4th of July grilling ideas
The 4th of July is synonymous with two things: fireworks and grilling. Backyards, patios and parks across America fill with friends and family for the celebration of U.S. independence with million of grills firing up.
For many experienced backyard chefs, it’s just another day in the sun, but both new and experienced barbecuers can benefit from a few tips and tricks. Here are some ideas to make this 4th of July memorable and tasty.
4th of July grilling tips
Find the right grill for your menu and space
You can’t have a fantastic grilling experience without a high-quality grill. Whether you prefer charcoal or gas, there are some high-quality options to choose from, no matter your budget. For smaller events, charcoal kettle grills deliver classic flavor for about a dozen guests. If you’re planning a larger celebration, a larger gas grill provides more cooking space for more people.
Grill tools and accessories
To be a top backyard chef, you need the proper tools and accessories. There are plenty of grill toolsets available which offer the convenience of having all the essentials at your command. For DIY grillmasters who prefer their tools a la carte, make sure to include tongs, a grill brush and a spatula.
Before you fire up the grill, there are some more accessories that might make your barbecue better. If you’re cooking meat, you need a safe and accurate way to track the temperature, with either a wireless probe or an instant-read meat thermometer. It also doesn’t hurt to have a pair of grilling gloves on hand when the grill is blazing.
Thaw and season your meat
For the carnivores, nothing ruins a barbecue like raw, poorly seasoned or overcooked meat. First of all, never put cold meat on the grill — give your steaks, ribs and burgers time to reach room temperature first. Secondly, go easy on the seasoning. While chicken benefits from some complex seasoning blends and ribs do well with a rub, steaks and burgers need little more than salt and pepper.
Add salt to your meats while they come to room temperature and cover both sides in a moderate amount of freshly ground pepper. Be sure to get your grill preheated before throwing the meat onto the grates to ensure evenly cooked food.
Finally, make good use of your tools and keep your meat from overcooking. Don’t turn your meat over too many times or you risk losing the flavorful juices they create. Keep an eye on the temperature and remove your meat before it has fully cooked — your steak or burger will finish cooking perfectly while resting.
Don’t forget the veggies
There are two ways to cook vegetables on your grill: directly on the grates or in a roasting pan. Some vegetables are made to be cooked on the grates, like whole ears of corn. You can also make baked potatoes on the grill — just add oil and salt and loosely wrap them in foil.
For other vegetable dishes, a stainless steel roasting pan is the choice. Prepare a vegetable medley with some oil and seasonings and roast them in the same smoky space as the rest of your food. Another good option is cooking veggies on skewers. Bell peppers, okra, mushrooms and zucchini are all well-suited for veggie kabobs.
Get creative with hot dogs
Hot dogs are one of the most popular 4th of July foods across America, but there’s no reason they should be boring. Different places across the United States have regional specialty hot dogs with unusual and delicious topping variations. Consider choosing a regional staple to serve at your barbecue — Chicago, Detroit and Atlanta all have popular and unique varieties that are easy to make.
Another idea is to combine your dog with another favorite sandwich. One tasty hybrid is the BLT dog: a bacon-wrapped frank topped with fresh lettuce and tomato and dressed with mayo. Use a cast iron griddle to saute onions and peppers on one side of the grill while cooking sausage on the other. Throw it all on a bun, dress with mustard and enjoy.
Don’t skip dessert
Make your 4th of July one to remember with grilled desserts. It might sound strange, but some sweets are great on the grill. Grilled pineapple is delicious on its own; just slice one into rings and cook it directly on the grill. If you like strawberries, skewer a few in between wedges of pineapple and create delicious fruit kabobs. If you don’t have stainless steel skewers, make sure to soak wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes.
Another idea involves grilling sliced pound cake on the grates, once they’re clean. Add a bit of butter and toast slices on each side until you have grill marks and serve with your choice of fruits or ice cream.
Stay hydrated and refreshed
Keep everyone refreshed and hydrated while they enjoy your grilled feast. Make sure you have a high-quality cooler that’s big enough to hold your cans and bottles, plus enough ice to keep them cool. Try some interesting new canned drinks, like sparkling water or cold brew coffee.
Consider a fresh summer punch, which your guests can spike with their own spirits. Try mixing ginger beer with chilled pineapple and orange juices before serving it in a punch bowl full of strawberries, orange wedges, pineapple chunks and ice.
Matt Fleming is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.