Juneteenth is a time of celebration, remembrance and community. It commemorates the final emancipation of enslaved Black people in Texas and is now a national holiday that is marked by parades, parties, and lots of food.
You may be wondering what traditional food is served on Juneteenth. Well, you're in the right place! Here you'll find lots of inspiration for Juneteenth food ideas to get your traditional Juneteenth celebrations started right!
Related: 40 Best Soul Food Recipes
What is a traditional way to celebrate Juneteenth?
One of the best ways to honor Juneteenth is to highlight and uplift Black creators, and with this collection of Juneteenth food recipes, you can also have some delicious food in the process!
An initiative that has been uplifting Black creators for years is the annual Eat the Culture Juneteenth Virtual Cookout, which brings together Black food bloggers to share their favorite recipes so that we all can have a chance to enjoy these incredible dishes and commemorate the history behind them.
What food do you eat on Juneteenth?
So what foods are served on Juneteenth and why is it important? Well first, since it's a warm weather celebration, Juneteenth food traditions often include cookout fare like barbecued meats, potato salad and fruity or frozen desserts. You'll also see lots of traditional soul food dishes like fried chicken, cornbread and collard greens. There's also a special emphasis on red foods and red drinks.
Related: 45 Best Cajun Recipes For Those Who Like It Hot
Why is red food eaten during Juneteenth celebrations?
Throughout the history of Juneteenth celebrations, red foods have been a major part of the spread. There are several historical explanations that have been presented for this. First, it's believed that the color red commemorates the history of struggle and bloodshed that enslaved Black Americans faced. Also, many historians believe that the color red was an important signifier of special occasions in the West African nations where many formerly enslaved people originated, a tradition that carried over into Juneteenth traditions after emancipation.
What are red foods for Juneteenth?
Juneteenth red foods include cookout favorites like barbecued meat and hot links, and other traditional favorites like red beans and rice and hot sauce. You might also see new twists on red foods, like watermelon salad or red cabbage coleslaw! The most well-known of all the Juneteenth desserts is red velvet cake, but other great options include strawberry pie or berry sorbet. You also can't go wrong with a fresh fruit salad or grilled watermelon!
Related: Best Strawberry Lemonade Recipe
The red theme continues with traditional Juneteenth drinks like strawberry soda, hibiscus drinks and fruit punch. You can even serve up a red cocktail to really get the party started!
Related: 85 Best Summer Cocktail Recipes
What do you serve at a Juneteenth party?
If you're hosting a Juneteenth party, or you'd like ideas for what you bring to a Juneteenth party, you're in luck! This collection of recipes has all the Juneteenth food ideas you could want, from soul food side dishes to red foods and drinks and incredible desserts! So go on and pick out your recipes, and have a happy Juneteenth celebration!
Best Juneteenth Recipes
You won't find any barbecue sauce in these shrimp! Instead, they are swimming in a flavorful garlic butter sauce you have to try.
BBQ legend Rodney Scott has been cooking whole-hog barbecue over wood coals since he was 11 years old. He's sharing his best-fried chicken brined in his rib rub!
A Cajun twist on this Southern classic side dish.
This is the only way to feed mac and cheese to a big crowd.
Elements of an old-fashioned cucumber soup and white gazpacho combine in a flavorful refreshing dish.
Have you got a jar of molasses languishing in your pantry? Grab it for this simple recipe for sticky sweet chicken wings.
This Creole dish is normally done in a skillet, but grilling gives the shrimp extra flavor!
Barbecued brisket makes for a hearty sandwich piled high with flavor.
Making cornbread from scratch is probably easier than you might think.
This flavorful dish has many cultural influences with Southern ingredients like peppers and pecans.
The minute you take these off the grill, your Juneteenth bash can officially begin.
This recipe takes summer fruit salad to a whole new level, thanks to a sweet, salty and spicy Thai dressing.
There is just something about biting into a barbecued pork sandwich with the contrasting flavor and texture of creamy coleslaw.
These sticky sweet ribs begin in the oven and then get finished off over an open flame.
This is the ultimate Nashville hot chicken recipe! Spicy and crispy golden brown fried chicken gets an extra coating of hot spiced glaze taking it over the top.
This pinto bean and ham hock recipe is a true Southern comfort food delicacy! Dried pinto beans are soaked and then simmered with meaty ham hocks and flavors galore reaching tender thick perfection.
This classic southern catfish recipe is dredged in a perfectly seasoned and spiced cornmeal breading and fried until tender on the inside and crispy golden brown on the outside!!
No grill is complete without my insanely flavorful skirt or flank steak marinade with chimichurri sauce! Easy, absolutely delicious and beyond flavorful!
This is a deliciously moist cake filled with ripe banana, perfectly sweet pineapple and chopped pecans that’s topped with an irresistibly rich cream cheese frosting! It tastes almost tropical!
These delicious salmon patties are a quick and easy soul food classic done right! Nice and tender on the inside full of salmon flavor and aromatics, yet crunchy and delicious on the exterior from an irresistible cornmeal breading, you will make these time and time again.
This Braised Jamaican Oxtail is a Caribbean take on a classic Southern staple! Giant beef oxtails are slowly simmered for hours in a homemade ‘jerk’ sauce rendering tender, fragrant and delicious pieces of goodness!
A twist on classic cornbread, this intensely moist, flavorful and authentic corn pone recipe is made with simple ingredients and baked until beautifully golden brown!
This recipe features fresh okra breaded in the most flavorful coating then fried until golden brown creating a perfect crunchy texture!
Ditch the store-bought stuff and learn how to make the best tartar sauce ever. Made with creamy mayo, zesty relish, fresh herbs and lots of zippy citrus, this is fantastic as the perfect seafood dip or spread!
This deeply flavorful, rich and downright addictive Jamaican stew starts with chicken that has been intensely marinated in a variety of aromatic spices and then braised down in the best savory liquids resulting in the most comforting Caribbean-style stew you can imagine!!
In this Southern classic, gizzards are marinated in a spicy bath of buttermilk and hot sauce then battered in seasoned flour and fried to golden brown perfection!!
These crispy wings are fried to a golden brown and then tossed in a sweet, spicy and lemony honey glaze!
Searching for the absolute best lemon meringue pie recipe? Look no further! Made with the butteriest homemade pie crust, a creamy tart lemon curd filling and piled high with fluffy clouds of sweet meringue, this pie is a lemon lover’s dream come true!
This pound cake is moist, tender, buttery and melts in your mouth. This is a Southern dessert classic recipe that is passed down from generation to generation that will always be a hit.
A Southern potluck classic, Ambrosia Salad is a delightfully refreshing dessert or snack! This iconic fruit salad is made of pineapple chunks, mandarin slices, maraschino cherries, mini marshmallows and lots of creamy cool whip!
These authentic Southern collards are braised in savory meat flavored and perfectly spiced pot liquor resulting in an amazing tender silky texture!
Perfectly buttery, rich, soft and flavorful with the perfect texture, these are perfect with a cup of coffee or sweet tea.
Tangy and full of sweet honey flavor, this refreshing coleslaw is full of tender veggies olive oil, sharp vinegar and tangy garlic! It’s easy to make, so flavorful, and the perfect dairy-free alternative to a classic potluck side!
This easy homemade peach cobbler with canned peaches or fresh peaches is the perfect Southern old-fashioned dessert.
This classic Southern one-pot dish boasts bold meaty flavors from chicken, sausage, shrimp and intense Cajun spices.
These have all the flavors of peach cobbler wrapped up in an easy handheld package. This recipe includes frozen sliced peaches to save time and control the flavors of the filling.
Hog Maw may not make it on the top ten gourmet foods list, but it is definitely a soul food specialty. And when cooked properly, this fat-free deliciousness is a real treat.
Tender, flavorful turnip greens are a soul food staple.
Chitterlings, affectionately known as chitlins, is not a dish for the faint of heart. The mild taste of this quintessential soul food is hard to describe, and it’s nothing like it smells when cooking. The finished product is oh-so-good, especially when you serve it with vinegar and hot sauce next to collard greens, fried chicken and cornbread.
This bird can be marinated or seasoned with a dry rub. The result is always tender, juicy, fall-off-the-bone chicken loaded with flavor. This recipe works for any smoker or pellet grill.
This macaroni and cheese is creamy, cheesy, and finished with an irresistible crispy, buttery breadcrumb topping! It makes great leftovers, and it works as both a side dish and a plant-based entree!
Creamy, tangy and so delicious, this tater salad is a must-have side dish. Simple and easy to make, it’s perfect for BBQs and cookouts.
This is a stunning and seasonal red dessert to take to Juneteenth celebrations. Learn how to create this unforgettable treat in under an hour!
This authentic Southern dessert is the perfect accompaniment to your Juneteenth celebration! Traditionally the sweet mandarin orange cake starts with a box of yellow cake mix, but this one is made from scratch and finished with homemade whipped topping sweetened with pineapple.
This cocktail tastes herbaceous thanks to the mild licorice flavor of tarragon, but it also has a refreshing floral quality from ripe, red grapes.
This flavorful baked beans recipe with green pepper and red spices is the perfect side dish for your Juneteenth cookout.
Based on the amazing red velvet sheet cake recipe from Life is What You Bake It by Vallery Lomas, this is the best 6-inch mini red velvet cake recipe, perfect for small gatherings!
A plant-based Hibiscus strawberry ice cream is the perfect way to honor the tradition of Juneteenth with red as a symbol of It could symbolize sacrifice, transition, power and perseverance.
These pork chops are lightly breaded and fried to golden crisp perfection. Southern-fried, just like grandma used to make!
These crispy fried catfish filets are coated in a spiced cornmeal crust that's seasoned to perfection. Serve alongside french fries, spaghetti, hush puppies or coleslaw for the ultimate Southern fish fry.
Fire up the grill! This mouthwatering turkey burger is perfect for your Juneteenth celebration. Topped with caramelized onions, mushrooms and Swiss cheese, every bite is a flavor bomb.
An elevated version of your classic vegan southern baked mac and cheese made with four kinds of cheese to create the perfect, creamy, cheesy side dish.
Celebrate Juneteenth with these deliciously unique, finger-lickin' good ribs.
Tender steak pieces are marinated in a wonderful marinade in this East African mishkaki (beef kabobs) recipe. Serve some naan bread alongside for a complete meal.
These savory hand pies are filling and delicious.
This refreshing mocktail combines watermelon, lime and mint for a refreshing and bubbly summer drink sans alcohol.
Rich and smoky baked beans that are packed with that candied BBQ flavor. These are easy to cook in your Instant Pot—saving you time and effort.
These homemade cupcakes are light, moist and filled with a smooth lemon curd then topped with a fresh raspberry cream cheese frosting.
Summer cookouts are a staple in the African American culture and the person handling the grill is the coveted grill master! This grilled whole chicken recipe will surely impress any crowd, especially because it's incredibly flavorful, easy to make, and ready in less than one hour!
This red velvet cake is THE perfect addition to any Juneteenth celebration. It’s a show-stopping ruby color, and the chocolate is perfectly balanced with a creamy, dreamy cream cheese glaze for an amazing red velvet pound cake experience!
These hushpuppies are made with a slightly sweetened cornmeal batter and chopped sweet onions, and are deep-fried until crispy and golden on the outside but soft and fluffy on the inside.
This strawberries and cream bundt cake is a rich and delicious dessert. Highlighted with fresh strawberries, this recipe has the perfect flavors for your summer picnic or BBQ!
These delicious African-inspired chicken wings are perfect for your next potluck or dinner paired with your favorite side of veggies!
No self-respecting Juneteenth party can go down without a traditional strawberry soda drink. This is also a great summer drink to serve at your upcoming cookout!
This dump cake is the best of both worlds and the perfect addition to your Juneteenth celebration! Made with fresh strawberries, cherry pie filling, and cream cheese with a buttery crust.