All over the country, United States flags will soon soar over businesses and homes alike as we prepare to honor fallen American soldiers and celebrate the unofficial start to summer. What you may not know is that while Memorial Day was first recognized as a federal holiday in 1971, it was originally celebrated as Decoration Day in the late 1860’s. Decoration Day was a springtime holiday that was recognized on May 30th each year, for the purpose of honoring fallen soldiers of the Civil War. At the time, many towns and communities all over the country already held gatherings each spring to honor their fallen soldiers. Most decorated the graves of their fallen soldiers, and some even held parades and community events to commemorate those who were lost. When the federal holiday of Memorial Day was first adopted, the US was engaged in World War I, so the holiday became an opportunity to honor fallen American soldiers from every conflict.
Today, our American traditions typically involve decorating the graves of fallen soldiers with fresh flower arrangements and other decorations, but many cities and towns still hold community events and parades as well. Many people pay homage to those who lost their lives by celebrating freedom and hosting family and friends at their homes for a cookout.
We couldn’t appreciate this tradition more, and as a token of our goodwill to Memorial Day barbecue hosts everywhere, we have curated a list of all the best Memorial Day food in our handy cookout menu guide. From amazing appetizers to divine desserts, we’ve got every Memorial Day recipe you could possibly need – and then some.
The perfect Memorial Day appetizer is summery, succulent and fairly simple to prepare. When choosing the ideal appetizer for your cookout menu, make sure to consider your main course and sides, and choose an option or two that will pair nicely with those items. In no particular order, here are our top picks for Memorial Day appetizers that deliver happiness with each bite.
We hail from Kansas City, so when we find a recipe that packs a flavor punch like these grilled Kansas City Ribeye Sliders with a Chipotle Aioli and pickled red onions…you know it’s going on the Memorial Day recipe list! Your guests will gush over the brioche bun and flavor profile of these seriously superior sliders.
There’s just something about caprese salad that just screams summer, isn’t there? We love this unique take on caprese salad that makes it the perfect light appetizer for your Memorial Day cookout. The best Memorial Day food packs a splash of bright color and a crisp flavor profile that leaves your mouth watering for more, and this delightful recipe by Stuck on Sweet checks all the right boxes.
If you’re anything like us, we love a simple appetizer that requires little time and effort, but still delivers big on flavor and impression. Everyone loves a little “shrimp on the barbie,” and with our heat-and-serve Shrimp Wrapped in Bacon, no need to worry! Order your fully prepared appetizer ahead of time and just heat and serve for an appetizer that you – and your guests – will love. Kick your cookout menu up a notch and serve your shrimp with this Louisiana style ten-minute remoulade sauce.
Memorial Day food is widely recognized as standard cookout fare, with an understandably heavy emphasis on burgers, brats, and of course, hot dogs. While those are all fantastic choices, we’re here to remind you that “nobody puts Baby in a corner”. Whether you crave the traditional or something fresh, slow down for the low down on main course Memorial Day recipe options that will serve up a meal your guests will love to remember.
It’s hard to go wrong with grilled chicken, and this recipe for savory grilled chicken glazed with a spicy sweet peach glaze does everything right! We recommend trying this recipe with our succulent boneless chicken breasts. Serve up with a delicious butternut squash risotto or potatoes au gratin.
We know, we know. A burger on Memorial Day…how original, right? Exactly. This Stuffed KC Steakhouse Burger is familiar in all the right ways, but it still delivers a fresh flavor punch we know you’ll adore. Mushrooms, garlic, butter, red wine and blue cheese work together with our crowd-pleasing steakburger and other incredible flavors that make this a steakhouse standout you’ll want to make again and again. Serve up with traditional steak fries or a summery salad.
We can’t get enough of these Grilled Lobster Tails in Rice Wine Vinaigrette. Succulent, gourmet lobster tails grilled to perfection and full of flavor, paired with a perfectly juicy Crown Filet Mignon? Yes, please! Serve this delightful combo with Baked Potato Casserole or our creamy Mac & Cheese.
There’s a reason burgers and hot dogs are an old standby – they are a crowd pleaser! There’s really nothing wrong with simplicity, and one way to make things simple is to offer a burger (or hot dog) bar. Grill up some juicy steakburgers or hot dogs, and let your guests do the rest!
For a burger or hot dog bar that will impress, be sure to provide a wide variety of toppings, sauces and cheeses, and include a few unusual toppings that will pique the curiosity of your guests.
We recommend going easy on yourself and choose sides that pack a lot of flavor and require little prep on your part. Look over your menu and choose sides that will complement your main dish and round out your meal. Memorial Day food is typically hearty, so consider lighter sides that pair well with a savory main dish. Choose two or three sides and make sure that they go well together. Some guests may only try one side, while others may want a little of each option.
Deviled eggs have long been a cookout staple and traditional Memorial Day recipe, but not all deviled eggs are created equal. We love this recipe for The Best Deviled Eggs by Can’t Stay Out of the Kitchen. Miracle Whip and real bacon make this a can’t-miss recipe you’ll find yourself making over and over again.
Everyone deserves to take a holiday, right? Go easy on yourself and skip the prep. Order our delicious baked potato casserole made with fresh Idaho potatoes, bacon, sour cream, chives and cheddar cheese. Just heat and serve!
If there’s anything we like more than alliteration, it’s probably this delightfully summery salad from Ambitious Kitchen. Fresh spinach, peaches, goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette give this light salad a hearty flavor that stands its ground.
Any Memorial Day recipe list would be incomplete without some seasonal dessert offerings! When it comes to summery cookout menus, we think dessert should be simple, fresh and often, fruity. While we’re not opposed to a richer dessert, these Memorial Day desserts are the way to our hearts – and we think you’ll agree!
Red, white and blue abound in these sweet treats with strawberries and blueberries. We love that you can prepare these in advance and refrigerate them until the main event! Mix it up and offer some Mini Shortcake Cups with raspberries and blueberries, some with strawberries and blueberries, and some with blackberries, or any combination of the three. Use real whipped cream and serve with the spoon in the cup – you’ll thank yourself later!
These stuffed strawberries may require a little more finesse, but they double as a table decoration because the presentation is oh, so sweet! Prepare your stuffed strawberries the day before and refrigerate until you are ready to serve them to save yourself time on the day of your Memorial Day cookout.
Who doesn’t love party mix? This patriotic interpretation includes popcorn, candy-covered chocolate, peanuts, and everyone’s favorite cereal with sprinkles and more to create a salty sweet blend sure to be a hit. We recommend making this in advance and portion it out into cups to avoid a mess.
There you have it! With these Memorial Day recipes, we guarantee you won’t need a pool to make a splash – your cookout menu will do it for you!