These red, white, and blue recipes are perfect for the 4th of July—but they’re not gimmicky, nor are they loaded down with red and blue dyes.
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 (or just Instagramming everything during this socially distant summer), 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:
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We’re not necessarily opposed to a little food coloring (whether it’s our Red Velvet Cake recipe or red, white, and blue Jello shots), but there are so many ingredients that grow in these patriotic colors, you can simply 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 (our blueberry tart is just the thing, though strawberries are a must-have too), and your meaty main white (BBQ chicken slathered in white BBQ sauce…or its crimson counterpart), placing them side-by-side.
But sometimes you do want to represent all three colors on the same plate, and to do that, you don’t necessarily have to get artificial about it. These 15 recipes are almost entirely free of food dye while still being patriotic. And more importantly, they’re delicious.
You cannot talk red, white, and blue food without flag cake, but our 4th of July Flag Cake recipe is a step up from the usual Cool Whip-covered affair. It’s three layers of tender vanilla cake and fluffy vanilla buttercream, with beautiful fresh berries to top it off.
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For another dessert that pops with the trifecta of patriotic colors and combines the classic pair of berries and cream—but is, admittedly, a whole lot easier to toss together—our Easy Berry Butter Cake recipe is a go-to. It looks fancy, but 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. Ohhh yeah.
A mix of red and blue berries beneath a traditional biscuit cobbler topping is another no-brainer, but if you want to make it even easier, go with a store-bought pie crust for the lid. Get our Easy Berry Cobbler recipe. (And don’t forget the whipped cream!)
Not in the mood to bake anything? Shelly Westerhausen’s Sweet Cinnamon Fruit Dip recipe is simple to stir together and has only five ingredients. The hardest part is finding the ripest red and blue fruit to go along with it, but luckily it’s the perfect season for that right now.
When it comes to red, white, and blue drink recipes, we prioritize something slushy to beat the heat—if it involves wine, all the better! This Red, White, and Blue Frozen Sangria recipe is just the thing to sip while you hold a sparkler in the other hand. (Maybe not after you’ve already had a few, though.)
Chicken burgers may not sound like an exciting break from beef, but when they’re stuffed with blue cheese (similar to a Juicy Lucy) and topped with crisp bacon, they’re pretty certain to elicit as many oohs and ahs as the fireworks display. Get our Blue Cheese Chicken BLT Burger recipe.
Who says you have to grill something that goes on a bun? Our Easy Chicken Fajitas recipe is a perfectly low-key option that also sort of pays homage to the red, white, and blue color scheme (add blue corn tortillas and it definitely will).
A seafood feast on the grill is certainly celebration-worthy, and if you get the right mix of reddish chorizo, white shrimp and clams, and blue-tinged mussels, you can call it patriotic too. Get our Grilled Paella recipe.
Lodge 15-Inch Carbon Steel Paella Pan, $49.90 from Walmart
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A classic clambake is another seafood stunner; the succulent lobster is the star, but the mussels, clams, corn, sausage, and potatoes swimming in the buttery beer broth are strong supporting players. Get our New England Clambake recipe.
While our Blue Cheese, Steak, and Bacon Salad recipe is a great use for leftover steak, it’s just as delicious with your favorite cut of steak freshly grilled and sliced to top it off for a hot-cold contrast and plenty of meaty juices blending into the blue cheese yogurt dressing.
This vegetarian BBQ dish manages to be pretty meaty and is satisfying enough to serve as a main dish. The eggplants may not be close enough to a shade of indigo to make it count for sticklers, but honestly, our Grilled Eggplant Parmesan Salad recipe is just too delicious to disqualify.
Literally any kind of potato salad is always welcome on our picnic or patio table, but for the 4th, there’s something to be said for a blend of red, white, and blue (or purple) potatoes. This Lemon Aioli Potato Salad recipe has fresh flavor and extra crunch thanks to red bell pepper. (If you have trouble finding purple potatoes at the store, you can also take a little more creative license and use blue cheese to complement baby red potatoes, as in this Red, White, and Blue Potato Salad recipe.)
Tangy red hot sauce and creamy blue cheese taste great on any grilled corn, but if you can find white corn on the cob, it completes the perfect color combo for the occasion. Get the Grilled Buffalo Corn recipe.
The peak season peaches are the real draw here, but the fact that you have red from ripe tomatoes and white from sweet onion—crying out for blue corn tortilla chips to accompany them—is definitely a bonus this time of year. Get our Peach Salsa recipe.
Garden of Eatin' Blue Corn Tortilla Chips, $4.48 from Walmart
Clearly the perfect thing for dipping.
Fruit salad doesn’t have to be simply sweet—the addition of salty feta adds a savory note (and creamy texture) to a combo of crunchy jicama, juicy watermelon and blueberries, and a spicy-tangy lime dressing. Of course the colors are also on point. Get the Red, White, and Blue Fruit Salad recipe.
Check out all of the best 4th of July tips and recipes for more.
– The original version of this story was posted by John Birdsall in 2015; updated by Amy Sowder and Jen Wheeler.