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Best 4th of July Menu For a Cookout


Having a cookout for Independence Day and need some ideas for your 4th of July menu? These tried-and-true recipes are always a big hit and can be prepared ahead of time so you have time to enjoy the party.

the best 4thof July menu for a cookout

If you have been following along here lately, you probably know by now that my annual 4th of July party has become a tradition.

It’s a pretty casual event that is mostly centered around getting together with friends, relaxing in the backyard, and praying not to get rained on. Having a thunderstorm roll through right about the time that the grill heats up seems to be part of the tradition, too 🙂

I used to try to come up with a new set of 4th of July recipes every year. But my friends were always asking for my original ones, so for the last couple of years, I have stuck with basics. And that seems to make everyone happy.

Even better…that makes it easier for me since most of these recipes can be made in advance and I know they will all turn out!

So I thought I would share my 4th of July menu in case you are looking for some ideas for your own cookout.

Salads and sides

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Red, white and blue salad

red, white and blue berry and goat cheese salad

Everyone loves this red, white and blue berry salad.

It looks very patriotic and it’s really easy to make.  What more could you ask for?

Grilled chicken, avocado and mango salad

grilled chicken garden salad with fruit and nuts
Or if you want a more tropical salad, this one topped with avocado, mango and grilled chicken may be what you're looking for.
It combines tropical flavors with chicken for a refreshing, summery salad that can be served as a side or a main dish.
Get The Recipe

Slow cooker mac & cheese

crock pot macaroni and cheese

In my neck of the woods, a cookout isn’t a cookout without Mac & Cheese…even if it isn’t made on the grill.

With this crock pot version of Mac & Cheese, you can get it ready and turn it on before everyone arrives, and you don’t have to worry about it again.  Food that can be made in advance is a bonus in my books!

The best garlic bread

garlic bread on a piece of foil

I have some friends who would show up for a party if this garlic bread was the only food I was serving…they love it that much!

It’s another make-in-advance recipe, which always makes getting ready for the cookout easier.

And it can be made in the oven or on the top rack of the grill.

Grilled asparagus

grilled asparagus on a plate

Okay, now we’re on to the grill recipes.

This grilled asparagus recipe always goes over really well with my crowd. I like to buy the big bags of asparagus from Costco so I know I’ll have enough for everyone.

You can also make it in the oven if your grill is too full with all of the other food.

Meat on the grill

Fall-off-the-bone ribs

grilled ribs with homemade bbq sauce

These Bar-B-Q spareribs are another one of my crowd favorites. Everyone once in a while, I decide not to make them and I always have a few people ask where they are.

They do take a little more prep work than some of the other recipes…but all of that part is done in advance. Which makes the actual grilling part of the recipe (when everyone is usually hovering over you waiting for the food to be served) very easy.

Note: These can also be cooked in the oven if that’s easier for you.

Pesto turkey burgers

pesto turkey burger

Burgers are a staple for cookouts, but I have some friends who don’t eat beef, so I make turkey burgers instead.

And actually after I tried this recipe, I haven’t made a beef burger since!  

They have a ton of taste (and fewer calories) and no-one has ever complained about not having regular burgers.

Easy to eat chicken kabobs

chicken shish kabobs on a plate with salad

These Chicken Kabobs are actually a fairly new addition to my 4th of July menu.  But they were such a big hit that I’ve made them for every cookout I’ve had since.

There’s something about eating really delicious chicken off of a stick that everyone loves 🙂

Spicy chicken wings

grilled spicy wings

I can’t have any kind of a party without having chicken wings…my friends would literally go to Publix deli and buy some if I didn’t serve them. (And Publix deli does have some pretty tasty wings…I have to admit).

Just to make sure that nobody confuses my homemade wings with the Publix variety, I like to spice things up a bit with these Asian Chicken Wings.

They aren’t spicy as in super-hot, but they have a lot of spicy flavor. And they really go fast around my place!

Grilled rotisserie chicken

grilled rotisserie chicken on a bbq spit

Rotisserie chicken is another 4th of July staple around my house. I usually put it on to cook before everyone arrives and then let it sit for a while before carving it.

That gives it a chance to cool down, and makes it easier to cut. It’s a little more work than some of the other dishes on the menu, but it’s so good that it’s worth it!


Red, white and blue yogurt parfait

strawberry blueberry yogurt parfait in a tall glass

For a light and refreshing end to your 4th of July meal, this red, white and blue yogurt parfait is perfect!

It’s super fast and easy to make (takes less than 5 minutes), uses berries that are in season this time of year, and it tastes delicious!

Patriotic cheesecake tarts

blueberry, cherry and whipped cream mini cheesecakes in an American flag design

Mini-cheesecakes are a simple red, white and blue dessert that everyone loves! .

While it sounds complicated, this recipe is actually really easy to put together and can be made ahead of time.

Red, white and blue Jello shots

red, white and blue jello shots displayed on an American flag tray

I never know whether Jello shots count as a cocktail or a dessert. They’re kind of a bit of both.

In any case, they always make an appearance on the 4th of July because they’re so easy to do and you can make them in the right colors!

You can find more red, white and blue desserts HERE.


Berries and lime sangria

3 glasses of berries and lime sangria in mason jar cups on an American flag tray

Of course, you can’t have a 4th of July cookout without some refreshing drinks.

Sangria is always a big hit with my friends at summer parties.

Since it can be made ahead of time and served in a drink dispenser, it’s a stress-free addition to the menu.

This berries and lime sangria recipe is one of my favorites.

Red, white and blue sangria

Red, white and blue sangria
Or if you want to make a Sangria that looks even more patriotic (and you're willing to do a little more work), try this red, white and blue version that has stars in it.
Get The Recipe

Strawberry mimosas

strawberry mimosas in tall glasses

These strawberry Mimosas take advantage of in-season strawberries to make the perfect afternoon cocktail.

And they’re always a big hit at my 4th of July party.

Homemade lemonade

Homemade lemonade

For a non-alcoholic drink, this homemade lemonade cannot be beat.

It’s easy to make a big batch. And there’s something about fresh-squeezed lemons that just tastes so much better that the store-bought kind.

So now the secret’s out…that’s my go-to cookout menu that I’ll be making for my 4th of July party this year.  Since all of the recipes are easy and can be prepared ahead of time, they definitely cut down on my day-of-party stress!

More 4th of July party ideas you might like

Do you have a favorite food on your 4th of july menu? Tell us about it in the section below.

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4th of July cookout recipes

This post was originally published on June 29, 2017 but was updated with new content on June 23, 2022.

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