While the Fourth of July means something a little different to each of us, there’s one thing we all celebrate with equal vigor: the food. There’s nothing quite like gathering family and friends a sunny day, firing up the grill, and chowing down on food that reminds us that the Revolutionary War was worth it. But for some reason, hot dogs and hamburgers have taken over what we tend to think of as Independence Day cuisine—leaving the plant-based eaters to wonder, liberty and justice… for all?
No need for another revolution, vegans. We’ve put together a list of delicious plant-based recipes you can bring to any Fourth of July cookout without getting major side-eye for bringing a giant tofurkey no one will touch. From appetizers that whet the patriotic palate to grill fare that beats the fireworks, these vegan dishes prove that you don’t need meat to have a great summer barbecue.
1. Cauliflower Hot Wings
This recipe reminds us that cauliflower can become anything you want it to become. Even if that thing is a hot wing. Seasoned with smoky paprika, spicy Sriracha, and savory BBQ sauce, these cauli-wings taste more like meat than some meats do. Cook them ahead of time and serve up with some store-bought or homemade vegan aioli on the side.
2. Vegan Stuffed Mushrooms
This go-to appetizer is typically off-limits due to ALL the cheese. But this plant-based alternative is packed with creamy potatoes and garlicky spinach, making it a crowd-pleaser for vegans and dairy lovers alike. Top with bread crumbs, put them on a party platter, and watch how quickly they disappear.
3. Grilled Cilantro, Lime, and Paprika Corn on the Cob
This isn’t your typical corn on the cob. Grilled, lightly charred, and coated with smoked paprika, fresh lime juice, salt, and cilantro, these golden ears will be a hit, no matter the crowd. Serve it hot off the grill—and if it doesn’t all get eaten, use what’s left to whip up a sweet corn, avocado, and black bean salad.
4. Grilled Eggplant Tahini Satay Kebabs
This recipe takes eggplant where no eggplant has gone before—out of the baba ganoush container and onto a skewer. Bold, nutty, and intensely savory, this grilled eggplant satay works well as an appetizer or the main course. Toss in some extra cilantro and season with fresh lime juice.
5. Herbed Red Potato Salad
Whether you’re short on time or just looking for a simple side that will wow a crowd, this mayo-less potato salad is the perfect option. Small new potatoes (we’re talking type, not age) are sliced thin and doused in olive oil, lemon juice, and dijon mustard—mixed with chopped onion and celery and topped with parsley. The end product? A delightfully herby potato salad that won’t get mysteriously lumpy or leave you feeling weird halfway through the day. That’s no small potatoes—even though it is.
6. Sundried Tomato Chickpea Burgers
This dish proves that, contrary to popular belief, meat alone does not make a burger. This garden whopper is packed with flavor (think sweet basil and sun-dried tomatoes) as well as protein—with each bite powered by chickpeas and crushed almonds. On top of that? It’s gluten-free, so almost anyone can enjoy these.
7. Smoky Vegan Carrot Dogs
If you thought you’d never eat another hot dog, think again. ‘Carrot dogs’ may sound lame, but these puppies are as juicy and flavorful as the real dogs. The secret of this dish lies in the marinade—which features garlic, soy sauce, maple syrup, liquid smoke, and a few other unusual suspects that come together to make it an irresistible, juicy treat. After tossing it on the grill, serve up with some grilled onion and relish for an underdog ‘dog everyone will root for.
8. Sweet and Spicy Slaw
Coleslaw doesn’t have to be 90 percent mayo. With crunchy carrots, cabbage, and cranberries, and seasoned with lime juice, maple syrup, and chipotle chili, this recipe is lighter, sweeter, and spicier than the traditional stuff.
9. Vegan Ribs With Sticky Tamarind BBQ Sauce
The homemade sweet tamarind BBQ sauce alone makes these seitan ribs worth tossing on the grill. (Definitely make a little extra to save for later and drizzle on top of seitan, tofu, or veggie stir-fries.) Bring them to the cookout, feed ’em to a friendly omnivore or two, and watch the surprise on their faces when they realize these ribs come from a plant.
10. Chocolate Ganache Tart
Beef or tempeh, ribs or seitan—at the end of the day, we can all put our differences aside for chocolate. With a flaky almond flour crust and a dense dark chocolate espresso filling, this tart is for true chocolate lovers. Toss fresh blueberries and raspberries on top, chill for a few hours, and slice it up for a summer treat that no one will turn down.
11. Strawberry Lemon Shortcake
Looking for a light dessert? This fruit-packed shortcake is the perfect summer treat to bring to a cookout, picnic, or pool party. Bake, slice, and top each biscuit with vegan yogurt, fresh strawberries, and, if your sweet tooth is acting up, a little powdered sugar.