In the heart of June, as the warmth of summer envelopes cities and towns, many Black Americans will commemorate Juneteenth with joyous activities guided by the rhythm of music, moments of introspection, and the flavors of summer.
Juneteenth stands as a poignant testament to the indomitable spirit of a people. It serves as a tribute to the moment when the enslaved Black community in Galveston, Texas, received news of their emancipation more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Juneteenth—the convergence of words and date—is forever etched into the tapestry of America and was made a federal holiday in 2021.
Growing up, one of my favorite summer highlights was celebrating with family and friends at the Juneteenth festivities in my hometown, Richmond, Calif. Every year a parade was held with Black cowboys and cowgirls showing off their skills, dancers stepping down the street, and old-schoolers showcasing their vintage cars. It was a time to honor our ancestors and their resilience, reflect on the past, see old friends and meet new friends, listen to all genres of music—from gospel to R&B to blues to hip-hop—and of course, eat good food. I have vivid memories of smoke billowing out of BBQ pits holding ribs, links, and chicken, long tables lined with potato salad, and ruby-red fruit cobblers and red velvet cake alongside red drinks, whether it was red soda or punch held in bright-orange drink dispensers.
Creating connection and celebrating through food is at the core of Juneteenth. The red foods traditionally served at Juneteenth celebrations symbolize sacrifice, fortitude, and power. They are also indicative of the food traditions Africans brought with them from their homeland and how those traditions evolved in America. Our food reflects our innate ability to innovate and persevere; it weaves together the intricacies of our history—American history—and shows where we’ve come from.
To continue those food traditions, Eat the Culture has brought together 30 culinary creators to share 57 recipes for our Juneteenth Virtual Cookout. Eat the Culture was established to create community-centered spaces that nurture, support, and amplify Black culinary creators. In addition to collaborations like this cookout, the organization also offers educational resources, virtual courses, and live events to help creatives elevate their craft and amplify the culinary heritage across the African diaspora.
“As Juneteenth celebrations become more mainstream, Black culinary creators must share their wealth of knowledge, skill, and talents with the country (and world). The family recipes passed down through generations often grace the Juneteenth cookout tables, and those recipes must be preserved,” says Marta Rivera Diaz, the creator behind Sense & Edibility and an Eat the Culture board member. “We are the voices keeping our ancestors’ traditions alive, which is why this collaboration is a vital part of the Black culture.”
We have curated eight menus to inspire your Juneteenth feast. Each menu boasts its own unique flair: Catch some verdant vibes with our “Green Soul” menu, celebrating plant-based dishes; for a touch of Southern decadence, try our “Bad and Boujee” menu; if red is your color, cook up some crimson-hued delights with our “All Red Everything” menu. No matter what’s your flavor, you’re sure to find something special to create a delicious Juneteenth.
Join the edible celebration by trying the recipes below—and be sure to follow #JuneteenthCookout2023 on Instagram and Facebook to engage with the talented creatives and bloggers as they share their recipes.
With the highest population of vegans and vegetarians in the United States, African Americans are drawing inspiration from the largely plant-based diets of our African ancestors and developing recipes inspired by classic soul food dishes.
Soul Hummus & Vegetable Board From Savor & Sage
Watermelon Salad With Cilantro Honey Lime Dressing From Brazilian Kitchen Abroad
Southern Caviar (Black-Eyed Pea Salad) From Geo’s Table
White Beans With Tomato Chow Chow From Collards Are The Old Kale
Strawberry Mango Romaine Salad With Raspberry Vinaigrette From That Green Lyfe
Watermelon Basil Gin Cocktail From My Pretty Brown Eats
Strawberry Lemonade Vodka From My Sweet Precision
Amid the Great Migration, countless African Americans departed the Southern states and relocated throughout the U.S., carrying with them vibrant culinary traditions that they adapted to suit their new homes. In this menu, some classics, such as Southern Baked Beans and Old-Fashioned Candied Yams remained largely untouched, while others, like the Chesapeake Bay Crab Feast and Strawberry Sweet Iced Tea, are new renditions of old favorites.
Chesapeake Bay Crab Feast From Sweet Tea + Thyme
BBQ Beef Plate Ribs From Meiko & The Dish
Grilled BBQ Spatchcock Chicken From Good Food Baddie
Southern Potato Salad From Kenneth Temple
Southern Baked Beans From Pink Owl Kitchen
Old-Fashioned Candied Sweet Potatoes From Britney Breaks Bread
Classic Red Velvet Cake From Britney Breaks Bread
Strawberry Sweet Iced Tea From Pink Owl Kitchen
With roots in the African diaspora, these recipes—from Afro-Caribbean-inspired Mango Scotch Bonnet Chicken Wings to Crispy Uda Pepper Shrimp featuring the Senegalese pepper—represent a rich culinary tapestry of flavors and ingredients, and showcase the diverse range of African culture.
Mango Scotch Bonnet Wings From Dish It With Tisha
Jerk Pork Skewers From Geo’s Table
Kachumbari From We Eat At Last
Kashata From We Eat At Last
Coconut Rum Cupcakes From Sims Home Kitchen
Zobo From We Eat At Last
Watermelon Coconut Jamaican Rum Punch From Kerri-Ann’s Kravings
Gullah, Cajun, and Creole cuisines highlight the bounty of coastal food central to Juneteenth since its inception in the Gulf Coast city of Galveston, Texas, in 1865. Southern Crab Beignets with Remoulade Sauce, a Cajun Seafood Boil, and cooling Homemade Peaches and Cream Ice Pops are among the recipes inspired by the unique culinary traditions rooted in the coastal regions of the Gulf States.
Southern Crab Beignets with Remoulade Sauce From Gimme From Scratch
Cajun Chicken Wing & Turkey Neck Boil From Meiko & The Dish
Cajun Seafood Boil From Gimme From Scratch
Old-Fashioned Salmon Patties with Homemade Tartar Sauce From Kenneth Temple
Banana Pudding Pound Cake From Lenox Bakery
Homemade Peaches & Cream Ice Pops From Coined Cuisine
Non-Alcoholic Tropical Pineapple Drink From Sims Home Kitchen
Cowboy cuisine from the Southwestern region of the United States honors the legacy of Black cowboys who forged not only physical trails in this country, but culinary and cultural trails as well. Southwestern soul food combines the flavors and ingredients of Southern cuisine with vibrant and spicy elements in recipes like Bacon Jalapeño Deviled Eggs, Spicy Sausage and Baked Bean Casserole, and Strawberry Margaritas.
Bacon Jalapeño Deviled Eggs From Big Delicious Life
Smoked Wings From Food Fidelity
Smoked Rib Tips From Food Fidelity
Spicy Sausage & Baked Bean Casserole From Seasoned To Taste
Strawberry Margarita From Sims Home Kitchen
Peach Cobbler Pound Cake From Chenée Today
Miss Juneteenth, an annual beauty pageant that showcases the beauty, intelligence, and societal contributions of African American women, is held in many Black communities to commemorate the holiday. The dishes in this menu—like Bourbon-Glazed Candied Bacon, Strawberry Oreo Crunch Pound Cake, and Rainbow Fruit Salad with Agave-Lime Syrup—lean into the sweet moments of these celebrations.
Bourbon-Glazed Candied Bacon From Her Mise En Place
Hot Honey Wings From Kenneth Temple
Strawberry Oreo Crunch Pound Cake From My Sweet Precision
Red Velvet Cupcakes From Begin with Butter
Raspberry Chocolate Crumble Bars From My Sweet Precision
Strawberry Basil Sparkler From A Classic Twist
Rainbow Fruit Salad & Agave-Lime Syrup From Coined Cuisine
Watermelon Cherry Frosé From Seasoned To Taste
The color red is an especially significant symbol for Juneteenth as it represents resilience, perseverance, and the bloodshed of African Americans in the fight for freedom. Red foods adorn many Juneteenth tables, and recipes like Red Velvet Bread Pudding, Cherry Tabbouleh, and Watermelon Sangria serve as powerful reminders of the struggles and triumphs of the African American community.
Hibiscus BBQ Sauce From Dash of Jazz
Mango Habanero Wings From Good Food Baddie
Red Velvet Bread Pudding From Peaches 2 Peaches
Watermelon Sangria From Sense & Edibility
Juneteenth Red Sherbet Punch From Meiko & The Dish
Cherry Tabbouleh From Savor & Sage
Strawberry Cookies From Heal Me Delicious
These dishes offer a luxurious twist on traditional cookout recipes we guarantee that all those who gather around your Juneteenth table will love. On the menu: Smoked Macaroni and Cheese, Margarita-Infused Watermelon, Deviled Egg Dip, and more.
Deviled Egg Dip From Dash of Jazz
Guava BBQ Party Meatballs From Sense & Edibility
Blood Orange, Pickled Beets & Feta Salad From Gimme From Scratch
Smoked Macaroni & Cheese From Her Mise En Place
Hibiscus Spritzer From Flights & Foods
Margarita-Infused Watermelon From Dash of Jazz
Sweet Potato Cheesecake with Butter Pecan Sauce From Kenneth Temple
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