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These Make-Ahead 4th of July Recipes Will Make Your BBQ Stress-Free

By Ariane Resnick, CNC
June 22, 2022
Image credit: The Comfort of Cooking

The 4th of July should be a fun summer holiday, but it’s hard to feel festive when you’re busy in the kitchen all day. We’d all rather be able to enjoy the time with our friends and loved ones while eating delicious food, but since someone has to make it, the logistics can be a challenge. Simple, picnic-style recipes that can be made ahead are the simplest answer to this conundrum, so we gathered a collection of them together. These 4th of July food ideas are all made in advance, so you can serve them when you’re ready.

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The problem of cooking through the holiday is solved, and you’ll get to enjoy the food you made along with everyone else. These recipes are great for barbecues, cookouts, and picnics, and they pair perfectly with fireworks. 

1. Avocado Summer Rolls

Avocado Summer Rolls

Image credit: Love and Lemons

While fried spring rolls must be eaten the moment they’re cooked or they get soggy, fresh options like these avocado summer rolls are just as good the next day when tightly stored in a container in the fridge. Make the most of the summer’s bounty of produce with the peaches, avocado, basil, and watermelon radish used here, and bring the sauce on the side for dipping. Made with coconut milk and cashew butter, it’ll make these fresh rolls more filling — and extra flavorful. 

2. Lentil Cauliflower Picnic Salad

4th of July Food Ideas: Lentil Cauliflower Picnic Salad

Image credit: Shutterstock

The recipe author for this lentil cauliflower picnic salad boasts that it’s even better the day after it’s made, so you can rest assured that it will keep nicely overnight. We love the caraway seeds used to flavor the cauliflower, and the thinly-sliced red onions to add a little kick to the black lentils. If you haven’t tried black lentils, which don’t break down the way many other lentils do, this recipe is an excellent opportunity to do so. Should you opt to add crumbled feta cheese on top, do that right before you bring it out to serve, or store separately and crumble on top once it’s set up on a buffet. 

3. Melon, Prosciutto, and Mozzarella Skewers

Melon, Prosciutto, and Mozzarella Skewers

Image credit: The Comfort of Cooking

Not all picnic dishes need to be complex, as is proven by these delightful melon, prosciutto, and mozzarella skewers. Melon and prosciutto are a classic combination, but it can get messy serving wrapped melon slices. The little toothpick-style skewers take care of that problem, and the mozzarella adds even more protein — along with creaminess and richness. You can easily make these a day ahead. In lieu of chopped parsley, which requires storing separately, we recommend parsley leaves or basil leaves tucked right in with the other ingredients on the skewer. They’ll stay vibrant overnight in the fridge without issue, unlike cut herbs.

4. Rainbow Slaw

4th of July Food Ideas: Rainbow Slaw

Image credit: Carolines Cooking

Coleslaw is a fabulous cookout staple, but a rainbow slaw is more exciting, as well as even healthier, thanks to its variety of vegetables. One of our favorite make-ahead 4th of July food ideas, this slaw features fresh, raw carrots, snow peas, and red cabbage, so it’s a brighter take on the usual dish. And there’s no need for less-than-healthful mayo, either: This recipe employs a dressing made with apple cider vinegar and lime juice. We recommend swapping out the vegetable oil for a healthier choice such as avocado oil, so that you get the benefits of healthy fats along with your tasty vegetables. 

5. Crustless Vegetable Quiche

Crustless Vegetable Quiche

Image credit: The Kitchen Girl

Quiche is usually served warm because otherwise the crust will get soggy. Eliminate that problem, and make this vegetable quiche up to several days ahead by baking it without a crust. That will make it delectable at room temperature. Made flavorful with garlic, onion, fresh thyme, and Asiago cheese, you won’t even notice how healthy it is, thanks to other ingredients like kale and mushrooms. Because it tastes great at room temp, this is easy to cut ahead of time and store in a tightly sealed container. Take it out when ready to serve, and let everyone enjoy on their own time. 

6. Chickpea Salad Lettuce Wraps

4th of July Food Ideas: Chickpea Salad Lettuce Wraps

Image credit: Love and Lemons

Chickpea salad is a protein-rich alternative to tuna, and since this recipe contains no fish it’s also safer for a picnic. You can make the chickpea salad and avocado dill sauce a day or two ahead of time and wash and pack the lettuce the day prior, then let everyone assemble their own chickpea salad lettuce wraps on site. Quick pickled red onions are a tangy optional garnish, which can be stored separately and brought alongside in their own container. 

7. Georgian Eggplant Rolls with Walnuts

Georgian Eggplant Rolls With Walnuts

Image credit: Happy Kitchen

When we think about eggplant rolls, marinara sauce and cheese typically come to mind, as well as the need for an oven. Not so with these Georgian eggplant rolls: the fully assembled rolls keep in the fridge for up to three days. This gives you the chance to get all the work done early and relax when it’s time to eat. With ingredients including white wine vinegar, pomegranate seeds, and ground coriander, we guarantee there won’t be any other dish at your gathering that tastes quite like this unique one.

8. Citrus Chicken Quinoa Salad

4th of July Food Ideas: Citrus Chicken Quinoa Salad

Image credit: Sally’s Baking Recipes

With a fridge life of four to five days, this hearty citrus chicken quinoa salad is a main dish everyone will be talking about. Peeling and segmenting oranges, which is known as “supreming” them, makes for a gorgeous presentation that lends a delicacy to this otherwise basic fruit ingredient. The lime juice in the dressing should help prevent the avocado from browning, but if you’re worried, you can always omit it or add fresh avocado at the last minute. With fresh cilantro, orange juice, and smoked paprika, there are plenty of other strong flavors in this ample yet light recipe, making it one of our favorite 4th of July food ideas.

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