Taste is always our top priority when we cook and bake, but let's not lie: Looks matter. Color attracts our eyes, and it increases our enjoyment. Plus, when you're entertaining or bringing food to a party, you want your food to look even more festive than usual. So naturally, on Independence Day, it's fun to make something with the red, white, and blue colors of the nation's flag.
We have more ideas of what to make and savor in the summer sun, such as these Best 4th of July recipes for picnics, barbecues, and alfresco dinner parties. For a really comprehensive list, check our collection of 4th of July recipes, with tons of summery recipe ideas that will excite your strawberry-crazed kids, tempt your corny cousin, and awe your apple-loving aunt.
There are so many ingredients that grow in these patriotic colors, so just pluck from nature's rainbow. And the colors don't all have to be in one dish. You can make a side dish red (tomatoes, anyone?), your dessert blue (blueberries?), and your meaty main white (chicken breasts, scallops, or sole?), placing them side-by-side. Don’t stop at the picnic buffet table — these 19 summer-ready recipes all feature flag colors and can be used on any day. Mix and match as the occasion guides you. Or because, you know, Mondays.
Anything that's wonderful as a cake is even better transformed into ice cream. And cheesecake? Come on, this is taking ice cream to a whole new level, dotted with those strawberry rubies that shine in summertime. Get our Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream recipe.
2. Whole Grilled Bass with Olives, Onions, and Artichokes
A huge, hearty white fish does the trick when you're looking for something in awe-inspiring ivory. A whole fish is easier to cook than a fillet, and it's pretty impressive. You could also use red snapper, and squeeze this into the red color category, if you desire. Get our Whole Grilled Bass with Olives, Onions, and Artichokes recipe.
3. Basic Potato Salad
For some good ol' classic picnic-style potato salad, mayonnaise and new potatoes work in tandem to deliver the summertime comfort you're craving. Get our Basic Potato Salad recipe.
4. Easy Berry Butter Cake
For a dessert that pops with the trifecta of patriotic colors, berries and cream is an easy go-to. But this cake is even better. It looks fancy, and it's not hard to make. And that's not simple Cool-Whip or whipped heavy cream there. It's almond-flavored, mascarpone whipped cream. Oh yeah. Get our Easy Berry Butter Cake recipe.
5. Red Velvet Cake
As American as, well, red velvet cake. Our recipe calls for unsweetened cocoa powder and buttermilk, and the finished cake is topped with glorious cream cheese frosting. Get our Red Velvet Cake recipe.
6. Red Flannel Hash
Fresh beets turn this classic American recipe the proper color. Our recipe calls for baking it in the oven, rather than the traditional stovetop method, so it’s easier. Get our Red Flannel Hash recipe.
7. Pickled Red Onions
Pickled with lime and orange juices, a bit of sugar, and a jalapeño pepper, these sweet-spicy pickles are perfection in tacos or on a sandwich. Get our Pickled Red Onions recipe.
8. Red Velvet Bundt Cake with Cram Cheese Frosting
This is the perfect potluck picnic cake: easy to carry, cool-looking on a picnic-table buffet, and better after it sits for a day or so. Get our Red Velvet Bundt Cake with Cram Cheese Frosting recipe.
9. Vegetarian Stuffed Red Bell Peppers
Peak-summer zucchini is the filling (along with Israeli couscous, Fontina, Parmesan, and fresh basil) for these beautiful peppers, which you can serve as a side dish or the center of a meatless buffet. Get our Vegetarian Stuffed Red Bell Peppers recipe.
10. White Chicken Chile
Chicken pieces are simmered with spicy jalapeños, poblanos, and red onion, then shredded and added back to the pot for a deep, developed chicken flavor. Smashing some of the cannellini beans thickens the broth, and a squeeze of lime juice at the end balances the richness and heat with a bright kick. Get our White Chicken Chile recipe.
11. White BBQ Sauce
This Alabama-style, mayonnaise-based white barbecue sauce is delicious over Hickory-Smoked Chicken. It can also be used as a sauce for chicken salad: Pull the cooked chicken off the bone, cut the meat into bite-size chunks, and toss it in just enough of the sauce to coat it. Get our White BBQ Sauce recipe.
12. White Peach Sangria
Serve this mix of white peaches, Moscato d’Asti, and peach nectar over plenty of ice. And take it easy—it’s deceptively strong! Get our White Peach Sangria recipe.
13. Corn with White Miso Butter
Inspired by a recipe Chef David Chang created for Momofuku, this simple mixture takes rich butter and umami-laden white miso and combines them for a savory topping perfect for corn on the cob. Get our Corn with White Miso Butter recipe.
14. White Cake with Lemon–Lime Curd Filling
Tackling this ambitious four-layer cake is worth the impressive results for a special gathering on the 4th. The good news: The lemon-lime curd and candied zest can be made up to 3 days ahead. Get our White Cake with Lemon–Lime Curd Filling recipe.
15. Steamed Blue Crabs
Boil a mix of water and vinegar or beer, season the crabs with plenty of Old Bay, and steam them until bright red. Throw down some newspaper and serve with melted butter, corn on the cob, and plenty of cold brews. Get our Steamed Blue Crabs recipe.
16. Blue Cheese and Chive Compound Butter
Mix blue cheese and chives into unsalted butter. Stir a little into steamed green beans or zucchini, or bring it along on car-camping trips to put on coal-baked potatoes, corn, or seared steak. Get our Blue Cheese and Chive Compound Butter recipe.
17. Blue Cheese Dressing
Tart, cooling plain yogurt adds a pleasant tang to this most American of all salad dressings, perfect for a wedge salad with cherry tomatoes and crumbled bacon Get our Blue Cheese Dressing recipe.
18. Rustic Blueberry Tart
Blueberries shine in this simple, delicious tart. The dough comes together quickly, and in about an hour you’ll have a juicy, bubbling blueberry tart. Get our Rustic Blueberry Tart recipe.
19. Campfire Blueberry Cobbler
Fresh blueberries simmer with butter and sugar, then get a simple biscuit topping in this easy, 4th of July–ready campfire cobbler recipe. Get our Campfire Blueberry Cobbler recipe.
- Originally posted by John Birdsall July 1, 2015; updated by Amy Sowder on June 21, 2016.