What the Cook’s Country Team Is Eating and Drinking This Fourth of July

Some inspiration for your Independence Day celebration.

Published July 4, 2022.

As an Australian experiencing my very first Fourth of July celebrations, I realize how lucky I am to be surrounded by a wealth of experienced cooks, recipe developers, and downright big-time food nerds.

So when I was wondering what I should be cooking for my loved ones on the big day, naturally my first instinct was to turn to my colleagues on the Cook’s Country team to see what they would be whipping up . . . and they really didn’t disappoint.

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10 ingredients. 45 minutes. Quick, easy, and fresh weeknight recipes.

Get inspired, just as I was, to cook up a delicious feast with these test cook–approved recipes for Independence Day.

Texas Barbecue Brisket

Texas Barbecue Brisket

The challenge: a whole, hulking 12-pound brisket cooked to juicy tenderness completely on a backyard charcoal grill. Could it be done?
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My family has recently moved from our city condo to a house in the suburbs with a sprawling yard. Now, I’m not going to say that I sought out a home with a yard expressly for the purpose of buying a charcoal grill to make Morgan Bolling’s Texas Barbecue Brisket . . . but I’m also not not going to say that. I have vivid memories of trying this brisket for the first time when it was being photographed in the office; I was blown away by how utterly delicious a brisket could be when seasoned only with salt, pepper, and smoke. And so tender! So juicy! A cut of beef this big (12 pounds!) takes a long time to cook, so I’ll be waking up early to get it started, but then I’ll be rewarded by a leisurely day spent outside, letting the grill do all the hard work.

Grilled Salmon Fillets and Crispy Pea Fritters

Grilled Salmon Fillets

Set your fears aside: If you stick to our method, your grilled salmon will release easily and cleanly from the cooking grate.
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In New England, where I was raised and currently reside, serving salmon and peas is a Fourth of July tradition (some say it goes back to Revolutionary times). This year I’m going to make Cook’s Country’s Grilled Salmon Fillets: This recipe has got a lot of test-kitchen wisdom and smarts baked (grilled?) into it. If you’ve ever been hesitant to grill fish, this is the recipe to calm your nerves and give you confidence. As for the peas, Amanda Luchtel’s fried Crispy Pea Fritters are just the thing—crunchy, salty, and festively bright green inside. The recipe calls for frozen peas, which make it easy pea-sy (sorry). Fireworks in your mouth, people! 

Grilled Lamb Burgers

Grilled Lamb Burgers

For more robust and interesting burgers, change that “ham” to “lamb.”
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This Fourth of July, I’m celebrating my freedom to grill burgers. But not just any old prefab, frozen patties. A special occasion calls for a special recipe. So I’m making Bryan Roof’s Grilled Lamb Burgers. This recipe is a master class in burger making, with a bulletproof method for getting juicy burgers with a gorgeous seared-on spice crust every single time. The crucial step is freezing the patties briefly until they are firm but not frozen solid. Genius! Chilling the patties this way allows for extra time on the grill, meaning the burgers have plenty of time to get flavorful char but don’t overcook. The contrast of the flame-kissed char and the tender and juicy, just-rosy interior is unbeatable. But these burgers aren’t great just because they’re cooked well. Coating the ground lamb patties generously with a spice rub of salt, pepper, earthy cumin, and just enough cinnamon adds an uncommonly delicious complexity and warmth that pairs beautifully with the lamb. So this Independence Day, free your tastebuds from the tyranny of the same old beef, and make your hamburger a lamb burger.

Kansas City–Style Barbecue Ribs

Kansas City–Style Barbecue Ribs

These lacquered, tender, sticky ribs check all the boxes.
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The Fourth of July for me is always about ribs. One of my favorite foods of all time (they were always what I wanted for my birthday dinner), they are king for the Fourth. This year, I’ll be making our Kansas City–Style Barbecue Ribs. They have just the right amount of sweetness and tang from what is, for me, the perfect rib sauce. I’ll set up the charcoal snake and water pan the night before so that in the morning I can brew a pot of coffee, pack a cooler full of beers, set up a lawn chair, and get out there bright and early. Good barbecue takes time. I love posting up with a good playlist (usually the Grateful Dead) and enjoying the rays of sunshine, the smell of smoke, and a slower pace. Ribs can be enjoyed as a snack for a larger crowd, or if you’re like me, you can enjoy a rack all to yourself; either way, make these and there’s “nothing left to do but smile, smile, smile.” 

French Bread Pizza and Scotcheroos

Pepperoni French Bread Pizza

What do you get when you combine garlic bread and pizza? Layers of flavor.
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I usually travel to my parent's cabin around the Fourth, where we tend to lean heavily into the outdoor activities during the day. While burgers and dogs (along with all the classic Midwestern “salads”) are usually on the menu at some point, we tend to have pizza the night of the Fourth. If we aren’t cruising down the river to get our favorite pizza, we are making ’zas at home. Jessica Rudolph’s French bread pizzas are a fun and easy way to make pizzas for a crowd without having to make dough. Set up a bunch of toppings and allow each person to customize their own pizza before popping them into the oven. After enjoying a much-needed dinner on the deck, we pack up our coolers and some Scotcheroos for dessert and pontoon over to the Old Oar House to enjoy some local fireworks and patriotic tunes while bobbing on the water (insert Lee Greenwood’s iconic “Proud to Be an American” here).

Fried Chicken, Biscuits, and Ice Cream

Ranch Fried Chicken

Hot oil is the key to crunchy fried chicken, but it’s deadly to fresh herbs. Or is it?
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While I love burgers, dogs, and ribs, every now and then I like to do something a little different for the Fourth. Several years back, I made fried chicken and biscuits, and I’m tempted to do that again this year since I’m not cooking for a crowd. Cook’s Country has so many fried chicken recipes that it’s tough to narrow down exactly which one to make, but some contenders are our herb-packed Ranch Fried Chicken and garlic butter–topped Garlic Fried Chicken. We also have some Grill-Fried Chicken Wings that would be great if I decide to fire up the grill instead of stand over a hot pot of oil. Any of these would go well with our easy Pat-in-the-Pan Biscuits. We have a new fried chicken sandwich recipe coming out in a future issue, so I might just give that a whirl instead. Fried chicken pairs especially well with bubbles, so I plan to open some sparkling wine from California. For dessert, I’m leaning toward Strawberry Sorbet or Strawberry Buttermilk No-Churn Ice Cream—the red swirls make it a little festive!

Blueberry Cream Pie and Sparkling Wine

Blueberry Cream Pie

This just might be the best blueberry pie you’ll ever eat.
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I have been recommending Jessica Rudolph’s Blueberry Cream Pie to everyone I know for the Fourth of July. It is so satisfyingly delicious with its lightly salted graham cracker crust, blueberry filling, and cream cheese topping. But the real kicker is it looks as delicious as it tastes. Jess developed this beautiful piping method that gives it a blue and white swirl and star look. I cannot think of a better way to say, "Happy Birthday America!" Of course, a delicious dessert is always so much better when paired with a little digestif, and for me that's a tall glass of sparkling wine. The effervescence makes it really feel like a celebration, and a crisp, bubbly drink is the perfect accompaniment to a fruit-filled pie. Just make sure that once the bottle is popped, you share it around with friends and family! What's a party without a celebratory clinking of glasses?

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