54 Dazzling Desserts for July 4th
July 4th isn’t just about celebrating independence with a backyard barbecue—there’s also pressure to whip up a finale that’s as impressive as the fireworks lighting up the night sky. Luckily for you, we’ve rounded up foolproof desserts that will wow your family and guests no matter what kind of vibe you’re going for. From technicolor cakes to a bounty of berry pies and even classic, can’t-go-wrong treats like brownies and popsicles, these celebration-worthy desserts will please everyone this Independence Day.
Fourth of July Confetti Roulade
This festive roulade recipe is the perfect ending to your outdoor picnic, but it can be used for any occasion; simply use different colored sprinkles to match your occasion. A splash of orange liqueur is optional in the creamy filling, but don’t skip the fresh lemon juice in the frosting. The gelatin in the whipped cream filling keeps it stable; be sure to cool it for 5 minutes so it doesn’t turn gummy.
Tamarind Strawberry Popsicles
These vibrant popsicles are fruity and refreshing, but deliver an unexpected depth thanks to the tamarind paste (which can be found at supermarkets such as Whole Foods and online). The tart character of tamarind fruit adds dynamic flavor complexity that nicely balances the simple comfort of fresh, peak-season strawberries. P.S.—If you happen to stir a little bit of the strawberry-tamarind puree into a glass of iced tea or lemonade, you won’t regret it.
Ultimate Coconut Cake
"Ultimate" is no exaggeration here—this cake features coconut flour, coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut cream, coconut sugar, coconut extract, and (of course) flaked coconut. Given this cake's incredibly moist layers, intense coconut flavor, and lighter-than-air filling, our test kitchen chefs fought over the leftovers.
Grilled Apple Pie a la Mode
Whether it’s in the backyard or around a campfire, this easy, on-the-spot recipe has all the elements of a perfect apple pie. Make sure to use apples that are the same size so they’ll cook at the same rate. The ice cream will melt quickly, so put it on the apples right as you serve them.
Easy Peach Cobbler
What could be a more perfect ending to a summertime meal than easy peach cobbler? Savor the flavors of summer with sliced fresh peaches cooking away with butter and spices. The topping can made from pantry ingredients you have on hand and peaches can easily be substituted with any fruit you have depending on the time of year. The tang of the lemon juice paired with the sweetness of the peaches is perfectly balanced with the crisp topping. Want to make dessert even better? A dollop of fresh whipped cream or cold vanilla ice cream truly makes it the perfect way to end a summer night.
Copycat Little Debbie Oatmeal Crème Pies
Is this recipe an exact replica of Little Debbie Oatmeal Crème Pies? No. These are better. Rather than thin cakes, we went for oatmeal cookies that pack an almost peanut-butter-like flavor without any nuts. The crème filling completely nails what we love about the prepackaged pies, but takes things further with an almost airy, marshmallow-based consistency. If that doesn’t convince you, preparing these at home is just as quick (if not faster) than a grocery run.
American Flag Crepe Cake
Sure, we love the classic Fourth of July sheet cake decorated with fresh fruit. But this year, we’ve upped the ante, creating a delicious, towering crepe cake that will wow everyone at the party. Though it appears to consist of blue crepes stacked on top of red, as soon as you slice into it you’ll reveal the fun surprise. By creating a blue ring around red batter on the top half of the crepes, every slice resembles an American flag. The big reveal is bound to go down as the best party trick ever. And if you’ve never made a crepe cake, it’s easier than it sounds, because it truly doesn’t matter if your crepes are misshapen (any imperfections are hidden under swirls of cream cheese frosting). To speed up the process, get two crepe pans going at once.
American Flag Crepe Cake
This recipe originally appeared on Realsimple.com.
Easy Berry Tart
This vibrant and impressive dessert literally couldn’t get any easier. Rather than making a stovetop custard from-scratch, we use boxed pudding mix combined with Cool Whip (trust us on this one) as a shortcut to the rich and luscious vanilla filling that makes this tart amazing. Once you pour this decadent filling into your simple almond and cookie crumb crust, all that’s left to do is let it chill, and then top it off with plenty of fresh fruit. We used various types of summer berries—strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries—for ours, but feel free to use your favorite fruits here… fresh, ripe peaches would make a great addition. To amp up the almond flavor, try adding 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract to your filling. Or hey, if almonds really aren’t your thing, you can definitely substitute a different nut (like macadamias) or simply leave them out all together and increase the amount of cookie crumbs in your crust by about 1/3 cup.
Pineapple-Lime Upside Down Cake
Fresh lime zest adds just enough of a zingy “something special” factor to our foolproof take on the classic pineapple upside-down cake. This easy cake is a fan favorite for good reason—it’s so simple to make and is loaded with a delicious balance of buttery-caramelized and tropically sweet flavors. Pro-Tip: Finish incorporating the ingredients by hand, this will prevent over-mixing your way to a tough cake. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream for a perfect finish.
Blueberry Pound Cake Muffins
What’s better than blueberry muffins? Blueberry pound cake muffins. These are sweet, fluffy, and rich, with a crispy caramelized top. The blueberries add color and flavor, and the lemon zest adds just enough tartness.
Red, White, and Blue Cupcakes
This is a real dandy. It would be a great addition to your July 4th celebration spread. The amusing effect of the swirled frosting can be duplicated using any colors for any occasion. It makes a fun Christmas cupcake using red and green or a pretty spring cupcake using pink and green.
Strawberry Yogurt Cream Pie with Cereal Crust
Made with a fiber cereal-crusted pie shell, this strawberry yogurt cream pie is the ultimate no-bake dessert. With a fruity, rich filling (made even more digestive-friendly with the addition of Greek yogurt and berries *you’re welcome*), this breakfast-inspired treat is everything you want in a (somewhat) guilt-free dessert. It’s ultra-satisfying with just the right amount of sweetness, without sending you over the edge.
Hamburger Bun Glazed Donuts
Ever notice how after every cookout, you seem to find yourself with a handful of leftover hamburger buns, but not so many leftover burgers to fill them? Don’t toss the strays, turn them into breakfast with this brilliant recipe for burger bun donuts.
All-Time Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies
When it comes to making cookies from scratch, these crispy-chewy chocolate chip cookies represent the best of the best. Simple ingredients and easy-to-follow instructions make this a recipe you'll come back to again and again. Whip up a batch of these all-time favorite cookies and they won't last long. Pro tip: Bake 10 minutes for a softer cookie or up to 14 minutes for a crispier cookie.
After you've made these craveworthy cookies, don't forget to try our fun variations. All sorts of goodies—from crushed white-chocolate pretzels to toffee candy—can be added to the batter to create other signature cookies.
Sweet Summer Strawberry Tart
After finding a fly in her bottle of Mouton Cadet Rouge, chef and cookbook author Joanne Weir, then 24, had the gumption to mail the insect to the wine's maker, Château Mouton Rothschild, one of the top wineries in the world. In response to her complaint, she received an invitation to lunch at the château. She booked a flight immediately. This recipe is her re-creation of the day's finale--a tart "topped with a silky smooth kirsch pastry cream and crowned with perfectly glazed, ripe red strawberries."
Classic Blueberry Cobbler
If the peak of summer had a flavor, we’re willing to bet it’d taste a lot like this classic blueberry cobbler. Using ripe, juicy blueberries gives this summertime favorite the perfect level of sweetness, while vanilla extract contributes a floral depth and a little bit of aromatic lemon zest lends a lovely balance of brightness. Be sure to let the lattice crust hang a little over the sides of your baking dish and press the dough firmly into the sides to adhere. The baking dish will be very full, but the volume of the berries will shrink as the cobbler cooks, so slightly overfilling will leave you with a flat top instead of a sunken one.
Tahini-Blueberry Sheet Cake With Strawberry Buttercream
Perfect for a graduation party or summer cookout, this impressive dessert offers the ease and crowd-friendly factor that we associate with a sheet cake, as well as a delightful twist of creativity and surprising vibrancy with the incorporation of tahini and fresh berries. If you have a jar of the trendy sesame seed paste hanging out in your pantry, trust us—it’s high time to go beyond hummus and welcome it into your dessert life. Tahini lends a delicious toasty quality to the tender cake while fresh blueberries dotted throughout the batter balance this nutty depth with their bright, juicy sweetness. A simple strawberry buttercream ties everything together and makes for a low-effort, eye-catching presentation.
Rosé and Raspberry Sorbet Floats
Say hello to your new favorite warm weather treat. With only 3-ingredients, these rosé floats are incredibly simple to prep, but make for such an impressive and deliciously refreshing dessert—perfect for a any summer party. The sweet-tart sorbet pairs really nicely with the dry, crispness of the sparkling rosé. While we opted to garnish with fresh raspberries, you could top these boozy delights with any fresh berries you like, as well as fresh herbs, such as torn mint.
Red, White, and Blue Cake
Chocolate-and-Peanut Butter Banana Pudding
Red Velvet Ice-Cream Cake
You are sure to set off the fireworks when you serve this eye-catching layer cake at the Fourth of July cookout. Don’t worry about the frosting wilting in the summer heat. We added a teaspoon of unflavored gelatin to the frosting recipe to help it stabilize, so it won’t melt down before you cut into the cake.
Deep Eddy Blueberry Lemon Drop Pop
These adult ice pops are the perfect refreshing summer treat. We made ours using Deep Eddy vodka as we find it to be exceptionally vibrant in flavor, but feel free to use your own favorite brand of flavored vodka. Raspberries would also be a delicious fruit to highlight in these bright and boozy pops.
Oreo Cookie Pie
Oreos on Oreos on Oreos. This Oreo pie recipe is super easy and a must-make for any fan of Milk's Favorite Cookie.
American Flag Cheesecake Bars
Decorate these easy cheesecake bars as American flags by using blueberries for the star section and piping jelly in thin lines to resemble the strips. It's a great make-ahead dessert for summer entertaining.
Grilled Banana Split
This is a fun mashup between banana pudding and a sundae. You could even get the kids involved with this. Grilling the banana adds a little flavor, while charring the vanilla wafers makes for an interesting texture—together, it’s delicious. Banana pudding ice cream pulls everything together, so it’s definitely worth buying.
Peach Cobbler Dump Cake
Pair the crowd-pleasing appeal of peach cobbler with the convenience factor of a boxed cake mix and you have this ridiculously easy dump cake. Requiring only five ingredients, this is the perfect recipe for when you need to whip up dessert in a hurry. We love the combination of peaches and almonds, but you could easily swap the sliced almonds called for with your favorite nut (pecan halves would be excellent) or eliminate the nuts altogether. Either way, one thing’s for certain—this peach cobbler dump cake will be a hit for any occasion.
Stars-and-Stripes Cherry Pie
Break out your red, white, and blue; this patriotic cherry pie is topped with stars and stripes, making it the perfect end-of-dinner treat on July 4th, Labor Day, Memorial Day, or just about any other night on which you want to celebrate the USA. Have a slice and enjoy.
Easy Strawberry Cobbler
Just because it’s easy doesn’t mean this biscuit-topped strawberry cobbler won’t impress. In fact, bursting with vibrant berry flavor (regardless of how perfectly ripe your strawberries may or may not be), we can just about guarantee that it will. We keep this stunning berry dessert stunningly simple by using Bisquick baking mix for the topping. The bottoms of each fluffy biscuit soaks up luscious juices from the berries while the tops bake up golden-crisp. And sprinkling the cobbler’s Bisquick topping with a bit of turibinado sugar is a pro’s touch for adding visual and textural interest. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for the full cobbler experience.
Red, White, and Blue Pops
Keep the layers distinct by fully freezing each one before adding the next.
Cookies-and-Cream Stuffed Pound Cake
What’s better than pound cake? A stuffed pound cake, that’s what. A rich, cookies-and-cream filling takes a prepared pound cake to the next level. For this recipe, check the supermarket bakery for a pound cake on the larger side; alternatively, if you go with a smaller loaf cake (like a Sara Lee brand pound cake), go ahead and grab two—you’ll have enough filling to go around. For a different spin, swap the Oreo cookies for chopped peanut butter cups or sliced fresh strawberries.
Blueberry-Peach Upside Down Cake
This stunning upside-down cake is the perfect, easy dessert to showcase your bounty of summer fruit. The cake is tender and moist, with just enough of a delightful toothy texture from the incorporation of cornmeal into the batter. You’ll want to use juicy, ripe blueberries and peaches for best results; however, you could use frozen fruit in a pinch—just be sure to thaw and dry throughly. A few more tips to ensure upside-down cake success: Finish incorporating the ingredients by hand, this will prevent over-mixing your way to a tough cake. Also, aim to arrange the fruit as tightly as you can in the cake pan; fruit shrinks as it cooks and you don’t want too much unadorned cake poking through. Finally, if you want to skip the cornmeal, simply swap it 1:1 with all-purpose flour (for a total of 1 1/3 cups).
Blackberry Jam Cake
A toasty twist on the traditional Millionaire’s Shortbread, these decadent layered cookie bars feature toasted sesame seeds in the shortbread, a luscious tahini caramel, and more sesame seeds sprinkled over top for good measure.
Strawberry Ice Cream Pie with Pretzel Crust
This summer-centric pie makes is a so-easy, yet impressive, cool and creamy treat. Use your favorite brand of prepared strawberry ice cream or fill the crust using your your best homemade recipe. Set your ice cream out at room temperature about 25 to 30 minutes before you plan to start scooping it into the cooled crust so that it has enough time to soften. This recipe would work equally well using raspberry sorbet and a blend of fresh raspberries and strawberries on top.
Perfectly Easy Blackberry Pie
If you haven’t eaten any blackberry pie yet, is it really summer? This perfectly easy blackberry pie comes together in a little more than an hour and highlights one of summer’s best fruits. This recipe works with either fresh or frozen blackberries (or a mixture of the two), but fresh blackberries have more flavor and won’t take as long to cook. Serve with vanilla ice cream or lemon sorbet.
Sparkling Ice Cream Floats with Berries
Who knew the ultimate summer dessert would be the simplest you’ve ever made? These delightfully sweet and boozy floats take only a few ingredients and about two seconds to whip up, but trust us—they are always sure to impress. Rossini is a sparkling wine beverage, usually Prosecco-based, that is mixed with strawberries and raspberries. It is sweeter and fruitier than a rosé or other sparkling wine so it makes a delicious combination with rich vanilla ice cream (we especially love Häagen-Dazs brand here). We found a great one at Trader Joe’s for just about $6, but if you have a hard time finding rossini, you can definitely use your favorite rosé.
Susan’s Banana Cake with Chocolate Frosting
On the surface, so simple. A moist, richly banana-flavored, two-layer cake with a dark chocolate frosting. No frills or fancies. No nuts, chocolate chips or chunks, no crispy bits or coconut. Just a basic banana cake with a simple chocolate frosting. And yet, in the marriage of these two tastes something extraordinary happens. It is cake alchemy.
By stuffing hollowed out strawberries with a scrumptious mixture of cream cheese, powdered sugar, and amaretto, you end up with a delectable treat that's bound to disappear off of summer plates. For an easy July 4th treat, cap each stuffed strawberry with a blueberry to achieve a red, white, and blue bite!
The Best American Flag Cake Ever
Tamarind Peach Cobbler
Tamarind paste is commonly used in savory applications (like this Tamarind Chipotle Barbecue Sauce), but provides an incredible warm depth of flavor in this rave-worthy peach cobbler. The tart paste, which is made from the dark, sticky, and sour fruit of the tamarind tree, is a popular ingredient in Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine, and can be found at supermarkets like Whole Foods or online.
Raspberry-Lime Tart with Pistachio Crust
This tart is pleasantly limey, with a delightful pistachio-forward shortbread crust. It requires minimal baking, but has a beautiful presentation, with fresh raspberries adding a nice touch. You can find shelled, raw pistachios at the grocery store, but roasted, salted shelled pistachios will work just fine. Look for limes with smooth skin: They have thiner skins, and will yield more juice. Garnish with chopped pistachios and whipped cream to offset the tartness from the curd and the raspberries.
Puff Pastry Summer Fruit Slab Pie
This show-stopper is easy to assemble, but so impressive. The only component of this effortlessly elegant tart that needs to bake is the puff pastry base itself. Once it’s baked and cooled, you’ll top it with a creamy, fluffy spread of sweetened mascarpone cheese mixed with marzipan (i.e. almond paste), vanilla, freshly whipped cream. You’ll want to wait until right before serving time to assemble your dessert. All of those glorious summer fruit juices are going to start seeping into your puff pastry and will lead to sogginess if prepared too far in advance.
Easy Skillet Apple Pie
Simple Homemade Dreamsicles
Light, creamy, and refreshing, these easy DIY Dreamsicles taste like nostalgia on a stick. The ice pops can also be made in paper cups (instead of plastic popsicle molds), which can be cut away for easy release.
Blueberry Bread Pudding With Lemon Hard Sauce
Pre-made Sara Lee pound cakes are the perfect base for a creamy, decadent bread pudding. Once thawed, we cube and toast the all butter pound cakes in then oven before dressing them up with vanilla custard base, lemon zest, and fresh blueberries. After baking the pudding to custardy, comforting perfection, a drizzle of lemony hard sauce is just the right finishing touch. This delightful pound cake bread pudding is easy enough to throw together anytime, but impressive enough to serve for company.
Rosé-Glazed Strawberry Tart
The rectangular tart pan makes for a striking presentation, but if you don't have one, you can use a 9-inch tart pan or pie plate.
Red, White, and Blue Layer Cake
"I wanted to play into the patriotic colors of the Fourth of July holiday, and layered cakes are a great way to make a splash. Plus, kids love a colorful dessert."
Cherry-Thyme Upside Down Cake
Using a blend of Bing and Rainier cherries, this easy upside-down cake is a real looker, sure to impress any group you share with. If you can’t find Rainier cherries, you can certainly use all sweet or a mix of whatever varieties of sweet and tart cherries you can find locally. Fresh thyme leaves delicately scent the cake with a herbaceous aroma, which makes a wonderful complement to the sweetness of the caramelized fruit topping. For a perfectly tender and moist cake, finish incorporating the ingredients by hand, as this will prevent over-mixing your way to a tough texture. You’ll also want to be sure to arrange the cherries as tightly as you can in the cake pan; fruit shrinks slightly as it cooks and you don’t want too much unadorned cake poking through.
Coconut Lime Chia Pudding Pops
Cool-down with a nutritious and creamy, summer treat. Don't have a popsicle mold? That's ok. Use a mason jar! Mix ingredients in a small mason jar, shake, add crushed raspberries, a spoonful of chia pudding, and freeze until solid, 4 to 5 hours. Not only is this method mess-free but it's also super cute!
Bisquick Topped Blueberry Cobbler
This biscuit topped blueberry cobbler recipe couldn’t be easier. Breaking out your trusty Bisquick baking mix keeps the recipe effortless, but you could also top the vibrant berry filling with a simple homemade drop biscuit dough as well. Using ripe, juicy blueberries gives this summertime favorite the perfect level of sweetness, while vanilla extract contributes a floral depth and a little bit of aromatic lemon zest lends a lovely balance of brightness. Served warm with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream, this easy cobbler can’t be beat.
Best Fudgy Brownies
Meet your new go-to recipe for homemade brownies. These decadent treats are extra rich and fudgy, thanks to a double hit of baking chocolate and bittersweet chocolate morsels. They’re incredibly easy to make, plus you probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry already. And while we’re definitely not above boxed brownie mixes, these homemade brownies would certainly steal the show at any party or get-together.
Raspberry Fro-Yo Pie
This cool and creamy raspberry pie couldn't be easier to whip up. It's the perfect icebox dessert for summer.
Mixed Berry Cream Pie with Double Chocolate Crust
Brushing red currant jelly onto the berries makes them shine, like those fruit tarts you see in bakeries. If you can't find red currant jelly, use strawberry jelly (don't subsitute jam or preserves).