The Ultimate 4th of July Cookout Menu

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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!

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.

Wisconsin Beer Brats
It's not summer or tailgate season without beer brats. If you like the flavor of caramelized onions, then you'll love this easy 4-ingredient grilled brat recipe.
A plate of beer brats with ketchup, mustard, onions, and sauerkraut.

More main dish ideas

Best Bacon Cheeseburger
This Bacon Cheeseburger is always the one I make myself. And bacon shows up everywhere: I pile bacon on the patty, sneak it into the sauce, and even toast the bun with it.
Someone holding a bacon cheeseburger over a box with a side of fries.
Lemon Pepper Chicken
This easy Lemon Pepper Chicken is great on the grill, on the stove, or in the oven. Dinner is solved in 30 minutes or less, and it's delicious!
Lemon pepper chicken on a blue platter.

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.

Easy Cold Pasta Salad
This easy Cold Pasta Salad has broccoli, bell peppers, zesty Italian dressing and Parmesan cheese. It's simple and always a favorite!
Easy cold pasta salad in a wooden bowl with a serving fork and spoon.

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.
A white s erving bowl with potato salad.
California Pasta Salad
This delicious and colorful California Pasta Salad is always a hit as part of a party menu. Make this easy pasta salad recipe up to a day ahead if you like; the flavors only get better as it marinates.
A bowl with California pasta salad.

Crockpot Meatballs

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

The easiest appetizer on the planet is also one of the most delicious! Toss meatballs in grape jelly and chili sauce and watch your friends and family come back for more… and more… and more.

Crockpot Meatballs with Grape Jelly Sauce
The easiest party appetizer on the planet is also the most delicious. Crockpot Meatballs with Grape Jelly Sauce is a lifesaver for hungry crowds and cocktail parties, so make a double batch! 
A metal pie pan filled with crockpot meatballs.

More sides and snacks

Easy Taco Dip
If you have 10 minutes, you have plenty of time to make Easy Taco Dip, the best ever layered Mexican dip that's loaded with your favorite toppings and perfect for parties.
Easy taco dip on a white platter.
Cowboy Caviar
This easy recipe for Cowboy Caviar is fun, fresh, colorful, and endlessly adaptable. It makes a great dip, salad, side dish, or even a topping for grilled meats. Always a potluck favorite!
Cowboy caviar in a bowl on a white plate with tortilla chips.

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.

Cowboy Cookies
Cowboy Cookies have a fantastic chew from oatmeal and coconut plus whatever mix-ins you choose. Try my classic combination of chocolate chips and walnuts!
A stack of cowboy cookies on a cooling rack.

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!
A slice of strawberry jello poke cake on a white plate.
Pig Pickin’ Cake
A legendary dessert that’s plated up at pig roasts throughout the South, Pig Pickin’ Cake, aka Pig Cake, is as fluffy, fruity, and fabulous as it gets. And good news—this sunshiny orange and pineapple cake is the easiest thing in the world to make.
Squares of Pig Pickin' Cake on a black cooling rack.

Refreshing drinks to sip all day

Strawberry Margarita
This easy-breezy Strawberry Margarita is made with just 5 ingredients and a blender. Add a salted rim and have it on the rocks or frozen. Either way, its delicious!
Strawberry margarita in a clear stemmed glass.
Lavender Lemonade
Lavender Lemonade is sweet, refreshing, and easy to make with dried lavender flowers. It's the perfect seasonal thirst-quencher for spring and summer.
Three jars of lavender lemonade.

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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Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.

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