Parties. Picnics. Cookouts. Coming out of the pandemic and basically pretending like the 4th of July in 2020 didn’t exist means that the idea of celebrating together this year is extra special. So if you’re attending a holiday get-together or hosting one, you’ll want some July 4th recipes on standby. Bonus: you don’t have to make them all red, white, and blue. And you don’t have to spend hours cutting watermelon into tiny stars or making everything into the shape of an American flag. These are just some good, flavorful summer recipes that work well for a big barbecue or a low-key party with appetizers.
Last Fourth of July, the U.S. was in lockdown mode as the coronavirus spread and the world was scrambling to learn anything and everything about COVID-19. So, many of us who would normally be sharing brats and beers with friends and lighting sparklers when the sun set found ourselves parked in front of the TV, watching July 4th concert-and-firework specials that tried really hard to sound optimistic.
But not in 2021 — this year, those who are able to safely gather can look forward to hosting or showing up to spend time with loved ones. And like any good old American tradition, that means there will be food, and plenty of it. Whether you want to serve a classic summer dish or bring something more unique to the party, it’ll just be nice to celebrate together again.
1 Summer Roasted Garlic Butter Corn
Grilling corn is one of the easiest and tastiest ways to prep a side dish.
This roasted garlic butter corn recipe calls for paprika, which adds a ton of flavor, but the real difference-maker here is the garlic and herb butter loaded with, well, garlic and herbs, like rosemary, thyme, and basil. You can pop these into the oven or onto the grill and douse them generously in that butter before serving. 2 Buffalo Chicken Dip
Those of you who live near a Publix have probably tried their (incredible, amazing, iconic) buffalo chicken dip from the deli section. It’s basically the gold standard of savory dips. That said,
this buffalo chicken dip recipe from Simply LaKita definitely seems like it’ll stand up to the grocery store’s version. Serve with celery, crackers, tortilla chips, or just a spoon, honestly. 3 Frozen Mint Lemonade
If your party will be outdoors, cool everyone down with a
frozen lemonade livened up with just a pinch of fresh mint. Kate of Cookie + Kate recreated this recipe based on a frozen mint lemonade she tried in Morocco, and it’s a delicious way to beat the heat in your own backyard, too. 4 Summertime Pasta Salad
Want a pasta salad that hits a little different?
This summertime version includes black beans, cherry tomatoes, fresh corn, feta crumbles, and avocado. And rather than a basic oil and vinegar dressing, it calls for an easy-to-make jalapeño and herb pesto. Serve it room temp or cold, but either way, it’ll be gone quickly. 5 “In-N-Out” Animal-Style Burger
So, you want to make the perfect hamburgers. Instead of winging it on the seasoning or wondering if they’re the right thickness, follow
this In-N-Out-inspired recipe to create animal style burgers. (Animal sauce optional, but who would opt out of that?) Spread out all the fixings on a picnic table and boom: 4th of July burger bar. 6 Vegan Black Bean Burgers
If you want to enjoy something a little lighter on the stomach but still burger adjacent, consider this
vegan black bean burger recipe. It’s easy to customize with whatever seasonings and toppings you have on hand, and to make a large or small batch for your vegetarian and vegan friends. 7 Watermelon Blueberry Salsa
the summertime fruit. You could serve it up in slices, or make it into this exciting salad tossed with blueberries, papaya, cucumbers, herbs, and just a hint of jalapeño. Or, if you’re looking for a classic salsa recipe to serve with some chips and guac, check out this homemade quick tomato salsa. 8 Brisket Mac & Cheese
Why serve brisket with macaroni and cheese when you could serve brisket
in macaroni and cheese? This brisket mac and cheese dish from Dude That Cookz takes about 40 minutes to prepare if you’re using leftover brisket. It would be a unique option to take to the 4th of July potluck, or at the very least, an inventive way to freshen up the leftovers on July 5. 9 Homemade Strawberry Lemonade
If you make
this strawberry lemonade, please post a picture and tag me in it because OMG it’s so pretty. But more importantly, it sounds seriously good. It’ll impress the heck out of your guests that you made it yourself, and it’d be pretty easy to serve with some champagne for a sparkling summer cocktail. 10 Charred Okra, Corn, & Tomato Salad
this charred okra recipe’s post begins, could you get more summery than a combo of okra, corn, and tomatoes? This would be an unexpected twist on a summer salad and the perfect side to any burger or barbecue you’re planning to serve. Also, if you’re typically not an okra person, this method of cooking keeps it from getting slimy. 11 Potato Salad With Whole Grain Mustard, Scallions, & Dill
It’s not July 4th without potato salad; that would just be July 3rd for the second day in a row.
This recipe from Lick My Spoon is the perfect guide for whipping up that traditional dilly, scallion-topped version everyone knows and loves, but with a little whole grain mustard to make it even more flavorful. And it only takes a little more effort than picking up a container of potato salad at the store. 12 Spicy Gochujang Pigs In A Blanket
Hot dogs are a 4th of July staple, but if you want to serve them a little more creatively than the usual bun-and-condiments setup, these
spicy gochujang pigs in a blanket are definitely the move. They’re a bite-sized app (just pop a toothpick into each one for easy snacking) and the little dollop of gochujang sauce takes this party app to a whole new level. You can also use store-bought crescent roll dough to shorten the prep time. 13 Easy 7-Ingredient Mango Pineapple Habanero Hot Wings
Wings are a guaranteed crowd-pleaser at any summertime get-together, and these
mango, pineapple, and habanero hot wings incorporate some of the season’s most flavorful fruits into every bite. The habanero makes them both sweet and spicy, and baking them in the oven adds the perfect amount of crisp to the skin. 14 Summer BBQ Tofu Vegetable Kebabs
Who doesn’t love a kebab loaded with bell peppers, onions, zucchini, and other summer veggies? They’re yummy made with tofu, veggies only, or your meat of choice, and so easy to put together and toss on the grill.
This summer BBQ tofu recipe includes instructions on seasoning the tofu with a homemade barbecue sauce for extra flavor points. 15 Boozy Margarita Lime Cake
If someone else has already claimed the red, white, and blue dessert idea for the potluck, why not pivot to this
marg-inspired cake? It’s based on everyone’s favorite hot-weather cocktail and includes plenty of fresh limes, tequila, and orange liquor, just like the real thing. The only difference is you’ll clink forks instead of glasses. 16 Easy Crockpot Pulled Pork
If the grill is otherwise occupied with burgers, hot dogs, kebabs, or chicken wings, you can make
pulled pork using your old faithful slow cooker. Serve it up with traditional barbecue sides like potato salad and mac and cheese, or pile it high on buns with pickles and extra sauce. 17 Easy Homemade Baked Beans
While you’re thinking about easy barbecue classics, has there ever been a successful cookout without baked beans?
This homemade version is vegan, so you can safely serve them at a group gathering, yet it packs all the flavor punch of the traditional bacon-laden version. They only take about 45 minutes, too. 18 Broiled Peach Summer Salad
Make use of peach season
and impress everyone at the party with this broiled peach summer salad recipe. It’s loaded with greens, burrata (yes, please), and a yummy-sounding vinaigrette that comes together with just a few ingredients. It’s a great way to serve something light that isn’t your typical boring salad. 19 Sparkling Ginger Peach Cocktails
If you want to make a cocktail for your partygoers, this
peach, ginger, and vodka number ought to do the trick. It’s a little fruity, sort of spicy, a tad sweet, and really refreshing thanks to the bubbles from the sparkling water. If you want to serve them sans alcohol, they’ll be just as yummy. 20 Hawaiian BBQ Turkey Flatbread Pizza
Maybe I’m just a pizza person, but if I saw little personal pizza flatbreads at my next picnic, potluck, or summer party, I’d be pretty delighted.
These wee pies incorporate sweet, summery pineapple (often controversial as a pizza topping), crunchy red onion, and plenty of melty cheese. Why not make a few, slice them up, and serve them as a unique appetizer? 21 Strawberry Cream Cheese Tart
Fresh strawberries. Rich cream cheese. An easy, lemony, press-in crust that’s easy to make gluten-free. This
strawberry tart is just everything you could ask for in a cookout dessert. You could easily swap the fruit out for another you prefer, or add blueberries to make it more July 4th-themed. In any case, it’ll be equally delicious.