Fourth of July Menu Planning

This post is part of a series as a compensated #CapriSunCrew ambassador.

Maybe it’s the sunshine, but I think there’s more to why the summer holidays are my favorites.

The ease of planning for a summer holiday party has a lot to do with it. No fancy menus needed and you know you’ll be able to be outside, which means less worry about where to fit everyone and how to keep your guests (especially the younger ones) entertained.

Plus, aside from the grilling, all the prep work can be done ahead of time (I prefer the day before) so even as the party host, you can relax.

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Fourth of July Menu Planning

Burgers and dogs. When it comes to Fourth of July celebrations, cooking out is pretty much a given. Burgers, hot dogs, buns, and basic condiments that you probably already have in your fridge. No worry about the timing on the food, just fire up the grill shortly after people start arriving.

Veggies and dip. Save time and grab pre-sliced veggies from the store or put the kids to work chopping (if they’re old enough, of course). You can make a dip using a ranch seasoning packet or make this white bean hummus if you’re feeling fancy (it’s still easy, I promise). Toss 2 15.8oz cans of great northern beans (drained), ¼ cup olive oil, 2 cloves garlic (minced), 2 teaspoons lemon juice, and about ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper (your taste may vary here) into a blender and pulse until mixed. Don’t over blend or you’ll wind up with soupy hummus. Just a few pulses should do it. I usually then add 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, though that does make it less kid-friendly, so that’s up to you.

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Pasta salad.  Macaroni salad is another Fourth of July staple. This just creamy enough macaroni salad has tons of flavor but it’s not weighed down by a lot of dressing. It’s my go-to recipe and is always a hit.

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Simple Desserts. Go for brownies, cookies, and fresh fruit. My favorites are white chocolate brownies, which is such a simple recipe I actually have it memorized- a good thing since I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been asked for the recipe (these are not blondies, they’re gooey, buttery, white chocolately brownies- try them and you’ll see the difference). Then try these COOL WHIP cookies which are so simple, the kids can make them. Slice up a watermelon, and you’re all set, unless you want to also have s’mores ingredients on hand for a bonfire after the fireworks.

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Drinks. Bottled waters (or a drink cooler next to plastic cups), Capri Sun juice drinks, sodas, and a variety of drinks just for the adults. I keep the kids’ drinks in their own cooler so the kids are only grabbing waters or Capri Sun juice drinks (now without any High Fructose Corn Syrup- woohoo!).

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That’s it. That’s my whole menu. I might add another salad or appetizer if I have time or start thinking it’s not enough food… but the beauty of Fourth of July cookouts is that usually guests ask what they can bring. We provide these staples and then our guests know what we’re lacking, including super easy choices like chips for those who don’t want to cook but still want to contribute. If you have a lot of guests, you can ask someone to bring burger toppings or a watermelon or more drinks, to add more quick-grab choices. I always think you can’t have too many dips or desserts, so those are usually my other suggestions.

What is your go-to side dish for Fourth of July cookouts? If you’ve written about it or have it pinned, please share that, too!

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