The Fourth of July is not only one of America's most important holidays, it's one of our greatest food days. By all means, grill up your hamburgers and hotdogs, whip out that potato salad and cole slaw, and slice up that pie and cobbler. But why not try a few new things this year? Wow your friends with a classic Southern appetizer of Pimento Cheese on celery sticks. Everyone will enjoy ribs cooked low and slow with fragrant fennel seeds and scallion. And who can resist a patriotic cherry pie decorated with stars, or a towering cake with berries spilling over? We've selected our best summer recipes, almost all of which can be made ahead of time. So go ahead and treat your friends and family to some new traditions this year.
Get your party started right with these easy dips. Serve a few different kinds of dippers: kettle chips, tortilla chips, veggies, and pita bread are all great.
These recipes are the main attractions, almost all of which can be made a couple days in advance. Prepare your grill right, with coals banked up on one side, to give yourself high, low, and holding heat zones.
Don't overlook the importance of side dishes. Even if you can only make a couple of mains, lots of sides can turn dinner into a cookout.
Carrots are a great vegetable for grilling — they're big enough not to fall through the grates, they take smoke and char very well, and they take a little bit of time to cook, so you don't have to stand around a hot grill.
Desserts should be as impactful as mains, and all of ours pack a wallop. Again, most of these can be made ahead of time, so make it easy on yourself and plan ahead.
Good drinks lubricate a party, filling in the empty moments and helping conversation flow smoothly. All of these drinks can be made without alcohol, but you might need it in the summertime heat.