Create hoverable dropdown menu with submenu using JSON data with CSS and jQuery

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Here in this article I’ll show you how to create a simple hoverable dropdown menu with submenu dynamically using JSON data extracted from a remote file with jQuery and CSS.

• I’ll use CSS to design the dropdown menu with the submenu. The menus will be exposed or displayed when we hover over the menus.

• I’ll use jQuery to extract data from a JSON file using a URL. The data will be used to create the menu and submenu. The file is located in a remote server.

You can also do this using plain old JavaScript.

So, let’s get on with the example.

The JSON data

Check this link to see the JSON data. I am using this data to create ULs and LIs for the menus and submenu.

The Markup and Style

I have added a <ul> tag (parent element) inside the <body> tag. In addition, using a jQuery script, I’ll add more <li> and <ul> tags dynamically using data from the JSON file.

The CSS or the style is important to give it a cool dropdown effect.

<!DOCTYPE html>
  <script src=""></script>

    ul {
      list-style: none;
      padding: 0px;
      margin: 0px;
    ul li {
      display: block;
      position: relative;
      float: left;
    a {
      display: block;
      transition: all linear 0.2s;
      padding: 7px 15px;
      text-decoration: none;
      white-space: nowrap;
      color: #fff;
      background-color: #909eab;
      font-size: 18px;
    a:hover { 
      background-color: #4b545f;
    ul ul {
      display: none;
      position: absolute;
    ul li:hover > ul {
    ul ul li {
      width: 200px;
      float: none;
      display: list-item;
      position: relative;
    ul ul ul {
      position: relative;
      top: -36px; 
      left: 200px;
      float: right;
  <p>Hover mouse over the block to show dropdown menu.</p>
  <ul id="menu1"></ul>

At this stage, the page is empty. Since we haven’t created or added the elements for the menus. So let’s add the elements.

The Script to create the Hoverable Menu
  $(document).ready(function () {
    // Top (header) list item.
    let li = $('<li/>').appendTo('#menu1');

    $('<a />')
      .attr('href', '#')
      .appendTo(li);     // add the header (<ul>).

    // Create sub ul.
    let sub_ul = $('<ul/>').appendTo(li);    

    // get data to create ul and li elements for menu and submenu.
    let arrData = [];
    $.getJSON('../../library/birds.json', function (data) {
      let typeOfBirds = [];

      $.each(data, function (index, value) {
        arrData = data;
      // Remove duplicates from the array, because we want unique types.
      typeOfBirds = Array.from(new Set (typeOfBirds));
      $.each(typeOfBirds, function (index, value) {
        // Create and add sub list items.
        let sub_li = $('<li/>').appendTo(sub_ul);
        $('<a />')
          .text(value + ' + ')
          .attr('href', '#')
        $.each<(arrData, function (i, v) {
          if (v.Type === value) { 
            // Create sub ul.
            let sub_sub_ul = $('<ul/>').appendTo(sub_li);
            let sub_sub_li = $('<li/>').appendTo(sub_sub_ul);
            $('<a />')
              .attr('href', '#')
Try it

This is how it should look. Nice and simple.


css hoverable dropdown menu and submenus using json data and jquery

Happy coding.

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