One of my favorite ways to celebrate the Fourth of July is with a killer dessert table. When I was younger, I’d always make a beeline for the blueberry pie my mom would pick up from our favorite bakery in Florida, which was topped with at least two scoops of vanilla ice cream.
Today, I’m still a blueberry pie fanatic, but I’ve also added a handful of other sweet and simple treats (think: tarts, icebox cakes, no-churn ice creams, and cookies) to my repertoire so that I can satisfy any craving.
From a super-colorful tart starring the season’s best fruits to chocolate-dipped mint ice cream sandwiches you can make days ahead of time, here are 23 easy dessert recipes to keep bookmarked for the Fourth of July holiday.
We need to ask the hard questions—like, is it really the 4th of July without blueberry pie? “This is a brighter, lighter blueberry pie than you’re used to, one that keeps all the texture and integrity of blueberries intact,” writes recipe developer Rose Levy Beranbaum. Meaning? Four full cups of fresh blueberries are used in the low-maintenance filling.
We love the idea of serving this cake for the 4th of July. That’s because the dollops of strawberry compote and whipped cream aren’t plopped onto each slice until the moment that the cake is served, which means it will never get soggy or wilt even on the hottest days.
This summery dessert requires only 15 minutes of prep work. To start, mix the dry ingredients (that’s your flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and cinnamon). Add the butter until you get a crumbly mixture, then add buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla extract. Once the mixture is ready, drop it into the pan and top with fresh blueberries.
No ice cream maker needed to make this chocolate chip ice cream, but here’s the catch. It’s not actually made with chocolate chips, but rather a combination of cocoa nibs and grated milk chocolate. “Because the chocolate is broken into slivers and shards—similar to Italian stracciatella—it will melt in your mouth right away,” writes recipe developer Carolina Gelen.
This is no ordinary berry pie—just look at it! A combination of strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries are tucked beneath a beautiful rose-shaped crust.
The trick to a really, really lemony cake isn’t so tricky—all it takes is a lot of lemon juice (¼ cup, to be exact), zest (another ¼ cup), and lemon extract (1 teaspoon).
Grab a package of red, white, and blue sprinkles for festive cookies inspired by—you guessed it—sprinkle cake mix. They’re rolled sugar cookies made with butter, vanilla, flour, and three kinds of sugar (confectioners’, granulated, and light brown).
8. Cream Cake
“This easy cake has the lofty lightness of a chiffon cake, with a crumb structure a little more akin to pound cake,” writes recipe developer and Food52’s resident baking BFF Erin Jeanne McDowell. Once topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit, I will independently eat this entire cake (after all, that’s the all-American way).
You don’t need to turn on the stove to make this ultra-refreshing, sweet-tart lemon ice cream, thanks to this recipe from peach farmer and cookbook author, Dori Sanders. Just juice, zest, stir, and freeze.
You’ll be hard pressed to find a more showstopping summer dessert than this roasted raspberry peach tart from our resident baking pro, Erin McDowell. But don’t worry—this tart’s easier to make than it looks, with a small ingredients list and extra-simple instructions.
To say that I’m obsessed with these chocolate buckwheat cookies (that just so happen to be gluten-free) would be an understatement. Their pure chocolate flavor and soft, crumbly texture make it impossible to have only one…or six.
Prep the fresh raspberry ice cream and lemon-coconut shortbread a day or two ahead of July 4th so that all you have to do the day of is scoop, stack, and serve.
Harbor Bars—chocolate-dipped ice cream sandwiches made with soft chocolate chip cookies—might be a Maine thing, but they make the most refreshing treat no matter where in the world you happen to be.
Bright, fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice stars in this pillowy-soft cake, while mint adds a light touch to the crunchy, sweet glaze that’s drizzled over top; the whole thing’s as simple as stirring the wet and dry ingredients together, and mixing the glaze in a bowl.
It wouldn’t be summer without icebox cake, and this s’mores-inspired version is one of our all-time favorites. It’s got all the usual suspects—graham crackers and marshmallows—plus a homemade chocolate pudding that stands in for a Hershey’s bar.
This berry-filled summer pudding from our co-founder, Merrill Stubbs, couldn’t be easier to make. You’ll need just white bread, sugar, summer berries, and heavy cream, which soak overnight and transform into a layered, fragrant sponge cake.
It should come as no surprise that this Genius whipped, citrusy pie is one of our most popular of all time. Clocking in at just eight ingredients (including butter, sugar, and salt), it’s unbelievably easy (some might even call it lazy) and tastes just like summer.
Bring on the nostalgia this Fourth of July with these blackberry and yogurt ice pops that look just like the rocket pops you had every summer as a kid.
If you’re really hoping to impress your friends and family, make them this gorgeous strawberry-lime crostata. The lime zest and juice (instead of the more typical rhubarb) brings out the sweetness of in-season strawberries and matches up nicely with the buttery crust.
These oatmeal chocolate chip cookies offer the best of both worlds: the rich, yet not overstated spice of chewy oatmeal cookies and the caramelly crunch of crispy chocolate chip cookies.
21. Oreo Dessert
In the words of EmilyC, who created this chocolatey, super-creamy recipe: “This dessert is true frozen bliss.” Even better, it’s totally no-bake—and quick, too.
This dessert earned the Genius stamp of approval for many reasons, including the fact that it calls for just five ingredients (including Ritz crackers!).
This fluffy, perfectly sweet banana and coconut cake absolutely lives up to its title of “world’s best.” Don’t believe me? Give it a try and see for yourself.
The beauty of this tender pound cake is not only that you can top it any which way you like (whipped cream, berries, you name it), but also that it starts baking in a “cold” oven (meaning it’s not preheated).
These berry-filled cupcakes skip the frosting but do have a sweet surprise at the center: a lemony cream cheese filling with bursts of fresh raspberries.
Frosé—that’s frozen rosé, if you weren’t already familiar—is actually way more than wine blended with ice. Here, you’ll blend the wine (frozen overnight, so it’s as cold as can be!) with frozen strawberries for color and floral fruitiness, simple syrup for sweetness, and lemon juice to add some zingy tartness.
No ice cream maker? No problem! This seven-ingredient recipe calls for an entire pound of juicy strawberries (preferably from a local farm), sweetened condensed milk, heavy cream, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla wafer cookies, and a touch of sugar for a sweet-as-can-be patriotic dessert. The extra-special ingredient here is goat cheese, which adds a super luscious texture and more tang than cream cheese, the usual suspect in cheesecake-flavored treats.
Skip the boxed version of jello and make your own using your favorite type of fruit: stone fruit such as peaches and nectarines, as well as berries (think: strawberries or blueberries plucked straight from a farm stand), are at their peak in July, and last through the end of the summer.
Turn this old-fashioned dessert into the cutest-ever Fourth of July treat. Instead of layering berries and cream between two flaky biscuits, fill angel food cupcakes with a sweet strawberry mixture and then top each of them off with a decadent cream cheese frosting. Wondering what makes these cupcakes taste so light and airy? A combination of cake flour and whipped egg whites does the trick. Feel free to show off your stars and stripes by sprinkling some blueberries on top, too, for a hint of red, white, and blue.
Everyone at the party will stop whatever they’re doing—whether it be manning the grill or running through the sprinklers—to grab a fork and enjoy a slice of this easy Fourth of July dessert made with three ripe summer peaches. (But why not grab a fourth from the market for snacking on the way home, too?) Plus, it just so happens that this cake was named the “best peach recipe” in our community recipe contest.
Writing the Declaration of Independence may not have been easy, but this four-ingredient berry dessert sure is! Caraway seeds offer a subtle earthy contrast to the sweet berries and cream for this all-American treat.