5 Food Bar Ideas for Easy Summer Parties

5 Food Bar Ideas for Easy Summer Parties | thegoodstuff

You’ve been to a salad bar, you’ve probably been to a taco bar — but why stop there? DIY food bars are the key to making food fun and interactive for your guests and stress-free for you. Here are five of our favorite food bar ideas: hot dog, burger, waffle, s’mores and a baked potato bar. We’re including a recommended shopping list for each, but when it comes to food bars, the more sauces, garnishes, and toppings, the better!

1. Hot Dog Food Bar



Grill dogs to order on the BBQ. Or, rent a hot dog roller from a party rental store. Give guests some inspiration by printing out instructions for creating different themed dogs like the New York, Chicago, or Chili-Cheese dog. For an added touch buy plastic fast food baskets. You can buy a dozen for around $5 from a restaurant supply store.

Shopping list

  • Hot dogs
  • Hot links
  • Hot dog buns
  • Ketchup
  • Mustards (yellow, Dijon, honey)
  • Mayonnaise
  • Relish
  • Chili
  • Sauerkraut
  • Coleslaw
  • Bacon
  • Diced red onion
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Pickled veggies (carrots, cucumbers, radish)
  • Pepperoncini
  • Crushed tortilla chips (Fritos or Doritos)
  • Shredded cheese
  • Pickle spears
  • Celery salt

2. Burger Bar



With so many options, how can guests be expected to choose just one burger combo? Instead, serve sliders. Plan on about three per guest. If you have vegetarian guests, a grilled Portobello is a hearty substitute for a beef patty. There’s a lot of overlap between a hot dog and burger bar, so you may want to consider combining the two into one.

Shopping list

  • Slider beef patties
  • Slider turkey patties
  • Sliced cheese (cheddar, pepper jack, blue, Swiss)
  • Slider buns
  • Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • BBQ sauce
  • Pickles
  • Bacon
  • Pepperoni
  • Avocado
  • Roasted peppers
  • Jalapeno slices
  • Grilled pineapple
  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Onions (grilled and raw)
  • Sautéed mushrooms
  • Iceberg lettuce

3. Baked Potato Bar



Serve two varieties, like a russet and a sweet potato. You can even use small Yukon golds for the kid’s menu. Cook foil-wrapped potatoes on the grill or in the slow cooker, but give yourself enough time with the latter. It can take around eight hours to cook them on low.

Shopping list

  • Russet potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Butter
  • Sour cream
  • Nacho cheese sauce
  • Pulled pork
  • Onions
  • Broccoli florets
  • Sautéed spinach
  • Shredded cheddar
  • Crumbled feta
  • Bacon
  • Sliced jalapenos
  • Chopped chives
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Salt
  • Pepper

4. S’Mores Food Bar



For a pretty presentation, fill apothecary jars with marshmallows and chocolate toppings. This will keep them tucked away safely until it’s time for dessert. If you’re feeling really ambitious, there’s nothing quite like a homemade marshmallow. Use flavored extracts to make a variety of options for your guests.

Shopping list

  • Graham crackers (regular, cinnamon, chocolate)
  • Marshmallows
  • Chocolate bars (milk, dark, white, almond)
  • Peanut butter cups
  • Peppermint patties
  • Strawberries
  • Bananas
  • Caramel sauce
  • Sea salt
  • Toasted coconut

5. Waffle Bar



Make a large batch of waffle batter and pour individual-size portions into plastic cups. Ask attendees to bring their own waffle makers so you can have at least three going at once. If you want to go the extra mile, serve fried chicken and gravy for guests who prefer a savory waffle.

Shopping list

  • Waffle mix
  • Plastic cups
  • Butter
  • Nutella
  • Peanut butter
  • Maple syrup
  • Fruit syrup or jam
  • Berries (strawberry, blueberries, raspberries)
  • Bananas
  • Bacon
  • Whipped cream
  • Rainbow sprinkles
  • Choocolate chips
  • Crushed candy bars
  • Chopped toasted nuts (walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts)


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