BBQ Vigor

Toss out the white bread bun and the standard all-beef patty, they’re passé. Funnel cake buns, cheeseburger salads and lasagna patties are the way to go.

The backyard BBQ is the quintessential warm-weather gathering celebrating food, friends and family. And yet this tried-and-true formula for good times often falls into a slump of the same old burgers, chicken and hot dogs with maybe a different sauce to change things up. No more! The following burgers will make you the unrivalled master grill chef of your social circle. One of the easiest and wildest is the Donut Bacon Cheeseburger. Simply use a Krispy Kreme or other glazed donut (chocolate and other frostings make too much of a mess) and fill it with your usual beef or turkey burger. If you’re vegan, try an eggplant burger with charred onions on a lettuce roll dressed up with vegan-friendly toppings. Or how about a burger patty surrounded by two grilled-cheese sandwiches instead of two buns? It sounds outrageous, but it’s awesome. Two other bun alternatives are fried discs of mac & cheese or ramen. Waffles aren’t just for chicken and waffles, they make a great burger bun as do everyone’s favorite county fair food funnel cakes. We’re talking a lot about the buns here, but the burgers can be easily changed up, too. You’ll be licking your lips at the beautiful aroma of a sweet potato and black bean burger. Or how about half turkey, half chicken topped with a duck egg?! PYT in Philadelphia offers slices of deep-fried lasagna in a marinara-topped patty. Then there’s the spaghetti burger, with pasta buns, marinara sauce and Parmesan cheese. The Thanksgiving burger puts an entire Thanksgiving dinner including turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and dinner roll into your hot little hands. Last but not least is the iconic Deep Fried Twinkie burger — a bacon cheeseburger between two deep-fried Twinkie buns. You’ll never go back to a simple all-beef patty on a sesame seed bun again!

Baseball Dogs

Hot dogs are a blank canvas for the creative BBQ chef and some of the most outrageous come from the creative minds at the stadiums of the sport that defines “summer”: baseball. The Cleveland Indians’ Slider Dog, which one would think was a traditional dog based on its name, is instead topped with mac & cheese, a pile of chopped bacon, and Froot Loops. Similarly, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Cracker Jack & Mac Dog topped with mac & cheese and Cracker Jacks…but wait…it doesn’t stop there — it also boasts caramel sauce and jalapeños! The Kansas City Royals bring to the plate the Sunrise Dog, topped with bacon, American cheese, white sausage gravy and a sunny side up egg. The Washington Nationals came up with an 18 in. hot dog topped with mustard, ketchup, mayo, chopped pineapple and fried onion strings. They named it the “Miami South Beach” (though we’re not sure why).