49 Dishes To Make Your Memorial Day Memorable

Memorial Day marks the start of the summer party season in the U.S., and nothing announces summer better than a cookout-style banquet. The shift into warm weather dishes means a return to the flavorful festive fare of summer. With the right recipes on hand, you can turn a basic BBQ into a feast for the ages, one your friends and family are sure to remember for years — and meals — to come.

To spruce up the occasion, we've gathered our favorite mains, sides, and desserts for a recipe round-up that's fun and filling. Did burgers, beans, and corn on the cob make the list? Of course, they did! They're classics that have permanent seats at the table wherever warm-weather banquets occur. But there are also unexpected delights like glazed tri-tip and chicken shawarma sandwiches, mocktails and cocktails, sliders and sides, and international dishes that bring a blast of bold flavor to the menu.

1. No-Churn Strawberry Ice Cream

There's no better way to cool off at your cookout than with homemade strawberry ice cream. Ingredients that are simple and fresh and a mixing method that requires no hard labor are the formula for this fantastic frosty treat. With strawberries as a staple spring and summer fruit, they're a perfect flavor choice. If you're having ice cream cones, you can eliminate drips with a sneaky ice cream cone hack that adds a sweet surprise to the bottom of a sugar or waffle cone.

Recipe: No-Churn Strawberry Ice Cream

2. New Orleans Style Southern BBQ Shrimp

BBQ shrimp cooked up à la Louisiana is perfect for combining savory seafood with a sweet and smoky sauce that's sure to spice up your get-together. Generous helpings of Tabasco and Cajun seasoning add a kick to the soaring summer heat. Balance out the flavors with a batch of white rice to cool things down, or go for Instant Pot dirty rice to take the New Orleans flavor to the extreme. 

Recipe: New Orleans Style Southern BBQ Shrimp

3. 3-Ingredient Slow Cooker Kalua Pork

Bring island bites to your poolside tables by conjuring up an order of Kalua Pork. A three-ingredient shopping list of butt roast, sea salt, and liquid smoke is all it takes to get your Memorial Day luau into full swing. Set up your slow cooker outside and keep your kitchen cool by putting the heat where it belongs. Add a few bottles of King's Hawaiian BBQ sauce to the tabletop for guests to dress up their succulent shredded pork however they like.

Recipe: 3-Ingredient Slow Cooker Kalua Pork

4. Citrus Sun Tea

A light and refreshing beverage is in order for an outdoor Memorial Day celebration, and this citrus-sweetened sun tea is a perfect choice. Sliced oranges and lemons join black teabags and water for a sunbath, steeping all the sensational flavors together in a honey-colored brew that leaves the sugar in the bowl. Garnish glasses with fresh mint leaves for a pretty touch and offer an extra splash of orange juice for extra flavor if necessary. Your guests will be eager to take the plunge.

Recipe: Citrus Sun Tea

5. Greek-Style Lamb Burger

Take your burger game to new heights with a lamb burger filled with fantastic Greek flavor. The secret is a blend of oregano, mint, and cumin that give these patties a herbal kick like only Mediterranean cuisine can provide. The recipe recommends pan-frying your burgers, but a quick swipe of olive oil with a basting brush on each side will get them ready for grilling instead. If you're looking to go the extra mile, serve them on home-baked hamburger buns. An hour is all it takes to make a dozen.

Recipe: Greek-Style Lamb Burger

6. Margarita Mocktail

Whip up a sweet sip for the non-drinkers in the crowd with a juicy margarita mocktail. Of course, you can add tequila to the recipe and make a batch for your traditionalists, too. This refreshing slush uses honey for sweetness with lime cordial, orange extract, and grapefruit juice for a maximum citrus kick. Throw it all in a blender or shaker with ice, and in five minutes, you'll be tasting the tingly zing of margarita magic without a trace of the usual buzz.

Recipe: Margarita Mocktail

7. Traditional Coleslaw

Coleslaw leads the charge for nostalgic sides that make picnics, BBQs, and backyard cookouts summer-ready. The simplicity of a seven-ingredient recipe mean you can easily skip the deli and craft a batch of your own. With creamy, tangy, sweet, and crunchy elements, this perennial favorite doesn't miss a single note. You'll need a 20-minute lead time on this recipe to let the flavors marinate in the fridge before serving. Better yet, put it all together the night before to give yourself one less task on the big day.

Recipe: Traditional Coleslaw

8. Simple Grilled Swordfish

Even if you can't enjoy your summer kick-off seaside, you can bring fabulous fresh fish to your menu with an easy take on grilled swordfish. Tender, flaky steaks flavored with lemon, parsley, and a bit of butter may be one of the healthiest protein offerings on your table. Cooking them over an open flame will add delicious searing that seafood lovers will be raving about. Looking to be a little extra with the dish? Toss together a fresh chimichurri sauce to serve as a flavorful herb-based topping.

Recipe: Simple Grilled Swordfish

9. Corn in a Cup (Elote En Vaso)

Set out a deconstructed take on Mexican street corn for your revelers to enjoy. With elote-style corn in a cup, you can serve upscale glasses or ramekins that display the vibrant colors and intriguing textures of each element. Instead of corn on the cob, this recipe calls for frozen corn kernels with charred goodness courtesy of your broiler. Having such an artful presentation for a side this delicious is a cause to celebrate.

Recipe: Corn in a Cup (Elote En Vaso)

10. Jalapeño Poppers

Creamy, cheesy peppers with a crispy top coat can be a sizzling superstar on your party table with this jalapeño popper recipe. A dash of sriracha in the filling makes sure there's fire a-plenty, even if the peppers fumble when bringing in the heat. A word to the wise, these mischievous veggies can play havoc with your fingers during preparation, so consider wearing food handler's gloves to minimize the pain when removing seeds and stripping the pithy interior.

Recipe: Jalapeño Poppers

11. Ham and Cheese Sliders

Bite-sized sandwiches like these ham and cheese sliders make for quick snacks and go perfectly with a slew of sides. Miniature buns filled with deli slices and pickle pieces are a light alternative to burger sliders. These sandwiches are also easy to make and take no cooking whatsoever. A size-appropriate substitute for traditional sandwiches, they're the perfect dimensions for younger eaters to get their hands around and sink their teeth into.

Recipe: Ham and Cheese Sliders

12. Creamy Corn Dip

Give your diners something delicious to dress up their chips with. This creamy corn dip is ready-made for both spooning and scooping. From the bright zing of apple cider vinegar to the freshness of scallions and cilantro to the creamy combo of mayonnaise, sour cream, and grated cheddar cheese, this ambitious dish goes for broke where flavor is concerned. Serve with tortilla chips or pita bread, and you have the perfect snack for all ages.

Recipe: Creamy Corn Dip

13. Homemade Watermelon Lemonade

If summer had official fruit flavors, watermelon and lemonade would share the title. So imagine serving the ultimate refreshment of a drink that blends the two in one glorious concoction. Not only does this clever mix marry the cool of watermelon and the brightness of lemonade, it also adds more than a splash of color to your drink table with its whimsical reddish-pink hue. It's the sippable equivalent of a dip in the swimming pool for anyone seeking relief from the early summer heat.

Recipe: Homemade Watermelon Lemonade

14. Bean Dip

A sandwich spread, a chip dip, and a taco topping all in one ... is there anything a great bean dip can't do? This perky version adds cream cheese and taco seasoning to refried beans for a balanced blend of smooth and spicy, with a blanket of gooey melted Mexican cheese on top for good measure. Try making a few batches of homemade tortilla chips from scratch and show your guests how festive Memorial Day can be.

Recipe: Bean Dip

15. Pigs in a Blanket

Amaze your Memorial Day partygoers with a tray of hot dogs cooked in their own flaky buns. All you need to make this culinary magic happen is a tube of crescent rolls and a package of hot dogs. You can also get the whole family involved by enlisting your children to help in the kitchen. Each batch results in eight servings, so make multiples if you plan to feed a bigger crew.

Recipe: Pigs in a Blanket

16. Crispy Fried Onion Rings

Your backyard banquet can only be made better with a basket of homemade onion rings on the table. There's no air fryer needed for this one, just old-fashioned oil frying for that familiar crispy shell embracing the sweet sting of tender onions. Panko bread crumbs serve as a coating on the batter to take the crunch factor up a notch or two. With six servings per batch, you may want to double-up to make sure everyone gets a ring or two to enjoy.

Recipe: Crispy Fried Onion Rings

17. Crispy Hasselback Potatoes

Coiled taters with a crispy crunch may be the most fun food in your cookout collection. These creative potatoes may not be the easiest dish to prepare, but the excitement they inspire in your guests will be more than worth the effort. Slicing your potatoes into thin layers that stay in one piece may be a bit of a challenge. Using the Hasselback hack of placing chopsticks on either side will keep you from cutting too deep.

Recipe: Crispy Hasselback Potatoes

18. Baked Chicken Wings

If you're feeding a large group and in search of recipes you can create by the batch, these baked chicken wings have got you covered. Six simple ingredients come together in an oven-ready recipe that serves a slew of hungry guests. Getting the chicken cooked before crisping it up takes a bit of kitchen trickery, so be prepared for an hour of cook time. Whip up an order of homemade BBQ sauce to serve with it while you're waiting for the timer to ring.

Recipe: Baked Chicken Wings

19. Salsa

Is there anything salsa can't make better? It's a cherished chip dip, a treasured taco and tostada topping, and a delicious baked potato dressing. It can even punch up a green salad in place of traditional dressing. A simple combination of fresh vegetables and zesty seasonings gives you a Memorial Day workhorse your guests can use to jazz up almost anything on their plates. Make enough to scatter around the condiment table and let your guests get their fill.

Recipe: Salsa

20. Quick and Easy Guacamole

Guacamole can be a tasty spread to add to your Memorial Day buffet table. There may only be six ingredients on the recipe list, but the enchantment they create when mixed together is the stuff of culinary legends. Move beyond the expected purposes and use it to top burgers, spread on sandwiches, or transform pasta into an Italian-Mexican original. A super-fast five-minute prep time means you can make a few batches, just in case your guests can't get enough.

Recipe: Quick and Easy Guacamole

21. Easy Loaded Potato Skins

Bringing bar bites to a backyard BBQ is never a bad idea, especially when those bar bites are potato skins loaded with the works. A classic mix of bacon, cream cheese, cheddar, and chives joins fluffy potato. Since the potatoes require two rounds in the oven, you'll want to give yourself plenty of time to prepare these before your party starts. With four servings per batch, be prepared to slice these into smaller wedges to serve a larger group.

Recipe: Easy Loaded Potato Skins

22. Sweet Rum Punch

Add a cool Caribbean breeze to the easygoing Memorial Day vibe with a bona fide rum punch on your beverage menu. Pineapple and orange juice throw a party in the pitcher with grenadine and bitters joining in the fun. Of course, the sweet warmth of rum brings in tropical notes that will have your guests singing Calypso tunes as the afternoon rolls on. To get the kids and teetotalers in on the island fun, make a crisp, alcohol-free batch that replaces the rum with 7-Up.

Recipe: Sweet Rum Punch

23. Ina Garten's Mac and Cheese with a Twist

Cookouts come to life when the mac and cheese hits the table. Barefoot Contessa's Ina Garten has created a creamy recipe filled with gourmet touches that add to the satisfaction factor. Roasted garlic and a three-cheese combination give the traditional recipe a delicious glow-up, while tomato slices and fresh bread crumbs add substance that makes this side dish a centerpiece. Fresh basil leaves make a decorative garnish and bring a colorful accent in summertime green.

Recipe: Ina Garten's Mac and Cheese with a Twist

24. Rosemary Grilled Lamb Chops

For chefs and guests with a taste for summery herb flavors, rosemary lamb chops cooked over an open flame make a distinguished party dish. Instead of making a marinade, this recipe has you brush the chops with an herb brush made of rosemary and thyme. Butter, salt, and pepper keep the remaining flavors traditional, while a sprinkling of extra herbs for garnish reiterates the grassy green notes for good measure. Serve with roasted potatoes, and you have the makings of a Memorial Day to remember.

Recipe: Rosemary Grilled Lamb Chops

25. Spinach Artichoke Flatbread

Raise the elegance quotient of your Memorial Day party by whipping up some fresh flatbreads dressed with creamy spinach and artichoke topping. This tasty appetizer-ready dish is a stylish upgrade to the traditional spinach artichoke dip, served on a homemade crust that uses a wholesome blend of flour, oil, salt, and water. With a bit of crispy, a touch of savory, and a whole lot of delicious to offer, your fantastic flatbreads will be the hit of the party.

Recipe: Spinach Artichoke Flatbread

26. Ooey Gooey S'mores Pie

It would be bad form to start the summer without s'mores somewhere on the menu, and this sticky pie is an ideal format for your Memorial Day shindig. Picture it: a layer of marshmallow cream topped with a layer of chocolate pudding, sprinkled with marshmallows and chocolate bits, all nestled in a crunchy graham cracker crust. It's everything you need in a dessert, and you don't even have to build a campfire to enjoy it.

Recipe: Ooey Gooey S'mores Pie

27. Copycat Texas Roadhouse Green Beans

Light and fresh, green beans make a wonderful side that will lend a quaint country character to your cookout. Texas Roadhouse has perfected the side. Try its simple yet elegant method of ramping up the flavor with chicken or veggie broth, sauteed onions, and bacon crumbles. While not everyone may enjoy green beans, your Memorial Day cookout can show how good this dish tastes and convert some naysayers along the way. 

Recipe: Copycat Texas Roadhouse Green Beans

28. Air Fryer Sweet Potato Chips

These crispy slices of sweet potato are a healthy alternative to a bag of brand-name chips. They cook up in your air fryer, making it easy to offer your friends and family a more mindful side to pile onto their plates. A mandolin helps you get slices thin enough to turn into wafer-like crisps that add a familiar crunch to the unique sweet potato flavor. Oregano in the mix makes a tasty herbaceous touch for a side no one will refuse.

Recipe: Air Fryer Sweet Potato Chips

29. Authentic Nashville Hot Chicken

No matter what the thermometer reads, it's never too hot outside for spicy fried chicken, especially when it's made in the Nashville tradition. This recipe dips wings in a basic batter turned fiery with peppery hot sauce and cayenne for traditional heat that makes summer eating even sweeter. The trick for getting that superior crispness is old-fashioned frying in vegetable oil. A side of dill pickles and white bread completes the down-home deliciousness with sweet and simple touches.

Recipe: Authentic Nashville Hot Chicken

30. Fresh Mango Salsa

Salsa that goes sweet is a surprising treat, especially when fresh mango is in the mixture. This tropical fruit is a favorite in salsa, lending its creamy texture and mellow flavor to create a unique profile. With oversized chunks of avocado and tomato sharing the bowl, this recipe gives the impression of a salad as much as a dip. Spruce things up with cilantro, red onion, and lime juice to show your Memorial Day merrymakers that you know what they're hungry for.

Recipe: Fresh Mango Salsa

31. Copycat Big Mac Sauce

Who needs the golden arches when you can recreate McDonald's special sauce in your kitchen? This blend of creamy and zesty flavors tops your grilled burgers and turns them into instant homemade Big Mac-alikes. Made with pickle relish, this sauce lends an exciting texture and a sweet-and-sour tingle that fast food fans will find deliciously familiar. Try it as a fry dip, drizzle it over hotdogs, or toss it into a pasta salad to bring added zing to your Memorial Day thing.

Recipe: Copycat Big Mac Sauce

32. Deluxe Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies

No matter the occasion, every celebration is made better when you include Toll House chocolate chip cookies on the dessert table. With the OG recipe set out among your sweet treats, you'll have a familiar favorite that draws even the most disciplined diners in the direction of the goodie tray. Because it's the start of summer, these cookies make perfect ice cream sandwiches as well as serving as an indulgent base for deluxe s'mores around the fire pit.

Recipe: Deluxe Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies

33. Oven-Crisp Potato Wedges

Sidestep the bagged fries in favor of the tasty home-baked potato wedges. A three-seasoning blend of paprika, chili powder, and garlic powder add the perfect amount of spice. A little salt and pepper and a toss-about in olive oil is all it takes to prep your slices for the oven. You'll have wedges that are crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and fresher than anything you'll find in the freezer section. A holiday like Memorial Day is worth the extra kitchen work.

Recipe: Oven-Crisp Potato Wedges

34. Spanish-Style Sofrito

Perfect for filling tortillas for burritos or as a topping for nachos, sofrito blends onions, peppers, and tomato paste with paprika and garlic. While generally used as a starter for recipes like soups and stews, this flavorful mix offers all the tastes you love in traditional Spanish dishes in a spread-like concoction willing to share its spicy secrets with whatever you have on the table. Double the recipe and set a dish of sofrito among your other dips and spreads to give guests a saucy surprise.

Recipe: Spanish-Style Sofrito

35. Mushroom and Swiss Hamburger

Sometimes, it seems like mushrooms and Swiss cheese were made specifically to top a juicy burger. To take your Memorial Day burgers into the stratosphere, pile your beef patties with baby bella mushrooms sauteed in butter and beer — yes, beer! — to bring out the caramelized sweetness. You'll end up with a creamy gravy-like sauce to cradle your mushrooms. Lay your cheese on last for a melty, mushroomy main dish your friends and family will be willing to wait in line for.

Recipe: Mushroom and Swiss Hamburger

36. Slow Cooker Cowboy Beans

This flavor-packed take on baked beans includes ground beef, bacon, and jalapeños to enrich the recipe. The result feels more like a hearty chili and can serve as a centerpiece on your cookout table or join the celebration as a thoughtful side dish. With a variety of beans like pinto and kidney added to the pot, you'll have a multi-textural masterpiece tasty enough to wow your guests into wrangling up a second serving.

Recipe: Slow Cooker Cowboy Beans

37. Grilled Corn on the Cob

Turn up the heat on your vegetable offerings with corn on the cob made smoky and sensational on your backyard grill. No need to fill a pot with water; this recipe puts the cobs directly on the grill. Spread with butter and sprinkled with salt, cookout-style corn prepared like this is bound to earn rave reviews. A chef's caveat: A bit of charring is expected, but cooking happens quickly, so keep a close eye on the fire.

Recipe: Grilled Corn on the Cob

38. Garlicky Grilled Zucchini

Kick up the flavor of your zucchini with a garlicky punch that will have your friends and family not thinking twice about eating their vegetables. Fresh garlic makes sure this humble fruit gets a blast of flavor, while pine nuts and basil leaves turn on the Italian charm. Cook it all on a grill pan as easily as on an outdoor grill, and you have an aromatic and healthy plant-based side dish that can top a burger or make magical things happen on top of a salad, too.

Recipe: Garlicky Grilled Zucchini

39. Tender Smoked Pulled Pork

Pulled pork sandwiches are as much a part of a Southern holiday cookout as hamburgers and corn on the cob. Made in a smoker to bring out the best flavor possible, this recipe infuses butt or pork shoulder roast with a variety of spices and seasonings that layer in the goodness. With a 90-minute prep time and six hours of cooking, you'll want to plan well ahead to make sure your pork is ready to party when the guests arrive.

Recipe: Tender Smoked Pulled Pork

40. Bread and Butter Pickles

Whether part of your hamburger topping relish tray or a festive charcuterie board, bread and butter pickles will be a welcome addition to your early summer spread. Make a batch of your own by brining cucumbers in a concoction of vinegar, sugar, salt, and savory spices. Though prep time is less than 20 minutes, you'll want to prepare these the night before so they have a full 24 hours in the fridge to soak up as much flavor as possible.

Recipe: Bread and Butter Pickles

41. Lemony Grilled Asparagus

With lemony grilled asparagus in your line-up, you have a zesty veggie selection that's sure to elevate your event. Adding smoky flavor to these umami spears creates a perfect base for the tang of fresh lemon juice in the marinade. This mindful side is a quick cooker, so put it over the flames just before you call your guests to the table. Served with lemon slices spread on top, it just might take home the top prize for the prettiest dish on the table.

Recipe: Lemony Grilled Asparagus

42. Shawarma-Spiced Grilled Chicken Sandwich

Add an international flair to your Memorial Day selection with these grilled chicken sandwiches seasoned with warm shawarma spices. A host of heavenly spices like cumin, cinnamon, and cayenne create a quintessential flavor that fans of Mediterranean food will swoon for. You can complete everything you need to assemble four sandwiches in less than 30 minutes. Need something distinctive to top it? Try homemade tzatziki sauce to lend a layer of cool between the chicken and the brioche bun.

Recipe: Shawarma-Spiced Grilled Chicken Sandwich

43. Grilled and Glazed Tri-Tip

Take a break from the burgers and dogs and grill up a more sophisticated main dish with this terrific tri-tip. A blend of sweet vermouth and brown sugar creates the perfect glaze to add sweetness while helping keep the meat tender and juicy. A 30-minute cook time means you should plan accordingly, so everything finishes at the same time. It's a great entrée to serve the adults while the kids enjoy more familiar bites.

Recipe: Grilled and Glazed Tri-Tip

44. Easy Strawberry Pie

One taste of this old-fashioned strawberry pie and you'll be spirited back to your sweetest summers past. This classic creation dresses slice strawberries in a tangy glaze, all captured in a premade pie crust to make assembly even easier. Looking for a fresh topping to add a special dash of summer magic? Make no-churn vanilla ice cream the night before your feast and show off your kitchen skills to your unsuspecting guests. They'll be blown away by this delicious double treat, and only you will know how easy it was to create!

Recipe: Easy Strawberry Pie

45. Grilled Steak Fajitas

There'll be no fizzle in your sizzle when you sear up these grilled steak fajitas to challenge the Memorial Day heat. The savory mix of smoky veggies and marinated steak strips is the perfect deconstructed dish to add Tex-Mex magic to your spread. If you're feeling ambitious, try your hand at homemade tortillas to wrap around these fiery fillings. The combo is a surefire way to impress your guests and show them you're more than just a one-trick grill master.

Recipe: Grilled Steak Fajitas

46. Summer Pesto Pasta Salad

Lighten things up a little with a primo pasta salad tossed with the zing of a classic sauce that rarely makes the picnic line-up. Fusilli is the key to creating pasta with the ultimate surface for holding authentic pesto made from scratch. Mozzarella orbs and cherry tomatoes sliced in half add color, texture, and flavor to an herbal base that sings with Italian heritage. This is one variation on summer pasta salad that's sure to add a dash of green to your Memorial Day layout.

Recipe: Summer Pesto Pasta Salad

47. Grilled Veggie Kabobs

For the plant-forward eaters in your crew, the summer gets off to a robust start with kabobs of tender veggies grilled to perfection. This recipe is a perfect opportunity to shop at your local farmer's market to grab ingredients at peak freshness. An easy-to-make olive oil and oregano marinade unites corn, peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, and zucchini in spectacular summertime harmony. Your kabobs cook quickly, so feel free to leave them until the end of your grilling.

Recipe: Grilled Veggie Kabobs

48. Blueberry Cobbler

Old-fashioned summertime sweets like blueberry cobbler are not only a throwback to simpler times and tastes. They're also a great way to make use of fresh summer produce bursting with flavor. The pre-work is quick, but the bake time on this beauty is an hour, something to factor into the rest of your kitchen prep to have it ready by dessert time. For an added dollop of homemade goodness, make a batch of homemade whipped cream to top your cobbler. It's a 10-minute task that takes an already delicious dish to an even higher level.

Recipe: Blueberry Cobbler

49. Easy Portobello Mushroom Burger

Mix in a few of these juicy portobello patties with your usual grill top suspects to give your vegan guests a burger they can get behind. Be sure to avoid cooking in the residual fat from beef and poultry patties to keep your portobellos fully animal-free. You can also use plant-based mayo in place of the traditional egg-based spread or prepare a creamy hummus that adds healthful good flavor with an added dose of protein and fiber.

Recipe: Easy Portobello Mushroom Burger