You don’t need fireworks to wow people this Independence Day. All you need is a grill and some of these recipes gathered from Gateway pastors who know a thing or two about outdoor cooking. Some even refer to themselves as grill masters, and when you taste these recipes you’ll know why. Whether you cook a side dish like Pastor James Lee’s Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers or a main course like Pastor James Morris’s Slow-Smoked Dr. Pepper chicken, you’ll give the explosions in the sky some competition. So get outside, light up the charcoal (or propane), and get ready for a memorable Fourth of July meal.

Slow-Smoked Dr. Pepper Chicken
Pastor James Morris
“This is my wife’s favorite chicken because it’s so tender and sweet. It doesn’t taste like Dr. Pepper—it just tastes good!”


  • Hickory or cherry wood chips or chunks soaked in water
  • 4 cans Dr. Pepper
  • 1 3 ½- to 4-pound chicken
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper


Prepare grill or smoker for indirect heat (see diagram) and place wood chips or chunks onto charcoal (if using a gas grill, place wood chips into an aluminum foil pouch and poke holes in it with a fork; then place the pouch onto the burner). 250°F–275°F is optimal grill temperature. Use a can opener to cut the top off a Dr. Pepper can and pour half of it out. Place the chicken’s cavity onto the Dr. Pepper can so it supports the chicken in the upright position, and sprinkle salt and pepper onto the chicken. Gently set onto the grill, opposite side of the heat source. Pour another Dr. Pepper into a metal water pan and place inside the grill. Cover and grill until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh says 165°F.

While the chicken is cooking, pour 2 cans of Dr. Pepper into a saucepan over medium heat on the stove. The Dr. Pepper will reduce to a syrup-like texture, which can be used to baste the chicken as it cooks.

Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes, and enjoy with a cold Dr. Pepper.


South Carolina Smoked Spare Ribs
Pastor Stokes Collins
“I owned a barbecue restaurant in South Carolina for a few years, and I learned that one of the biggest secrets to slow cooking is stop looking! When you lift the lid of your grill, all the heat and smoke escapes.”


  • 1 rack of trimmed pork spare ribs

For the rub:

  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic pepper

Prepare the grill or smoker for indirect heat (see diagram) and place wood chips or chunks onto charcoal (if using a gas grill, place wood chips into an aluminum foil pouch and poke holes in it with a fork; then place the pouch onto the burner). 225°F–275°F is the best temperature range to grill ribs. Mix the rub in a small bowl and apply generously to both sides of the ribs. Place the ribs onto the grill, opposite side of the heat source. After 2 hours, wrap the ribs in aluminum foil and place back on the grill for about 2 more hours. Ribs are done when the instant-read thermometer inserted in between two center bones reads 180°F–190°F. Enjoy with your favorite barbecue sauce (or without).


Pork Steaks
Pastor Mallory Bassham
“My mom always grilled because she always did the cooking. Even to this day, she’s 87 years old and she’s out there at the grill. When she makes these pork steaks, they fall apart and melt in your mouth!”


  • 4 large pork steaks, 1 ¼ inches thick (cut from the pork shoulder)
  • 1 tablespoon Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
  • 1 tablespoon meat tenderizer
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder

For the sauce:

  • 1 bottle of Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Sauce
  • ¼ cup sweet pickle relish
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup chicken stock (stock may be substituted with water)


Prepare grill for direct heat (see diagram), and preheat oven to 275°F. Mix Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, meat tenderizer, and garlic powder in a small bowl and sprinkle on both sides of each steak. In a Dutch oven, or large casserole dish, mix sauce ingredients well and set aside. Place steaks on the grill and sear (2 minutes each side). Remove steaks from grill, transfer them to the Dutch oven, cover, and place inside preheated oven. (If using casserole dish, cover tightly with aluminum foil.) Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes.


Bacon-Wrapped Filet Mignon
Pastor David Moore
“This is my wife’s favorite thing that I make, and it’s great for any occasion. The secret to this recipe is finding well-marbled steaks and only flipping them once on the grill.”


  • 4 beef tenderloin steaks (USDA Prime is best), 1 ½ inches thick  
  • 4 strips of bacon
  • Lawry’s Seasoned Salt


Prepare the grill for direct heat (about 400°F). Wrap a strip of bacon around the sides of each filet and secure with 2 toothpicks. Sprinkle the top and bottom of each filet with Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, and place on the grill to sear for 8 minutes. Flip each filet only once and grill to desired doneness (internal temperature for well done is 155°F). Let steaks rest for 5–10 minutes and enjoy.


Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers
Pastor James Lee
“These jalapeño poppers are savory and not as hot as you might expect, but they still have a small kick. And bacon always makes everything taste great!”


  • 16 whole jalapeños, halved, deseeded, and deveined (gloves recommended, and avoid touching your eyes!)
  • 8 ounces of cream cheese
  • 8 slices of uncooked bacon, cut in half
  • Bonus ingredient: cooked pulled pork or seasoned ground beef


Prepare the grill for indirect cooking. Fill each jalapeño half with cream cheese (and pulled pork or ground beef ). Wrap with bacon and secure with toothpick. Place on grill, on opposite side of the fire, and cook until bacon is brown and crispy (30–40 minutes). Enjoy with any of the other recipes here.


Don’t have a big, elaborate smoker? No problem! You can use a gas grill or a traditional charcoal kettle grill to make these recipes. To use a gas grill, only heat one side of the grill. Direct heat happens when the object being cooked is directly above the heat source. Indirect heat is when the object is heated by convection from the heat source. For a diagram, view the full article here.