40 Fourth of July Recipes to Help You Celebrate Whatever's Still Good About America

From grilled meat to vegetarian mains, these cookout recipes will help you find your remaining shreds of patriotic spirit.

by Munchies Staff
Jun 28 2018, 6:45pm

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. Oh, you’re wearing an American flag as a cape? I’ve got the stars and stripes on my underwear, sucker; what else you got? Having enough fireworks to blow up the block or a playlist made up entirely of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born In the USA” is not what Independence Day is all about, folks. (Although we do love us some Bruce.) It’s important, on the 4th, to remember the difference between patriotism, nationalism, and jingoism. The first of those really just means you caught some nice feelings for your country, for one reason or another. The latter two, per Merriam-Webster, imply that your love for your country makes you an asshole, maybe even an aggressively militaristic one. But no matter where you are on that spectrum, or if you're on there at all, you’ve gotta admit there’s gotta be something worth celebrating about this place. Even if it's just that it happens to be a country where you can round all your buddies up on a hot day in July and drink some nice cold beer and eat some juicy burgers. Whatever makes you feel even a little bit patriotic is worth celebrating next Thursday. (Or, hell, all weekend long, if you want.) We pulled together our absolute best recipes for doing just that. Happy birthday, ‘Merica.

While the grill is heating up and the beer starts flowing, everyone’s going to want some snacks. Be a truly over-achieving host with some from-scratch potato chips.

A bag of baby carrots and a head of celery thrown on a platter (those still count as crudités, don’t worry) paired with a big bowl of this homemade ranch dressing is probably one of the easiest appetizers you can throw together.

Staying on-theme for this celebration of America, you can’t go wrong with the Southern classic, pimento cheese. Sure, you can be fancy and serve it up on thin baguette slices, but Ritz crackers will do just as well.

Moving on through the South, we’ve got a classic Tex-Mex favorite, queso, from Texas-born chef Courtney McBroom. You can watch her make it in a How-To segment here.

Swap out the usual wheat flour and beer batter for rice flour, potato starch, and sparkling water to make a big batch of onion rings that everyone can enjoy, gluten-free or not.

If you’re going to spend big money on one, ephemeral thing for your 4th of July celebration, it sure as hell shouldn’t be fireworks. Treat your fellow patriots to a big, juicy rib-eye instead.

Matty Matheson might be Canadian, sure, but his sticky-sweet pomegranate molasses barbecue sauce is everything we could want for a rack of ribs on the 4th.

Were burgers ever up for debate for an American celebration? This recipe will make enough perfectly juicy patties to feed a crowd, and don’t skimp on the buttery, toasty brioche buns.

There are many ways to approach a good veggie burger, and the guys from Burgerlord in LA have considered theirs as carefully as they did their beef burger. Here, they combined mushrooms, eggplant, brown rice, and chickpeas as a base for a burger so tasty you won’t miss the meat.

Serve up some spicy, smoky fresh chorizo sausages on a potato bun with plenty of grainy mustard and sautéed bell peppers and onions for a little something different for this backyard barbecue.

We don’t know the culinary history of the beer can chicken, but we feel pretty confident saying it’s a very American preparation. Get to stuffing a can of light lager up your bird’s bum for a surprisingly juicy and flavorful end product.

Meat is always more fun when you put it on a stick, and a sweet and savory glaze inspired by Chinese take-out classics makes this the most snackable finger food.

Grilling might be the obvious choice for the Fourth, but why not buck tradition with a crawfish boil instead? Throw in sausages, potatoes, and corn, and you've got the whole meal in one big pot.

If you're too attached to the idea of smoky grilled meat to go full-on seafood boil, this simple salad translates those vibes into the perfect side for all your burgers, ribs, and steaks.

What, pray tell, is the more obvious accompaniment to any grilled main dishes than fresh cut French fries?

Thai-American chef Kris Yenbamroong kicks up the perfect summery sweetness of fresh corn with coconut milk and sugar and a little bit of earthy turmeric before letting these cobs get slightly charred on the grill.

Hushpuppies are a decidedly American concoction of fried cornmeal, served with a tangy tartar sauce, so make it extra southern and throw some whole sweet corn and Maryland blue crabs in there for good, patriotic measure.

Take all the delicious flavors of grilled elotes and make it infinitely easier (and less messy) to eat by cutting the kernels off the cobb and tossing it all into a tasty salad.

It’s not an American summer feast if there aren’t starchy things smothered in mayonnaise. Don’t act like you don’t love a good, classic potato salad, just like Grandma used to make.

We stand by the “starches smothered in mayonnaise” requirement, so pick your poison—potatoes or elbow macaroni.

This fresh cucumber salad, from culinary historian and chef Michael Twitty, is sort of like a quick refrigerator pickle, but we doubt they’ll last long enough to make it to the fridge.

Really double down on the crunch factor of raw green cabbage by tossing it together with sliced almonds and uncooked ramen noodles for a vinegar-based (as opposed to mayonnaise-based) coleslaw.

A little salt draws the water out of vine-ripe tomatoes, shallots, and capers to combine with a touch of olive oil and vinegar for a fresh, easy salad that basically dresses itself.

If you’ve already got the grill going for burgers and dogs, throw some bright green zucchini on there to give them some char, and toss them with whatever fresh herbs you can get your hands on.

Because everyone knows that summer vegetables are even better when you give them a few minutes on the grill.

Keep it simple with some fresh whipped cream and rich macadamia nuts over top of the ripest, juiciest strawberries (or hell, any berry) you can find.

Berries! Booze! Brown sugar! (And cake!) All layered up real pretty in this perfect summer trifle.

Chess pie is another Southern classic, and we’re juuuust edging into blueberry season, so now is the perfect time for this rich, creamy pie.

If you thought buttery, flaky pie crust couldn’t be improved upon—surprise! May we present to you, one of MUNCHIES Culinary Director Farideh Sadeghin’s true crowning achievements: a cream cheese-crusted strawberry galette.

If you can get your hands on it, we highly suggest using sweet, tender lemon thyme as opposed to the regular stuff to give this sponge cake a little something different. (If not, though, feel free to just add a little extra lemon zest.)

Chocolate chip cookies are an ideal summer outdoor party dessert, as they don’t need to stay cold, and, like all good backyard barbecue types of foods, can be eaten with one hand, leaving the second free for a nice cold beer. (Ditto for brownies!)

This shortcake with berries and cream will make everyone happy, but especially your gluten-free friends.

If you want to get all Pinterest-y with this, you can keep your hollowed-out watermelon shell to serve these slushies punch bowl-style.

What’s better for a summer party than a pitcher of from-scratch margaritas? A pitcher of from-scratch margaritas with some beers tipped into it for extra good times.

Get the heck outta here with that bottled daiquiri mix crap. Juice a real watermelon, muddle some real mint, and use your favorite light rum to create an authentic version of this New Orleans favorite.

It’s like a mimosa, but with beer, so you can drink it all day long.

No one really knows what Daniel Webster—one of America’s early politicians and apparently a notorious booze hound—actually put in his famous punch. But this version from NYC’s Porchlight bar will knock you on your ass, so sip it slow.

And of course, inspired by another great American leader—Snoop Dogg, we have an unnecessarily complicated (but dang delicious) riff on a good ol’ gin ‘n’ juice.

A little bit NOLA, a little bit Hawaiian—this cocktail from New Orleans duo Amanda and Isaac Toups combines Diplomatico rum, a pineapple shrub, and a garnish of crispy bacon for something everyone will love to sip outside.

In these here great United States of America, you have the freedom to drink your rosé in whatever ridiculous form you want, and if you’re choosing frosé, we salute you.