slow cooker pulled bbq chicken

I had a different post planned for this weekend, but I after I received A LOT of emails from my students asking for 4th of July menu suggestions, I knew I had to address this!  There’s really no simple answer to that question because everyone has different tastes and expectations.  Some people like a straight-forward outdoor barbecue with hamburgers, cole slaw, corn and a green salad.  While there’s nothing wrong with it, that menu might be a little boring to others.  Your menu will also depend on how many people you are having since some recipes are easier and better to make for fewer people.  If you are hosting a large crowd, I highly recommend taking anyone up on his or her offer to bring something.  Why be stressed out?  It’s so silly.  Just be specific or at least know who is bringing what so you don’t end up with 5 plates of brownies!

The menus below are meant to provide inspiration and an easy way for me to answer my students’ emails (“check out my latest post!”)  I always try to create a menu where the flavors are all pretty compatible, the recipes are seasonal, and ingredients don’t repeat too much.  Unless it’s tomatoes in the summer.  Then all bets are off.  I also like to serve fresh fruit with dessert.  A platter of watermelon slices and/or a big bowl of peaches and plums on ice is always welcomed.

If I have a recipe for one mentioned, there is already a built-in link.  If there’s no link, I don’t have a recipe, but there is likely one out there.  I love menu-planning, so feel free to leave your suggestions or questions below.  My husband already offered his suggestion, which was to add hamburgers and a topping bar + chocolate chip cookies to all the menus below!

july 4th menu ideas

Grilled Marinated Flank Steak

Grilled Scallions and Red Onions

Spinach Salad with Grilled Apricots

Quinoa Tabbouleh (this salad is great and goes with everything) or Charred corn salad

Peach and Blueberry Crisp


Lime Soy Grilled Fish

Cilantro Lime Slaw

Southwestern Quinoa Salad

Frozen Chocolate Covered Bananas and Red, White and Blue Popsicles (recipe coming soon!)


Grilled Fish Tacos (good topping bar is key!)

Fiesta Salad

Cilantro Lime Slaw

Grilled Mexican Corn off the Cob

Ice Cream Sundae Bar with Chocolate Sauce, Brownie Bites, Fresh Berries and Banana Slices, Pepita Brittle


Grilled chicken paillard over arugula and tomato wedges

Grilled asparagus

Nectarine and goat cheese salad

Yogurt and blueberry tart


Grilled chicken kabobs with chimichurri

Green Goddess salad

White bean, celery, and mint salad

Heirloom tomato salad (just drizzle with olive oil, aged balsamic, salt and a few small basil leaves)

Apricot, cherry and almond crisp


Beef hamburgers and Tasty Turkey Burgers with a great topping bar (lettuce, tomato, cooked onions, avocado, pickles, chipotle Vegenaise, etc.)

Kale salad with creamy lemon dressing (you could also add some cooked farro to this)

Farro with golden beets, cucumbers, feta and mint (one of my favorite salads ever!)

S’mores (traditional or with grilled bananas)


Simple Veggie Burgers (this menu works nicely with the one above)

Arugula Salad with Farro and Peaches

Grilled eggplant caprese

Mixed berry oat bars


Chickpea Burgers


Grilled Veggie Platter with a Lemon-Basil Dressing

Arugula salad with lemon-tahini dressing

Chocolate zucchini cake (this would also be great baked into mini muffin tins for bite-size pieces)


Grilled Shrimp Skewers

Lentil and grilled eggplant salad or Chopped grilled vegetable salad (another salad which goes with everything and everyone loves)

Watermelon, tomato and feta salad

Zesty lemon quinoa

Ice Cream Sandwiches

July 4th table setting

Grilled Chicken Souvlaki with tzatziki (beef works, too)

Warm Pita

California Greek Salad

Spicy Honey-Lemon Green Beans

Peach pie


Grilled Chicken with Mint Drizzle

Charred Corn Salad

Grilled panzanella

Green Salad with Everyday Salad Dressing #2

Stone Fruit Crostata

Chic water dispenser

Slow cooker pulled barbecued chicken or grilled chicken with barbecue sauce

Cole slaw

Corn on the cob (boiled or grilled)

Spicy honey-lemon green beans

Avocado and tomato salad with Ranch dressing

Brownies (I have a healthy, GF version here)


Grilled Chicken or Steak Fajitas (don’t forget the topping bar!)

Avocado, jicama and mango salad

Mexican black beans

Green Rice

Coconut Cupcakes

I also think if you have access to really good seafood, an old-fashioned clam bake would be so much fun.  You can check out Martha Stewart Living for inspiration!

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  1. I just saw this older post – I love the ideas you have here for a 4th of July menu. I haven’t specifically looked but I would love more posts that have suggested party menus – I always struggle with putting together those menus, for example the dinner party menu! Thanks as always for all your fabulous recipes, menus and ideas!

  2. Found this post via your post about the watermelon feta mint skewers. I made a similar salad a few years ago for the 4th and it was a big hit. We have 5 days with 40-50 people and do potluck most days (BBQ, burgers, etc) but have one night that I do the whole dinner. It needs to be easy and able to mostly be made ahead due to the big crowd. Here is my idea for this year:

    Italian white beans/hummus/guacamole appetizer platter

    Beef Tenderloin with chimichurri
    David Tanis’ Asparagus Farro Salad via NYT
    Caprese Salad via Ina Garten
    Simple arugula salad with light lemon viniagrette

    Dessert TBD by my 13 year old chef/daughter

    • 40-50 people is a lot of people! But the fact that you are so organized and have your menu down now is a predictor of your success. Sounds like a perfect summer menu and one that takes advantage of the seasonal produce. Sounds like you also have a capable sous chef to help!

  3. This is so great, thank you! You just gave me my Sunday inspiration for my dinners this week!

    • You’re welcome! Glad you found the post useful :).

  4. Wow! I’m going to need to have some more get togethers this summer now! 😉 Thank you so much for these recipes and ideas!

    • My pleasure! Enjoy!

  5. Love these menu ideas not just for the 4th but for life! I’m printing this one thank you!

    • Great!

  6. My goodness! You have given us enough recipes and ideas to last the whole summer! Thanks!

    • You’re right that these menus can translate to meals anytime this summer!

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