4th of july

The 31 Best Things to Cook This July

updated Jun 29, 2021
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Summer is in full swing, and I could not be more thrilled about it this year. I plan to kick off the month with a family cookout at my house for the Fourth of July, which also happens to be my grandma’s birthday. There will be burgers and dogs, potato salad, corn on the cob, ice pops for the kiddos, and a flag cake dotted with fresh berries.

Farmers markets and gardens are bursting with all the summer favorites right now. Blueberries, stone fruit, zucchini, summer squash, and cucumbers are in their prime. And tomatoes and sweet corn are popping up as well. There’s always so much I want to make with July’s bounty of produce, but never enough time. Please tell me I’m not the only one who feels this way. At the top of my bucket list for the month is a simple summery vegetable gratin, chocolate-kissed zucchini bread, blueberry cobbler, and zucchini melts.

Does anyone else’s motivation for weeknight cooking come to a screeching halt during the hot days of July? This month calls for extra-easy, low-effort dinners. And bonus points for the ones that don’t heat up the kitchen even more. Grilled shrimp skewers, Italian subs, cold sesame noodle salad, and slow cooker pulled pork are some of the favorites I’ll be keeping in my meal plan this month.

Did you know that July 18 is National Ice Cream Day? I didn’t make homemade ice cream at all last summer, so this year I’m making up for lost time. I just popped my ice cream maker bowl in the freezer, with the goal of making at least two batches this month. I’ll start with two-ingredient watermelon sherbet (all you need is watermelon and sweetened condensed milk!) and also plan to make chocolate ice cream with crushed Oreos mixed in. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, do not fret: There are still several ways you can make ice cream without a machine.

From potato salad and ice cream to zucchini fritters and slow cooker pulled pork, here are 31 of our favorite ideas for recipes to cook and bake throughout July.

1 / 31
Cold Sesame Chicken and Noodle Salad
This crowd-pleasing chilled noodle salad brings bright and savory flavors to the potluck, along with chicken and a rich sesame-ginger dressing.
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2 / 31
Instant Pot Baked Beans
These five-ingredient Instant Pot baked beans are just the thing you need to have for summer potlucks and backyard barbecues.
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3 / 31
Chocolate Ice Cream
I'm not saying this is the best chocolate ice cream ever (I haven't tasted them all yet), but it's a close contender.
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4 / 31
Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread
If, like Food Editor-at-Large, Christine, you get gifted a gigantic zucchini or pick some from your garden, you should definitely follow her lead and bake a loaf or two of chocolate zucchini bread for breakfast.
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5 / 31
French-Inspired Potato Salad
The flavors here are inspired by the classic French salad Niçoise — without the eggs, olives, and tuna, of course, but with that punchy Dijon vinaigrette we all know and love.
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6 / 31
Tomato Tarte Tatin
If you're on the lookout for a French-inspired recipe to make for Bastille Day, you can't go wrong with a simple yet showstopping savory tarte tatin with caramelized cherry tomatoes.
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7 / 31
2-Ingredient Watermelon Sherbet
You'll need watermelon and a cup of sweetened condensed milk — this is the magic ingredient that sweetens, thickens, and stabilizes the finished sherbet.
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8 / 31
Mini Baked Alaskas
"These were on my must-make list last summer," says Senior Contributing Food Editor, Sheela. "But I never got around to it, so it's definitely happening this year!"
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9 / 31
The Ultimate Fresh Blueberry Cobbler
July means blueberry season! And if you make just one thing with your haul, it should definitely be a sweet cobbler.
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10 / 31
Black Bean & Corn Salsa
"This dip is also my favorite no-cook dinner in summer," says Food Editor Kelli. "I love to stuff it in a soft tortilla with sliced avocado or guac".
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11 / 31
One-Pot Mediterranean Shrimp and Rice Pilaf
This vibrant one-pot dinner is the easy weeknight meal Managing Editor, Lauren, is keeping on regular rotation in her meal plan this month.
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12 / 31
3-2-1 Pitcher Margaritas
Made with just tequila, orange liqueur, and lime juice, this pitcher drink is a good one to keep in your back pocket for get-togethers this month.
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13 / 31
Sheldon Simeon's Kamaboko Dip
Studio Food Editor Amelia wants to cook every single recipe we shared from Sheldon Simeon back in May. And this month she's excited to make this dip on repeat when she has friends over, because she knows it's going to be a total crowd-pleaser.
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14 / 31
Simple Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
This dead-simple pulled pork acts as the base for tacos or BBQ sandwiches with a salt, pepper, and brown sugar rub. So easy, you'll want to commit it to memory.
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15 / 31
Panko Parmesan Zucchini Fritters
The moment Studio Food Editor Jesse saw these panko and Parmesan zucchini fritters, he knew he needed to make them! "I've seen beautiful zucchini at my farmers market the past few weekends, so my goal is to finally buy some and put them to use this weekend and make these!"
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16 / 31
Cherry Pie Bars
Sweet cherries are unmistakably the star of this easy summer dessert, although I have no doubt you'll love the almond-scented, buttery crust just as much.
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17 / 31
One-Skillet Salsa Pork Chops
This easy weeknight skillet is a great way to put a couple pounds of zucchini or summer squash to work. Best of all it comes together in a flash with just a handful of ingredients.
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18 / 31
Summer Vegetable Gratin
Bookmark this easy summer side for when you're loaded up with summer squash and tomatoes.
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19 / 31
Ice Cream Sandwiches for a Crowd
These ice cream sandwiches are Food Editor Kelli's go-to for summer gatherings. "They're sneaky easy (think: refrigerated cookie dough and store-bought ice cream) and always such a hit with everyone! I'll be making them for all of our cookouts this summer."
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20 / 31
Classic Italian Sub Sandwich
This classic, make ahead-friendly sandwich is piled with Italian cured meats, provolone cheese, tomatoes, shredded iceberg lettuce, and picked peppers. It's the perfect dinner for when it's too hot to cook or you're headed for a day at the beach.
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21 / 31
Rotisserie Chicken Panzanella
Rotisserie chicken, toasted bread cubes, and sweet summer veggies combine for a shortcut panzanella you'll want to eat all summer long.
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22 / 31
Juicy Grilled Shrimp
Grilled shrimp skewers are Lifestyle Director, Lisa's, answer to a quick, easy dinner without heating up the kitchen.
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23 / 31
Zucchini Melts
Looking for new ways to cook with zucchini? So is Deputy Food Director, Grace. She tells me that she's been craving these sandwiches ever since we published them last summer, and it's the first thing she plans to make in July.
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24 / 31
Black Bean Tostadas with Coconut-Corn Salsa
Contributing Editor, Patty, has been eyeing these tostadas all spring and now that fresh sweet corn is available, they're a no-brainer. She plans to serve them assembled for the grown-ups of the house and snack platter-style for the kids.
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25 / 31
Flag Cake
This whipped cream-gilded cake has a colorful surprise inside that makes this vanilla-cake-meets-berry-shortcake recipe stand out from the rest. Raspberry also make a nice stand-in for strawberries.
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26 / 31
Avocado Chicken Salad
Assistant Food Editor, Nicole, is all about make-ahead lunches, and this month she has her sights set on the ultimate warm-weather chicken salad.
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27 / 31
Pesto Chicken Tart
Summer is not lacking in food all-stars — corn, tomatoes, peaches, watermelon — but Production Editor, Tracey, finds herself drawn to a less heralded ingredient: basil. "I plan on making lots of pesto this summer and will certainly be putting it to use when I make this pesto chicken tart for dinner over and over."
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28 / 31
Classic Potato Salad
This classic potato salad is just like the one Food Editor Kelli's grandma used to make. She considers it a must-make for family cookouts.
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29 / 31
Summer Peach and Tahini Tart
Like so many of us, Executive Editor, Patty, eagerly awaits the July-ish arrival of stone fruit. "I'm especially excited to make Amelia's peach tahini tart for upcoming summer parties. I love that it calls for packaged puff pastry — something I usually have in the freezer — so I don't have to deal with making a pie crust in a hot tiny kitchen."
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30 / 31
Summery Salmon Niçoise
Dinner salads are always a good idea when it feels too hot to cook. Baked salmon takes the place of tuna in the twist on classic French Nicoise salad.
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31 / 31
No-Churn Ice Cream
This ice cream is made with only two ingredients, requires no stovetop cooking, and can be made with just a hand mixer. No ice cream machine needed.
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