Memorial Day weekend is right around the corner, and you know what that means—you’ll be needing a few Memorial Day recipes to serve your family and friends. Get ready to bring on the burgers, the dogs, the grilled meats, creamy pasta salads, and no-bake desserts!
Whether you plan to head to the park, or maybe just grill in your backyard, you can’t go wrong with these Memorial Day recipes that will get you in the mood for summer. From burgers to sides to desserts you’ll find everything you need for warm-weather entertaining.
Are you ready for a Memorial day your family won’t forget? Then this collection of recipes is just what you need. Of course, beautiful sunny days would help too, but we can’t deliver that.
Most Common Memorial Day Foods
Like any holiday, Memorial Day is often characterized by the foods people typically eat on the day. While you and your family may have one tradition, you may be surprised to find out the type of foods others enjoy on this holiday.
Below are some of the most common memorial day foods:
- Hot Dogs
- BBQ Chicken
- Pulled Pork Sandwiches
- Potato Salad
- Macaroni Salad
- Fruit Salad
- Jell-O Salad
- Potato Chips
- Corn on the Cob
- Cut Vegetables with Ranch to Dip
See some foods you like? Or maybe some you have never tried? Consider trying something new this coming Memorial Day to mix it up a bit.
Tips for a Perfect Memorial Day Feast
Now that you have an idea of some of the foods which are common to serve, you are probably preparing to host your very own feast. Here are some tips to ensure your holiday feast is perfect.
Tip 1: Send Invitations in Advance
Planning to have a lot of food won’t do you any good if you don’t have any guests to feed. Sending invites for your Memorial Day feast in advance is crucial to getting all your friends and family there.
Plus, it will give you a good estimate of how much food you actually need to make. Don’t forget to give the invites a nice red, white, and blue theme.
Tip 2: Decorate
Just because your party is outdoors doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare a few decorations. Grab some flags to adorn the outside of your house, or maybe some red white and blue balloons to tie to your bench in the park.
You will also want to purchase some themed plates on which to serve your Memorial Day recipes. Paper plates tend to work best for a BBQ, especially if you are hosting it somewhere that isn’t your home.
Tip 3: Design a Menu
Spend time designing your menu. Do some of your guests have dietary restrictions? Ensure that you think about these as well as you plan. When you plan a menu in advance, this allows you to pick dishes that go together best and avoid last-minute shopping trips.
For those heading to the park, also keep in mind how you will transport everything to the site. Don’t be afraid to enlist a little help.
Tip 4: Have Plenty of Beverages
In most places, by the time Memorial Day rolls around it is quite hot outside. Therefore you should plan to offer drinks and plenty of them.
If you are serving alcohol, ensure you have enough for everyone and then some. You will also want to have an equal or greater amount of non-alcoholic beverages for your guests to choose from.
Tip 5: Prepare in Advance
Making everything you need the day of the celebration will have you running around crazy. Avoid this by preparing what you can the day before, such as your macaroni or potato salad, then putting it in the fridge overnight.
Also, keep in mind that if you are headed to a public park for Memorial Day that you will want to arrive early. Parks, especially premium spots with access to a grill, fill fast.
It may even be worthwhile to head to a park that allows you to reserve grill space to ensure you can prepare your memorial day feast.
How to Host a Memorial Day Party
Ready for the big day? If you’ve never hosted a Memorial Day party before your first one can be a little nerve-wracking. Here are some steps to help you prepare for hosting a Memorial Day Party.
What You Need:
- Red, White, and Blue Decorations
- Memorial Day Recipes (and ingredients for said recipes)
- A Location with a Grill
- Family and Friends
- A speaker
Step 1: Find a Location
Does your home already have a large backyard with a grill? Then you are probably all set. If this isn’t the case for you, however, don’t stress as there are many parks and other venues which will allow you to rent space with a grill for the big day.
Step 2: Send Out Invites
Send out decorative invites in advance to all your family and friends. Ask them to RSVP while also specifying any dietary restrictions as this will allow you to plan a menu everyone can enjoy. Feel free to use digital, or physical invites.
Step 3: Pick Memorial Day Recipes
Once you know how many people you have attending as well as any dietary restrictions, you can pick out the Memorial Day recipes you will serve.
Step 4: Buy Ingredients in Advance
The day before a party is not the day to shop for ingredients. Instead, you should begin collecting ingredients as soon as feasible (ensuring they won’t go bd before the party).
For example, you can buy Jell-O powder the day you decide to make a Jell-O salad. But for the toppings for your burger bar, you will likely want to shop 2-3 days before the event.
Step 5: Prepare Some Games
Including games in your Memorial Day party is especially important if there are kids attending. Even if it is an all-adult party, no one turns down a game of cornhole.
You can make your own games, or purchase them at the store. Just ensure they are fun to play outside.
Step 6: Start Cooking the Day Before
When the day of your party comes, you will be very busy decorating and grilling. So, make any Memorial Day recipes that can be kept in the fridge overnight the day before.
Typically no-bake desserts, salads, and some beverages can be made in advance without issue.
Step 7: Set Up and Decorate
The day is finally here. Although you may want to sleep in a bit, you’ll want to set your alarm for a few hours before the party to give yourself time to decorate and set up the games. You may also need time to prepare your Memorial Day recipes.
Step 8: Create a Playlist
About 15 minutes before your guests arrive, you will want to turn on some patriotic music to get everyone in the mood. Make your own playlist if you have time, or just find one on your favorite music streaming app.
Step 9: Have Fun
As your guests arrive, greet them and show them where they can find all the food and games. Other than that, all you need to do now is have fun.
50 Delicious Memorial Day Recipes to Serve Your Family
Best Memorial Day Grilling Recipes
1. Jalapeno Bacon Burger
Burgers are one of the number one types of meat grilled on Memorial Day. But regular old burgers can get boring year after year.
Spice them up this Memorial Day when you add jalapenos and chipotle mayo to make this Jalapeno Bacon Burger from Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts.
2. Sweet Maple BBQ Kabobs
Kabobs are not only easy to grill but they are also easy to make for a large crowd because you can easily leave off an ingredient if there are allergies or aversions.
Check out this recipe from Dash of Sanity and make delicious sweet maple BBQ kabobs that your whole family can enjoy.
3. Spicy Grilled Chicken Drumsticks
There is nothing quite like a spicy chicken drumstick to eat while lounging in the grass at a Memorial Day celebration. Children and adults alike will love this recipe from Lemons for Lulu which only involves two simple steps. You grill the chicken and baste it with the sauce, talk about easy.
4. Grilled Sirloin Steak with Roasted Tomatoes
When you want to go all out for your Memorial Day party, pull out this recipe for a grilled sirloin from Lemons for Lulu. It’s easy to make and the best part is you will be staying on theme for the day with the addition of the red tomatoes and blue cheese.
Who said steak couldn’t be patriotic too?
5. Grilled BBQ Shrimp Salad
Shrimp are ridiculously easy to grill and can be served as a topping for steak or chicken. But, for those who want to be healthy, consider grilling shrimp this Memorial Day and then tossing them on a salad like this recipe from Erin Lives Whole.
Simply prepare the salad in advance and pack it in a container to take with you to your Memorial Day BBQ location. Once the shrimp are ready, open the container, mix them in and serve.
6. Grilled Pork Steak
Although pork is less commonly eaten on Memorial Day, if it’s one of your favorites, there’s no reason not to grill up a nice pork steak for your event. Follow this recipe on Another Food Blogger to make a simple but tasty pork steak complete with a celeriac remoulade.
7. Cajun Beer Brats
When talking about Memorial Day grilling, you can’t forget the bratwurst. Like hotdogs, but with a more in-depth flavor profile, your guests will love that you are offering bratwurst as a main dish.
Follow this recipe by Salt and Lavender to make a Cajun slaw to top your bratwurst with, or serve as a side—the choice is yours.
Easy Memorial Day Recipes
8. Broccoli Salad
Broccoli Salad is an easy Memorial Day recipe as it only involves cutting the ingredients and then tossing them together. You can find the instructions on Bellyfull, but honestly, this recipe is so easy you probably won’t even need them.
Additionally, this recipe is gluten and dairy-free.
9. Classic Italian Pasta Salad
Making a pasta salad for Memorial day doesn’t have to be difficult, namely if you choose this classic Italian pasta salad by Wishes and Dishes.
Start first by cooking the pasta, then toss some tomatoes, pepperoni, olives, and cheese cubes into the mix. Toss the mixture with some Italian dressing and this dish is ready to eat.
10. Basic Macaroni Salad
Sometimes what is the simplest thing to make can be the best. So when searching for sides for your Memorial Day Picnic, grab this recipe for basic macaroni salad from 365 Days of Baking and More.
You’ll cook the pasta, then while it is cooling chop pepper and onion, then toss everything together with a mayonnaise-based sauce.
11. Grilled Salmon with Chickpea Salsa
While Salmon isn’t traditionally thought of during the Memorial Day holidays, it is tasty when grilled and can easily be added to your menu.
Follow the directions on Lemons for Lulu to both grill the salmon and make the chickpea salsa. You may even want to consider making the salsa the night before so it is ready to go the day of the BBQ.
12. Marinated Vegetable Salad
For a recipe that couldn’t possibly be any easier, check out this one for a marinated vegetable salad from Nutrition in the Kitch. First, you’ll chop the vegetables listed in the ingredient list.
Then you will marinate them with the dressing you will make, and then stick the mixture in the fridge for one hour (or more). Add this recipe to any Memorial Day recipe docket as an easy prepare-the-day-before recipe.
13. Cream Cheese Stuffed Peppers
Let’s face it, no matter what you plan to grill on Memorial Day it will likely take a while to be cooked to perfection, meaning you will need some snacks to keep the hunger at bay.
Make these cream cheese stuffed peppers from Life Family Fun to snack on while you wait. They’re quick and easy to make (no cooking required) and can be made the night before and pulled out of the fridge the moment people arrive.
Memorial Day Vegetarian Recipes
14. Mixed Greens and Citrus Salad
A mixed greens salad is always a great addition to a Memorial Day spread. Green salads are also very easy to adjust for all types of dietary restrictions.
Check out this recipe from Lemons for Lulu for a mixed greens and citrus salad which is easy to make and contains a honey Dijon vinaigrette dressing you won’t be able to stop eating.
15. Spinach Pine Nut and Parmesan Pasta Salad
Many vegetarians worry about what they will eat when they go to a BBQ on Memorial Day, but when you serve this pasta salad by Lemon Tree Dwelling, they won’t have to worry.
Made with pasta, spinach, and pine nuts, this pasta salad is both healthy and filling. Not to mention that it is lightly dressed, so this recipe won’t weigh you down during the hula hoop contest.
16. Herb Drizzled Grilled Zucchini
Planning to grill all your main courses on Memorial Day can be tough when you have a vegetarian guest. But don’t sweat it, as you can make this herb drizzled grilled zucchini from Lemons for Lulu that is easy to make and cook alongside any meat items you are grilling.
Your vegetarian guests will appreciate that you have something savory for them to enjoy as well.
17. Dill Pickle Pasta Salad
Not all Memorial Day pasta salad recipes are vegetarian, but this one by Nutrition in the Kitch is. It is also dairy-free and can be made gluten-free to suit any dietary restrictions your family members may have.
Plus your pickle-loving family members will love the fact that you’ll be drizzling dill pickle juice over the salad before you serve it.
18. Portobello Burgers
Just because you have vegetarians coming to your BBQ doesn’t mean you have to let go of the idea of a burger bar. Make these portobello burgers from Simple Joy by tossing some marinated portobellos on the grill at the same time as the burgers.
Then, put them on a bun and allow your guest to decide what toppings to add.
Memorial Day Side Dish Recipes
19. Creamy Pesto Pasta
Pasta salad is a Memorial Day staple, but this is another dish that can get boring when it is eaten year after year. The switch is up when you make this creamy pesto pasta salad from Domestic Superhero.
It is made by combining pasta with pesto, mayonnaise, peas, artichokes, tomatoes, and parmesan cheese.
20. Blackened Chicken and Quinoa Salad
Quinoa is a delicious grain that typically comes in ball shapes and can be served either hot or cold. Try this recipe from Fake Ginger to combine a quinoa salad with chicken to make a Memorial Day side dish that will steal the show.
Plus, you can make it in advance, lowering your workload for the day of your party.
21. Creamy Pea Salad
Do you have someone with a gluten allergy coming to your Memorial Day celebration? Swap out any pasta salad on your list for this creamy pea salad from Love Bakes Good Cakes.
It’s light and creamy, and it will remind all of your guests of the flavors of pasta salad without needing to add any noodles.
22. Ranch BLT Pasta Salad
Ranch has long been a favorite veggie dip, but did you know it can also be used to make a tasty pasta salad? Find the recipe on Let’s Dish Recipes to get the right ratio to make the ranch-inspired dressing.
Just be sure to make extra of this because it will be a crowd favorite on Memorial Day.
23. Pina Colada Fruit Salad
Don’t forget that any Memorial Day spread also needs a fruit salad. Our favorite is the pina colada fruit salad from Lemons for Lulu, as it is sweet, tangy, and healthy all in one bowl.
Be careful with this salad, however, as it likely won’t hold up well if left in the hot sun for too long.
24. Broccoli Bacon and Pasta Salad
Looking for something healthy, but also savory? Look no further than this broccoli bacon salad by Mandy’s Recipe Box.
All you need is pasta, mayonnaise, red wine vinegar, sugar, salt, broccoli, cheese, bacon, onion, and sunflower seeds, and then 20 minutes for a dish that is ready to go.
25. No Mayo Potato Salad
Potato salad is a classic Memorial Day Recipe, the only problem? Well, you can’t exactly leave mayo-based potato salads in the hot sun without worrying they may go bad.
If your Memorial Day is 100% outside, consider making this no mayo potato salad by the Love Nerds instead, and save yourself from a possible bad situation.
26. Grilled Po Boy Potato Salad
Does no mayo sound a little boring to you? Try this happy medium, a Cajun-style potato salad featured on Lemons for Lulu.
It is made with Greek yogurt instead of mayo, giving you a nice creamy finish without having all the calories and oils. Your family will absolutely adore this fresh and flavorful take on an age-old recipe.
27. Grilled Glazed Carrots
Memorial Day side dishes don’t all have to be potatoes. Take a look at this recipe for glazed carrots made on the grill by A Grill for all Seasons.
Prep your carrots in advance by cutting them lengthwise and drizzling them with oil and salt and pepper. Then make the glaze. When it is time to cook the carrots, put them on the grill for 10 minutes on each side then remove from the heat, glaze, and serve.
Memorial Day Cookout Recipes
28. Spicy Southwestern Turkey Burgers
Turkey burgers are a Memorial Day cookout favorite, mainly because they are just as easy to transport and grill as burgers, but much healthier.
These spicy southwestern turkey burgers from Self-Proclaimed Foodie are especially tasty and can easily be prepped grill side with just a bowl, ground turkey, and some spices.
29. Grilled Tilapia
When the weather is exceptionally warm, you may be looking for a lighter option than grilling beef burgers or steaks. Sound familiar?
Then try this recipe from Lemons for Lulu for Grilled Tilapia with a basil aioli. The recipe is quicker than most, and the fish taste is minimal, ideal for those who aren’t huge fish fans.
30. Grilled Sausage and Peppers
Grilled sausage and peppers are an ideal recipe for a cookout because sausage travels so well. Then, when you arrive, you can slice up the onions and peppers and grill them alongside the sausages.
Put everything on a bun and you’ve got a Memorial Day cookout meal. Find the full recipe on Cravings of Lunatic.
31. Herb Grilled Corn
Corn on the cob is a cookout favorite across the nation, and it’s easy to see why. It’s tasty, savory, easy to cook, and easy to eat. On your next Memorial Day Cookout, grab this recipe from Lemons for Lulu to make a fun, herbed variation of this all-time favorite food.
32. Summer Grilled Corn Salad
When putting corn on the grill, keep in mind that you don’t just have to eat it off the cob. You can also cut it off to make a delicious salad like the one outlined on Nutrition in the Kitch.
Because this recipe only requires a few spices, some butter, and veggies, it is easy to make at any cookout you may be hosting.
33. Italian Sausage Burgers
Italian sausage burgers are a great way to mix up the menu when you are on a cookout because you can make these patties in advance and easily pack them to take with you.
You can serve them with provolone cheese as suggested on Food Folks and Fun, or allow guests to go through your very own burger bar and select the toppings they want.
34. Grilled Chicken Wings with Sauce
Chicken wings are a crowd favorite that can be made for any occasion. Check out this Memorial Day recipe by Lemons for Lulu that will not only walk you through making some of the most amazing wings but also tell you how to make a tasty and spicy comeback sauce to serve with it.
Memorial Day Drink Recipes
35. Lemonade Moscow Mule
Lemonade is everyone’s favorite drink during a hot Memorial Day BBQ. Why not spice it up a bit and make yours into a Moscow Mule? It’s easy to do, just follow the instructions on Lemons for Lulu. Be careful with these, however, as they go down easy.
36. Watermelon Turmeric Slushie
Lemonade doesn’t just go in a Moscow Mule as it also pairs perfectly with this watermelon slushie by Nutrition in the Kitch. Add in a little turmeric for spice, pour over ice, and you have a non-alcoholic Memorial Day Drink that everyone at your party will adore.
37. Bourbon Peach Tea
Ice tea is a common beverage found at most picnics, especially those on Memorial Day. Spice up your regular old ice tea with this recipe from Life Family Fun which involves adding bourbon, peach slices, and some peach schnapps to your tea.
Because the preparation only involves stirring, this is a beverage that is easy to make in a location that isn’t your home.
38. Cucumber Mint Cooler
If there are going to be kids at your Memorial Day celebration then you will need a non-alcoholic beverage as well. Make this cucumber mint cooler from Lemons for Lulu which is made with cucumber, mint, lemon, and San Pellegrino.
Slice the cucumber, then mix all the ingredients together and this beverage is ready to serve.
39. Watermelon Banana Smoothie
Making smoothies is probably not possible for those headed to the park this memorial day. But for those who are having it in their backyard, break out the blender because smoothies make a great Memorial Day drink.
Grab this recipe off of Nutrition in the Kitch to make one that involves watermelon—everyone’s favorite summer fruit.
40. Blackberry Mojito
For many people, Memorial Day is the official start of summer, which means you can bring out your mojito-making supplies once again.
To stick with the Memorial Day color schema, make this blackberry mojito by Lemons for Lulu as the result is a red drink that can be topped with a dark blue blackberry.
41. Strawberry Lemonade Moscato Punch
To make a drink that will stay cool throughout your entire event, you’ll need to start with something frozen like in this strawberry lemonade Moscato punch recipe by Life Family Fun.
Start by blending the frozen lemonade with some sliced strawberries, then pour in lemon-lime soda and Moscato. Top with extra sliced strawberries and some sliced lemons for an extra summery effect.
Dessert Recipes for Memorial Day
42. Berry Swirl Cheesecake
Cheesecake is a delicious favored by Americans everywhere. The best thing about having cheesecake on your Memorial Day recipe menu is that you can make it the night before and simply pull it out ready to go on Memorial Day.
Find the recipe for the berry swirl variation (to keep with the color theme) on Simple Joy.
43. Red Velvet Firework Cupcakes
Themes desserts are the best for parties, mainly because they can serve two purposes, decoration for the table, and a dessert. Bake these patriotic red velvet cupcakes from Culinary Ginger then set them out on the table in advance to give your entire party a patriotic feel.
44. Double Berry Cheesecake Frozen Yogurt
It can be a bit warm for baking by the time Memorial Day comes around. Keep your kitchen from getting overheated by planning to make frozen yogurt for your Memorial Day dessert.
You can find the recipe on Taste of the Frontier and have yourself some delicious frozen yogurt in a few hours. The only downside is that you’ll need an ice cream maker to complete this recipe.
45. Patriotic Monster Cookies
It can be difficult to keep a dessert-like frozen yogurt or cheesecake from spoiling, especially when you are hosting your Memorial Day party at a park.
Don’t worry, you can still have a patriotic dessert, you’ll just need one like these cookies from That Skinny Chick Can Bake that will be safe even if they sit in the sun.
46. Lemon Berry Cheesecake Trifles
Cheesecake trifle is one of the easiest desserts to make. Although it has cheesecake in the name, it doesn’t need to be set in the fridge for hours—rather it can be made in 10 minutes and served immediately.
Sound like something you need for your Memorial Day Party? Find the full recipe on The Recipe Rebel.
47. Flag Éclair Cake
No-bake desserts are the key to throwing a low-stress Memorial Day party. It allows you not to have to think after consuming a full meal.
Check out this particular recipe on Big Bears Wife to make a patriotic Memorial Day dessert with gram crackers, pudding, milk, and some fruit.
48. Mixed Berry Chia Parfaits
Looking for a dessert a little on the lighter side? Make these mixed berry chia parfaits from Cupcakes and Kale Chips. Made by combining chia seeds with fruit and coconut milk, this is one Memorial Day recipe you can enjoy guilt free.
49. Grilled Pineapple with Mascarpone Cream
Speaking of desserts you can enjoy them guilt-free; this grilled pineapple recipe by Lemons for Lulu is simply divine. You’ll need to buy a ripe pineapple and then slice it into wedges.
While it’s grilling, make the mascarpone topping using milk, vanilla, and sugar. Once the pineapple is done, remove it from the grill, top it, and enjoy.
50. Almond Flour Brownies
No matter what the occasion, brownies are always a favorite dessert. For your Memorial day party consider trying these almond flour brownies by Nutrition in the Kitch which are gluten-free and can be made keto.
Serve with vanilla ice cream for a satisfying summer dessert.
Memorial Day Recipes FAQ
What Are Interesting Facts About Memorial Day?
Here are some interesting facts you probably didn’t know about Memorial Day:
- It was originally celebrated to remember those who died in both sides of the Civil Way conflict.
- It used to be called Decoration Day instead of Memorial Day.
- The first Memorial Day was in 1866, but it wasn’t a nationwide holiday until 1871.
- The biggest Memorial Day celebration takes place in Arlington, Virginia.
- Although picnics are still common on Memorial Day, they now take place in a park or backyard instead of a graveyard, as originally intended by the holiday.
What Should You Bring to a Memorial Day Party?
When invited to a Memorial Day party you should ask the host if there is anything you can bring. If they are unsure, offer to bring your favorite Memorial Day recipe from this list.
What Should You Not Do on Memorial Day?
Although Memorial Day is a holiday, it isn’t the same as other holidays, meaning there are a few thing you should not do on the holiday:
- Don’t say “Happy Memorial Day” as it is a holiday to remember those who have passed away.
- Don’t say thank the troops—as Memorial Day is for those who have already died. Veterans Day is for living service members.
- Don’t disregard it as a holiday. No matter what you political affirmations, Memorial Day is likely one of the reasons you are alive today.
Memorial Day Recipes Conclusion
Whether you decide to throw a massive backyard BBQ, or a small family get together in the park, Memorial Day is one holiday you don’t want to forget. For those who are hosting an event, ensure you choose enough Memorial Day recipes off this list to serve your entire crowd.
As you are enjoying your Memorial Day feast, don’t forget to think of the military members who died in America’s path to freedom—as they are part of the reason you get to enjoy an amazing meal and time spent with family and friends on this long weekend each year.