If you are looking for fireworks and sparkle for your 4th of July menu look no further. Here’s a collection of my favorite easy, healthy recipes and plan-ahead tips that will help you celebrate with a smile.
4th of July Menu Planner
My memories of 4th of July are filled with the goofy parade down main street Huntington Beach where I grew up, grilling at my mom and dad’s, and spending lazy summer time with family and friends. The closer it got to dark, the more I excited I was to hunt down the best fireworks displays. I’m still crazy about watching fireworks. It’s not the 4th without them! Find all of the recipe links are at the end of the post.
Planning Your Menu
First consider how many you’ll be feeding. If it’s a big crowd, you may want to offer several appetizers, main dishes, and side dishes. If it’s a smaller group, maybe one of each will suffice.
If the group is big and you feel overwhelmed, ask for help. If people agree to bring dishes to support the celebration, don’t be afraid to ask if they would mind making a specific dish to fit within your plan. Give them the recipe if needed.
Ask your guests about food allergies and sensitivities and have healthy options available for everyone. For anyone who is a vegan or vegetarian, have nice big salads, both green and grain, like Quinoa Tabbouleh or a good bean salad.
Save Room for Dessert
For dessert, watermelon wedges are easy, refreshing, and good for all size of groups. If you need help on how to choose and slice a watermelon, read post and see photos here. If you have an ice cream maker, the Honey Nectarine Sorbet is cool and naturally sweet. Chocolatey brownies are another hit.
One crowd-pleasing, make-ahead dessert is lemon almond polenta cake. It’s gluten-free and dairy-free, made with olive oil. You can reduce the sugar by using half monk fruit blend. Serve it with fresh summer berries. You’ll need a springform pan and baking parchment to make it.
To serve your liquid refreshment, use a large beverage jar with a self-serve spout. Fill it with filtered water, ice, and slices of lemon, orange, lime, mint, cucumber, or berries. The colors are beautiful and the fruit provides a nice, healthy, boost of flavor.For another option, try sparkling watermelon-lime juice or decaf iced tea. Skip the soda and sugary, artificially flavored drinks.
4th of July Menu Options
Appetizers or Starters
Sides and Salads
- Sweet Watermelon Wedges
- Fresh Strawberries with Honey-Vanilla Sour Cream Dip
- Honey Nectarine Sorbet (omit liqueur for Daniel Plan followers)
- Lemon Almond Polenta Cake (gluten-free)
- Sparkling Watermelon-Lime Juice
- Large beverage jar filled with water, cucumber slices, fresh mint, citrus slices, berries or other fruit
Planning Notes: What to Do Ahead
Read through your chosen recipes and list what you can do the day ahead of time. Here are examples.
- Steam artichokes a day ahead (if serving cold or planning to finish by grilling) and make the dipping sauce.
- Make the smoked salmon dip 1-2 days ahead. Cut raw veggies and refrigerate.
- Make the hummus a day or two ahead and cut up your vegetables. Place in zip bags.
- Make the sauce for the turkey burgers (if doing burgers).
- Make the burger patties, place on a plastic covered rimmed baking sheet, cover with more plastic wrap and refrigerate (the morning of the 4th).
- Cook the green beans and make the dressing. Finish before serving by adding corn, tomatoes and dressing.
- Hard boil your eggs, peel, halve. Refrigerate the halves unfilled. Make the filing and refrigerate. Fill before serving.
- Make the potatoes completely and refrigerate a day ahead. Same for the white bean salad. These could easily be done two days ahead.
- Make the ice cream base a day ahead and refrigerate. Freeze in your ice cream maker on the morning of the 4th and freeze.
- Slice the watermelon and store a day ahead.
I hope this helps you plan for a wonderful 4th of July celebration with your family and friends. Since much of this menu can be made ahead, it will help to minimize your kitchen time on the 4th. It’s all packable and transportable if you are headed to the beach, park, lake or just a friends house.
Happy 4th of July everyone! Celebrate our nations birthday, enjoy your family and friends, and eat well!
Food safety tips for the 4th of July, from the USDA