Party Planning: Cooking for a Fourth of July Barbecue


Happy Independence Day! Barbecues are one of the most common ways to celebrate the Fourth of July, as they offer endless options for families, groups of friends, offices, and communities to gather together to celebrate the U.S.A’s birthday. Backyards, public parks, on balconies and rooftops, and in a pinch – even a griddle over the stove will do the trick!  Plus, a barbecue can be one of the easiest events to host. There aren’t many rules, decorations are optional, and the only real requirement is the food. 

The simplicity and celebration of summer brings back so many childhood memories for all of us here at Emma Approved. Here are some suggestions from our team for your Fourth of July celebration feast.

Emma Woodhouse: Looking pretty

My favorite part of any occasion is dressing things up, and that starts with a theme. Thankfully, the Fourth of July makes picking a color theme easy – just follow the flag and see how creative you can get with red, white and blue. The easiest place to color coordinate is dessert. Options include slicing up fruit and laying it out in the shape of a flag; red, white and blue popsicles made from pureed fruit or flavored yogurt for a hot day; or strawberry, blueberry, and banana dessert crepes if you want to try a more sophisticated route. And don’t forget the cocktails! This year I’m dying to try this recipe for red white and blue daquarius. But don’t worry that all your food must be naturally color coordinated. The application of sprinkles can turn any dessert into a Fourth of July phenomenon.

Red, White and Blue Firecracker Popsicles

Red, White and Blue Firecracker Popsicles (Brown Eyed Baker)

Alex Knightley: Back to basics

Alex is a simple guy and the biggest meat lover in the office, so a barbecue is pretty much his personal heaven. Burgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob loaded with butter (no matter what it does to his arteries), and baked potatoes wrapped in foil and heated over the grill are all on his Must List. And this year, my friend Annie gave him the suggestion of grilling fruit along with the meat, and believe it or not, Alex seems intrigued!


The BA Burger Deluxe (Romulo Yanes, Bon Appetit)

Jane Fairfax: Vegan and Healthy Options

Jane has always been an advocate for vegans, making sure those with personal and political preferences or food allergies have options and are never left out. Which was quite the easy fit here at Emma Approved! Her additions to the grill include soy burgers, black bean burgers, and portabello mushrooms. And instead of potato salad, which is made with a lot of mayo that may not be great for anyone even if not vegan, Jane suggests using this recipe for a creamy dill potato salad – it’s dairy free!

Creamy Dill Potato Salad

Creamy Dill Potato Salad (PETA)

Harriet Smith: As American as…

Harriet likes the classics, apple pie being one of her favorites. Except Harriet is a bit of a history buff, so she’s the first one to point out that apple pie is hardly native to this country and was adopted when european settlers brought the first seeds with them. But despite the historical inaccuracy, Harriet loves fruit pies of every sort on this holiday, especially when warm and topped with ice cream. And to fully get in the spirit, she decorates the crust with little stars made out of dough before baking. So adorable and festive!

Red Hot Apple Pie

Red Hot Apple Pie (T. Ortega Gaines, Charlotte Observer)

However you celebrate, we hope you spend time with those you love! And if you have a favorite recipe or are particularly proud of how your Fourth of July delicacies turn out, please share them with us. We’re always looking for great new ideas here at Emma Approved!