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Having a Low-Key Fourth of July Party? Here’s Your Menu

Two loaded hot dogs with American flag toothpicks in their buns.
CirclePS/Shutterstock

On Independence Day, it’s always fun to celebrate our country by eating all the best cookout foods! If you plan to keep things easy this year, here are a few appetizer, dinner, and dessert options for you.

We’ve specially selected each of these recipes for anyone planning a more laid-back Fourth of July celebration. Some are make-ahead friendly, while others only take a few minutes to throw together, and all are perfect for a quiet barbecue.

Celebratory Starters

A casserole dish full of Pretzel Ring Beer Cheese Dip.
delish

It’s always wise to have a few munchies available before the main course hits the table. Here are a few easy and delicious starters for small groups:

  • Red White and Blue Fruit Salad: The perfect way to start a summer cookout off right. These fresh flavors will burst in your mouth and help cool things down. You combine sliced banana, blueberries, and strawberries to create this festive, light dish. You can serve it as a starter, a side dish, or even a dessert option.

Get the Recipe: Eating on a Dime

  • Pepper Jelly and Cream Cheese Spread: If you are crunched for time this Fourth of July, this super-simple starter is the perfect way to provide a quick (and affordable) bite. Each pepper jelly mouthful packs a kick of spice, a subtle smidge of sweetness, and a cooling cream cheese finish. It’s the perfect go-to when you don’t have time for an elaborate display.

Get the Recipe: Tabasco

  • Pretzel Ring Beer Cheese Dip: If you love the idea of cooking with beer, you’ll undoubtedly enjoy this beer cheese dip. It takes a bit more time to prepare than the others, but the results are beyond worth it. If you’re planning a small get-together, your guests will melt for this cheesy dip.

Get the Recipe: delish

The Main Attraction

Eight hot dogs embellished with different topping combinations, surrounded by chips and a side of mustard.
How Sweet Eats

These four traditional main course options will make your cookout feel just right:

  • BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches: These slow-cooker yummies are the perfect addition to any cookout—especially if you don’t have enough grill space. They also allow you to avoid the oven and keep things cool in the kitchen. Serve these on warm buns with a side of creamy, crunchy coleslaw.

Get the Recipe: RecipeTin Eats

  • Hot Dog Bar: Serving this cookout staple with plenty of unique, tasty toppings is an entertaining way to present your food at a budget-friendly cost. Simply prepare all of your ingredients in separate bowls or dishes, grill up the franks, and let everyone jazz them up just the way they like ’em.

Get the Recipe: How Sweet Eats

  • American Style Cheeseburgers: Alternatively, you can go all-American and serve up everyone’s favorite: beefy cheeseburgers. You can keep it simple and classic, or get creative and mix it up with inspiration from around the country. Either way, be sure to take care and grill them up right!
  • Creamy Baked Mac and Cheese: This favorite is always a trusty sidekick for burgers, hot dogs, or sandwiches. If you’re planning to invite a few extra people over, just make this along with one of the other dinner options. If you’re just feeding a small family, though, we recommend preparing this creamy baked meal on its own.

Get the Recipe: The Chunky Chef

Don’t Forget Dessert

A casserole dish of July Fourth S'mores Dip decorated to look like the American flag.
delish

You’ve gotta finish this celebration off right! Enjoy any of these delicious treats while watching the fireworks:

  • July Fourth S’mores Dip: This delicious and decorative s’mores dip is just the thing for your Fourth of July celebration. All you need is marshmallows, some patriotic sanding sugar, chocolate, and, of course, graham crackers. Once your marshmallows are all sprinkled up, you build your tasty treat. This one’s popular with kids and adults, alike.

Get the Recipe: delish

  • Old-Fashioned Easy Apple Crisp: If you aren’t feeling the patriotic décor, but still want to keep things traditional, there’s no better American way than with an apple crisp. Although most people enjoy this dish on frigid autumn days, there’s no reason you can’t give it a go on a summer’s evening.

Get the Recipe: The Chunky Chef

  • Red White and Blue Cheesecake Strawberries: Another simple dessert, but this one boasts the red, white, and blues, all in bite-size berries. You’ll learn how to pipe halved strawberries with a smooth cream cheese filling. Then, you just top them with (you guessed it!) blueberries.

Get the Recipe: delish


Whether you’re just kicking back and hanging out with the fam this summer or celebrating the Fourth of July, these recipes are sure to hit the spot!

Emilee Unterkoefler Emilee Unterkoefler
Emilee Unterkoefler is a freelance food writer, hiking enthusiast, and mama with over ten years of experience working in the food industry. Read Full Bio »

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