Why Baked Beans Should Always Be On Your July 4 Menu

There are a lot of things to love about the 4th of July: long weekends, fireworks, beach trips, parades, and, most importantly, cookouts. Hosting (or attending) a backyard barbecue is an Independence Day tradition for a lot of Americans. According to WalletHub, more than half of Americans will participate in a 4th of July picnic this year, consuming about 150 million hot dogs. However, a 2019 survey by Food Network and Open Minds found that only 10% of Americans would choose a hot dog over a hamburger while 50% would go the other way, per Discovery. So it might be worth tossing both on the grill. Other popular holiday cookout foods include potato salad, chips, coleslaw, pasta salad, corn on the cob, and ice cream.

One side dish that you might not have considered for your 4th of July menu is baked beans. Delish even called them a barbecue food that "everyone secretly hates," arguing that "on their own, they're just taking up space in your stomach that ribs and pulled pork could be hogging." And their notoriously musical qualities might strike a foul note. But there's a reason to change that tune. While baked beans might not be the first thing you think of when you think of a backyard barbecue, they're a great choice for July 4. Here's why Independence Day is a day to celebrate freedom — and a dish of sloppy baked beans.

July 4 is National Baked Beans Day

July 4 isn't just Independence Day — it's also National Baked Beans Day, according to the U.S. Dry Bean Council. There doesn't seem to be an official explanation as to why that specific day was chosen, but according to the Journal of the American Revolution, during the war for independence from Great Britain, beans were crucial to the diets of New Englanders, and baked beans were likely commonplace. 

It's no secret that the slurpy side dish is popular during summertime when it pairs so well with hot dogs. While baked beans are commonly eaten on the side of dogs or sausages, you can also eat them on potatoes or toast or straight from the can. There are many varieties of baked beans today, and they're traditionally beans that are cooked on low heat for a long period of time in a sauce made with animal fat and the sweetener of your choice, like maple syrup or molasses (via MasterClass). The best options for making baked beans are those with tougher skins that won't fall apart as easily as they simmer, like navy, kidney, or Great Northern beans.