Fourth of July recipes: Treats for camping, grilling, the beach and more

Fourth of July recipes should be easy, hearty, and great to eat outside. (Photo: iStock/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Every Fourth of July brings with it certain traditions. For some, it’s all about the fireworks. For others, it’s a time to camp and enjoy the great outdoors, or perhaps a chance to hit the beach with a towel, some sunblock and a well-stocked cooler.

Whatever your Fourth may look like, we’ve got a few unexpected recipes you may want to try. 

We’ve scoured the internet for some of the most delicious bites we could find, focusing on recipes that are outdoor-friendly and pack at least some nutritional value.

Best of all, most of these recipes are highly kid-friendly – or can be made so with the booze omitted. (But no pressure – grown-ups deserve treats, too!) 

Read on for our picks!

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For a grill night: A grilled edible cheeseboard

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This may seem an unconventional pick, but we figure you’ve got all the info you need on grilling brats and burgers. So how about a dazzling (and much simpler than it looks) appetizer?

This stunner of a recipe from Food Network’s Ginevra Iverson makes ingenious use of pizza dough (homemade or store-bought, either will work) as the basis for a delicious edible cheeseboard. 

The serving platter itself is tasty, studded with grapes, nuts, rosemary, and other cheeseboard staples. (Feel free to get inventive here!) But the magic happens when the brie gets involved. 

Honestly, we can’t think of a better way to impress your guests with something relatively easy to make. Enjoy!

Get the recipe here

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For a picnic: Ina Garten’s pesto pasta salad

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The Barefoot Contessa herself dreamed up this deliciously summery pasta salad, which ticks three boxes on the "great for a picnic" checklist: It’s simple, it’s filling, and it’s refreshing on a hot day. 

Garten’s recipe calls for both fusilli and bow-tie pasta, which adds some visual and textural flair, but the real star of the show here is the sauce, which blends pesto (homemade or store-bought) with frozen spinach, lemon juice, and mayo for a taste that’s equal parts creamy and bright. 

Add in some peas, pine nuts, and Parmesan (it’s a recipe with a lot of Ps!) and you’ve got the basis for a terrific meal in the great outdoors.

Get the recipe here

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For the beach: The "Camping" muffuletta

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Prep these delicious, hearty sandwiches (dreamed up by the Food Network Kitchen) the night before a beach outing for maximum impact. (Muffulettas benefit from extra chilling time.)

The cleverest thing about this recipe is that it uses what could be a downside for a day at the beach and turns it into a positive. If you’ve got a meal in a cooler, there’s a decent chance it’ll get squished, soaked or both, even if packed very carefully. But the muffuletta, a pressed sandwich, is meant to be pressed. So as long as they’re wrapped carefully (and maybe tucked into a Ziploc bag for good measure), it turns the downsides of a cooler-based meal into a necessary part of the process!

And after the chilling and squishing is done, you get to feast on crispy bread, flavorful cold cuts, delicious cheese, and the spicy, briny olive spread that makes the muffuletta such a reliably delightful sandwich. 

Oh, and as the title might suggest, this sandwich is also a great pick for a camping trip!

Get the recipe here.

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For camping: Cajun shrimp, sausage and veggie foil packets

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Speaking of camping – when it comes to a meal cooked around a fire, two methods reign supreme. There’s the sort of meal you cook on a stick: Brats, s’mores, the odd kebab, you get the idea. And then there’s the campfire miracle that is the foil packet meal.

Aluminum foil may be the stealth MVP of cooking outdoors, especially when you consider all the benefits outside the delicious food you get to eat at the end of the process. Foil packet meals are easy to prep in advance, a breeze to transport, largely hands-off during the cooking process, and require almost no clean-up. What’s not to love?

While you can make many, many things in a foil packet, we’re excited about this flavorful and healthy take from The Recipe Critic, which pairs shrimp, sausage, and fresh summer veggies with cajun-inspired seasoning for a piquant feast that’s sure to be a crowd-pleaser. 

And if you’ve got leftover foil and a can of cherry pie filling, well… use your imagination and enjoy the spoils. 

Get the recipe here

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For an outdoor adventure: Espresso date bites

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Are you a hiker? A biker? A trail-traversing adventurer? If so, you know how important it is to take along food that’s nutritious, energizing, easy to eat on the go and (perhaps most importantly) lightweight. 

But just because pack space is at a premium doesn’t mean you need to resign yourself to bland granola bars and energizing gel packets. There are loads of great recipes out there, but we’re intrigued by this Backpacker recipe for little protein-rich bites with the flavors of chocolate and espresso.

Whip up some of these bad boys (a batch makes about 15 balls) and hit the hiking trails knowing you’ve got a tasty treat in store for you further down the path. 

Get the recipe here

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For a grown-up backyard hang: Orange and Aperol pops

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While many outdoor adventures take place far, far away from refrigerators, plenty of folks enjoy the beauty of nature from the comfort of their own porch, patio or backyard. And it’s situations like those that call for treats like these boozy popsicles. 

Food52’s incredibly appetizing orange and Aperol pops call fresh orange juice – always refreshing – as a base, which is then supplemented by honey, orange zest, a little salt, a tiny amount of powdered gelatin and, yes, Aperol. It’s that wonderfully summery, refreshingly bitter spirit that makes all the difference here – though it also makes these popsicles a for-grownups-only proposition.

A word of caution: Because alcohol has a different freezing point than water and other liquids, odds are these beauties will melt more quickly than you realize. But chowing down on them will be hard to resist anyway, and if dripping is a worry, consider serving them upside down in a glass with a splash of prosecco. 

Get the recipe here

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