Illustration by Stephanie de Angelis
The Fourth of July is a food lover’s holiday. From hot-off-the-grill burgers to tangy summer salads, the flavor possibilities are just about as thrilling as the fireworks show post-sunset. But we’re the first to admit that the menu can get tired quick. In lieu of your basic hot dogs and guacamole dip, we’ve gathered the latest and greatest cookbooks that will help you discover something new. Whether you’re hosting your own backyard barbecue or want to bring the best damn dish to your friend’s potluck picnic, these kitchen-side tomes have something for vegans, vegetarians, and meatheads alike. Ready to eat your way through the long weekend? Dig in.
If presentation is top priority, look no further than this collection of Instagram-worthy plates of colorful nibbles and quirky bites for parties of all sizes. Novice chefs and aficionados alike can delight in creating the likes of lavender-tinted dips, pickled pink deviled eggs, pastel whips of pistachio cream, and more.
Indulgent July 4 cookouts can be a total bummer for healthy eaters, but the L.A.-based duo known as Thug Kitchen is throwing a metaphorical bone to vegans and vegetarians. Skim through the no-BS recipes of Thug Kitchen Party Grub: For Social Motherf*ckers for feisty plant-based dishes—from casseroles to sides to snacks—that are sure to appease the insatiable appetites of even the most carnivorous among us.
For meat-lovers, Austin’s Franklin Barbecue is a must-visit on any trip to the Lone Star State. This holiday weekend, barbecue aficionados can re-create highlights from the menu with this self-titled manifesto by Franklin’s namesake grill manager, Aaron Franklin. More a philosophical text than a recipe-laden cookbook, Franklin shares everything he’s learned about the art of charcoal cooking, from how to create the ideal smoker to his secrets to getting biggest flavor out of brisket, ribs, and sausages.
What do you get when you combine rosé, Sprite, a Bud Light Lime Straw-Ber-Rita, and a dash of (surprise!) 5-Hour Energy? The “Drake,” of course—just one of the many inventive (and, yes, heartbeat-accelerating) cocktails in Energy, a collection of drink recipes that makes good use of ingredients like Red Bull, Monster, and other over-the-counter energy boosters. Take notes before your big barbecue and wow friends with hyphy concoctions that will make Four Loko seem like a distant memory.
Those with a sweet tooth can bask in the glorious desserts of this cookbook, which all use ripe in-season fruits as the main ingredient. Run (don’t walk) to your nearest farmers’ market to create delectable treats using fresh strawberries, juicy peaches, plump berries, and others, all in time for that Fourth of July party.
Consider this the ultimate healthy cookbook for people who don’t like cooking. Every impressive recipe in this ditty is vegan, comprised of 10 ingredients (or fewer), requires only one piece of kitchen equipment to whip up, and ready to serve in only 30 minutes. Procrastinators, take note.
Whether you’re celebrating the Fourth far from the nearest ice cream truck’s route or just want to craft something you can’t get anywhere else, this new guide is the ultimate resource for everything sweet and cold. Pick it up to create your own flavorful homemade ice cream, sherbet, granitas, and frozen yogurt.
The grill is the workhorse of Fourth of July, serving up the weekend’s yummiest, smokiest bites. In this exhaustive collection of recipes, grill god Fred Thompson teaches you how to get the most out of yours with his how-tos on everything from classic cheeseburgers and hot dogs to grilled pizza (yum), beer can chicken, and healthy veggie sides.
Salivating yet? Let us know which recipe you're trying out for the weekend, and if you have a traditional go-to that's a proven killer, share it with us below and we may feature your recipe on Facebook!