Here’s the thing about the 4th of July: there’s a lot of pressure to prove how foaming-at-the-mouth patriotic you really are. But given America's increasingly complicated understanding of its history—coupled, of course, with the global pandemic—we're not exactly telling you to go out and celebrate. (We're also not gonna tell you to not celebrate; hey, we're not your mom.) In any case, we can probably all agree that wanting our country to be better is part of loving our country, and we can appreciate the fact that we're glad to have been [Bruce voice] born in the USA—but without being jerks about it.
We do know, however, that some people will be donning the ol' Old Navy flag shirt and reveling in the patriotism of it all, and those who aren't will still (hopefully) be enjoying the extra day off. So, whether you're actively celebrating the Fourth or just taking this hot July day as an opportunity to drink some cold beers and eat juicy burgers during a three-day weekend, we pulled together our absolute best recipes for doing just that.
While we're down with a few pickles and a square of processed cheese on a store-bought burger for a casual Saturday grill sesh, a holiday calls for something a little more special—like this burger that's made with brisket and topped with homemade bacon-onion jam.
Matty Matheson's Ultimate Burger Recipe
There are lots of schools of thought on ribs, whether they're lightly glazed or soy-marinated or Filipino-barbecue-inspired. This rib recipe from Matty Matheson is for the people who can't get enough of those super sticky, sweet-sauced suckers. We highly recommended some moist towelettes with these guys.
Back-Alley Barbecue Ribs Recipe
According to some folks, a great steak doesn't need a marinade. That's probably because they haven't tried this marinade, though, which uses fish sauce, lime, and sugar to get your skirt steak tender, flavorful, and perfectly caramelized.
Fish Sauce-Marinated Skirt Steak Recipe
Because when else can you put a tiny burger, corn, and a few kinds of mayo-drenched salad on your hot dog and feel no judgment? American excess, indeed.
"Everything But the Grill" Hot Dog Recipe
The picky eaters will like the perfectly grilled rib-eye steak, while the slightly more adventurous crowd won't be able to get enough of the briny, sharp orange and olive salsa that we've paired with it.
Ribeye with Orange and Olive Salsa Recipe
Truly delicious jerk chicken is a process, so you'll want to start this recipe a few days before. Get your chicken prepped and brined a few days earlier, and all you'll really have to do on the 4th is throw it on the grill.
The Best Jerk Chicken Recipe
With lemongrass and ginger, this salmon burger is zingy and a little spicy, perfect for perking up your taste buds if you're getting tapped out on cheeseburger season.
Lemongrass, Ginger, and Turmeric Salmon Burger Recipe
Step up your grilling game from the go-to shrimp skewers with these hefty, head-on grilled shrimp that are absolutely drenched in miso-scallion butter. Again, moist towelettes.
Grilled Shrimp with Miso, Ginger, and Scallion Butter Recipe
Your meat-free friends and fam deserve a tasty main that doesn't feel like you forgot about them. With nice crusty bread and a homemade olive tapenade that you'll be obsessed with, these grilled vegetable and goat cheese sandwiches prove you've got plant-based options on your list of priorities.
Grilled Vegetable Sandwich with Tapenade and Goat Cheese Recipe
If fish sauce isn't already a pantry staple for you, we hope that by this point, you're stoked on it and can't wait to run out and grab a bottle. The combo of fish sauce, lime, and sugar makes anything grilled taste great, and this squid and shrimp salad is no exception.
Grilled Squid and Shrimp with Fish Sauce Recipe
Is it even a summer cookout if you don't have corn on the cob? A big smear of butter on sweet corn is great, but butter and mayo and cotija cheese is even more indulgent.
Classic Elote (Grilled Corn) Recipe
This slightly spicy, mustardy grilled fingerling potato salad is a more flavorful twist on your usual potato salad, but don't worry—it's still nice and creamy too, thanks to a big dollop of sour cream.
Grilled Fingerlings with Mustard Recipe
Giving your carrots a little smoke and char on the grill helps bring out their natural sweetness. Add a little sauce made with carrot tops and sunflower seeds and serve it on a cooling layer of yogurt, and you've got an easy vegetable side that breaks from the summer corn-and-zucchini rut.
Grilled Carrots with Sunflower Seeds and Carrot Tops Recipe
Is there anything more refreshing than eating a big scoop of cold, creamy-meets-crunchy, mayo-filled goodness on a hot summer day? We think not, so make this classic coleslaw.
Creamy Coleslaw Recipe
Of course, not everyone is about that creamy coleslaw life. If that's not your vibe, switch up with this extremely crunchy slaw dressed in sesame oil and lime juice instead.
Cabbage, Cucumber, and Sesame Coleslaw Recipe
Kinda like chips and dip meets panzanella meets taco salad. No matter what you call it, we love this gluten-free summer side.
Grilled Corn, Avocado, and Tortilla Chip Salad Recipe
We love a grain salad, because it's a good formula for using whatever you've got around. We wrote it up into a recipe for you, but the structure of grain + bean + crunchy veg + cheese is endlessly riffable.
Easy Grain Salad Recipe
The best thing about this crunchy noodle salad (other than eating it) is that you get to crush up a bunch of ramen noodle packets as though they're bubble wrap.
Cabbage and Ramen Noodle Salad Recipe
It doesn't take much to turn simple grilled vegetables into a thoughtfully composed vegetable side dish: just some homemade vinaigrette, toasted walnuts, and cheese.
Grilled Green Beans and Summer Squash Recipe
Maybe you've grown out of the Jell-O shots years of your life. Time to consider this no-bake Aperol spritz pie, which is a bit like a grown-up Jell-O shot with the added perk of a buttery vanilla wafer crust.
No-Bake Aperol Spritz Pie Recipe
This easy cherry cake is the kind of dessert you can eat with your hands. We'd recommend adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and for all of our sakes, you'll probably want a spoon with that.
Cherry Pound Cake Recipe
What happens when you mix blueberry pie with a perfect, buttery shortbread crust? Well, you get a damn good time, that's what. Obviously, these pie bars are also great with ice cream.
Blueberry and Lavender Pie Bars Recipe
The most ubiquitous drink in New Orleans is arguably the daiquiri, which tumbles around in slushie machines throughout the city 24 hours a day. Take some cues from a city that knows how to party with this recipe for a pink daiquri, which employs fresh herbs, watermelon, cucumber, and light rum.
Pink Daiquiri Recipe
Whatever happened to the days when a day-drinker could just get a cocktail without any fruit? We get it. You want a margarita—and this margarita recipe has a secret ingredient that will take your drink to the next level. Hint: It's agave syrup.Get recipes like this and more in the Munchies Recipes newsletter. Sign up here .