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July Fourth grilling recipes to celebrate a diversity of flavors

(Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post/Food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post.)

July Fourth is just around the corner, and so are the festivities: thundering fireworks, sunburned kids chasing each other through parks and our personal favorite, grilled foods galore.

Here’s a tip: Don’t wait until July 3 to start your food preparations. With a little planning, your Fourth of July spread will surely be the envy of your neighbors. Grilled items are essential, but don’t fret if you can’t access an outdoor grill. A grill pan can produce flavorful options.

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Since the Fourth of July is a celebration of America, let your plate reflect our diverse country and its flavors. Spice up your grilled corn with an Indonesian peanut sauce or add a tart kick to your grilled eggplant, Afghan-style. If you need more ideas, check out our Recipe Finder and search for July Fourth.

Classic Barbecue Chicken, above. This classic barbecue chicken recipe comes to you from the former Post Smoke Signals columnist Jim Shahin via Becky Krystal, who put her own spin on it to much aplomb. With a tangy barbecue sauce, this grilled chicken is sure to become a hit at your celebration.

Grilled Salmon Caesar Salad With Asparagus and Charred Lemons. Don’t be surprised when your guests demand seconds of this hearty salad, which can also be served as a main. For a vegetarian option, grill tofu instead.

Grilled Corn with Peanut Sauce. There’s no pretty way to bite into a buttery, savory corn-on-the-cob. (Though if you find one, do tell.) This messy bite becomes even more worth it when doused in a peanut sauce inspired by an Indonesian dish. If you find yourself with leftover sauce, drizzle it on skewers, salads, or a classic Indonesian plate of gado-gado.

Afghan-Style Grilled Eggplant. The smoky, supple eggplant pairs well with the sweet grilled onions and the tart yogurt. For a more complete bite, serve the eggplant atop grilled flatbread or sliced baguette.

Grilled Sea Bass With Dill Sauce. For the grill savants out there, try your hand at grilled fish. A thick, meaty fish, such as sea bass, cod or salmon, takes technique and precision, but you’ll be rewarded with a smoky bite of the ocean.

Slow Cooker Barbecue Pulled Chicken. No grill? No problem. Pull out your trusty slow cooker for this hands-off barbecue pulled chicken that’s sure to impress. To compliment this Fourth of July staple, serve it with a thick Texas toast and a side of beans.

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Grilled Pound Cake With Rum-Scented Grilled Pineapple. A bite of this moist pound cake will convince you to never buy store-bought pound cake again. Level up with a dollop of whipped cream and pineapple soaked in brown sugar and rum for Caribbean flavor.

Iced Tea. And while you’re standing by the grill and under the sun, don’t forget to hydrate! The age-old debate over sweetened versus unsweetened iced tea can run in circles. Go beyond with our favorite iced tea twists. We promise there’s something for everyone: fruity, citrusy, earthy and for the booze fans out there, we have your back, too. For a non-caffeinated option, check out our blueberry lemonade.