Food Before Fireworks: A Simple 4th of July Menu

Summer is in full swing, and one of our favorite holidays is right around the corner: Fourth of July. This holiday will forever be associated with long summer nights, good food, and good company, all of which are also the makings of a great camping trip. We’d like to suggest that this year you skip the hometown parades, and instead, spend the three day weekend among the trees with some friends (bonus if you can see fireworks in the distance!).

While it might not be the ultimate “food holiday” (it’s hard to compete with Thanksgiving), I bet you can’t picture a Fourth of July celebration without conjuring up images of someone grilling burgers, corn on the cob, or biting into a juicy slice of watermelon. This food also lends itself well to camp cooking; it’s not particularly fussy or extravagant, and because so many summer foods are at their seasonal peaks, you don’t need to do much in the way of preparation to make them shine.

We’ve come up with a great menu for a Fourth of July celebration in the great outdoors. The star of this meal is the Southwest Sweet Potato Burger, a healthy, spicy, smoky and delicious alternative to the traditional quarter pounder. The burger patties can be made ahead of time at home, or in camp, and then cooked over your campfire or on a camp stove. Dressed up with spicy mayo, avocado, and fresh cilantro, we bet that even your omnivore friends will be coming back to the grill for seconds.

Southwest Sweet Potato Burgers (Veggie!)

Serves 4 | 25 minutes total

The Ingredients

  • 1 medium/½ lb sweet potato, to yield about 1 cup grated sweet potato
  • 1 can small white beans, drained
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ¾ – 1 cup panko
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • ½ tablespoon New Mexico chile powder (this one is fairly mild, you can substitute if desired)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon coriander
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ Tablespoon oil

To Assemble

  • Hamburger buns, toasted on the grill
  • Spicy mayo (1/4 cup mayo + 1 Tablespoon Sriracha, mixed)
  • Sliced avocado
  • Red onion, sliced into half-moons
  • Cilantro

The Tools

  • Sharp knife + cutting board
  • Box grater or cheese grater
  • Spoon
  • Mixing bowl
  • Fork
  • Measuring cups + spoons
  • Skillet + camp stove (optional)
  • Metal spatula

1. Grate the sweet potato using the small holes on a box or cheese grater. Place in a large bowl.

2. Add the drained white beans and, using the back of a fork, mash the beans with the sweet potato to form a dough.

3. Add the egg, spices, and salt and stir to incorporate. (If making at home ahead of time, all this can easily be done in a food processor instead.) Stir in the panko, ¼ cup at a time, until a fairly dense dough forms. You may not need all the panko, or you may need a little extra. You’re looking for the dough to reach a point that it will hold together when you make the patties—not too dry, not too wet.

4. Using your hands, form the patties: take ¼ of the dough and form into a ball. On a flat surface, or between your palms, press the ball evenly to form a disc about ¾ inch thick. Repeat to form the rest of the patties.

(The steps above can be made at home, or in camp. If making at home, stack the formed patties, separated by a square of parchment or wax paper, and place in a large zip lock bag. Refrigerate until ready to grill!)

5. Over medium heat, either directly on a grill or in a lightly oiled skillet, cook the patties for about 4-5 minutes on each side until cooked through.

6. To assemble, spread spicy mayo on a toasted bun, and then layer the burger, cilantro, red onion, and avocado. Serve immediately with your favorite BBQ sides (we have included some suggestions below!).

Potato Salad

Serves 4 | 25 minutes total

The Ingredients

  • 1 pound potatoes: Yukon gold, red, or new potatoes will work well. If you want to be super patriotic, and have a Trader Joe’s nearby, pick up a bag of their multi colored potato medley
  • 2 tablespoons mayo
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Equipment
  • Sharp Knife + cutting board
  • Pot + camp stove
  • Measuring cups/spoons

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cut the potatoes into small ½ inch cubes (this will help them cook faster on your camp stove!). Once the water is boiling, add the potatoes and cook until tender, 10-15 minutes. Drain and let the potatoes cool. Once cool, add the mayo, mustard, and scallions and stir to coat the potatoes. Salt to taste.

So Freakin’ Easy Grilled Corn

Serves 4 | 15 minutes total

The Ingredients

  • 4 ears of corn
  • Butter & salt to taste

Shuck the corn and remove the silk. Grill the corn directly on the grill over high heat for about 10 minutes, turning every few minutes to ensure it cooks evenly. Serve with butter and salt to taste.

Red White & Blue Fruit Salad

Serves 4 | 5 minutes total

The Ingredients

  • 4 cups watermelon cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • ½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 3 or 4 mint leaves, finely chopped
  • Squeeze of lemon (~½ tablespoon juice)

The Tools

  • Sharp Knife + cutting board
  • Measuring cups/spoons
  • Large bowl

Place all ingredients in a big bowl and toss to combine, making sure that the mint is evenly distributed. Serve immediately.

About the Author: Fresh Off the Grid is a camp cooking blog featuring recipes specifically designed for cooking in the outdoors, written by Megan McDuffie and Michael van Vliet. Find us online at or on Instagram @freshoffthegrid

Hipcamp Staff

Hipcamp is an online marketplace where you can list, discover, and book campsites and accommodations on private and public land. Hipcamp is your go-to guide to getting outside. If you’re a landowner, Hipcamp creates new revenue streams for your business, which can help conserve your land and keep it wild. #FindYourselfOutside #LeaveItBetter

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