Tired of potato salad? Try something new this July 4

FeaturedFood & DrinkLifestyle

Written by:

Holidays are a great time to meet up with friends or family, especially now as COVID-19 restrictions finally ease. As much as hanging out is fun, food is still the star of most holidays.

But if you forgot you were supposed to bring a side or you’re just tired of your old tried-and-true pot luck potato salad, it can be difficult to find a last-minute fill-in. If you’re scrambling day-of for a quick and easy Fourth of July dish, you’ve come to the right place.

From drinks and desserts to DIY Taco Bell favorites, we’ve got a plethora of recipes rounded up to help you save your Fourth of July spread!

A picnic setup
Mariya Volkova / istockphoto


Fried green tomatoes
StephanieFrey / iStock

1. Air fried green tomatoes

Air fried green tomatoes are coated in cornmeal and breadcrumbs for a delicious summer snack! Dip them in sauce or even stack them on a burger! You’re about to take a bite into the perfect summer snacking food you never knew you were missing!

Get this recipe and more: 30 smart ways to use allll of your summer tomatoes

Onion rings
Tatiana Volgutova / iStock

2. Onion ring alternatives

Who doesn’t love to munch on onion rings? But deep-fried vegetables aren’t exactly healthy, and not everyone is a fan of onions. What’s a cook to do?

This simple recipe for bell pepper oven fries from Delish just might be the answer. The oven-fried dish will satisfy those cravings for something salty, savory and crispy to go along with a grilled burger or hot dog.

ALLEKO / iStock

3. Penne with roasted jalapeño pesto

Penne with roasted jalapeño pesto and the recipe serves 15 to 20 people as a side dish. You can call it Firecracker Penne if you’re making it for a summer party. If you love spice, you can set your mouth on fire with this stuff. Of course, you can also dial back the heat. Here’s how to do both.

BLT Pasta salad
Delish /

4. BLT pasta salad

Summer is the season for barbecues and parties with friends — and BLT pasta salad is the perfect summer side dish to serve at all of your gatherings this year. Everyone loves a classic BLT sandwich, and this BLT pasta salad recipe incorporates its familiar flavors into a brand-new form your guests will enjoy just as much.

It can be served hot or cold, so feel free to make it ahead of time and refrigerate it until ready to serve. Of course, this pasta salad features bacon, lettuce and tomato. A good BLT sandwich isn’t complete without a creamy sauce, so this recipe uses a sour cream and ranch-based dressing that gives it a richness and a bit of a kick. From start to finish, the BLT pasta salad recipe will be ready in just 25 minutes, so it’s ideal for when you’re in a time crunch or need a last-minute addition to your spread.

Get the recipe here!

Pasta salad
epantha / iStock

5. Ina Garten’s best-ever pasta salad

Summer is here, which means it’s time for backyard barbecues, picnics and al fresco meals all season long. And nothing says “picnic” quite like a cool, tangy, bright pasta salad. But with so many variations on this beloved summer staple, how can you find the one pasta salad recipe to rule them all?

Look no further than Ina Garten’s iconic pasta salad. Her recipe for Tomato Feta Pasta Salad on Food Network’s website has over 300 glowing reviews. In fact, when The Kitchn reviewed the most popular pasta salad recipes, reviewer Alexis Deboschnek gave Ina Garten’s pasta salad first place and named her the “Queen of Pasta Salad.”

Try it for yourself!

Soba noodle salad
GEOLEE / iStock

6. Veggie soba noodle salad

During the warmer months, our bodies can often crave cold dishes. While potato salad is always a crowd pleaser, sometimes it’s nice to spice things up with an unexpected dish that blends interesting flavors and provides a nice, refreshing bite.

Veggie soba noodle salad is delicious and healthy thanks to the delicious blend of Asian flavors, quickly blanched veggies and crunchy peanut topping. 

Click here for the recipe

barbecue grill

Main Dishes

Beer-can cabbage
Rebecca White /

7. Beer-can cabbage

Have you already fired up your grill for the season? No? Then let me share with you a great way to kick off the grilling season: Beer-can cabbage.

Sure you’ve tried beer-can chicken, or maybe even beer-can turkey, but the meat shouldn’t be the only one getting in on the booze action on your grill.

grilled veggies

8. Vegetarian barbecue options

Summer barbecues with grilled hotdogs and hamburgers are an American tradition.

But with the eating habits of many evolving to include vegetarian and vegan options (or options for those who just don’t like meat!), it just may be time to update those backyard barbecue traditions to include a few mouthwatering non-meat options.

Here’s a list to get you started.

Pulled pork sandwich
Bartosz Luczak / istockphoto

9. Pulled pork

Moist, tender and delicious, this pulled pork recipe is out of this world flavorful! If you’re looking for the best way to get tender, moist and full of flavor shredded pork, you just can’t go wrong with smoked pork butt. This is a super versatile recipe and perfect for leftovers and meal prep.

Get it here!

Grilled chicken breasts
zi3000 / iStock

10. Kosher chicken dishes

One of the biggest struggles of eating kosher food on a budget is that meat and chicken are so expensive! When I make chicken, I try to make it stretch as much as possible, so I try to make leftover chicken recipes to make it last longer.

We always have meat or chicken for Shabbos meals as we consider it an important part of our Shabbos, and we use the leftover cooked chicken all week as one of our Building Blocks of Meal Planning. I like to take the meat and chicken from Shabbos, shred it, cut it and place it into containers to be used all week. That is half the meal prep done already! So easy!

I always encourage others, and try myself, to cut down on meat, chicken and fish and try to eat as many plant-based proteins as possible. These recipes are very often kosher and very easy on the budget.

cheese pizza

11. Grilled pizzas (and other fun things to grill!)

Nothing says summer like barbecue, fun tunes, your favorite people and a relaxing night in the backyard. But after barbecuing all summer, you’re probably getting tired of meat and your vegetarian friends are definitely tired of eating side dishes at backyard events.

Here’s the good news — grilling isn’t just about meat. There are a lot of vegetarian dishes that taste even better when you throw them on the grill. The best part is you don’t have to worry about whether you’ll accidentally poison someone with uncooked meat. Instead, you’ll be able to serve up delicious veggies, fruits and entree dishes that don’t require a thermometer.

Here are five things you can throw on the grill that aren’t meat.

grilled artichokes

12. More non-meat grill options

Nothing says summer like barbecue, fun tunes, your favorite people and a relaxing night in the backyard. But after barbecuing all summer, you’re probably getting tired of meat and your vegetarian friends are definitely tired of eating side dishes at backyard events.

Here’s the good news — grilling isn’t just about meat. There are a lot of vegetarian dishes that taste even better when you throw them on the grill. The best part is you don’t have to worry about whether you’ll accidentally poison someone with uncooked meat.

Instead, you’ll be able to serve up these delicious veggies, fruits and entree dishes that don’t require a thermometer.

Taco Bell crunchwrap
Taco Bell

13. Taco Bell-inspired buffalo chicken crunchwrap

You have to hand it to Taco Bell. The fast-food restaurant chain came up with a winning idea with its crunchwrap supreme. The idea of taking all the fixings of Mexican meal (ground beef, lettuce, tomatoes, nacho cheese and sour cream) and wrapping it like a delicious present in a flour tortilla before frying it into crispy perfection is brilliant.

But creative cooks always find ways to add new flavor to the original idea — and make something they love at home.

The culinary experts at Delish decided to give the crunchwrap a Buffalo-chicken makeover, and it looks amazing.

Their Buffalo chicken crunchwrap takes all of your favorite flavors from a plate of wings and adds a fresh new layer of fun.

Try it out here

Warm Lemon Pudding Cakes
Once Upon a Chef with Jenn Segal


cannoli icebox cake
Anna’s Heirloom Kitchen

14. Icebox cakes

When the weather is hot there’s no need to turn on the oven when a hankering for something sweet hits you. Classic icebox cakes are always a great go-to because they come together in minutes and simply need an overnight in the fridge. You can even make them early in the morning and still serve up a delicious dessert after supper.

For years, I made the delicious recipe you can find on the box of Nabisco’s Famous Chocolate Wafers and I must admit, once a summer, I go on the hunt to find them and recreate this recipe I enjoyed so much as a child.

Recently, though, I thought I’d change things up a bit and make something with these familiar flavors that also has a fun, Italian twist. And that’s the story of how my Cannoli Icebox Cake was born (recipe here).

Red white & blue s'mores

15. Red, white & blue chocolates

Nothing says summer like making s’mores around a bonfire. This year, you can make the traditional s’more a bit different and, well, more patriotic!

Just in time for Memorial Day and Fourth of July, Hershey’s is bringing back their Red, White, & Blue Cookies ‘n’ Creme bars. White chocolate-flavored with vanilla cookie bits, the candy bars were first introduced last summer but disappeared from store shelves soon after. You can find them once again at stores nationwide, like Target and Walmart, for around $5.

Click here for more on patriotic S’mores!

Flag cake
Courtesy of Betty Crocker

16. Patriotic flag cake

If you’ve been searching for the perfect dessert to complete your Fourth of July celebration, look no further than this layered flag cake recipe from the blog A Classic Twist With Zainab Storms. It might just be the most patriotic dessert to have ever existed, and it’s not even that difficult to make — though it looks like it is.

Oreo truffle balls
philly077 / iStock

17. Oreo ‘truffles’

Are you looking forward to the return of summer picnics and cookouts? Fingers crossed that 2021 will be the season of long-awaited family and friend reunions. In anticipation of these festivities, it’s time to start gathering some crowd-pleasing recipes that are a snap to pull together.

And what better base ingredient to use than Oreo cookies. The classic chocolate-creme sandwich cookie is not only delicious in its simplicity but also lends itself so well to other recipes.

If you’re looking for a rich, chocolatey dessert to feed the masses, then look no farther than these Oreo truffles from Cooking Classy.

Carrot cake cookies? Yes, please!

18. Carrot cake cookies

Looking for a fun, new way to use up the carrots in your fridge? These cookies have all the flavors of carrot cake plus cream cheese frosting on top!

Lemon-Blueberry Cake

19. Lemony desserts

When summertime rolls around, nothing satisfies a sweets craving quite like a bright, citrusy dessert. Lemon is a versatile flavor that can be used in a wide variety of recipes. Whether you prefer creamy and rich, light and sweet, or tart and tangy, you’ll find a lemon dessert that will suit your tastes.

Lemon is especially fitting for the summertime because the fruit is so bright and sunny. So, if you’re looking for a fresh and seasonal treat to help usher in the warm weather vibes, check out our list of lemon desserts that are sure to impress and refresh.

Chocolate sheet cake
Oksana Chaun / iStock

20. Chocolate buttermilk cake

Few things satisfy a sweet tooth better than homemade chocolate cake. We’ve showcased a number of decadent cakes in the past, including a seven-layer chocolate whiskey cake from Guy Fieri and a chocolate mayonnaise cake that is surprisingly delicious. However, sometimes, we just want a simple cake recipe that can be whipped together quickly — and without pulling out every bowl and appliance in the kitchen.

Fortunately, Anna, the blogger behind Crunchy Creamy Sweet, has a chocolate cake recipe that comes together in one bowl. Not only is this chocolate cake easy to make, but it will keep the baking chaos out of your kitchen.

Find the recipe here

You need this citrus-almond upside down cake in your life
The Imperfect Produce

21. Citrus-almond cake

What’s the best way to make the most of a pile of citrus fruit? Our friend Maren Ellingboe had the perfect idea: turn it into a moist, almond-flavored upside down cake! The jewel-toned fruit is showcased to maximum effect when cooked with simple syrup—use a combination of blood and navel oranges and grapefruit for maximum effect.

Get the recipe here

CabecaDeMarmore / istockphoto


Blue Water Margarita
Handemandaci /istockphoto

22. Blueberry-lemon margarita

As the weather warms up, we start dreaming about those balmy summer nights spent sipping on refreshing drinks. And for summertime cocktails, it’s hard to think of a better flavor combination than blueberry and lemons. If you’re looking for a new cocktail to try out when the temperatures start to rise, you should check out this recipe for Blueberry Meyer Lemon Margaritas.

Cocktails on the beach
gmast3r / istockphoto

23. Cocktails that taste like a vacation in a glass

If you can’t get away for the Fourth this year, at least you can feel like you have!

These destination-themed cocktails are perfect for all your summer sipping.

Mojito pitcher
sveta_zarzamora / iStock

24. Mojitos

Got a crowd coming over? Make a pitcher of mojitos picture to enjoy while you watch the fireworks! This article also has a slew of other easy appetizers, drinks, sides and meals if you’re still looking to fill your Fourth of July spread!

swimming after eating
kiankhoon / istockphoto

Kaitlyn Farley

Kaitlyn is MediaFeed’s senior editor. She is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, specializing in social justice and investigative reporting. She has worked at various radio stations and newsrooms, covering higher-education, local politics, natural disasters and investigative and watchdog stories related to Title IX and transparency issues.