Inspired by all of my childhood barbecue favorites, this 4th of July potluck is a pure taste of summer. Featuring hot dogs, all the salads, cookies, and more, the only thing missing is a big pitcher of lemonade and a cooler full of cold beer.

A table of 4th of July Cookout food such as brats, hot dogs, pasta salad, cookies, and drinks.

Let’s be honest, no holiday is complete without the food and drink, so here’s your guide to the best Fourth of July potluck that’s summery, satisfying, and no sweat to make or clean up.

For this holiday party, I decided to gather all of my family’s Midwestern summer potluck favorites into one big spread (just like how we prefer to tailgate).

Make one or make all, but whatever you do, don’t miss the fireworks…or the Cowboy Cookies!

Table of Contents
  1. Wisconsin Beer Brats
  2. Easy Cold Pasta Salad
  3. Slow Cooker Calico Beans
  4. Cowboy Cookies

Wisconsin Beer Brats

A table of 4th of July Cookout food such as brats, hot dogs, pasta salad, cookies, and drinks.

This is the definitive way to cook up a batch of Wisconsin Beer Brats, using a par-cooking method and your favorite bottle of beer. They’re easy to cook up ahead of time, then all you have to do is brown them on the grill when the coals are hot.

Serve them in a BYOB (build your own brat) format alongside bowls with all the fixings: spicy hot mustard, ketchup, sauerkraut, hot peppers, and grilled onions.

More main dish ideas

Chili Dogs

Grilled hot dogs are good. Grilled hot dogs topped with homemade beef chili are even better! Try this Chili Dog recipe the next time you’re craving comfort food, as part of a tailgate menu, or…

2 hours 10 minutes
A table of 4th of July Cookout food such as brats, hot dogs, pasta salad, cookies, and drinks.

Easy Cold Pasta Salad

A table of 4th of July Cookout food such as brats, hot dogs, pasta salad, cookies, and drinks.

Super-summery, chilled, and loaded with crunchy, colorful vegetables, this antipasto-style salad is an ideal side dish for any 4th of July entree. It’s mayo-free for outdoor, warm weather gatherings; instead, I suggest dressing it up with Italian vinaigrette and lots of Parmesan cheese.

More salads and slaws

Easy Potato Salad

This old-fashioned recipe for Easy Potato Salad has probably been passed down by our grandmas for generations. It’s a summer classic destined for backyard barbecues, family celebrations, and picnics.

45 minutes

Slow Cooker Calico Beans

Slow cooker calico beans in a black slow cooker with a wooden spoon.

Keep your kitchen cool with my oven-free Slow Cooker Calico Beans. Part sloppy Joe, part baked beans, and 100% delicious, these are a summer staple at my house (and will soon be at yours too).

More sides and snacks

A table of 4th of July Cookout food such as brats, hot dogs, pasta salad, cookies, and drinks.

Cowboy Cookies

A plate of Cowboy Cookies.

Like a monster cookie dressed up for the occasion, I recreated my oat- and nut-studded Cowboy Cookies with red, white, and blue M&Ms. This Independence Day dessert idea is crowd-pleasing for kids and adults alike. Optional but highly recommended upgrade: Assemble ice cream sandwiches with two Cowboy Cookies surrounding a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Complete your dessert spread

Strawberry Jello Poke Cake

This Strawberry Jello Poke Cake is made with light and airy angel food cake, white chocolate pudding frosting, and plenty of fresh berries! I remember when Angel Food Cakes become the staple at all our…

6 hours 55 minutes

Refreshing drinks to sip all day

Happy Fourth of July, everyone! Sending wishes for a safe, sparkly, delicious, and relaxing Independence Day.

A table of 4th of July Cookout food such as brats, hot dogs, pasta salad, cookies, and drinks.
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