Food & Drink

Sides for America! Great, cheap recipes to take to your 4th of July party

Because George Washington died for your right to wrap things in bacon
Because George Washington died for your right to wrap things in bacon

Thanks to thousands of years of celebrating on behalf of the human race, there are holidays for just about everyone. The devout and nog-lovers have Christmas, the hideous and horny have Halloween, dreidel aficionados have Hannukah, but what of us, the frugal foodies? If only there was a holiday devoted to eating awesome, messy food made of the cheapest ingredients and drinking cheap beer while we’re at it. Also, it would be great if there were flags. And explosions. You get where I’m going here,

4th of July is quite possibly the best holiday available for people who love to cook and hate to spend a dime doing it. Even if you don’t happen to be running your big 4th of July barbecue, the fact is that you’re still expected to bring some sides, because that’s what Abraham Lincoln would do. So, if you don’t want to seem like a complete and eternal tool, you’ll bring something, ideally tastier than stale hot dog buns and ice. Here are a few recipes that require minimal effort for maximum “Holy crap, did they make those?! Get them a beer!”, as well as being as budget-friendly as you are American. That’s “very,” by the way.

1) Cobb Salad…IN A BACON CUP!!!

That’s right motherfuckers, it just got American up in this bitch. Sure, your friends are already grilling the burgers and hot dogs, and they’ve relegated you to “salad”,  but that’s no reason you should show up with something that isn’t incased in meat. This recipe is definitely a crowd-pleaser, and will rightly earn you the respect and admiration of everyone within a fifty-mile radius, but there is one more secret: this recipe is really not difficult. Bacon cups, while an achievement in human engineering, take no more than two cupcake tins pressed against each other in the oven. Wrap some bacon around the bottom of one and shut the other on top of it, and stick into the oven until cups. Make a big batch of salad, bring them in two different containers, and set up when you arrive. couldn’t be simpler, and again: cups made of bacon. You could be served divorce papers in a cup made of bacon and it’d probably be okay.


For Bacon Cups:

24 strips of bacon (thin and cheap bacon is better!)

For Salad:

1 head iceberg lettuce, romaine, or anything else green and leafy

2 tomatoes, cubed

1 avocado (not peas)

2 oz. blue cheese

4 soft-boiled eggs, cut into wedges

1 chicken breast (ideally seared in leftover bacon fat)

For Dressing:

3/4 cup canola oil

1/4 cup olive oil

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

1 tbsp dijon mustard

1/2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce

1/2 tbsp Soy Sauce

2 cloves garlic (minced)

For the bacon, wrap it around the bottom of a cupcake tin, as mentioned, and place another tin on top, and ideally weigh it down with something heavy that doesn’t explode in ovens. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes, until crispy. Turn ’em upside down and let them drain, then stack ’em with paper towels in the between. Shove them in a container and bring to party. As for salad, shove dressing ingredients in a blender and let it rip, then throw all of the salad ingredients in a bowl and toss with dressing right before headed to your sweet party. When you get there, just scoop the salad into bowls and watch the jaws hit the floor. Serves 6-ish

2) Watermelon Gazpacho

There’s nothing more American than gazpacho because…The Spanish…Barbary War…Aw, fuck it. It’s hot. Stupid hot. And everyone at the party could use something ice-cold that isn’t beer covered in dirty ice. That’s where ‘zpach comes in. It’s refreshing as hell, and a whole lot lighter than most of the other barbecue fare people will be showing up with. Of course, if someone were to happen to spill a little vodka into the gazpacho, that wouldn’t be the worst thing to happen either.


1 watermelon (bonus points if you hollow it out and fill it later!)

2 tomatoes

1 jalapeno pepper

1/4 cup red onion, chopped

1 seedless cucumber

1/3 cup walnuts

1 tbspn balsamic vinegar

Make sure everything is roughly chopped. Toss that shit in a blender. Done. Serves about 6, and don’t forget to bring cups.

3) Esquites

That’s right. They took ‘er jobs. While this Mexican corn salad may not be the most American dish available, it does remind us of what makes this country great: Mexicans. Wait, no, something about a melting pot of goodness, and that goodness being delicious spicy corn in this case. Plus, we owe them for helping us get rid of Donald Trump.


4 cups of corn, either fresh or frozen

1 tspn garlic powder

1/2 tspn cumin

1/2 teaspoon coriander

1 jalapeno pepper

1 big handful cojita cheese, crumbled, plus more for garnish

2 tbspn greek yogurt

1 tbspn cilantro, chopped (use flat-leaf parsley if not a cilantro fan)

2 limes, juiced

All the Mexican hot sauce you can find

In a large pot/pan/spitoon warm up the corn (if frozen, if raw then wait for it to cook. It should be 15-20 minutes on medium, but whenever it’s warm and delicious). After that, toss it with the rest of the ingredients, and crumble cheese on top of that. Boom! You’ve got a dish that makes a clear argument for lax immigration statutes. Serves 6-ish. Bring chips.


4) Old Fashioned Jello Shots!

‘Cause America! For some reason, taking our alcohol in solid form has become just as American as talking slowly and loudly in English to foreigners and our steadfast belief that the metric system is dumb. Now, if you happen to be on Pinterest, then you’ll know that the new, hip thing sweeping through the community of crafting college bros (yeah, they exist!) is jello shots set in hollowed-out oranges, then sliced up to look like little wedges of boozy heaven, thus improving an already tasty fruit. Well, if you’re looking for extra brownie points and would like to try this endeavor, there’s no more American cocktail to try than the Old Fashioned. Here’s exactly why our nation is so awesome:


1 1/2 cups water

1 cup granulated sugar

10 tbspn Angostura Bitters

2/3 cups soda water

2 envelopes gelatin

2/3 cup Bourbon

4 oranges, hollowed out (helps if you cut off a little of the bottom, but not enough to cut into the middle)

Combine the first three ingredients in a pot, bring to boil, and then let cool ’til barely warm. Add soda water and sprinkle in gelatin, mixing until completely blended. Remove from heat and add whiskey, stir well, and then pour into the oranges and refrigerate. Cool overnight, at least, and then cut with a very sharp knife into sixths. Get blurry.

Happy America Day, y’all!

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