Independence Day is coming up this weekend, which means beer, BBQ, brats, burgers, fireworks, sparklers, COVID-safe fun, and—oh, yeah, did anyone bring dessert? As a former professional pastry chef, I know how satisfying it can be to make the holidays extra-special with an "ooh-ahh" dessert for a party—or even just to enjoy yourself! And as a self-taught pastry chef, I know that not everyone has the equipment or skills to bake in the first place, much less make sweets as pretty as we'd sometimes like. Plus, even if you do have the skills, your kids probably don't, and any holiday celebration is more fun when you can get the kids involved. With that in mind, I've whipped up two easy-peasy 4th of July dessert recipes that are so simple to make and decorate that kids of practically any age can pitch in. Bon appetit and happy Independence Day!

Check out our super-simple 4th of July dessert recipes below.

Stars and Stripes Cream Pie

4th of July dessert ideas Motherly Ingredients:
  • Graham cracker pie crust
  • Jello vanilla pudding mix, 5.1 oz
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • 1 pint strawberries, halved
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream OR 1 canister of whipped cream (see notes)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (optional)
  1. For the pastry cream filling, put the 2 cups of heavy whipping cream and box of vanilla pudding mix into a bowl. Mix with a mixer until the filling becomes very thick. If you want a different consistency, you can optionally add the 4 tablespoons of milk one at a time until the cream has thinned out a bit—just make sure it doesn't become too goopy or the pie won't cut cleanly.
  2. Spread the pastry cream filling in the graham cracker crust.
  3. To make the whipped cream, put the 1 cup of heavy whipping cream (and 2 tablespoons of sugar, if you prefer sweeter whipped cream) into a clean bowl. Using a hand or stand mixer, whip the cream at the highest speed you can without splashing the cream everywhere, increasing the speed as the cream thickens. Whip until it's quite thick and doesn't fall off of an upside-down spoon.
  4. Arrange the blueberries on top of the pastry cream in one quadrant of the pie. Overlapping your strawberries, make five lines of strawberries with space between the lines.
  5. Spread the whipped cream in the spaces between the strawberries. Place five dots of whipped cream over the blueberries to mimic the stars on the American flag.
  • You can make this vegan/dairy-free by using the coconut fat solids from a can of coconut cream for the filling. Chill a can of full-fat coconut cream in the fridge overnight to separate the fat from the coconut water. (Yes, Jell-o pudding mix is vegan!)
  • If you're intimidated by making whipped cream from scratch, you can use a canister of whipped cream instead. Just make sure to spray the whipped cream onto the pie immediately before serving it—canned whipped cream melts within a few hours, even in the fridge.

Fireworks Surprise Cupcakes

Easy 4th of July desserts Motherly Ingredients:
  • A box of cake mix in whatever flavor you'd like (plus the ingredients you need according to the box -- often eggs, oil and water)
  • A can of frosting
  • Blue sprinkles
  • 4 Twizzlers Pull 'N Peels
  • A box of Nerds
  • Six packets of Pop Rocks
  1. Prepare the cupcakes according to the directions on the box, except fill up just 12 cupcakes (most box mixes say that they make 18-24—feel free to fill the 12 molds up to the top). I strongly suggest using two cupcake liners per cupcake.
  2. When the cupcakes are totally cooled off (transfer to a plate and put them in the fridge or freezer if you need to), use a knife or spoon to carve out the middle of the cupcakes.
  3. Mix the Pop Rocks and Nerds together in a bowl. Fill the middle of the cupcakes with the candy mixture.
  4. Frost the top of the cupcakes, being careful not to get too much candy mixed in.
  5. Pour the blue sprinkles into a bowl. Turn each cupcake on its side and dip the edges of the frosting into the blue sprinkles, turning to coat.
  6. Cut the Twizzlers into thirds, making 12 pieces total. Peel the sections of candy back until about a half-inch above the bottom of the piece (so that the top part flops around and the bottom part is still together).
  • You can make this recipe vegan by using ¼ cup of applesauce for each egg the box calls for. Most canned frostings are already vegan!
  • Try to serve these as soon as possible after making them. Pop Rocks start popping as soon as the packets are opened, so to get the full firework effect you'll want people to eat them while the Pop Rocks are still intact.