Traditional 4th of July Foods and Side Dishes + Alternatives

Fourth 4th of July Food BBQ barbecue picnic

The Fourth of July is a major holiday in the United States. It commemorates the independence of the US from the British monarchy when the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776. This holiday is most often celebrated with fireworks and traditional 4th of July foods which are usually enjoyed at outdoor picnics and barbecues a.k.a. cookouts.

Because the 4th of July is a traditional US holiday, many Americans enjoy eating traditional American foods. However, as the tastes of Americans have broadened and diets have changed, many alternative foods are served and enjoyed as well.

4th of July Main Dishes


These are some of the most traditional items served at a Fourth of July picnic or BBQ. As you may notice, most of these traditional foods include red meat.

  • hamburgers – grilled beef patties on a hamburger buns
  • cheeseburgers – hamburgers with a slice of American cheese
  • hot dogs – grilled hot dogs on hot dog buns
  • buffalo wings – deep-fried chicken wings coated in a spicy vinegar-based sauce
  • pulled pork – shredded BBQ pork
  • ribs & steaks – grilled ribs and thick slices of beef


Here are some contemporary (and healthier) variations of traditional main dishes that can also be enjoyed at a Fourth of July picnic or BBQ, but appeal to both carnivores and non-carnivores alike.

  • Beyond Burgers & Impossible burgers – plant-based burger patties
  • artisanal cheese burgers – burgers with artisanal cheese
  • chicken, turkey, tofu and veggie sausages
  • buffalo wing salad – green salad topped with sliced buffalo-flavored chicken
  • pulled chicken or pulled jackfruit – shredded chicken or jackfruit in BBQ sauce
  • tuna, portobello mushroom and cauliflower steaks

4th of July Side Dishes


These are some traditional 4th of July side dishes to enjoy with your main dishes.

  • baked potato – potato baked in foil and served with butter, sour cream and chives
  • baked beans – cooked beans with a slightly sweet BBQ-flavor
  • coleslaw – chilled shredded cabbage and vegetables with salad dressing/vinaigrette
  • corn on the cob – steamed or grilled corn (either yellow or white); usually topped with melted butter
  • deviled eggs – halved hardboiled eggs with a seasoned mustard and yolk filling
  • macaroni salad – chilled mayonnaise and mustard-based salad with cooked macaroni, chopped vegetables and seasonings
  • potato salad – chilled mayonnaise, egg and mustard-based salad with cooked potatoes and seasonings


Here are some contemporary alternative side dishes that incorporate a broader range of flavors.

  • 4th of July charcuterie board – 4th of July themed charcuterie board
  • seacuterie board – seafood board
  • elotes – Mexican street corn
  • caprese fruit salad – watermelon, strawberry, feta, fresh basil and seasoning
  • roasted brussels sprouts – roasted halved brussels sprouts with seasoning
  • grilled fruits – butter or oil-coated watermelon, peaches, plums, pineapples, bananas, etc.

Hello! I'm Kristina

Kristina Reynolds is the Founder & CEO of Glutto and an alumna of the University of California, San Diego. She writes articles & posts for Glutto Digest with insights from fellow industry experts. Furthermore, she is the author of The Fittest Food Lovers: How EVERY BODY Can be Incredibly Fit and Still Enjoy Food, a collaborative philanthropic book with proceeds going to charities that fight world hunger.