62 answers

Cookout Etiquette - Do You Want a Hot Dog or a Hamburger?

Not exactly a life or death question, but my husband and I have not always seen eye to eye on this. Background is that we were at a backyard cookout over the weekend and the hostess (with pen and paper in hand) asked each person in turn - do you want a hot dog or a hamburger? She then took a tally and had her husband cook exactly that number of each.

My feeling has always been to have my husband cook at least enough of each to cover each person having both a hot dog & hamburger, plus a few more of each. I find that people often eat more freely when more than enough is set out. When asked what you'd like ahead of time, I feel people are put on the spot and don't want to appear a glutton. I know for a fact that at least one person who attended the weekend cookout is a big eater (we have hosted him at our home many times and despite his average size, he really enjoys a hearty meal). I know for a fact that, being a polite person, he would have felt funny saying what he really wanted when the count was being taken.

So - how do you handle this? Do you get a count and cook the exact number or do you estimate more than what will be needed and cook accordingly? PS - DH came from the "pencil and paper count" family and I came from the "there's no such thing as too much food" family. We used to disagree on this point, but having gone home from many a cookout hungry, he has come over to my side.

I should ADD - I don't have any reason to think that money was an issue at the cookout in question. I brought a home made dessert and another guest brought a dessert too.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

xx

Featured Answers

Absolutely not. I've never heard of that and I think it's incredibly rude. Even when it's just family we make enough. Leftovers make for a great dinner the next night! If money is an issue, maybe they shouldn't host a bbq.

6 moms found this helpful

I have never been asked that at a cookout. I have been asked "who wants cheese?" but never which meat. it is always cooked and thrown on a big platter and people help themselves.

4 moms found this helpful

I am with you. It is better to have more food than not enough. I want my guest to feel comfortable and full!

4 moms found this helpful

More Answers

Absolutely not. I've never heard of that and I think it's incredibly rude. Even when it's just family we make enough. Leftovers make for a great dinner the next night! If money is an issue, maybe they shouldn't host a bbq.

6 moms found this helpful

I am a believer in cooking everything on hand and ordering a couple pizzas too for good measure!

6 moms found this helpful

We're Italian.
I think that answers the question! lol

6 moms found this helpful

i would think it a bit rude to go around with pen and paper and take "orders", myself (not to mention a huge hassle). what we usually do is just cook a bunch. you over estimate rather than under estimate. i'm with you. both hamburgers and hot dogs freeze great - NO reason to skimp. they WILL get eaten.

5 moms found this helpful

Wow, I have never had this come up! In our family, from uncles to cousins to grandparents to immediate family, we always cook an abundance of everything so whomever wants 2 burgers and a brat, or a hot dog only or ribs and a burger can have what they want, like you say, "There's no such thing as too much food." I just figure you're there to feed people, not taking orders like in a restaurant :-/

5 moms found this helpful

I agree 100% with you. We cook freely and encourage people to eat freely. I have never in my life been to a barbeque where orders were taken and an exact number of each item cooked. Never. I can't even imagine. Is this an East Coast thing?

5 moms found this helpful

In our family, we always make more than anyone can eat. I would hate for someone to leave my house hungry!!! Point of them coming over is to eat, not starve!

And if I dont want leftovers then I pack them up and send them home with my guests. Simple as that. But that's just me.

4 moms found this helpful

I come from the school of thought that says you just cook up a mess of burgers and dogs and let me people have how ever much of whatever they want. I wouldn't want to make people feel like they could only of one of anything. Usually we will ask people what they want initially, and then ask who wants seconds. It's not like that stuff is THAT expensive anyway!

4 moms found this helpful

i am the grill chef in this family.
and when we have cookouts, i make sure there's plenty of everything, including veggie burgers. i never want a guest to think 'gee i'd love another burger but don't want to ask her to cook one just for me.'
i pile them puppies up!
:) khairete
S.

4 moms found this helpful

We're big into leftovers, so we make more than enough to go around. Heck, some people (hungry teenage boys, for example) will eat a hamburger and TWO hotdogs! And if there's any left at the end...well, my kids have lunch ready for the next couple of days. But even imagining that my guests could go home hungry from my party makes me very sad - it would just never happen!

4 moms found this helpful

I'm on your side. I have never been to a party with such limited restrictions on food.

4 moms found this helpful

I kind of find it strange to only cook what everyone orders; I've already bought the meat with an estimate of what I think everyone will want. The only time I may change the amount I cook is if someone doesn't show up. I may ask what everyone is wanting, but then cook a few extra of each (more hamburgers than dogs if that was the desired meat).

4 moms found this helpful

i came from the family of you can never have too much, i hate to run out of food at parties and such. i would never do a "tally" its tacky in my book.

4 moms found this helpful

I have never been asked that at a cookout. I have been asked "who wants cheese?" but never which meat. it is always cooked and thrown on a big platter and people help themselves.

4 moms found this helpful

OMG! That's weird...
I'm Italian - we cook for an army no matter what!

LBC

4 moms found this helpful

I am with you. It is better to have more food than not enough. I want my guest to feel comfortable and full!

4 moms found this helpful

No pencil and paper here. We cook plenty and love the left overs the next day!

3 moms found this helpful

I am the bbq queen! lol. We give ALOT of cookouts. During the summer its like a ritual to have cookouts for birthdays, holidays, get togethers or just because. We buy ribs, hambergers and hotdogs. The burgers are ALWAYS the first thing to go. I guess because kids and adults love them. Mostly only the grown ups eat the ribs. Hotdogs are kinda like an appetizer for us. lol. We eat them as they come off the grill. They always are done first and we eat them to curb our hunger. We believe in cooking plenty. Motto is, its better to have more food than not enough. Cause people can always pack to-go plates and you can eat left-overs the next day. Order taking is more for dinners (in my opinion)

3 moms found this helpful

Oh gees, that sounds a bit on the tacky side to me. If you can't afford to throw a party, don't.

We usually cook WAY more than enough of each so that everyone can eat as much as they want and not feel limited to what is available or feel like a glutton if they have a bigger appetite.

Maybe the hostess is OCD or something but her process came across as very cheap and tacky.

3 moms found this helpful

WHAT!! No way should someone take it down with a paper and pen. I eat more at a cookout and enjoy food more. I would have had both. But if someone was counting I would be inclined to say one thing...because its rude! I cook like you enough for all and more! And if was a friend I would have said....do not do that!

Plus I am old school Italian...we cook enough for the week at a cookout!!

3 moms found this helpful

We typically cook an abundance of both burgers and hotdogs so people can feel free to choose one or both and even have seconds. Our friends are the same way. Actually, I don't think I've ever been to a cookout where the hosts expected to know before grilling what each person would be eating.

3 moms found this helpful

I understand wanting to know around how many to make - you don't want to be stuck with a dozen grilled hot dogs that no one eats. However, giving the impression that each person is entitled to one item only is a little discourteous. I would never want anyone to leave my home hungry and I always over buy and over cook when we have company. My husband, however, went to a bbq this weekend where he DID leave hungry. He's not a one dog or one burger kind of person, there were 14 people at this bbq and there were only six beef hamburgers - the rest were turkey burgers (I think only 6) and turkey dogs. He didn't get one of the real burgers and he wasn't too happy.

3 moms found this helpful

If there aren't leftovers, I haven't done my job.

That said, I've been sent on that tally job before at some family functions. The trick is to go to the most shameless person present and get their order first. When Tom is having 3 hotdogs, and Peder a double burger with everything, and you list those out as examples, people order freely. I order quirky (1.5 hotdogs, for example), my cousin just wants condiments. Once you have a base list of the Z'Id be sick if I ate that much!' to the 'Wha?'... People get in the spirit.

The 2 'list' people in my family are not poor, either, and DO want people to order freely at parties (hence why they give me the list :P), they just abhor waste, and see leftovers as waste. So I see leftovers and think 'Lunch!' they see them and think 'Starving kids', or 'Food posioning'.

3 moms found this helpful

I sometimes will ask guests(NEVER w/pen and paper in hand - just for an estimate) hotdog/hamburger just so I get enough of each started, I prefer my food HOT and fresh off of the grill so I like to give my guests the same, but we always throw more on so that there is plenty for everyone and always have lots left.

2 moms found this helpful

I am from your style of cooking/prepping/having parties.
Egad, that pen and paper taking orders style is really to "anal" and rigid for me.
I grew up with parents that did it your way, and I do it your way too now as a Mom with kids.

Having a cookout is fun.
And usually more food the merrier and people can hang out and eat or go back for seconds, right? That is how we do it. That is how my parents did it. And that is how my Grandparents did it.

2 moms found this helpful

Nope, we don't do a pen and paper count. We cook until everyone says "I'm done" - lol - no really - we cook probably twice the amount of people we have so that no one walks away hungry.

I see that you don't THINK money is or was an issue. It might be. Hamburgers and hot dogs aren't cheap and if you are feeding an army - it adds up fast.

If you are invited again? I would talk to the hostess before hand and ask if they would like help with hamburgers, hot dogs or sides??

2 moms found this helpful

I've never even HEARD of the pencil & paper type you're describing, so I guess that tells you which camp I'm in! I understand not wanting to have a ton of leftover food that's been cooked & sitting out that you have to toss at the end of the night, but really, if you just keep someone at the grill with several of each & have people walk on by to get whatever they'd like (which is how we do it when we have big gatherings) then you never end up with too many leftovers to toss at the end!

2 moms found this helpful

There can NEVER be enough bbq whether you are doing hot dogs and hambugers or pulled pork and brisket! Leftovers are always the best!!!

2 moms found this helpful

I cook what I want and how much I can afford or have. We are getting ready for a camp out... (8 adults & 5 kids) - I will be taking the food & others are paying for the sites. We have to have 2 breakfasts, a lunch & a dinner - my hubby's uncle is taking us out to eat on Friday night and we will be packed & heading home before Sunday lunch time.

Anyways for all us - I am bringing for dinner alone... 2 pks of Brats, 2 packs of 8 hot dogs, and 20 hamburgers, plus sides. So, I cook more then is needed, but who knows who will be hungery at dinner or after a few beers & before bed - lol.

2 moms found this helpful

I personally do not worry about this. I make enough in case someone does have one of each and yes this does happen :) Certainly don't go overboard in making so much that your left overs could feed a small country lol.... but having some food leftover for a day or two is great. You won't have to cook :). One of the things that bugs me most is if you go to a party and they run out of food or condiments.

2 moms found this helpful

I agree with you on this one...partially because I'd be the one at the BBQ that would be fickle or something :p. Sometimes I eat a hamburger...and it was so darn good...I have another one...or split one with the hubby...or see someone else's hot dog and think it looks yummy. And I also grew up in a family where there was no such thing as too much food (maybe that's why I could stand to loose a decent 20 pounds...and hubby could stand to gain about 20 pounds...lol).

On a random side note...my 4 year old was helping me unload the car today after grocery shopping and he walked in the door with the bag of hotdog buns and very seriously said, "I'm bringing in the hot-burger buns!" :). We don't do a whole lot of hamburgers and hot dogs...but summer sure makes me want to barbecue more!

2 moms found this helpful

I would always cook extra, especially at a cookout. Everyone is outside playing baseball or swimming and that makes people more hungry than normal and the idea of a cookout with friends is to induldge a bit more. I would rather have a few leftovers than to every have anyone go home hungry.
I love leftovers, I can toss in the micro-wave the next day. My dad hated leftovers so my Mom was more of a cook what was needed type person. Some people will not eat leftovers --- I don't understand that but acccept it.

2 moms found this helpful

I think cooking the exact amount if a little lame since someone could have changed his or her mind. But I don't think it's bad to ask. I mean, when I do hot dogs and hamburgers I buy the good stuff from the butcher and at least with burgers, they are not good reheated if you make too much. Plus, I only like cheeseburgers my husband only likes hamburgers so that is also a factor. I hate wasting food so yes, I do ask but then make more just in case.

2 moms found this helpful

The short answer is that I agree with your point of view!

2 moms found this helpful

I think that I would have said "Thank you for asking, I'd like a cheeseburger please". I never get melted cheese on my burger at cookouts! I hate hb's without cheese all melted and yummy.

I think it's odd for sure. Perhaps they have had times when they had to throw food away from cooking too many. I think I would have just taken a head count then cooked 1 per person + about half as many more. For each food. That way there'd be enough for most to have seconds but not so many left over.

2 moms found this helpful

I would just start by grilling enough hamburgers and hotdogs for each person to get one of each. Not everyone is going to have both, and so there will be extras for those that want seconds right off. If it looks like everything's going fast, then I'd just keep throwing more on the grill...they cook quickly enough and are better served hot. I wouldn't worry about having extras, because hamburgers/hotdogs heat up fine as leftovers. The only thing I might casually announce is, "let me know if you want a veggie burger!." Definitely don't want too many of those leftover. :)

2 moms found this helpful

We used to have Pad Thai parties in the backyard with a huge wok on an outside propane burner. That's the only time we asked about what people wanted, because some wanted it "Thai Hot" and some didn't. Since we made huge amounts in a 30" wok, we could make a lot at once and divide it, instead of cooking everyone's order separately.

But hot dogs and hamburgers? I look forward to leftovers, so we just keep cooking 'til everyone's full :) I am also of the "There's no such thing as too much food" camp.

2 moms found this helpful

I would never make a hot dog and hamburger for everyone. That will go uneaten. My husband is the pencil and paper type and we just had a cookout and I could tell everyone didn't eat enough because they had exactly a hot dog or one hamburger. If I go around I'll ask "HOW MANY hot dogs and hamburgers would you like" then tally it up and add on a few extra. There are always more hamburgers wanted than hotdogs.

1 mom found this helpful

I would over estimate. The way my family usually does it, someone stays by the grill and if the meat is getting low they throw more on the grill as needed. I would never make someone ONE hotdog and expect that to be it! My 8 year old can eat a hamburger, hotdog plus a side. He is no way obese, just a large eater. That boggles my mind. If there is leftovers, send everyone home with a plate.
I had 5 friends come over for girls night on Saturday. I bought 3 bottles of wine, made homemade salsa and guacamole, had chips, pretzels, deviled eggs, and made a veggie platter. The only thing we ran out of was the eggs! which was fine with me because I've been eating snow peas all day :)

1 mom found this helpful

Never did the counting thing. Always make plenty for everyone to have
seconds and thirds.

1 mom found this helpful

Oh, geez! I would have told them just a hot dog and then spent the rest of the party starving! lol
We always make tons of food. When we plan for a party, we include to go containers on the grocery list! Better to have too much than not enough!

1 mom found this helpful

Sounds like your hosts might have been a little tight for money and perhaps should have had a pot luck where everyone brings a dish. Never been to a BBQ where orders were taken.....even when the menu included ribeyes, tritips or chicken.....One generally knows the number of guest invited and plans for overage! If you go over to their house in future, I'd ask if they would like you to bring something.

1 mom found this helpful

We just did a cookout this weekend. We don't serve hot dogs or hamburgers.....Usually we pick three types of meat. This time we did koren short ribs, baby backs and chicken. We then just do a buffet and let people eat.

We also always cook food that we can freeze and re-purpose later. You are always better off with left overs.

1 mom found this helpful

I am like you, I cook a lot of food and allow the guest to eat as much as they would like. it can be frozen or placed in "to go bags" if not all eaten..

They sound a little odd

1 mom found this helpful

I've never, ever heard of anyone doing such a thing. We might estimate who will want what, but usually I WANT leftovers, so definitely we'll make more than we need.

What if someone were to dump over their plate on the floor? OOps sorry wash off your hotdog, cause there's no more for you!!

And Jess, speak for yourself!! No self respecting mid-westerner that I know of would EVER do or CONSIDER such a thing!!!!!!!!!!!!! :-)

1 mom found this helpful

I grew up in that type of household -- and it drove me crazy! But in the hostess' defense (or in my case, my mom :-) she was child of parents who grew up in the Depression. She was brought up to never waste anything and cooks only what she knows will be eaten.

But then again, she always asks who wants seconds and will grill again until everyone is full :-)

1 mom found this helpful

If money was not an issue (and I would not throw a cook out if money WAS an issue) I would try to have 2 or 3 hot dogs and 2 or 3 cheese/hamburgers per adult that was attending.

I would think that would cover any children and big eaters that came, would be my guess, you know plus having soda, beer, tea, potato salad, and chips.
And then any sides or desserts that guests bring.

1 mom found this helpful

When we have BBQs, we go big. We usually do a brisket, three chickens, 6-8 racks of ribs, a pulled pork plus all of the sides. Occasionally we'll do a couple other meats. We also do all of the sides and desserts. We would never ask our friends what they want to eat and only make that!

Then again, as soon as people are done eating, we start packing up food. Some of it goes in the freezer, some of it goes in the fridge...all of it gets eaten!

1 mom found this helpful

As someone who doesn't have an unlimited budget, I'd do what Cheryl says: cook until it's apparent people are done eating and then make a couple extra and close the grill. Cookouts with our friends/family are nearly always potluck, so there's usually plenty of sides. It's not about not having enough money, either, it's about wanting to be together. (For what it's worth, I don't think I know of any friends who have cookouts who don't ask us to bring sides. So there's always tons of food despite what's on the grill.)

There is such thing as too much food, esp. if it goes in the garbage when you are done. One of the problems with cookout is that people don't immediately refrigerate what's left over. Hello, food poisoning. This has happened to my family more than once-- being a vegetarian meant I missed out on getting horribly ill.

I think what your friend did is fine. It wouldn't bother me at all. And I can't say that there's an etiquette for cookouts-- I know with smaller groups, my dad will poll us to make sure everyone's covered.

1 mom found this helpful

We tend to know what most of our guests will eat. Most of the adults lean towards the burger (except me) and most of the kids lean towards the hot dog. We use that as a rough estimate to know the minimum that we will need. We figure on about 1.5 of each and then round up from there.

I don't think it wrong to use paper and pencil to tally an order (some aren't good w/ math or using the memory) to get a rough estimate, but to use that as a list of who wants which food item and then no extras being cooked does seem a bit too strict.

1 mom found this helpful

Our standard question is "what can we start you with, we're making XYZ (burgers, brats, chicken, whatever)?" That way, everyone gets what they want while it's mostly hot off the grill, AND they know they can always "order" more. We do inevitably end up with a few leftovers, but not so much that we can't finish it off later that day or the next.

That being said, depending on the number of people at the cookout, I might just have a pen and paper to keep a tally, but everyone knows they're not limited to what they start with (nor obligated to eat however much they "ordered" if they change their mind).

1 mom found this helpful

I am a make enough for your guests and cook more if needed kinda person. I rather have too much and send people home with food than not enough. I only want a head count of guests and go from there. I come from a line of big eaters - my man is a big eater and my son CAN be depending on what is going on. I can not believe there are people who ask this. Now at our family functions we ask the kids what they want b/c they are picky and then throw on a few extra. So, there are 8 kids and 8 adults on average and we cook 10-12 burgers and 10-12 dogs as a starter/min., most of the kids eat dogs and the adults the burgers. Plus we have sides galore, potatoe salad, garden salad, pasta salad, house fries, chips, dip, beer bread etc. Then my SIL makes a fabulous rum cheesecake! So, we have enough normally if we make a few extra

1 mom found this helpful

Maybe she didn't want leftovers?

We usually do a tally, and then cook half as much, or just finish out the package of meat or buns. Does that make sense?

So if I have 12 people (8 adults, 4 kids), I would could 8 hotdogs (full pack) and 10 - 12 hamburgers.

My husband and I are both from the 'you can never have too much food" group. We cook 1 of each for every guest and more. We always have left overs but that is good for our teens' friends for later!!

I think both answers are wrong, unless you INTEND to have leftovers. Most people will not have both a hotdog and hamburger, so there is no need to cook that much. Most parties will also eat more food than people request ahead of time (I have also never been asked). I find most people eat hamburgers over hotdogs, so I'd cook enough hamburgers for pretty much everyone, plus some hotdogs (especially if you have kids) -- a little more than you think people will actually eat.
If you intend to have leftovers for the week, then sure, cook more while the grill is on.

I think your host was very inconsiderate and made her guests feel uncomfortable and unwelcome. If it was a question of money, I personally wouldn't have a cook out if I couldn't afford to generously feed all my guests.

If the issue was serving hot food, then they should have made enough burgers and dogs for the number of guests, then thrown more on the grill for round two.

When I host a cook out I always make sure we have more than enough burgers and dogs, plus I grill marinated chicken cutlets, veggies, and I make at least 2 different salads. We also have appetizers and desserts.

I think your hosts are very lacking in social graces, maybe they've never been to a cook out before??

Funny. Is your husband from the midwest? :) Thats how we do things here.

I'm more on your boat... or - I just cook one thing and expect everyone to eat it.

I think it's ok to ask people what they prefer to get a general count, but I definitely think you need to also make extras of everything so people can have more if they are still hungry or if suddenly a hot dog looks delicious to someone who ordered a burger. :D

I not a big fan of the getting a count thing, but I do understand it.

Hubby overcooks a lot and I hate having all the leftover hamburgers and hotdogs because no one likes them as leftovers.

The way I see it is if you have a lot of side dishes (not desserts), if you take a count and people who have a healthy appetite can fill up and have a full meal.

I buy enough hot dogs and ground beef for everyone to have at least one of each.

I never thought about it like that. The paper and pencil is a good idea, so you don't have to ask twice. My family has always asked our guests what they want, because we serve them. Some say, "both" and we all giggle and say, "That's a good idea, I might try that too." We never think of it as gluteny. Our family just thinks of it as you're enjoying the food and the food tastes good. (Come from a family that loves to eat.) We also figure there's less waste. We were taught not to waste food. You know the old saying, "There's starving children in ......, so don't waste your food!" We always let our guests know there's plenty of food, so if they want another we will gladly cook it. Also, we don't like cold hamburgers and cold hotdogs. We like to serve them warm. I think it's just a personal thing. If you prefer to do things buffet style, that's ok too.

I have never been to a big cookout that does hamburgers and hotdogs except my family reniuon (and they were more concerned on why they couldn't get the grill started lol) Mostly my family does fried chicken. One option, and almost everyone in my family is a big eater. And the men are not average size. They are not fat just really really tall and built (and the women are all under 5ft4, most more around 5ft2. Its really funny to see us all together lol)

Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.