Everything but the burger.
Burgers? Check. Hot dogs? Check. Those are a given for any 4th of July cookout, big or small. But for my money, the side dishes and desserts are where it’s at on Independence Day. From a beautiful tray of fresh seasonal fruit, to the best side salads ever, to pie, everything this time of year just seems to taste better. Especially when served outside with a side of sparklers at sunset. Here’s the Unpeeled roundup of Best 4th of July recipes.
4th of July Recipes: Salads and Sides
This may be the best salad you’ll make all year. Baby kale is more tender than it’s grown-up version, but is still substantial enough to not wilt when dressed. Combined with toasted corn, cornbread croutons, fresh tomatoes, and other goodness, this makes a centerpiece salad fit for all occasions.
A deliciously moist, buttery green chile cornbread, loaded with cheddar, green chiles, buttermilk, and sweet corn. Adapted from Toni Tipton-Martin’s award-winning cookbook Jubilee‘s recipe for Spanish Cornbread.
Cheesy, salty, spicy, fresh, and wholly satisfying. Mexican street corn, or elote, makes an amazing summer side. This salad recipe riffs on the same great combination of corn, cotija, chile, and fresh lime for an easy crowd pleaser.
Part pasta, part salad, and 100% fresh and delicious, I call it “Salad Pasta Salad” because it is the best of both worlds. Tossed with great additions like fresh basil, briny feta, lemon, and toasted breadcrumbs for crunch, Salad Pasta Salad with Feta feeds a crowd and is ready in 20 minutes.
Salsa fresca takes about five minutes to make, and involves zero cooking. This recipe hews classic: tomatoes, white onion, jalapeño, cilantro, salt, and a spritz of fresh lime. With diced avocado for a bit of extra bulk and richness.
Green goddess dressing is a creamy salad dressing made with watercress, mayonnaise, chives, garlic, tarragon, parsley, and vinegar. This Greek goddess dip is a spin on green goddess, subbing yogurt for mayo, dill for the watercress, and adding tangy, briny feta. The entire dip only takes five to 10 minutes to make. Just combine it all in a food processor until smooth, and serve chilled with assorted crudité or pita wedges or slices.
This recipe for classic deviled eggs with fresh herbs is all dressed up in a fresh way. The extra color and unfussy look of these deviled eggs make a classic hors d’oeuvre into a modern hit, while still tasting just like the real deal.
4th of Juy Recipes: Desserts
Warm caramel apple pie, made with an equal mix of white and brown sugar and topped with a pat of butter? Nothing better. Three elements make up this holy trinity of good apple pie: A flaky, all-butter crust; tart, juicy apples; and the perfect combination of sugars and cinnamon.
This fresh key lime pie takes minutes to put together and bake, and tastes fresh and perfectly sweet-tart. Rather than a more time consuming custard like lemon curd, this key lime custard is a simple combination of fresh lime juice, zest, sweetened condensed milk, and egg yolks. This gets poured into a buttery graham cracker crust and baked for 15 minutes, then cooled.
These chocolate chip cookies are elevated to the ultimate chocolate chip cookies by dark chocolate chips, a generous dose of vanilla, a little salt — and a secret ingredient. Oatmeal gets blitzed into a flour in the food processor. This oat flour creates a cookie dough with a satisfyingly hearty, chewy texture everyone will love.
Strawberry shortcakes may be the best-known type of shortcakes. But I find that when strawberries combine forces with other sweet summer berries like blackberries and blueberries, the result tastes even better and looks particularly seasonal. Especially when you top the mixed berry shortcakes with fresh vanilla whipped cream.