How to Host a Labor Day Cookout Without the Grill

How to Host a Labor Day Cookout Without the Grill

By Rebecca Fending

With possible rain on the horizon, hosting a traditional Labor Day get together centered around the grill may prove difficult. But what’s the long weekend without burgers, steaks and sweating beer bottles? Here are a few ideas and recipes for hosting your cookout indoors this Labor Day.

Rich and Cheesy Dips

Is there anyone who doesn’t love a good dip? Whether you make it a meal (either intentionally or by accidentally having a few too many Triscuits) or you’re looking to add to the spread of shareable appetizers at your party, here are a few classic party dips that are sure to satisfy your guests while indoors:

  • Buffalo Chicken Dip: This one is a classic when it comes to hosting a party–you can customize it to the tastes of you and your guests by adding more hot sauce or less, different cheeses or even adding diced celery and onions for added/varied flavor and texture. Not only is this dip warm and satisfying, but you can make it in the oven, stove top or slow cooker depending on how busy you are with other dishes.
  • Crab Dip: Another great appetizer (or, again, meal… I would be a hypocrite to judge you for it) is a creamy crab dip. Especially good on toasted French or Italian bread, this oceanic crowd pleaser is sure to disappear within the hour.
  • Spinach Artichoke Dip: Perfect for a mixed crowd of omnivores and herbivores, you can’t go wrong with a rich and tangy spinach artichoke dip. I like to add about a 1/2 cup of chopped mushrooms and a 1/3 cup chopped onion just for added flavor, texture and vegetable content. Not to mention you can add this to your burger for a unique and indulgent combination.

Serve these dips with crusty bread, tortilla chips, buttery crackers, Wheat Thins, Triscuits… the list is endless!

Holiday Weekend Meats Indoors

Some may call it a tragedy when a cut of red meat doesn’t come from a flaming charcoal grill, but desperate times call for desperate measures (the motto for 2020, thus far). Rest assured, there are ways to make a deliciously cooked piece of meat indoors to satisfy your carnivore cravings this weekend.

The Perfect Indoor Burger

  • Stove top: Heat a pan or skillet to medium-high, un-greased. Once hot, place your patties in the pan and cook/season to your liking. Try not to flip the burgers several times. The more flips, the more juices will flow out of the meat, leaving your burger dry once it makes its way to your bun.
  • Oven: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place an oven-safe rack on top. Place your seasoned patties on the rack and bake for 7 to 10 minutes depending on your temperature preference.
  • Air Fryer: This beauty of a kitchen appliance can cook just about anything, including a deliciously juicy and crispy burger. Place seasoned patties in the basket and cook for 7 minutes at 360 degrees. Once done, flip and cook at 360 for another 3 minutes.
Air fryer cheeseburger from

Indoor Steaks

Preparing your steak cut indoors can be just as delicious as on the grill, with the added bonus of your home smelling like perfectly seared meat. Although maybe a tad bit messier than grilling, pan frying or oven baking steak is a great option no matter the time or year or weather.

Regardless of your cooking method, start by leaving your meat out for about half an hour to come to room temperature. This ensures that the meat won’t toughen during cooking as it would if it were cold when hitting the hot pan.

  • Oven: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Coat meat in avocado or canola oil (for their high smoke points) and season to your liking. Heat an oven-safe skillet on high, add meat to hot pan and sear for about 4 minutes on each side, or until it has a golden sear to the edges. Place pan in the oven and cook to your desired internal temperature.
  • Stove top: Heat pan on high, let heat for 5 to 10 minutes. Apply a thick layer of garlic butter to one side of the meat. Once hot, put the buttered side of the meat in pan until a crust forms and the cut no longer sticks to the pan. Flip meat and baste in garlic butter by tilting the pan until the butter collects on one side and spoon over the top of the meat. Continue until meat is done to your preference.
Stove top steak is a perfect alternative way to cooking your meats this Labor Day weekend.
Stove top steak is a perfect alternative way to cooking your meats this Labor Day weekend.

Labor Day Drinks

Possibly the most important component of Labor Day weekend: the drinks. Whether it’s canned or bottled beer and other cocktails, mixed drinks or just good old fashioned lemonade and soda, you can still store your beverages in the house as you would outdoors–in coolers. This minimizes the amount of guests in the kitchen as you try to prepare food, as well as helps cut down on open refrigerator door time.

To get inspired for drinks you can make for your guest, read our article, The 4 Best Drinks to Serve at Your Party.

No matter how you decide to adjust your Labor Day get together this weekend, be sure to do so safely. Sanitize your home before and after the event, leave hand sanitizer by the food spread and overall, be sure to have a great time with friends and family.


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