What Are You Cooking For Independence Day?

Back on Memorial Day, we dealt with the great gas vs. charcoal debate. And now that it’s the July 4th weekend, you’ve had time to hone your grilling chops in time for some pre-fireworks feasts. But the big question is: What will you be cooking?

While the answer of “burgers and hot dogs” sounds simple enough, these are just basic terms with nearly infinite variations.

For burgers — What kind of meat: Beef, turkey, lamb, buffalo, or even veggie? Then of course that brings up the question of cheese or no cheese? What kind of cheese? And this is all before we get around to deciding on buns, condiments, veggies and delicious add-ons like bacon, chips, fried eggs and whatever else you could imagine.

Hot dogs are equally complicated, with so many regional factions on what constitutes a proper dog. Is ketchup a must or verboten? Pork or beef? Chili, cheese, relish? And let’s not forget the tofu dogs for the vegetarian cousin with the boyfriend no one in the family really likes.

Let’s not neglect chicken. On the bone or not? White meat or dark? What do you marinate it in? And then what do you baste it in?

For those with real bbq skills, there’s ribs, whose regional devotion rivals that of hot dogs. Personally, I’ve never met a rib — beef or pork — I didn’t like, so if you’re cooking them up, I’ll be over around 4:30 with some potato salad I bought at the store but I’ll say I made myself.

If you need some cooking inspiration, the L.A. Times has this slideshow of 23 July 4th recipes, and FoodTV — along with a few gajillion other recipes — has this round-up of Independence Day-themed desserts.

Now it’s your turn. What will you be shoving down your gullet to celebrate America’s kicking some British butt?


Edit Your Comment

  1. Don't_rip_me_off_bro says:


  2. Quake 'n' Shake says:

    I’m brining 2 chickens and will cook them in my smoker along with a small brisket. I shall be using lump mesquite charcoal as fuel.
    Other than that, I don’t care what sides my wife makes or her family brings over.

  3. mergatroy6 says:

    Veggie burgers are un-American.

  4. pantheonoutcast says:

    Four fried chickens and a Coke.

  5. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    I love bison burgers and lamb burgers. Grilled chicken is also amazing. The key to getting a good barbecue glaze on chicken is to marinate in some of the sauce (so it stays moist), then cook the chicken, then in the last few minutes of grilling, brush some barbecue on top. The sugar in the sauce will warm and glaze the chicken.

    • 89macrunner says:

      bison burgers are too lean…lamb burgers are usually too rich for my taste.

      i prefer grilled human

  6. Smashville says:

    I was going to experiment with smoking meat…

    Then it seemed like a lot of trouble. Maybe next year. Sigh :(

    • KyBash says:

      Don’t bother trying — the meat juices make the rolling paper sticky and it’s really hard to keep lit. :)

  7. ge0rge says:

    I usually butcher my own wings and brine them overnight, semi steam them and then over high heat on the grill with some wood chips for smoking… Crispy skin, not fried and taste terrific.

  8. WhoLikesPie? says:

    if anyone is doing cheese-burgers, try out a Minneapolis legend, the “juicy lucy”. generally made with two 1/4 lb patties, you put the cheese on the inside. I’d recommend American cheese. Cheddar works, but it’s just not the same.

    set your first patty on the plate, take about 1 1/2 slices of cheese, ripped into small squares, place cheese on top of patty 1, place patty 2 on top of that, pinch the patties together real well and presto, best cheese burger you’ll ever have. the cheese is always hot and melty. Be careful when eating them though. Love eating a juicy lucy, especially on the 4th.

    • bhr says:

      When I do my specialty burgers one type has shredded cheese mixed in to the patty.

      I have varieties that Ill make slider-sized burgers out of. In all cases I take a small lump of meat (usually beef and turkey mixed) and mix in the ingredients before cooking.

      Bacon burgers: cut up bacon mixed into the patty meat, along with a little brown sugar.

      Cheese Burgers: Shredded Chedder and Jack

      Mexican burger: Shredded “mexican blend” cheese, chopped jalepenos, a bit of hot sauce and a hint of lime.

      All american: Mustard seed, relish and tomato paste

      Chili burger:black beans, tomato paste and my chili seasonings.

  9. SnowQueen says:

    Boneless leg of lamb smeared with a paste of olive oil, garlic, rosemary and salt. It just doesn’t get better than this.

  10. madanthony says:

    Whatever my dad wants.

    My mom is currently recovering from knee surgery, so it looks like I’m going to be responsible for the 4th of July cooking. I’m going to push for keilbasa and saurkraut, but if the rest of the family wants chicken breast or turkey burgers we’ll probably have that…

    • mythago says:

      They can eat kielbasa and LIKE IT. (Really, who doesn’t like kielbasa?)

      Best wishes for your mom.

  11. Spaceman Bill Leah says:

    It’s very difficult to go wrong with beer can chicken. Or a whole spatchcocked chicken brined and cooked right over the flames.

  12. mythago says:

    Prime rib-eye and corn on the cob, even though they don’t know how to grow corn properly in California. Blue flavor Jell-O (in the patriotic brain mold) for dessert. Why, yes, I am originally from the Midwest, what gave it away?

    • PunditGuy says:

      Where are you getting prime rib-eye?

      • nbs2 says:

        Our local megamart occasionally has prime cuts.

        The local farm sells all their prime to restaurants and only leaves the choice for the common folks.

      • mythago says:

        Costco. If you don’t mind breaking down larger cuts into steaks yourself, and I don’t, you can get some really affordable (yet delicious) steak.

        “Also, there will be corn.”

  13. duxup says:

    Nothing, I’m working :(

  14. NarcolepticGirl says:

    Hot Pockets

  15. It'sRexManningDay! says:

    I am considering attempting a slow-cooked pork shoulder (I’m from the Northeast, so am new to pulled pork, but I can’t get enough!) Anyone have good cooking suggestions?

    • Platypi {Redacted} says:

      Slap on plenty of a good spice rub (garlic powder, salt, chili powder, paprika, pepper, cayenne, etc). Cook low and slow for 3+ hours. Plenty of great and detailed recipes out there! The keys are don’t try to rush it, keep the temp low (250-275 works over long periods of time) and let it rest for 1/2 hour after coming out before shredding it. Don’t forget the sauce!

      • It'sRexManningDay! says:

        That sounds like something I could actually do! Thanks!

        • mythago says:

          If you have a crockpot, the folks on the what_a_crock livejournal group (really!) are very helpful and have a lot of cool recipes.

      • c_c says:

        Yep, I usually put a dry rub on it and cook covered in the oven @ 250 for a long time (4-8 hrs depending on size). You can finish on the grill to give it some char and smoke before pulling if you want.

  16. Torgonius wants an edit button says:


    in hot BBQ sauce

    Especially if my neighbors let it run out of the house again to crap on my lawn.

    Leaving the fur on for extra crispy texture

    • bcsus83 says:

      I certainly hope you take a plate to your neighbors to thank them for providing the meat for the BBQ! ;) In all seriousness, though, bacon grease will make the dog’s crap go away. ;)

  17. chiieddy says:

    Grilled steaks (haven’t decided on a marinade or rub yet) with a side salad and probably fresh snap peas since we got a bunch in our CSA this week. Possibly a side of rice but I’ll see if I can find corn on the cob to grill up. We blew our grocery budget on a dinner party last night. Julia Child’s Beouf Bourginon is quite tasty, btw

  18. Remmy75 says:

    I will probably be smoking me some brisket and chicken.

    As for hot dogs, no ketschup, only mustard! Chicago Style is the best! I am from Chicago and the mutant hot dogs they serve around here in Boston make me cry. They have these wierd hot dog rolls too with the slice on the top.

    • shaleoil24 says:

      that’s funny, because I’m from Boston and I like our hot dogs. Aren’t the Chicago ones the with the bright green relish? And while I like them a lot as well, they’re pretty mutant too.

      • Remmy75 says:

        Yes. My wife is from Boston and thinks Chicago style hot dogs have mutant green relish. So we agree to disagree about hot dogs!

  19. The Lone Gunman says:

    Steaks and a roast, which will last for several days worth of meals.

  20. Veeber says:

    Standing Rib Roast

  21. bitslammer says:

    Smoked turkey legs. They have great ergonomics that allow me to keep my mug of beer in the other hand and do my best King Henry impressions.

  22. BenjaminCachimbear says:

    My wife has made 31.6 lbs of cookies and brownies over the last 2 days(we weighed them!). Lots and lots of estranged relatives are coming in for the 4th, it’s gonna be like a mini family reunion. I can’t wait!!!!

  23. rocklob says:

    Smoking up some barbecued baby back ribs (dry, of course!).

  24. bcsus83 says:

    Pretty typical menu here. I picked up some nice ribeye steaks and some pre-made shrimp kabobs from the butcher shop, and plan to do a German potato salad, corn on the cob, baked beans (not even from a can! LMAO!), garlic bread and watermelon along side them. :)

  25. MaxPower says:

    I’m going to make some chicken drumsticks marinated in a chipotle lime sauce. I’m considering ribs too which also has a lot of factors but I have to see what the store has. I’m leaning towards beef just because you have to be so careful with cooking pork all of the way through.

    I’m also making a flag cake and a seven layer dip. I was going to make the dip look like the Brazilian cup because I was cheering for them in the world cup but I probably won’t do that anymore.

    • MaxPower says:

      Brazilian flag…. darn edit button. Probably also making onion rings. Mmm… deep fryer…

    • c_c says:

      To make ribs you generally have to cook them for so long that undercooking really isn’t a worry.

  26. MovingTarget says:

    Baby backs smoked all day, Tater salad and some cold beers.

  27. cybrczch says:

    Hamburgers – some with processed American cheese, on a bun with any or all of the following: ketchup, mustard, pickle, onion, tomato
    Hot dogs – made at a local meat market – on a bun with any or all of the following: ketchup, mustard, onion, relish, sauerkraut
    All prepared by the guy my sister is shacked up with, or he could be her 3rd husband, not sure if they ever got married

    • cybrczch says:

      And of course everyone will be bringing sides, desserts, typical middle American lower middle class fare.

  28. JulesNoctambule says:

    Birthday cake! One of the nieces will reach double digits on Sunday, so I’m going to make her a cake. Other than that, I have no idea — it’ll be surprise of the pot-luck meal.

  29. c_c says:

    Grilled shrimp tacos w/ homemade tortillas. Maybe some sort of fruit salsa/relish. Gonna be at the beach so we can get some good fresh shrimp.

  30. segfault, registered cat offender says:

    I’m cooking all of the cats that have been posted on Consumerist over the past month.

  31. the atomic bombshell says:

    Ordering Chinese food, cause I’m unAmerican. Which is to say, Canadian.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      According to the Yarn Harlot, yesterday was Canada’s birthday. Did you do anything special yesterday?

      • the atomic bombshell says:

        Nah, not really. We went for a walk away from the crowds and the Queen, then had spaghetti. And I was too lazy to go see the fireworks. :)

  32. Tallanvor says:

    I’m going to the 4th of July celebration some of the American organizations in Oslo hold every year. Normally it’s not actually on the 4th, but this year they were able to get the space on the day! So I’ll probably buy some of the “American” foods they’ll be selling, even though they’re not necessarily the most authentic.

    Yes, I could do BBQ, but with the choices being haul around a grill or buy the tiny disposable ones they sell, it’s just not as much fun.

  33. Daemon Xar says:

    Marinated ribeye steaks.

  34. flacoman954 says:

    Baby back with hickory smoke and some snazzy sauce and chicken skewers with teriyaki marinade (soy vey is the best!)

  35. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    My dad does the BBQing. What usually happens (I don’t know what the specific plans are this year):

    Beef ribs
    Chicken: wings and legs
    Macaroni salad or macaroni and cheese
    Green beans or peas

    Lamb is a possibility but not as likely as the other stuff. There will likely be a dessert but what kind (cake, ice cream, pie, brownies) probably won’t be decided until tomorrow. (My mom makes an excellent 7-Up cake)

  36. RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

    Wait, does nobody like the cousin’s vegetarian boyfriend because he’s vegetarian? I want to know whether to get my knickers in a twist or not!

  37. KyBash says:

    Cold ham and cheese sandwich, a bag of chips, and a flat Pepsi.

    It’s a long tradition started out of a “make the best of a rainy weekend” situation.

  38. sth9669 says:

    Just got a smoker last week, I’m trying it out with some chicken leg quarters tonight, and then the plan is to smoke 2 racks of ribs rubbed with my proprietary Chipotle Mesquite spice rub:


    and smoked beercan chicken at the same time. . . After that, as long as there’s some beer handy, I don’t care what else we eat :-)

  39. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Probably nothing special, since I’m all alone this weekend. If I get invited anywhere, I’ll make some Velveeta salsa dip and bring a bag of nummy taco chips. That’s always a big hit. I’ve always wanted to try and make beer can chicken, but I can’t eat a whole chicken by myself.

    OH!!! I just remembered, I have a Cornish hen in the freezer!!!!!!!

  40. PixDawg says:

    Whale Blubber just to piss off the eco-freaks and health nuts at the same time.

  41. OnePumpChump says:

    “What are you cooking for Independence Day?”


  42. Astrid says:

    I’m making Mac ‘n cheese…..

  43. Darkneuro says:

    We’re grilling with charcoal and my Weber grill. We’re doing turkey breast chunks on skewers and serving it in pita with tzatziki, appropriate libations all around.

  44. Not Given says:

    If the rain lets up probably bison burgers on propane

  45. GrimJack says:

    Chicken and pork Spiedies… For those not familiar, it’s a regional delicacy in southern NY state. Chunks of chicken and pork marinaded for a day or more then grilled on metal skewers and served in a slice of italian bread (grab the skewer, slap it into the bread, grip tightly and pull the meat off of the skewer. Plus various salads and a big batch o’ maple/bourbon baked beans.


  46. Floobtronics says:

    We hit up our local Whole Foods and took advantage of their burgers for a buck deal. They’ve got several varieties, including plain old patties, au poivre (just the edges are pepper crusted), bacon & bleu, jalapeno and cheddar and something they called “steakhouse”. We tried the au poivre. Awesomeness ensued. The patties are about 1/3 lb, and made from 85/15, so it’s not a crazy deal, but not a bad one either.

  47. aquanetta says:

    We’re brewing beers, all-grain. One Amber Ale and one Hefeweizen.

  48. 89macrunner says:

    grilled human

  49. PsiCop says:

    Boar’s Head hot dogs, with sauerkraut (mixed with a little sauteed carmelized onion) and a little brown mustard. On the side, potato salad with a sour-cream dressing seasoned with fresh dill; a vinegar-based cole slaw; fresh native corn-on-the-cob; and a cucumber salad made with a light vinaigrette, some green onion, and seasoned with mint. For desert, a coconut cake.

    That was our menu.

    FWIW a lot of this came from our own garden. The onions (white and green), dill, cucumbers, and mint, to be exact. The corn came from a farm c. 2 miles up the road and was being boiled not 30 minutes after it was picked, and the cabbage was from the same farm. The hot dog rolls were from the freezer, but I had baked those myself a few weeks ago.

    So yes, I make my own Fourth of July feast at home. Literally. Well, as close to literally as is possible. (Making my own sauerkraut is an ordeal I’ve yet to try, and likely never will attempt.)