I love holidays, especially when it give me an opportunity to come up with something and themed that is both fun to eat and tasty. I’ve been practicing my Fourth of July BBQ menu, and I’m pretty happy with what I’m making – especially since so much of it is low key and easy, which leaves me more time to spend hanging with my friends rather than cooking.
The key to a good Fourth of July BBQ menu is is create something that doesn’t take too much effort to make but at the same time is different from your everyday meal. I love finding little ways to include the typical red, white, and blue colors in my meal, as well as doing my best to incorporate the same ingredients throughout so that I can avoid having to buy more things that will cost more and take up space in my pantry or fridge.
This Fourth of July BBQ menu fit that mental checklist perfectly, and the biggest win? The salad dressing I made from the same BBQ sauce I used on my chicken not only tasted amazing to me and was a little unique, but Mister Man who hasn’t met a salad dressing he like – and typically asks for his lettuce (grudgingly) plain – took the bite I made him eat and then promptly ate all his salad and asked me to make that salad dressing again. Got a picky eater? Maybe you’ll have a win like I did and find that the BBQ salad dressing that’s so easy to make convinces your child to enjoy salad.
I did mention easy as part of my Fourth of July BBQ menu requirements, right? Back in the day when I was young and single, I had plenty of time. I’d go to the fancy butcher and buy specialty meats. I would pick up unique ingredients to make a side dish that took hours to prepare and tasted like it. These days? I’m running all over creation, so everything I pick up for my Fourth of July BBQ has to be at one store and not take a ton of time of effort to make, though of course I still want it to taste like I spent just as much time preparing for my friends.
Fortunately, Walmart is right by Mister Man’s tae kwon do, so I can stop in there while he’s at class and shop (in peace) for everything I need and get back before he even realizes I was gone. For this year’s Fourth of July BBQ menu, I chose a ton of Kraft items that I know come together quickly for a great meal, as well as the fresh produce I need to round out my meal.
Fourth of July BBQ Menu Ideas
Fourth of July BBQ Menu Beverage – red, white, and blue lemonade
When I’m creating a Fourth of July BBQ menu, I include everything from soup to nuts – or in this case drinks to dessert. Since it’s summer, I want to serve an ice cold beverage. And although I love making my own homemade lemonade, right now I’d rather spend the time doing something else. I found the perfect Country Time Lemonade in a black cherry flavor I hadn’t seen before. I loved the idea of using this to tie in the red, white, and blue of the occasion. Bonus that I can make as much or as little as I want. When I made my lemonade for Memorial Day, I ended up making too much and having to throw some away, which I hated doing.
My secret to those ice cold beverages is also picking up some fruit to accompany it. Why? Typically people just add ice to their drinks, and that’s fine – until it melts and waters down your perfectly flavored beverage. Instead, I bought blueberries and strawberries (more red, white, and blue!) from the produce section at Walmart. I washed the blueberries gently then froze them. I used them as ice, and not only did it look pretty cool floating in the glass, but it kept the drink cold without watering it down. I also used the strawberry as a garnish, and three minutes of work looked awesomely fancy. Best of all, I can do all the prep in advance by freezing the blueberries as I unpack my groceries and having kids slice the strawberries for me to place on the glasses when it’s time to enjoy that fabulous Fourth of July BBQ menu I’m creating.
Fourth of July BBQ Menu Salad – BBQ sauce dressed salad
I adore salads in just about every shape and size, and I love serving them because they can look so pretty with so many different colors and ingredients. Because I want my Fourth of July BBQ menu to stay simple, I kept this salad much simpler than I do many other salads. I picked up two different kinds of lettuce in the produce section because I’ve found that mixing lettuce varieties really adds a pop to your salad both visually and in flavor. I chopped some tomato ahead of time to give it the red for my theme, as well as a few green onions to again amp up the flavor and give it some fresh color when sprinkled over the dressed salad.
The BBQ salad dressing is the real winner here, and it takes just a few minutes to make. Best of all, I used the Kraft Sweet Honey Barbecue Sauce that has a whole lot of flavor (and no HFCS). Simply add your BBQ sauce, apple cider vinegar, salt, and pepepr into a small bowl and whisk with a fork.
Once it’s incorporated, continue whisking. Slowly drizzle the olive oil into your BBQ sauce mixture and whisk until it’s thickened and incorporated. You want the olive oil emulsified into the dressing, which pretty much happens as you’re drizzling, so long as you whisk quickly and pour slowly. In under a minute, you have homemade salad dressing that will wow your guests.
Don’t dress your salad until you’re ready to eat so that your salad doesn’t wilt or get soggy. I’ll prep my lettuce and keep it in a bowl in the fridge a couple hours in advance. The tomatoes, green onions, and the homemade BBQ salad dressing go into separate containers in the fridge and get added just before serving.
Fourth of July BBQ Menu Main Course – BBQ Chicken
You can’t have a Fourth of July BBQ menu without BBQ chicken, right? Fortunately, it’s super easy to make. I used chicken breasts this time, but it’s great with a whole chicken cut up or chicken thighs on the bone to hold in even more moisture. The key is to cook it slowly so that your chicken doesn’t dry out, especially if you’re using chicken breast.
When cooking with meat, I can’t emphasize food safety enough. I don’t know how many times I wash my hands whenever I’m cooking with it, but every time I come in contact with it, I make sure to wash my hands immediately. I place the chicken in the bowl and wash my hands. I add olive oil, salt, and pepper, then mix to coat and wash my hands, etc. The same goes for my counters and all surfaces where the chicken was placed, even when it was in another container. No one wants to get sick!
Once my chicken is coated in the oil and spices, I add it to my heated not very hot grill (between 250 and 300 degrees). The oil keeps it from sticking and also holds in some of the moisture. I cook it just until I start to see the sides of the chicken start to turn more opaque and white before flipping.
That’s when I add that same Kraft Sweet Honey Barbecue Sauce to the chicken. I baste it only on the side that’s already cooked and ensure that I have my BBQ sauce in a separate bowl. No cross contamination here!
I’ll cook it for another five to ten minutes then flip again to baste the newly cooked side that hadn’t enjoyed the BBQ sauce bath yet. I’m still making sure that I’m only basting the chicken that’s been cooked! From there, it’s just a matter of putting in my meat thermometer and setting it for chicken then waiting for the alarm to beep at me to tell me it’s cooked. This hands off cooking means that again I can spend time chatting and not worrying that I’m over cooking my dinner. If you don’t have a meat thermometer with an alarm, go buy one – just kidding! Use a traditional meat thermometer and cook to 165 degrees in the thickest part of your meat, checking eat piece before you pull it off the grill.
Let them rest a few minutes before serving them and letting everyone cut into them. This allows the juice to redistribute in the meat so they don’t all drain out the second you cut into them and leave you with a dry piece of meat to eat. I love to put them on a plate and then do my super fast salad assembly before calling everyone to eat. The timing works perfectly!
Fourth of July BBQ Menu Dessert – Chocolate Bark S’mores
Everyone loves s’mores, right? It’s so much fun to go find your stick and then roast your marshmallow. I’m a fan of the lightly golden all the way around marshmallow, but Mister Man loves his completely charred and others are somewhere in between. This is the perfect hands on dessert that is fun to do for a Fourth of July BBQ menu while still being easy.
My fun twist on this one? I made a flavored chocolate bark to use with the Jet-Puffed Marshmallows instead of the traditional chocolate bar. Simply pick up a Baker’s Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate Bar (or the Dipping Cups!) and melt it over low heat.
I wanted to add some fun flavor, so I chopped some dried cherries and added some Baker’s Angel Flake Coconut to the melted chocolate before pouring it onto a sil pat and spreading it to about a quarter inch thick in a vague rectangle shape. Because it’s hot and summer, I wanted to speed up the finish by sticking it into the freezer for a few minutes. Once it hardened, I broke it into pieces just a bit smaller than a graham cracker and set them in a container for later. My rule of thumb for making a flavored chocolate bark like this is about 1 cup of chocolate to 3/4 cup of mix-ins. I used a half cup of dried cherries that I chopped and a quarter cup of the Baker’s Angel Flake Coconut. This gives it plenty of chunky flavor without making it too thick to spread on your sil pat.
Once it was time for dessert, I placed the chocolate bark and graham crackers on a plate, set out the Jet-Puffed Marshmallows and let people build their own s’mores.
They had just a blast, and they loved how fancy the s’mores were. The dried cherries and coconut (more red, white, and blue for my Fourth of July BBQ menu!) added a ton of flavor that made this an extra special dessert without an extra special effort.
I’m all set to celebrate with my Fourth of July BBQ Menu. What are you making? You can find even more ideas with Kraft’s digital cookbook!
- 3 T Kraft Sweet Honey Barbecue Sauce
- 1 T apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 t pepper
- pinch of salt
- 1/3 c good quality olive oil
- In a small bowl, combine the BBQ sauce, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Mix with a fork to incorporate ingredients together.
- While whisking, slowly drizzle the oil into the other ingredients so that the oil is mixed in and emulsified while you stir. Pour slowly enough that the oil doesn't pool in the dressing.
- Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve immediately.
- If you have any leftovers, store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to two weeks.