July 4th: The Great American Cookout

July 4th is the unofficial Great American Cookout. Each year families and friends across the country will gather around the grill to celebrate the summer and America’s birthday. 

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This year, outdo the neighbors by throwing the ultimate 4th of July cookout!  Here are some 4th of July cookout ideas to help you pull it off.

Patriotic Invitations

To kick off your July 4th cookout party planning, send July 4th digital invitations to your guests. Choose a design that encompasses the theme of your party, whether that's a cookout-specific invite or something with patriotic symbols like stars and stripes. You can even use iconic phrases on your invitation such as the famous, “We want you!” Send out your invites 3-4 weeks before the holiday to ensure that everyone has time to RSVP.

Cooking for a Crowd

When planning your cookout menu remember that you will be cooking for a crowd. If there are kids at the party, plan to feed them first with simple BBQ foods like hamburgers and hot dogs. This will leave time to cook the more complicated cookout items and keep the kids from getting restless. Also, be sure to offer a variety of foods to accommodate everyone’s tastes. Typically, having a beef dish, a chicken dish, and a vegetarian option is best. 

Aside from grilled dishes, have plenty of snacks and sides to munch on throughout the party to keep everyone satisfied. The more you can prepare in advance the better. That way you can focus on being a good host and enjoy the party. Serving all of these crowd-friendly foods will ensure that your party is a success.

Make it a Potluck
A great way to take some of the pressure off the host is to make the cookout a potluck. Offer to provide all of the meat for grilling and let friends and family contribute appetizers, snacks, sides, desserts, and drinks. Getting everyone involved is a stress-free way to host a cookout for a crowd.

Prepare the Grill
A week before the celebration make sure that the grill is ready and that you have all of the necessary utensils. Here is an easy checklist to follow:

  • If using a gas grill, check the gas tank to make sure it is full
  • If using a charcoal grill, make sure you have enough charcoal
  • Test the grill to make sure it works
  • Clean the grill
  • Make sure you have grilling tongs, a grill fork, and a metal spatula
July 4th Cookout Food
While it's fun to use the grill, it might be easier to have some grilled and some non-grilled items. Here are some menu ideas for your cookout:

  • Appetizers: Grilled mini pizzas, grilled BBQ chicken wings, potato salad, pasta salad, fruit salad, baked beans, cole slaw, chips,  grilled potato skins, and grilled vegetable kebabs
  • Main Dishes: Cheese burgers, veggie burgers, marinated chicken breast, assortment of kebabs (swordfish, lamb, and chicken), and Italian sausages
  • Desserts: Apple pie, rhubarb pie, strawberry cheesecake, patriotic popsicles, Italian ice, fudge, and patriotic cookies
  • All-American Drinks: Serve an assortment of non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages at your ultimate July 4th cookout. Things that can be served in punchbowls or pitchers are easier for serving large crowds. Some perfect all-American beverages to consider are iced tea, lemonade, July 4th red rum punch, and red/white sangria.
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