What do you do every year to celebrate the 4th of July?
My family always has a massive barbecue. It’s one of the summer gatherings that I look forward to most.
Instead of obsessing over decorations, my family focuses on one thing: the FOOD.
Honestly, when it comes to parties, I tend to skip the decorations. As much as I used to love balloons and streamers, as an adult, I’ve come to realize that they are not so fun to clean up.
Instead, I’m all about expressing those festive feelings with the food. We pull together as many American classics as the table will hold, the grill is going all day long, and we pull out some iconic craft beers to toast Independence Day.
It’s the ideal time to play around with the whole red, white, and blue theme for recipes, too.
Nothing is more festive than this American flag cookie cake, am I right?
I swear, when you set out this red, white, and blue dessert, everyone is going to ooh and ahh over it.
I feel like the 4th of July tends to creep up on us. The month of June feels like a gradual adjustment into summer. You are celebrating the longer hours of sunlight and the warm weather on patios around town.
Before you know it, America’s birthday is here and you are scrambling to pull together the perfect recipes to celebrate the occasion.
While this project might look a bit intimidating, the funny thing is, this cookie cake really couldn’t be easier to make.
You start with a soft and chewy homemade sugar cookie base (a recipe you should save for other uses, by the way). The base comes together really quickly, and you don’t have to worry about rolling it out and cutting out shapes (though you can check out our handy tutorial here, if that’s more your speed).
Instead, you just press all the dough into a prepared pan and voila, you have a perfect rectangle shape to start out with.
After the dough is baked and cooled, it’s time for the simple and straightforward decorations.
I like to use homemade vanilla buttercream for the frosting, but you can also buy whatever you need from the store if you are running short on time.
The decision is totally up to you, and you can choose how much effort and time you put into this dessert before you serve it, with guaranteed delicious results either way.
The blueberries form the star section of the flag, and the raspberries are arranged in rows to create the red stripes across the cake.
Just like that, you have an iconic Independence Day dessert that will get everyone in a celebratory mood.
So simple, great for photos, and it will basically knock your socks off. If you’re wearing any. This is July we’re talking about, after all.
Before you know it, summer will be over. It will be time for the kids to go back to school, and you’ll start to feel that chill in the air. So enjoy the warm weather while you can, and take advantage of this excuse to celebrate with extra enthusiasm.Print
For the most patriotic centerpiece, make an American flag cookie cake for your 4th of July festivities. It’s a fun recipe to celebrate the USA.
For the Cookie:
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 tsp lemon zest
- 5 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp kosher salt
For the Frosting and Decorating:
- 4 cups vanilla buttercream frosting
- 1 quart blueberries
- 2 quarts raspberries
- Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a rimmed half sheet baking pan with parchment paper, making sure to leave a bit of an overhang at the edges to form a sling for easy removal.
- Add butter and sugar for the cookie to a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat together until light and fluffy on medium-high speed, about 2 minutes.
- Beat in eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated between each addition. Add vanilla and lemon zest. Beat until combined.
- Gradually add flour and salt, and mix on medium speed until just combined, scraping down the sides as necessary.
- Add the dough to the prepared sheet pan. Press into an even layer.
- Bake for 15-16 minutes, until light golden brown. The center will look undercooked, but it will continue to cook in the hot pan after it is removed from the oven. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack before removing and frosting.
- While the cookie is cooling, make the frosting if you haven’t already, or bring your store-bought frosting to room temperature
- Frost the cookie in a thick, even layer.
- To make the flag, use blueberries to make the “stars” section in the upper left corner. Arrange the berries in straight lines, with about 9 berries down and 6 berries across, depending on the size of the fruit. I like to alternate the starting points of each line to get more of a diamond shape between each of the blueberries. Refer to the photos for more of an idea of what that looks like.
- Then arrange the raspberries into evenly spaced stripes, forming horizontal lines across the rest of the cookie cake. You should have 8 stripes of raspberries total.
- Slice and serve.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Cakes
Keywords: Fourth of July, July 4th, Independence Day, Patriotic, Cake, Raspberries, Blueberries, Vanilla Cream Frosting, Sugar Cookie
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Zest Lemon and Measure Out All Ingredients
Zest a lemon until you have 1 1/2 teaspoons total lemon zest.
Measure out all the remaining ingredients on the ingredients list.
Make sure that the unsalted butter is softened to room temperature.
Preheat your oven to 350˚F. Line a rimmed half baking sheet with parchment paper. Make sure the paper overlaps the edges so it forms a sling for easy removal from the pan.
Step 2 – Make Dough
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add the butter and sugar. Beat for about 2 minutes on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time and beat between each addition until just combined. Scrape down the sides as necessary.
Add the vanilla and lemon zest and beat until combined.
Slowly add the flour and salt. Mix on medium speed until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides as necessary.
Step 3 – Bake
Press the dough into the prepared sheet pan in an even layer.
Bake for 15-16 minutes. The cookie should be a light golden brown.
Note that the center will look undercooked, but it will continue to cook in the pan.
Step 4 – Cool
Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack before carefully removing and transferring to a serving platter.
Make your frosting or bring premade or store-bought frosting to room temperature while the cookie is cooling.
Step 5 – Decorate
Frost the cookie with the vanilla buttercream in a thick, even layer.
To create the flag, start with the blueberries. To make the “stars” section in the upper left corner, arrange the berries in straight lines with a little space in between. You should end up with about 9 berries down and 6 berries across, depending on the size of the fruit.
Then make the “stripes” section. Arrange the raspberries in evenly spaced stripes to form horizontal lines across the rest of the cookie cake. You should have 8 stripes of raspberries total, with three being half stripes that finish the rows where the blueberries have been placed at the left.
Step 6 – Slice and Serve
You can serve this cookie cake right away, or chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve. I found that it’s easier to cut after it is chilled in the refrigerator for a little bit (30 minutes or more).
You can use a chef’s knife to cut the cake easily. For serving, I just leave the cake in the pan because you risk it falling apart if you try to remove it (it’s also hard to find a serving platter that large). Cut the cookie cake into squares (I cut mine into 2-inch by 2-inch squares) as big or small as you prefer.
Will This Dessert Last in the Fridge?
If you need to make a recipe ahead of time for your patriotic potluck, this one totally works. All you have to do is bake, cool completely, decorate, and place the completed dessert in your refrigerator.
The cookie will be easier to cut if it has been chilled for a bit first. The texture that results from a bit of extra chilling is also preferred by my husband, but I like it at room temperature to get the softer texture.
To each their own, am I right?
Here’s some additional inspiration for Americana dessert recipes to serve to a crowd for Independence Day, Memorial Day, or any time you need the perfect sweet treat for a summertime get together:
- Classic Blueberry Pie
- Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
- Apple Pear Pie with Cardamom
- Fourth of July Mini Cake Trifles
What do you do to celebrate the 4th of July every year? Tell us in the comments below. Be sure to come back to rate the recipe once you try it at home!
Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Meghan Yager
Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.