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Cook Talk

Burger Bar Wedding
Hi Ellen,

I am in the works of helping my future wife plan our wedding menu. We are having an outdoor reception and wanted to do something fun and relaxed so we chose a burger bar.

For protein we wanted to offer Angus beef patties, grilled chicken breasts. (We also have a few vegetarians so we were going to offer a veggie burger option).

Do you think we should ask guests on our invitation if they would like Beef, chicken, or veggie? My fear is that people will assume it is a formal dinner and select chicken and then when they see burgers switch to burgers because let's face it people love burgers.

Also, if we don't ask, how many burgers and how many chicken breasts, how much should we plan on if the wedding is for 150?

Also, how much of the main toppings (tomato, lettuce, onion)should we have?

We will also have a smaller selection of a few obsure items such as grilled pineapple,jalapenos, chili, sauteed mushrooms and onions, etc.

We also plan on offering different cheeses such as American, Pepper jack, Cheddar, Swiss, and a small amount of Bleu cheese. How much of each would you recommend?

Also, do you have any suggestions for sides? Would a salad bar go well? Is potato salad and baked beans too relaxed? Is there a way to maybe fancy those things up and make them more gourmet?

Also, we want to serve lemonade and iced tea. How much should we prepare to have? We were also going to put out water.

Hi, Jordan,

Sounds like a sensible plan. I would put out the lemonade with fruit trays (see fruit tray page) and chips and dips (1 pound chips per 10, 1 cup dip or salsa per 6-8, you need more with thicker dips, less with thin) to be ready as soon as the guests arrive, while the grillers grill and you get your pictures taken.

My one caution is that it takes at least 3 people at the grills to grill on site for this many people, so you need to recruit your help from folks not part of the wedding party (who would be involved in the photos, etc after the wedding). In addition, about 8-9 people to set up, serve and clean up the party site, also not part of the wedding party.

If this is an informal, outdoor wedding, you need to show it on the invitation so some people don't arrive dressed up while others come in shorts- you could clue them in by asking for an RSVP that says, "burger, chicken, or vegetarian" instead of beef, chicken, etc. The usual split is 5 pounds beef plus 3 pounds boneless chicken (which is 6 pounds bone-in) for each 15 people, so you are looking at about 50 pounds beef and 30 chicken. 20 veggie patties is plenty.

Sandwich fixings generally, see the sandwich event page, do 1 1/2 times the amount for 100. Chili is not a specialty item- see the amounts recommended for sandwich topping there. The other items, take a look at the salad bar toppings page:

If you do a baked potato bar, you could use the guideline there for your toppings. In that case, skip the potato salad and do a pasta salad with 6 pounds dry pasta instead.

If you do a potato salad, there are some great exotic potato salads for 100 on the slaw and potato salad page:

The Nepalese potato salad is stunning. You could do a slaw from the same page instead of a green salad- holds better.

Cheese is a little complicated. You need to end up with about 1 pound per 10, or 15 pounds. You should have it sliced at the deli if it is not pre-sliced. However, around here not many go for American, while where you are it could be the most popular.
American, Cheddar, between them, about 8 pounds
Swiss, 3 pounds
Pepper jack, 3 pounds
and a small amount of Bleu cheese- get crumbles, 1-2 pounds, put them on the salad or potato bar

Instead of baked beans, how about a cold marinated many bean salad (4 gallons) and a corn salsa (3-4 gallons)? No heating, make ahead, popular.

lemonade- at least 10 gallons
iced tea- at least 12 gallons, 1/3 sugar free
2 bottles of water per person
30 pounds ice per chest, 1/2 pound or more ice per person
See beverage planning page for advice on plates, cups, napkins, etc.

If this saves you time, trouble, or money, please make a donation, maybe a dime per person, to support the site.

Terri H
Hi Ellen,

When my daughter graduated, I planned for 150 people for 3 hours and that seemed to be about perfect for the 400+ people showed up (ridiculous for a grad party, I know). My son's grad party will be this spring. He wants a venison slider bar. Assuming we will have a similar turnout, I plan to use the amounts you listed but am nervous that people may be squeamish about eating venison. (Albeit he is an outdoor sportsman and we expect a lot of those people to come.) What kind of split would you recommend if we have the venison sliders, beef sliders and turkey sliders? I was thinking 20lbs beef, 40 lbs venison and 20 lbs chicken (half venison, half other choices). (I can use the slider entry on your site to make adjustments after I have base amounts.) Thanks for your help! I do plan to make a donation. ;)

Thanks for your support. Since my layoff, it makes quite a difference.

That is the right amount of meat, I can't make any better estimate than you on the split. I do suggest you have a couple of packs of frozen veggie burgers- in that many people, there will be some- a pound of meat makes about 10 sliders.

Let us know how it split out.

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