We Americans are an independent lot.  Imbued with free spirits, we embrace  individuality, creativity, and self reliance. Since we so admire the self-made, do-it-yourself attribute, a burger bar is the way to go for your July Fourth festivities.   Essentially, you will provide your guests with burgers and all the fixings, so that they can create their own delicious meal.

Here are some ideas for the burger bar:

Condiments: ketchup, chili sauce, barbecue sauce, mustard, Russian dressing, pickles, relish.

Fresh vegetable slices: red and/or yellow tomatoes, purple onions, avocado.

Sauteed vegetables: onions, mushrooms, red, yellow and green peppers.

Baskets of assorted rolls and buns: sesame seed, multigrain, or potato buns; kaiser, onion, or challah rolls.

The possibilities are limitless, so feel free to come up with your own burger accompaniments.

I have provided a recipe for grilled hamburgers, which I like to serve with  fireworks coleslaw.  Consider providing your guests with more burger options such as chicken, turkey, or veggie burgers.  Most of all, have fun with this as we gather together to celebrate our Independence on the Fourth of July!


  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound ground beef*
  • 1 tablespoon chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2  teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
  • pinch of salt and pepper

Heat the canola oil in a medium skillet, then sauté the onion and garlic for about 5 minutes until translucent.  Allow to cool for at least 5 minutes.

Place the ground beef in a large mixing bowl.  Add the chili sauce, mustard, soy sauce, onion powder, garlic powder, hot pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.  Add the sautéed onions and garlic. Mix all together with a fork or, better yet, your hand.  Try to use a light touch, so that the mixture does not become too dense.  This technique ensures a lighter, juicier hamburger.

Divide the mixture into 4 to 6 parts, then form 4 to 6 patties.

Lightly grease** a grill, then preheat for 5 to 10 minutes. Place ground beef patties on grill for 4 to 5 minutes per side to desired degree of doneness.

Makes 4 to 6 hamburgers.


* I recommend ground chuck with a ratio of 80% to 20% beef to fat.  Less fat will yield a dry burger; more fat will cause more shrinkage.

** Make sure to grease the grill BEFORE you turn on the flame.


Fireworks Coleslaw

  • 2 cups green cabbage, shredded
  • 2 cups red cabbage, shredded
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1/2 cup jicama, shredded*
  • 1 apple, shredded**
  • 1 cup lite mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar***
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 4 to five drops of Tabasco sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  •  salt and pepper to taste

In a large mixing bowl, combine the green and red cabbages, carrot, jicama, and apple.

In a medium missing bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, raspberry vinegar, mustard, honey, Tabasco sauce, celery seed, salt, and pepper.

Add about 1/2 cup of the mayonnaise mixture to the cabbage mixture, and fold all together until well combined.

Add more of the mayonnaise dressing, if desired.

Refrigerate the coleslaw for at least one hour.

Serves 8 to 10.


* Jicama is a root vegetable available in most supermarkets.  It is crunchy and refreshing and tastes like a cross between an apple and a potato.

** I use honeycrisp apples, but any apple works in this recipe.

*** It’s okay to substitute other vinegars such as apple cider vinegar, white wine or red wine vinegar.