Chicken, ribs and tri-tip for your 4th of July barbecue

Cut-up pieces of seasoned cooked chicken
A butterflied chicken, rubbed in sugar and spices, is a classic barbecue main dish and perfect for outdoor gatherings this summer.
(Ben Mims / Los Angeles Times)

Even if you haven’t celebrated the Fourth of July in the past, I’m willing to bet everyone — sick of being inside for the past year — is going to either be hosting a barbecue or feverishly looking for an invite. Everyone wants to be outside, gathered with friends and enjoying great food.

To help you along with that, I developed half a dozen new barbecue sauces that use leftover quarantine booze to round out their flavors. Keep these tasty sauces on hand all summer to make entertaining outdoors a breeze. (And watch our video where I ask Lisa McRee, LA Times Today anchor and the inspiration for these recipes, to try them all).

In addition to those sauces, you’ll want to have at least one of these summer staples on hand next weekend to use as a canvas for the sauces. Then you’ll be ready to feed your guests, both the planned ones and the surprise drop-ins.

Pork ribs, bathed in a sticky-sweet sauce, are a barbecue must-have, but instead of getting too complicated with the flavors, try this recipe, which embellishes store-bought Chinese spare rib sauce to add a flavorful shellack to the meaty ribs.

In the world of beef, you can go simple with a garlic-and-black-pepper-marinated tri-tip, grilled to perfection over coals, or try out this slow-smoked brisket, rubbed with dried chiles and served with a tangy salsa pibil.

If you prefer chicken, my dry spice-rubbed bird is a cinch to prepare and watches itself on the grill while you grab another beer or two. And while it may be “barbecue” in name alone, I love to make a pan of buttery, New Orleans-style barbecue shrimp on the actual grill so the shrimp are infused with its smoky essence.


Whichever path you take, keep it simple and crowd-pleasing so that you can enjoy the party along with your guests, who are more interested in being around you and one another than critiquing the menu.

Barbecue Pork Ribs

Chinese spare rib sauce is thinned with rice wine and sweetened with honey for a sticky-sweet sauce to go with simple pork spare ribs. The recipe is made in the oven but works even better on the grill. Brush the sauce on the ribs in the last 20 to 30 minutes of cooking to keep it from burning.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 1 hour 15 minutes.

Ultimate Tri-Tip

Santa Maria-style tri-tip is the unofficial barbecue cut of California, where it is a tradition to cook it over coals and serve with pinquito beans. A quick-cooking cut compared with ribs or brisket, tri-tip is best marinated in lots of garlic and salt and served lightly charred outside while slightly rare inside so it stays tender.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 50 minutes, plus 3 hours marinating.

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La Sandia’s Brisket

An ancho chile powder rub creates a spicy crust on this brisket, served with salsa pibil to cut the beef’s richness. Prepare the rub and salsa a couple of days ahead so most of the hard work is done when it comes time to cook and smoke the brisket.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 2 hours.

Dry Spice Butterflied Chicken

The spices here form the basis for a classic dry barbecue rub. But if you don’t have one or two of them, simply leave them out; the chicken will still taste great. The salt is the only important seasoning here, as it helps draw out moisture from the skin, getting it extra-crisp in the oven or grill.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 1 hour 15 minutes.

Louisiana Barbecue Shrimp

Lots of cayenne, butter, garlic and Worcestershire sauce spice the sauce for these finger-licking-good shrimp. Set the skillet on a hot grill and make the dish outside to give the shrimp a smoky flavor.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 20 minutes.


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