are loaded with a spicy chickpea mixture and a yogurt-based dressing for a protein-packed meatless burger that’s reminiscent of gyros.
On the Side: Heirloom Tomato Salad
Serve hearty burger patties with a platter of lightly-dressed medley of tomatoes, celery and cucumber salad alongside.
For a Sweet Finish: Cobbler, Please
For dessert, a homey dessert like our plum-raspberry cobbler will satisfy a crowd and showcase summer fruits and their best.
What to Drink
Greet guests with a revitalizing summer sangria—this version uses chilled rosé wine as a base in place of a traditional bottle of red. A mixture of berries and stone fruits in lieu of apples and citrus slices make this sangria the perfect choice for late summer.
How to Plan Ahead
To avoid scrambling right as guests are arriving (or worse yet, after they’ve arrived), prepare as much as you can ahead of time. No need to do any math—just follow our countdown planner here.
Labor Day Cookout Countdown Planner
- 1 to 2 days ahead: Make the Gorgonzola dip, cover tightly, and refrigerate.
- Day of: Prep crudites for the appetizer. Make all of the burger patties, cover, and refrigerate until ready to grill. Make the dough for the cobbler.
- Just before serving: Grill the burgers. As they’re cooking, prep the tomato, celery and cucumber salad. Assemble and bake the cobbler.
Setting the Scene
A burger menu begs for a DIY buffet. Set out condiments (we love our Burger Bomb sauce) and toppings on a serving tray, along with durable dinnerware, and let guests help themselves. To simplify serving, arrange the dip, chips and crudites in a chip and dip tray. Instead of napkins, provide vintage-inspired striped towels, which suit the casual occasion to perfection.
Get creative with condiments! Beer mustard, barbecue sauce and aioli boost the flavor of any burger, as do bread and butter pickles you’ve preserved yourself. Make extra of the smoked paprika mayonnaise to have on hand, too.
It wouldn’t be a true cookout without some tunes, so don’t forget the speakers so you can blast The B-52s, Jimmy Buffet, Bob Marley and all the unofficial songs of summer.