Fourth of July Ready: Summer Cookout Menu Ideas



While there are a lot of patriotic holidays throughout the year dedicated to honoring our country and the soldiers that serve us, Fourth of July is undoubtedly my favorite, and not only because it’s a prime opportunity to create a summer cookout menu. 

While Memorial Day signifies the beginning of the summer, the weather hasn’t always caught up to the calendar.

In some parts of the country, the sun shines regardless, but where I’ve lived, Memorial Day can just as easily mean a day indoors on the couch with the heater on.

And Labor Day? Well, Labor Day is fine except for the fact that it essentially means summer is over and in just a few short weeks, we’ll be donning sweaters and winter coats.

Depending on the summer’s average humidity index I tend to be okay with that, but nonetheless, Labor Day is kind of a bummer, don’t you think?

So that leaves us with the Fourth of July.

A day for the pool, the beach, barbecues, Popsicles, fireworks and sunburn.

And of course, plenty of red, white and blue.

Since party planning can be overwhelming no matter how often you entertain, we’ve pulled together some of our favorite entertaining ideas for the perfect July 4th bash.



Summer Cookout Menu Tips

Prep ahead

Do all of your baking the day before your party or picnic so that on the day of the party, your pie crusts will be baked, your salads will be chilled in the fridge and you’ll only need to set foot in your kitchen is to refill the sangria.

Some dishes are even better the next day like bacon potato salad and cold sesame noodles (the beauty of the summer cookout menu is the leftovers, right?).

Buy extra ice

Whenever I have a party, one of two things happen: I forget to purchase ice at all and make a frantic call to one of my friends, asking them to pick some up on the way over OR I buy a giant bag of it and someone leaves it sitting out so it melts, leaving our drinks warm and our white wine room temperature.

I know, cue the violins.

Just don’t forget to buy ice.

Set the scene

Instead of buying tacky July 4th decorations that you’ll only use once, adorn your table with items you’ll actually use, like festive straws to add a retro vibe to your table, and also facilitate efficient cocktail consumption.

If you’re serving red sangria or a bright cocktail, serve it in a Mason Jar Drink Dispenser to celebrate traditional American style.

If your theme is red, white and blue, pick up a few sets of red, white and blue plates from Pottery Barn, which you’ll be able to use again when you’re not saluting the flag.

boho beach party

Menu Ideas



baked chicken meatballs with pancetta

Baked Chicken Meatballs with Pancetta from We Are Not Martha


Black Bean Salsa from The Blond Cook

shrimp guacamole

Photo: Leigh Loftus

Spicy Shrimp Guacamole from In Good Taste

white bean artichoke dip

White Bean and Artichoke Dip from In Good Taste

jalapeño popper dip lead

Jalapeño Popper Dip from In Good Taste

Main Dishes


Grilled Lamb Pitas with Pistachio and Mint Pesto from I Was Born To Cook


Grilled Shrimp from The Little Kitchen


Grilled Chicken Sliders with Roasted Tomatoes from Sweet Caroline’s Cooking

easy sliders with chipotle mayonnaise

Photo: Leigh Loftus

Sliders with Chipotle Mayonnaise from In Good Taste

Screen Shot 2017-02-06 at 12.05.47 AM

Candy Chicken from Chez Us

Salads and Side Dishes


Macaroni Salad from 101 Cookbooks


Lemon Cole Slaw from One Perfect Bite


Cilantro Lime Corn on the Cob from The Little Yellow Kitchen

basic potato salad

Photo: Leigh Loftus

Basic Potato Salad from In Good Taste


Summer Heirloom Tomato Salad from In Good Taste


Blueberry Sour Cream Torte from In Good Taste


Berry Spangled Lemon Cheesecake from Eat, Drink and Be Merry


Thick and Chewy M&M Cookie Bars from Greens and Chocolate


Creme Filled Strawberries from Baker’s Royale

chocolate brownies

Cake nor Candy Brownies from In Good Taste


pomegranate sangria

Photo: Leigh Loftus

Pomegranate Sangria from In Good Taste


Sparkling Blueberry Lemonade Cocktail from My Diary of Us


Strawberry Margarita from Sweet Life

basil lemonade

Photo: Leigh Loftus

Fresh Basil Lemonade from In Good Taste

strawberry sangria recipe

Photo: Leigh Loftus

Strawberry Sangria from In Good Taste

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  • Reply
    Chez Us
    July 7, 2011 at 12:19 am

    Great post on gearing up for the holiday – love it! Also love the shout-out on our candy chicken; thank you!! Hope you licked your fingers clean after eating it!

  • Reply
    July 4, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    What a great line up! Happy 4th to you!!

  • Reply
    July 3, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    Thanks for all the great tips and mouth-watering recipes! Have a wonderful holiday!

  • Reply
    Sawsan@chef in disguise
    July 2, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    I can’t wait to explore all these amazing links

  • Reply
    July 2, 2011 at 9:36 am

    wonderful round up of great ideas for this weekend!! glad to be on the sipping list, lol
    have a great weekend!


  • Reply
    The Harried Cook
    July 1, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    What fabulous suggestions, Maris! Happy 4th of July weekend, and congrats on Food News Journal! Awesome 🙂

  • Reply
    July 1, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    Excellent round up and post Maris. Congrats on Food News Journal and Happy 4th of July weekend my friend!!

  • Reply
    Lauren at Keep It Sweet
    July 1, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    What a great round-up of delicious recipes! Have a wonderful holiday weekend!

  • Reply
    July 1, 2011 at 10:15 am

    Great post! And congrats on the pick up by Food News Journal!

  • Reply
    July 1, 2011 at 9:34 am

    Thank you so much for including me in the round up. Everything sounds delicious. Have a great holiday. Blessings…Mary

  • Reply
    Rachel @ Not Rachael Ray
    July 1, 2011 at 9:29 am

    What a terrific round-up! Thanks for taking the time to compile and share this!

  • Reply
    July 1, 2011 at 8:47 am

    What a delightful array of recipes for the 4th! Have a great holiday!

  • Reply
    Beth @ DiningAndDishing
    July 1, 2011 at 8:34 am

    i have GOT to make those cream filled strawberries. we’re having a potluck on monday and i’ve definitely got my recipe now!! 🙂

  • Reply
    Barbara @ Barbara Bakes
    July 1, 2011 at 8:00 am

    The 4th of July is a favorite of mine too. Both those pictures and the roundup of recipes are mouthwatering. Have fun!

  • Reply
    July 1, 2011 at 7:42 am

    My family has always been really big on celebrating the 4th of July! It’s such a fun, relaxing holiday! I’ll definitely be trying some of these recipes this year. Awesome round-up!

  • Reply
    Kitchen Belleicious
    July 1, 2011 at 7:06 am

    You are like my hero! Girl, is there any recipes or post or article you can’t write. Love this one! Love the fruit tart, love it all! Hope you have a fabulous weekend!

  • Reply
    July 1, 2011 at 5:20 am

    What a beautiful cake! Have a great 4th of July!



  • Reply
    July 1, 2011 at 5:16 am

    Thank you for featuring my start spangled berry lemon cheesecake! it is so simple and easy to make…and delicious too! You have a wonderful site here!!! have a wonderful fourth of July!

  • Reply
    Sherilyn @ Wholepromise
    July 1, 2011 at 5:01 am

    What a great selection is on offer here. Can’t wait to start browsing. It all looks wonderful. Enjoy the 4th July!

  • Reply
    Glorinha Rinaldi
    July 1, 2011 at 4:09 am

    We are following your blog, it is wonderful and very well done congratulations.
    Glorinha and Rogerio Rinaldi
    Creators earring Like

  • Reply
    Shen @ Justonecookbook
    July 1, 2011 at 1:31 am

    Great party tip and recipe ideas! I love the cocktails!

  • Reply
    July 1, 2011 at 1:00 am

    Your advice about planning ahead is what I need to hear. I always end up working and waiting til the last minute.

    I made those strawberries for friends today but dipped them in chocolate and they were delicious.

    Since nobody celebrates the 4th around here but me, I’ll definitely be doing all the cooking!

  • Reply
    Nami @ Just One Cookbook
    July 1, 2011 at 12:53 am

    What a great work, Maris! I know it’s not easy to collect all the recipes into one area and your list is a great reference for people who need help with a meal plan! Luckily I don’t need to cook anything for this weekend…but I’ll pass this on to some friends who asked me some advice. 😉

  • Reply
    July 1, 2011 at 12:43 am

    those are just amazing recipes!

  • Reply
    The Waspy Redhead
    June 30, 2011 at 11:53 pm

    Thanks for featuring my guacamole!

  • Reply
    June 30, 2011 at 11:49 pm

    Great round up! Now I have an even bigger list of recipes to try!

  • Reply
    Junia @ Mis Pensamientos
    June 30, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    these are FABULOUS recipes here!!! esp that pommy sangria! hope you have a wonderful 4th of july 🙂

  • Reply
    T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types
    June 30, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    Happy Fourth, Maris! Hope it’s a great party for you!

  • Reply
    Maria @ Scandifoodie
    June 30, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    What a perfect round-up and great tips too!

  • Reply
    June 30, 2011 at 7:23 pm

    So many awesome ideas. I am bringing two side dishes to the 4th of July party at my parents. Found a few yummy recipes to try! Great post 🙂

  • Reply
    June 30, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    Lots of great recipe ideas for the 4th of July. Although, unbelievably hot in Florida in July, it is a wonderful time of the year. I was smiling when you mentioned Labor Day, and in a short few weeks following we would be donning our sweaters. We will still be bathing suits here until mid-November (smile)

    Great post. I enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing.


  • Reply
    amy @ fearless homemaker
    June 30, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    great tips + awesome menu suggestions. i love making minted lamb burgers as a change from regular burgers. we’ve converted quite a few ‘we-don’t-eat-lamb’ people with those!

  • Reply
    Karriann Graf
    June 30, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    A perfect round-up for this weekend, thanks for sharing Maris!

  • Reply
    June 30, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    love some of these ideas, i might actually have to try and make one of these. have a fabulous 4th of july!

  • Reply
    Lisa from Lisas Yarns
    June 30, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    What a great post- I am def book marking this for when I have a party at my new place!! I won’t be doing anything special for the 4th since I move this weekend, but I will hopefully catch some fireworks – if I haven’t passed out from exhaustion. 😉

  • Reply
    lisa @ smart food and fit
    June 30, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    Thanks for the ideas and tips! I was just thinking about what to make for this weekend! The bacon potato salad looks good. I can’t wait to explore the menu options!

  • Reply
    June 30, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    Such fabulous ideas and recipes! Love the pie…and I’ve stuffed strawberries before, but the blueberry is a wonderful twist for the patriotic holidays. Thanks!

  • Reply
    Jamie Walker
    June 30, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    You’re making me wish that I had spent my day preparing food for my 4th of July weekend..but alas, I’m not. So many wonderful recipes in here – thank you for sharing…that cake looks AMAZING.

  • Reply
    June 30, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    We as of now have no concrete plans for the 4th – I know we’ll be somewhere, but that’s all I know! So I will make some sort of blueberry dessert for us tonight. June 30th is the new July 4th:)

    Ah I love Labor Day – because I love sweaters.

  • Reply
    Betty @ scrambled hen fruit
    June 30, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    What a great roundup of delicious food! This year- for the first time in many- I’m not hosting a party for the 4th, but these dishes would be wonderful for any occasion. 🙂

  • Reply
    Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga
    June 30, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    Love the roundup!

    I am posting a red, white, and blue post in about a half hour.

    I love seeing things like this!

  • Reply
    June 30, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    I love roundups and this is a good one. I haven’t finished figuring it all out so this helps me a lot! I need to make room on my menu for pomegranate sangria for sure.

  • Reply
    June 30, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    What an awesome recipe roundup!

  • Reply
    June 30, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    Fun holiday for cute food decorating! I’m hoping to make strawberries dipped in white chocolate with blue sprinkles. Did it for Memorial Day and it was fun and easy.

  • Reply
    June 30, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    Thanks for the shout out, Maris!! I can’t wait to check out all of these recipes, as I’ve been hunting for good 4th of July recipes. Those are some gorgeous photos, too. The fourth is one of my favorites holidays as well. 🙂

  • Reply
    June 30, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    Great list! I’m finalizing my menu tonight!

  • Reply
    June 30, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    Great tips…I’m usually really good about preparing but the last two parties I threw were really stressful because I didn’t prep ahead of time! Thanks for including my grilled shrimp! 😀

  • Reply
    Dishes of Mrs. Fish
    June 30, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    Thanks for including me on your link up! 🙂 All the recipes you’ve included sound delicious and the perfect addition to any summer party!

  • Reply
    June 30, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    Thanks for featuring my Minted Lamb Burgers! They definitely do not disappoint 🙂 I love the way your Pomegranate Sangria looks and sounds…may have to try it this weekend. Have a great holiday!

  • Reply
    June 30, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    I can’t wait to check this out more! Such great tips too and that cake is just fabulous. I love the star.

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