Six Recipes to Make-Ahead for the 4th of July

Photo provided by Carolyn Johnson

Photo provided by Carolyn Johnson

Memorial Day has a way of sneaking up on us.  It’s the first long weekend that heralds the arrival of summer.  Then Labor Day is fun, but it’s also bittersweet, because everyone is in back-to-school mode and the end of summer is upon us.  That’s why the Fourth of July is the Goldilocks of summer holidays: it is just right.  Everyone is in full-on summer mode, sun dresses and flip flops are in full effect, and spending time with family and friends is everyone’s focus.

That said, the food for your Fourth of July party won’t cook itself.  Here are six make-ahead recipes to ensure that you can enjoy the Fourth and eat well at the same time.   

Strawberry Chocolate Icebox Cake

Let’s start with the most important part of the meal: dessert.  Icebox cakes are great to make ahead and let sit in the freezer or fridge until they are needed, and a strawberry chocolate icebox cake is no different.  You can swap out a different cookie center to easily change the flavor.

Kale Salad

Most people think a salad can’t be made ahead of time, but unlike some of its green counterparts, kale doesn’t wilt or get soggy when left in the fridge for a day.  You can make a kale and almond salad well before your party, and your guests will thank you for having a healthy and delicious option to balance out dessert.

Barbeque Ribs

Finger-licking good ribs are a staple of any summer BBQ, but you don’t have to spend the holiday standing over a hot grill.  Instead, prepare make-ahead barbeque ribs and do the roasting ahead of time.

Cornbread Muffins

Nothing complements ribs quite like cornbread.  Instead of cutting and serving the cornbread, make it ahead in muffin tins for easy access.  A basic corn muffin recipe only takes about a half an hour to make, and it can be finished ahead of time.  Of course, they will disappear as soon as you put them on the table.

Patriotic Fruit Kabobs

Red, white and blue fruit skewers are a great way to incorporate a healthy side dish into the theme of your Fourth of July picnic.  For those who aren’t skilled at cooking, fruit skewers are more about assembly than anything else.  They are easy to pick up, but watch any sharp ends around the kiddos at your cookout.

Bean Salad With Bacon and Chives

In a day that’s typically full of hot dogs and cocktails, it is important to work in some healthy options.  High protein and fiber beans are paired with a mustard vinaigrette and just enough bacon to make bean salad a tasty and healthy side dish.

Whether hosting an entire party or bringing one dish to a potluck picnic, the Fourth of July is a great time to try new recipes and spend time with friends and family; but you don’t want your cooking and meal preparation to interfere with having fun, so try one of these make-ahead recipes and enjoy the holiday without distractions.