21 Recipes That Are Perfect for a Juneteenth Cookout

We asked Food Network stars and some of our favorite chefs what they'd like to serve at their own Juneteenth celebrations. These meaningful mains, sides and desserts are perfect for a party with friends and family.

June 15, 2022

Millie Peartree's Texas Strawberry Crunch Sheet Cake

Food and drink are an important part of independence celebrations all over the world. Juneteenth is all about community and fellowship, and the cookout is an essential part of that. Family and friends come together to celebrate and partake in red foods and drinks that some view as symbols of sacrifice and suffering and others embrace as signs of resilience and joy.

This delicate cake is inspired by Texas sheet cake, substituting chocolate cake for strawberry cake and chocolate ganache for chantilly cream. The strawberry purée is a perfect way to use up slightly overripe strawberries and the strawberry cookie crunch topping adds a nostalgic feel and extra texture to this center-of-the-table cake. — Millie Peartree

Get the Recipe: Texas Strawberry Crunch Sheet Cake

Vallery Lomas's Strawberry Punch

Strawberry beverages are traditionally enjoyed for Juneteenth. For us, this normally meant a commercially-produced strawberry soda that we purchased at the grocery store. But June is also the peak of strawberry season for much of the country, and this recipe uses fresh strawberries for a vibrant berry flavor that is unmatched by a store-bought soda. Boil the strawberries with water and sugar to create a strawberry syrup. From there, the options are limitless. You can add sparkling water to the strawberry syrup for a gourmet-take on strawberry soda. You can top a glass of champagne with the strawberry syrup for a summery bellini-type beverage. Or, you can jazz things up with this recipe and use pineapple juice, orange juice, rum and sparkling wine for the ultimate strawberry punch. — Vallery Lomas

Get the Recipe: Strawberry Punch

Emma Cromedy's Tea Cake

Tea Cakes are a traditional Juneteenth dessert. They resemble a buttery sugar cookie and pair well with hibiscus tea. They are a staple in the Black community. — Emma Cromedy

Get the Recipe: Tea Cake

Carla Hall's Fried Catfish Fingers

Fried catfish is a Soul Food staple found not just across the South, but across America. This favorite is flaky and tender on the inside, crunchy and slightly spicy on the outside. Soaking the catfish in buttermilk for a short time adds a tangy flavor, and if you whisk in a little hot sauce you get an extra layer of heat that can’t be beat! — Carla Hall

Get the Recipe: Fried Catfish Fingers

Lasheeda Perry's Juneteenth Macarons

I was inspired to make this recipe because, unfortunately, African American pastry chefs are often viewed as less skilled than their French, Italian, German or other counterparts. We’re too often asked to make stereotypical Southern-style desserts, which, of course, are a very delicious art of their own. But for Juneteenth I thought I’d show a wider embrace of pastry by making macarons. These classically French cookies can be made in any color and flavor; I chose to incorporate black, red, yellow and green, the traditional Pan-African and Black Liberation colors, then flavored them with chocolate and filled them with a mango buttercream to make them irresistible. — Lasheeda Perry

Get the Recipe: Juneteenth Macarons

Eddie Jackson's Cajun Lemon Pepper Chicken Wings

Grilled chicken wings are the quintessential finger food for a summer cookout with family and friends. Just toss the chicken in a flavorful rub, then grill to golden brown perfection. A final toss with Cajun lemon-pepper seasoning adds a kick of spice and acidity. — Eddie Jackson

Get the Recipe: Grilled Cajun Lemon Pepper Chicken Wings

Charlotte Jenkins's Okra Pilau

Okra has been grown in the tropical regions of Africa for centuries. From there, according to some food historians, it made its way to the Low Country. The Gullah people, descendants of enslaved West Africans, use okra in okra soup, gumbo, okra pilau, fried okra and okra stew. The vegetable has many nutritional benefits: it's rich in vitamins A and C, a good source of magnesium and contains catechins, a type of antioxidant. — Charlotte Jenkins

Get the Recipe: Okra Pilau

Vallery Lomas's Hibiscus Sorbet

Red beverages made from strawberries (which grow in abundance in states where slavery proliferated, like Louisiana) and hibiscus, a plant native to West Africa, are particularly popular during Juneteenth celebrations. This hibiscus sorbet is flavored with spices and citrus that are reminiscent of bissap, a hibiscus-infused beverage enjoyed in countries like Guinea, or Sorrel, a festive beverage enjoyed during the holidays in Jamaica. Though bissap is typically tart, this sorbet toes the line between just-sweet-enough and barely-tart, thanks to the lime juice and the steeped hibiscus flowers. The steeped hibiscus flowers also provide a rich, deep and vibrant red color. — Vallery Lomas

Get the Recipe: Hibiscus Sorbet

Jerome Grant's Crispy Fried Red Fish and Spicy Remoulade

Warmer weather is the cue for al fresco dining, but no patio brunch or park-side picnic compares with the highly anticipated, delicious and spirited barbeques amongst the Black community. Juneteenth, or Freedom Day, marks the emancipation of slaves in the United States in 1865, and today it is a time of celebration by families and communities often in the form of a fish fry or barbeque. The color red is significant in the celebration of Juneteenth as it symbolizes the suffering, perseverance and resilience of generations of African Americans. This recipe honors this tradition and history by utilizing a meaty and flakey red fish that pairs beautifully with a spicy remoulade. — Jerome Grant

Get the Recipe: Crispy Fried Red Fish and Spicy Remoulade

Lasheeda Perry's Strawberry Soda Tarts

Red foods like red velvet cake and strawberry pie, but particularly red soda, have become a staple of Juneteenth celebrations. I thought it would be awesome to make a dessert with strawberry soda since enslaved people weren’t allowed to enjoy this beverage. They celebrated their freedom by drinking red soda, so cheers to these strawberry-inspired tarts! Vanilla tart dough is filled with fresh strawberries, a mascarpone filling and topped with a strawberry soda gelée. — Lasheeda Perry

Get the Recipe: Strawberry Soda Tarts

JJ Johnson's Hot Links

Hot links are a delicious combination of spicy, firm and mouth-watering in a sausage. In my opinion, they are best served on bread with some onions smothered with tangy barbecue sauce. — JJ Johnson

Get the Recipe: Hot Links

Nikki Scott's Strawberry Cobbler

I love anything with fruit filling and crust. The great thing about a cobbler, it's easier than a pie and you get to eat the yummy crust first. That sweet filling oozing through the cracks and crevices of that biscuit top is what makes this summery dessert sing. And no cobbler is complete without vanilla ice cream! — Nikki Scott

Get the Recipe: Strawberry Cobbler

Lasheeda Perry's Raspberry Fritters

You can't go wrong with fried dough! I was in love with doughnuts as a kid. So much so that I would always ask for the largest one, and in most cases that was the apple fritter. For Juneteenth I’m swapping out those apples for raspberries since red foods are traditionally served on this holiday. — Lasheeda Perry

Get the Recipe: Raspberry Fritters

JJ Johnson's Summer Succotash

When I think summer, I think succotash! This is a warm, slightly Southern take on my grandmother’s best vegetable dish. It includes all the vegetables she loved from the South. — JJ Johnson

Get the Recipe: Summer Succotash

JJ Johnson's Fried Green Tomatoes with Comeback Sauce

Green tomatoes come in season once a year and there are so many great things about them. They’re firm, crispy and perfect when soaked in brine. They have great flavor and when you fry them, you end up with this crispy, fresh, slightly oily flavor that is amazing with the famous comeback sauce. — JJ Johnson

Get the Recipe: Fried Green Tomatoes with Comeback Sauce

Carla Hall's Summer Butter Bean Salad with Hot Sauce Vinaigrette

Are you wondering what butter beans are? They’re what we call lima beans in the South because of their creamy, buttery texture. For this salad, I thought about succotash, a classic Soul Food dish made with butter beans, fresh corn and tomatoes, then I added a few more fresh summer veggies and herbs, plus a spicy, tangy vinaigrette. You really could add anything else from your garden or the farmers’ market, like zucchini, bell peppers or snap peas—go ahead and make it your own! — Carla Hall

Get the Recipe: Summer Butter Bean Salad with Hot Sauce Vinaigrette

Gina Capers-Willis's Fried Cabbage with Collards

This recipe started off as "Oops I don’t have enough cabbage," so I added some collard greens that I had to stretch the portions. It ended up with everyone really loving the combination of the two greens with the smoky bacon, spices, sweet peppers and fragrant garlic. It’s two Southern gems wrapped up in one dish. I always top off my cabbage or greens with chow-chow, which is a mixture of tomatoes, diced onions, bell peppers, hot sauce and vinegar. It gives it an extra zing of pickled flavor. — Gina Capers-Willis

Get the Recipe: Fried Cabbage with Collards

Taneka Reaves's The Red Star

I was inspired to make this cocktail with hibiscus syrup and Uncle Nearest whiskey. Uncle Nearest is a Black-owned whiskey brand and is inspired by Nathan Green, the enslaved African and master distiller who taught Jack Daniel how to make whiskey. I called it The Red Star not only because of the color, but because the star in the Juneteenth flag represents Texas, the last state to be emancipated and the home of Juneteenth. The star also represents the freedom of enslaved people. — Taneka Reaves

Get the Recipe: The Red Star

Michiel Perry's Lowcountry Shrimp and Sausage Muscadine Skewers

Juneteenth is all about outdoor celebrations with family, and that means grilling. African American culture is rich in both hog farming and shrimping culture, so my Lowcountry spin on Juneteenth grilling pairs our favorite sausage from Roger Wood, based in Savannah, GA, with Bennetts Point shrimp from the docks of the South Carolina Sea Islands. For the sauce, I use red muscadine wine to make a marinade. The muscadine grape is local to the South and a huge part of my Southern childhood was picking muscadines on my grandfather's property. This is a perfect appetizer to pair with a cocktail or serve as a snack to picky kids such as mine. — Michiel Perry

Get the Recipe: Lowcountry Shrimp and Sausage Muscadine Skewers

Emma Cromedy's Ole Fashioned Pound Cake

This recipe has been passed down from generation to generation. Pound cake dates back to the early 1700s. It is a staple in the African American community for church anniversaries and funeral repast. It is served by itself or with a glaze or icing. I like mine a few days old and grilled. Sometimes I eat it by itself or with fresh fruits and whipped cream. — Emma Cromedy

Get the Recipe: Ole Fashioned Pound Cake

Gina Capers-Willis's Southern Fried Fish

Fried fish with collard greens plated on woven table, This extra crispy fried fish recipe is one of my go-tos whenever I have family and friends over for a visit and to share a good meal. You can also use this on shrimp, but here in Savannah, our favorite fish to fry are whiting and flounder. The batter is light and flavorful and the fish is perfect as an accompaniment to any vegetable or as a sandwich. I like to add a dash of hot sauce and have yellow mustard on hand for dipping. — Gina Capers-Willis

Get the Recipe: Southern Fried Fish