DIY, Build Your Own Burger Bar

“DIY” is the buzzword among people who enjoy making crafts and repurposing antiques, but we all know that “do it yourself” was a farmer’s motto long before the advent of Pinterest! With that said, however, I have found many inspiring “build your own burger bar” ideas on Pinterest.  I’m not sure what intrigues me most about this concept – the idea that this type of building doesn’t actually involve a hammer and nails or the fact that the end result is so tantalizing for the taste buds.

Burgers are the top of the list of my all-time favorite foods, so I enjoy taking a self-guided burger tour across Iowa while traveling the state to visit Latham® dealers and customers. I’m always on a mission to find a recipe that I can share on

Roscoe’s Burger, one of the top burgers in Iowa

I’ve had the pleasure of taste-testing burgers from some of the Top 10 restaurants in Iowa’s Best Burger Contest. I loved the signature “Roscoe’s sauce” at Roscoe’s in Norwalk.  I also enjoyed every bite of a Rodeo Burger, topped with pepper straws, at the 1st Street Grill in Keosauqua in southeast Iowa. (I wonder if I could make them at home, similar to onion strings, only substituting onions for green pepper strips. Hmm…)

My burger fetish started in 2011 when the Iowa Beef Council treated us to “tailgate lunches” during the WHO Radio – Latham Seeds Crop Tour.  Michelle delivered gourmet burgers, fresh and hot, to the fields where we were broadcasting “The Big Show” live. They also shared tips on how we could make tastier burgers at home. The number one mistake people make is squishing burgers with a spatula; they literally squeeze all of the flavorful juices out of the meat.

To grill like a master, the Iowa Beef Council offers these grilling tips:

    • Grill burgers and steaks over medium heat.
    • Use a long-handled spatula to turn burgers and tongs to turn steaks.
    • Remove beef from the grill when the temperature reaches 10° below the desired doneness.
    • Never leave food out of refrigeration for more than 2 hours. If the temperature is above 90°F, food should not be left out more than 1 hour.
      Keep hot food hot — at or above 140°F. Place cooked food in chafing dishes, preheated steam tables, warming trays, and/or slow cookers.
      Keep cold food cold — at or below 40°F. Place food in containers on ice.
    • Plan your menu early. Do prep work a day or two prior.

Because we “eat with our eyes first,” it’s important to make sure your condiments are as pleasing to one’s eyes as the burgers are to the tongue! Food that is aesthetically pleasing to the eye may help trigger appetite. Plus, food that is prepared and displayed well may also entice someone to eat what they’d otherwise avoid.

Make your condiments more appealing by displaying them attractively as part of a burger bar. Check out all the Pinterest-inspired ideas that we’ve pinned to the Latham Seeds “burger board.”  If you decide to experiment on your own, I’d love to see your creations. Feel free to send your photos to

If you’re feeling inspired to mix up some burgers this week, try Rachel Ray’s version of the Tex-Mex Bacon Cheeseburger. The chipotle ketchup is simple to make and definitely complements the burger. I recommend serving these burgers with a side of fresh pineapples and strawberries plus Mexican fruit dip.