How to Throw the Ultimate 4th of July BBQ
The Fourth of July is a great excuse to throw an epic BBQ party. It's time to get out the grill or smoker and grab a few of the best 4th of July BBQ recipes featuring fresh summer flavors. Our Independence Day guide will give you inspiration to break away from tradition and help you create a unique and delicious meal to share with friends and family.
When you're picking out your 4th of July menu, keep in mind where the party will be at. If your guests are gathering outside, by the pool, or on the lawn, you may want to provide easy to handle and less messy options out of convenience. That way, no one is left with sticky, saucy fingers and no way to clean up.
What is the Most Eaten Food on the 4th of July?
Everyone has their favorite 4th of July BBQ food. The one thing most people have in common is that the meal was cooked on a grill, smoker, or barbecue. Statistically, somewhere between 60 and 80 percent of Americans will have barbecue on the fourth of July. There are different ways to determine what the most popular meal item is, along with regional differences that factor into items common in certain areas.
- Hot Dogs and Hamburgers: These two are practically synonymous with 4th of July barbecues, summertime, and grilling. These two items are the most common.
- Chicken and Chicken Wings: Another popular choice for grilling and barbecuing. Grilled chicken is an economical choice that is delicious when prepared well.
- Ribs: One of our personal favorites, ribs are excellent when smoked or barbecued, but they can also be too messy for some guests.
- Tri-Tip: Smoking or grilling a tri-tip is a popular 4th of July event in the Western U.S. This somewhat difficult to cook cut is also a crowd-pleaser.
Serve Up Some Sides
You can really set off your barbecue party with excellent sides. We've got a few classic summer BBQ recipes that are easy to make. Many of the best sides can be made ahead of time so you don't have extra work to do during your barbecue.
- Potato Salad: This is probably the most popular side dish staple of every summer barbecue party. Potato salad is easy to make, keeps well, and is a great opportunity to show off unique flavors. You can use gold or red potatoes, add bacon and chives, or get creative with seasonings. The trick to a great potato salad is using the best potatoes. Russets tend to be too starchy. Try Yukon Gold, white, or new red potatoes. Be sure not to overcook the potatoes. Make your potato salad the day before to relieve stress and let the flavors set up.
- Deviled Eggs: If you've ever been to a Southern BBQ, you know that deviled eggs are a mandatory item. Unfortunately, this is a side dish that loses its appeal the longer it sits on the table. Try using a covered dish setting on a tray of ice to help keep your delicious deviled eggs from getting hard in the heat. You can make everything for your deviled eggs the day before, but keep the yolk mixture and the whites separate until you are ready to serve.
- Fruit Salad Kabobs: Fresh fruit is simply part of summertime. Rather than setting out a bowl of chopped up fruit, use bamboo skewers to serve your fruit and make it easier on your guests. You can even slice watermelon, apples, or pineapple into half-inch sections and cut stars out with a cookie cutter. You can make a patriotic skewer with red and white star kabobs. This side can be made 24 hours ahead of time.
- Grilled Corn on the Cob: What BBQ is complete without some grilled corn? Grill it in the husk for that State Fair flavor. A garlic butter compound is an easy homemade way to make the ordinary grilled corn on the cob something truly unique. Our you can use our NEW Bearded Butcher Butter Blend Seasoning if you already got your hands on it. Even though you can't make corn on the cob ahead of time, it cooks quickly and stays hot when you keep it in the husk.
Moving on to Mains: Our Classic 4th of July Favorites
The main dishes are the moment to shine. Here are some of our favorite ways to barbecue crowd favorites with unique flavors.
Homemade Hot Dogs
Hot dogs are great for summer BBQ parties. They are easy to cook, easy to customize with crazy toppings, and make for a portable meal item that doesn't require utensils. With a few tools, you can make your own hot dogs at home. Doing it yourself lets you add flavor and ensures your dogs are free of gross parts, artificial ingredients, and all the nasty things that may or may not be in a commercial wiener.
One of the best ways to make for an over-the-top hot dog cookout is to set up a hot dog bar. You can set out all sorts of different types of toppings from traditional ketchup and relish to wild things like hard-boil eggs. There are endless possibilities for topping a hot dog, and it's fun to see what crazy combinations you can come up with.
Rebel Red Chicken Tenders
Chicken is a common offering at barbecues, but it's often bland and boring. That's too bad because chicken can be an awesome star on the grill. This trick is one of our own because we had to create the sauce to make it happen.
The day before your barbecue, cut several boneless, skinless chicken breasts into slices. Place them in a ziplock bag and add enough Bearded Butchers Rebel Red sauce to completely coat. Mix the chicken around to ensure the pieces are totally coated. Leave the marinated chicken in the refrigerator until you are ready to grill.
Tri-tip is fun to cook for a medium size get-together because the cut tends to be fairly large. The most common mistake people make when cooking tri-tip has nothing to do with how the meat cooks. Rather, the majority of problems are from improperly sliced meat. When you are ready to cut your tri-tip, cut from the leading point to the crook to easily see the two grain directions. Cutting against the grain will give you the tender and flavorful meat you crave.
Our secret weapon for making the most epic tri-tip is a heavy-duty dry rub. Tri-tip is a flavorful cut, so you can use a good amount of seasoning without overdoing it. We use the Bearded Butchers Blend Black Seasoning to give our tri-tip a smoky, slightly sweet, almost candy-like exterior crunch that compliments the robust flavor of the meat. We like to smoke our tri-tip early in the day so it's ready when our guests are.
This is a neat trick to add juiciness and flavor to your burgers. If your guests have ever been to an In-N-Out restaurant, you might hear comparisons to the legendary double-double, animal-style.
The secret is to start with your ground beef cold and add a splash of Worcestershire sauce, yellow mustard, and cracked pepper. Form the beef into patties and barbecue. This is also a fantastic recipe if you are using a griddle for your cookout. The mustard in the patty will fry, giving you the perfect West Coast flavor of a classic burger.
Adding grilled onions, thousand island dressing, and a slice of American cheese will complete your Animal-Style burger. Try adding the dressing, onions, and cheese to a bowl of well-done fries to get the full experience.
Best Dessert Recipes
When you've made great sides and a revolutionary main dish, you need a quick and easy dessert that will bring the experience together. We've got lots of favorites, but this classic all-American dish is wonderful and can be made the day ahead if you can keep your fingers out of it.
Classic Key Lime Pie
Key lime pie is a tangy, tart dessert that is surprisingly easy to make. Many grocery stores sell Key limes. They are usually in a net bag near regular green limes. Look for more yellow limes for a better flavor.
The hardest part of making Key lime pie is juicing the limes. You'll need about 1/2 cup or about 20 limes worth. You also want to zest about six key limes with a small zester.
Making the pie is easy. Simply combine four egg yolks with one can of sweetened condensed milk, the lime juice, and the zest. Mix thoroughly and pour into a prepared pie crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes until center is set but jiggly. Allow to cool completely. Serve with whipped cream.
Fun & Games for the Family
There are a few ways you can make your summer BBQ party more fun for everyone. Having a few games on hand keeps the kids and adults entertained while the meal cooks. There are a few games that are easy to set up and are fun for everyone.
Fourth of July Scavenger Hunt
A scavenger hunt can be an easy game for everyone in the family. Younger kids have fun locating items on a checklist, while older kids and teams might have more fun solving riddles that lead to clues, and finally a grand prize. This is a great way to introduce young kids and older people alike to facts and traditions associated with the independence of our nation.
Patriotic Corn Hole
You could pick up some corn hole boards at the store, but we think it's more fun to make your own 4th of July set. Using a two foot by three foot piece of plywood, cut a hole three-quarters from the longest edge. Prop the board up with a brick or cut legs from scrap wood to make an easy bean bag toss game. Get fancy with this one and make nice boards with the American flag painted on them.
Have a Safe and Happy 4th!
Planning the perfect 4th of July barbecue can be lots of fun and it's a great way to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It's also a great day to declare your own independence from typical recipes and try using new and different ingredients. The day isn't just about the red, white, and blue, it's also about sharing the bounty of life with those you love and appreciating the bold ideas that created our nation.