47 Memorial Day Party Recipes for the Perfect Summer Celebration

Easy Recipes for a Great Cookout

Garlic burger patties

The Spruce / Victoria Heydt

Memorial Day celebrates the heroes who keep us safe, and is a sure sign that summer is kicking off. If you're planning a Memorial Day cookout, look no further than this go-to recipe collection. We've got all the festive summer recipes you need to make your Memorial Day party a shining success, whether you're a beginner cook, or a seasoned grill master. You'll find great ideas here for cookout party foods and drinks, including seasonal appetizers, refreshing salads, mouth-watering mains, boozy beverages, non-alcoholic quenchers, and patriotic desserts.

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    Grilled Tomatoes

    Grilled Tomatoes

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

    Tomatoes on the grill are a great way to enjoy summer's favorite vegetables or fruit, or... tomatoes. It's true that tomatoes are fruits, botanically speaking, and it shows in their soft texture. These juicy, bright grilled tomatoes are good hot or at room temperature, making them a great choice for easy entertaining, since they can be done before anyone shows up at the door or in the yard.

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    Painkiller Cocktail

    Painkiller cocktail recipe

    ​The Spruce / Cara Cormack

    The Painkiller is a popular tropical cocktail. It was created in the 1970s at the Soggy Dollar Bar in the British Virgin Islands. It's a fun and fruity mix of pineapple, orange, coconut, and a bold rum. Just as summer hits us with warm, sunny days, this is the ideal drink for backyard entertainment.

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    Old-Fashioned Watermelon Rind Pickles

    Watermelon rind pickles recipe

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

    If you thought the watermelon rind was just for the compost bin, think again. This old-fashioned recipe from down South takes what is usually discarded when eating this summer fruit and makes it into a sweet treat. Watermelon rind pickles can be served as part of an appetizer or picnic spread with other pickles and snacks or simply enjoyed as a sweet snack anytime the mood strikes. 

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    White Bean Hummus Dip (Gluten-free)

    White Bean Hummus Dip (Gluten-free)

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    Need a quick appetizer for your guests? Make this white bean hummus with ingredients you probably already have on hand. This is a simple recipe is made with the usual suspects, including olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice, and seasoned with a bit of cumin and fresh parsley, but made with white beans instead of chickpeas for a completely different flavor profile and texture.

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    Thai Rice Noodle Salad With Chili-Lime Vinaigrette

    Thai Rice Noodle Salad With Chili-Lime Vinaigrette

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

    This Thai rice noodle salad is fresh and flavorful, and it's simple to make, too. It features vermicelli rice noodles and lots of fresh summer vegetables—feel free to add or substitute depending on what's available at your local market. You also have the option of tossing in cooked baby shrimp or tofu.

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    Grilled Shrimp With Garlic Butter Dipping Sauce Recipe

    Grilled Shrimp With Garlic Butter Dipping Sauce Recipe

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

    Quick and easy to prepare, and full of fantastic flavor, these buttery grilled shrimp are destined to be the hit of any barbecue. The grill gives them a delicious, smoky flavor, and adds to delicious garlic butter sauce spiked with a dash of hot sauce. Serve them on skewers as a hand-held appetizer, or alongside steak.

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    Simple Steak Seasoning

    Simple Steak Seasoning

    The Spruce/Ali Redmond

    The grill is a great way to cook spice-rubbed steaks when you are hosting backyard guests. Skip the pricey store-bought steak rubs and make your own at home, with basic pantry ingredients. Our simple seasoning blend contains just the right amount of salt to maximize flavor, and can be easily customized to suit your tastes.

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    Balsamic Tomato Salad

    Balsamic Tomato Salad

    The Spruce / Elizabeth Briskin

    Ripe, juicy tomatoes don't need much to make them sing. A simple dressing of balsamic vinegar, garlic, and fresh herbs are all you need for a summery salad. It's easy to throw together for a barbecue, and can be made ahead of time and stashed in the fridge until serving time. 

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    St. Louis-Style Ribs

    St. Louis-Style Ribs

    The Spruce

    Delight the carnivores at your summer cookout with these meaty and sticky St. Louis-style spare ribs. Seasoned with a sweet rub, and slathered with a unique and flavorful St. Louis barbecue sauce, they are the perfect summer food for meat-eaters. Just be sure to have lots of napkins available!

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    Vegan Carne Asada Tacos with Seitan

    seitan tacos

    The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney

    Juicy, vegan carne asada tacos are super easy to make and will satisfy all of your meaty taco cravings using "wheat meat." Seitan is marinated in a delicious citrus mojo sauce, then grilled and served topped with pico de gallo and vegan queso fresco.

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    Air Fryer Hot Dogs

    air fryer hot dogs in buns

     The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney

    The ultimate way to cook hotdogs is in the air fryer! It’s fast, easy, and mess free. No grill to heat up, water to boil, or splattering in a pan. Just toss them in the air fryer for five minutes and you’ve got the perfect snappy hot dogs. You can make multiple hot dogs at a time and can even toast them inside a bun.

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    Bulgogi Chicken

    Bulgogi Chicken

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

    Spice things up for your holiday spread with this smoky, sweet bulgogi chicken. Bulgogi is most often made with thinly sliced beef, but it’s just as fantastic with chicken. Use a grill if you can—bulgogi means “fire meat” after all—and don’t be afraid of a little char. The smoky sizzle of a charcoal fire can't be beat.

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    Garlic Burger Patties

    Garlic burger patties recipe

    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt

    The garlic burger is a quick and delicious burger patty that uses ingredients already in your pantry. Your family and guests will think they are having one of the best burgers ever. You can serve them on hamburger buns, but a low-carb option is to use large lettuce leaves to make lettuce wraps.

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    Asparagus Pasta Salad Recipe

    Asparagus pasta salad

    ​The Spruce 

    This vegetarian and vegan asparagus pasta salad with tomatoes, fresh parsley and tossed in a quick and easy balsamic vinaigrette dressing is perfect for when fresh asparagus is in season. This recipe is an easy side to bulk out your holiday table.

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    Watermelon Punch

    Watermelon Punch

    The Spruce/S&C Design Studios

    Watermelon punch is the ultimate non-alcoholic party drink to kick off summer, and is even better when the punch bowl is the watermelon. Made entirely with fresh fruit, plus some sugar for sweetness, it's a fun and easy way for everyone to cool off at your outdoor bash.

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    Smoked Corn on the Cob

    Smoked Corn on the Cob

    The Spruce

    Fire up the smoker and get ready to enjoy the best corn cobs of your life. Sweet seasonal corn takes on an extra dimension of flavor and aroma in our recipe that is tailor-made for summer holiday celebrations. The cobs are infused first with a tasty marinade of chili and onion powders, paprika, brown sugar, olive oil, and salt, and then smoked leisurely over the grill.

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    Picnic Potato Salad With Eggs

    Picnic Potato Salad With Eggs

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

    Potato salad is a classic dish for summer cookouts because it goes well with any meat you toss on the grill. This classic recipe is made with eggs and a mustard and mayonnaise dressing. Feel free to use chopped green onions or sweet onions instead of red onions in this flavorful salad, or leave them out.

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    Classic Macaroni Salad

    Classic Macaroni Salad

    The Spruce

    Classic macaroni salad is easy to pull together, and always popular at summer cookouts. We make it with hard-boiled eggs, chopped vegetables, and a deliciously seasoned mayonnaise dressing, for a creamy, cold pasta salad that makes a great accompaniment to BBQ chicken and ribs. Just remember to keep it chilled to prevent the ingredients from spoiling.

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    New Old-Fashioned Cocktail

    New Old-Fashioned Cocktail With Woodford Reserve
    S&C Design Studios

    Peach and bourbon are a fantastic pairing, and the two come together in a magical way in the new old-fashioned recipe. It puts a fresh summer fruit twist on the old-fashioned, one of the best bourbon cocktails of all time. The recipe is simple, so anyone can make it at home.

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    Grilled Rib-Eye Steaks

    Grilled rib eye steak recipe

    ​The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt

    Fire up the grill and enjoy tasty rib-eye steaks. The recipe uses a flavorful dry rub of chili powder, garlic, mustard, paprika, and thyme. There's no need to be a grill master either. The recipe offers plenty of tips for making the perfect steak.

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    Easy Vegan Bruschetta

    Easy Vegan Bruschetta

    The Spruce

    Nothing says summer quite like bruschetta. With little more than good-quality tomatoes in season, fresh basil leaves, and some olive oil to top off toasted bread slices, this go-to summer appetizer will keep your party guests coming back for more. Feel free to add a drizzle of balsamic reduction for an elegant summer snack.

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    Bruschetta Chicken

    Bruschetta Chicken

     Kristina Vanni

    Turn this classic Italian appetizer into a main course with juicy chicken. It is a colorful and fresh way to enjoy the beautiful bounty of a summer garden. Serve it with a green salad or if you still crave that crunch from the toasted bread, you can always offer your guests some homemade crostini on the side.

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    Vegetarian Portobello Mushroom and Avocado Burger

    Vegetarian Portobello Mushroom and Avocado Burger

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    The naturally earthy flavor and firm texture of portobello mushrooms makes them a satisfying burger alternative for your guests eating meat-free. This recipe tops pan-fried or grilled portobello mushrooms with a perfectly cool (but quick to whip up) avocado and yogurt sauce.

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    Grilled Eggplant

    Grilled Eggplant

    The Spruce/Victoria Heydt

    Grilled eggplant is a great summer food — especially when you use the power of brining to maximize its flavor. Creamy and soft on the inside, with crispy charred edges, and a smoky flavor from the grill, this tasty veggie works as a side dish on its own, in grilled vegetable platters, or even a stand-in for a meat patty in burgers.

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    Pineapple Salsa

    Pineapple Salsa

    Kristina Vanni

    Pineapple salsa is not only bright and colorful, but it is the perfect flavor combination of sweet and spicy. For ease of preparation, this salsa can be made with pre-cut pineapple from your grocer's refrigerator case. However, if you want to really wow your guests with a beautiful presentation, buy a whole pineapple and cut the fruit yourself. 

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    Margarita

    Margarita

    The Spruce/Claire Cohen

    The favorite cocktail of Memorial Day weekend is the margarita. This recipe is the real deal, made with tequila and fresh lime juice. It's cool, refreshing, and a fantastic way to kick off a season filled with fresh fruits and ice-cold beverages.

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    Red, White, and Blue Ice Cream

    Red, White, and Blue Ice Cream

    The Spruce/Julia Hartbeck

    Churn up a patriotic pint of homemade red, white, and blue ice cream for your Memorial Day cookout. Serve it solo in bowls, or use it for dressing up slices of all-American apple pie. The basic vanilla ice cream base is swirled with a vibrant red raspberry sauce and thick blueberry jam for freezing in an ice cream maker.

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    Easy Black Bean Salad

    Easy Black Bean Salad

    The Spruce / Stephanie Goldfinger

    Summer is the season to show off fresh vegetables. Black bean salad is a side dish that is always a welcome sight on the table and the only cooking involved here is boiling the fresh corn. If you use frozen corn, however, you can shave off even more preparation time.

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    Tandoori Paneer Tikka Kebabs

    Tandoori Paneer Tikka Kebabs

    The Spruce

    Kebabs are an ideal cookout party food that let your guests walk around while eating. Your vegetarian guests will appreciate these chewy, flavorful kebabs made with cubed Indian-style paneer cheese marinated in a tandoori masala and yogurt mixture. These are threaded alongside colorful vegetables, and grilled, for a complete vegetarian meal on a stick.

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    Classic Coleslaw

    Classic Coleslaw

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    Coleslaw is an essential summer salad for cookouts, picnics, or potlucks. Our refreshing version needs only 7 ingredients, and is the perfect balance of creamy, tangy, crunchy, and sweet tastes. Enjoy it as a cooling side for barbecue meats, a tasty topping for burgers, hot dogs, and pulled pork sandwiches, or to add pizzazz to a plate of fried chicken or fish.

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    Mojito Sangria

    Mojito Sangria

    Leah Maroney

    What do you get when you mash-up a mojito cocktail with white wine sangria? A refreshing, mint-infused alcoholic beverage that's perfect for elegant summer parties, and weekend brunches. Our easy recipe makes enough mojito sangria to fill one standard 8-serving pitcher.

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    Fresh Apricot Pie

    Fresh Apricot Pie

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

    This fresh apricot pie recipe takes advantage of the summer's bounty. Apricot harvest season in the United States is from June to mid-August depending on the variety and location where grown. So grab your bushel of apricots and make this simple-but-luscious dessert.

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    Easy Vegan Gazpacho Soup

    Easy Vegan Gazpacho Soup

    The Spruce/Nyssa Tanner

    Healthy vegan gazpacho is a yummy way to make the most of a bountiful vegetable garden, or farmer's market haul. Fresh vegetables and herbs are pureed simply with a little vinegar, lemon juice, salt, and pepper, to make this classic Spanish starter. Serve it in shot glasses, garnished with croutons, for a cute hand-held party appetizer.

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    No-Bake Strawberry Icebox Cheesecake

    No-Bake Strawberry Icebox Cheesecake

    The Spruce/Cara Cormack

    When juicy red strawberries come into season, few fruit desserts are easier or more appealing than this no-bake strawberry icebox cheesecake. It has all the same rich, creamy taste of your favorite restaurant cheesecake, layered with graham crackers instead of a crumbly crust. Assemble it in advance in under 20 minutes, for a fast, party-ready dessert.

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    Summer Breeze Cocktail

    summer breeze

     The Spruce

    When you want to impress summer guests with a boozy beverage, but want a recipe you can mix up in a flash, our summer breeze is just the thing. A premium bourbon is a wonderful background for the sparkling citrus cocktail that mixes up in minutes. You'll start by muddling fresh orange with orange liqueur for a sweet-tart citrus foundation, then simply top it off with bourbon and ginger ale.

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    Kachumber (Indian Cucumber Salad)

    Kachumber (Indian Cucumber Salad)

    The Spruce/Diana Chistruga

    Quick and easy kachumber is a refreshing summer salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions. What makes it special is its dressing, which doesn't contain any oil, but uses a simple combination of freshly squeezed lemon juice, salt, and pepper, plus fresh cilantro leaves and cumin for an Indian-inspired flavor.

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    Easy Chelada With Mexican Beer

    Easy Chelada With Mexican Beer

    The Spruce/Julia Hartbeck

    If you always top a Corona beer with a lime wedge, you'll love the flavors of this easy Mexican beer cocktail. A chelada is nothing more than bottled beer mixed with lime juice and salt, but carries the flair of a properly prepared cocktail, especially when served in salt-rimmed glasses.

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    Homemade BBQ Sauce for Chicken

    Simple BBQ Chicken Sauce

    The Spruce

    Barbecue chicken hot off the grill is a family favorite. If you're overwhelmed by all the barbecue sauces at the store, try making your own. This BBQ sauce is explicitly designed for chicken and uses common ingredients you probably already have. It has a wonderful flavor that everyone will love and is easier than you think.

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    Puka Dogs

    Hawaiian Puka Dogs

    The Spruce/Leah Maroney

    Puka dogs are not your average hot dog, and they're perfect for summer cookouts. Grill Polish sausages or veggie dogs, then poke them into Hawaiian rolls. The recipe includes homemade mango mustard that's nice and spicy, as well as a sweet pineapple relish. Everyone will love the unique taste and they're fun to make.

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    Mexican Paletas

    Mexican Paletas

    The Spruce/Cara Cormack

    Chock full of real chunks of fruit, Mexican-style frozen ice pops (paletas) are a step up from same-old popsicles. You need only fresh fruit, sugar, water, and lime juice to make the delicious filling for ice pop molds. Use pineapple, watermelon, berries, mango, melon, or any other fruits that tickle your fancy for these icy summer treats.

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    Black Bean and Mango Salad

    Vegan Black Bean and Mango Salad

    The Spruce/Emily Hawkes

    Bean salads are a popular choice for picnics, barbecues, and make-ahead weekday lunches. This black bean and mango salad combines fresh bell pepper, jalapeno peppers, and cilantro for a simple vegetarian, veganhigh-protein, and gluten-free recipe.

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    Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Cake

    Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Cake

    Kristina Vanni/Eric Kleinberg

    Strawberry shortcake ice cream cake is perfect for entertaining during the warm summer months because the entire dessert can be prepared in advance and stored in the freezer until ready to slice and serve. It's the perfect combination of cool, rich, creamy, and crunchy.

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    Red, White, and Blue Strawberries

    Red, White, and Blue Strawberries

    The Spruce

    Demonstrate your love of country, and enjoy a scrumptious dessert, with these one-bite wonders. White chocolate, blue sprinkles, and red berries combine in this perfectly patriotic summertime treat. They're ideal for Memorial Day and July 4th parties, and you can also vary the colors of the coating and sprinkles for other holidays and celebrations.

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    American Flag Cake

    American Flag Cake

    Richard Eskite Photography / Getty Images

    While this patriotic holiday dessert looks complicated, there's a simple secret lying underneath the flag. A boxed cake mix forms the base of this no-fail American flag cake (though of course, you could also use a homemade recipe). Once baked, adorn it with the fluffy cream cheese frosting, and then create the stars and stripes with fresh blueberries and raspberries.

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    No-Cook Peach Topping for Ice Cream

    No-Cook Peach Topping for Ice Cream

    madlyinlovewithlife/Getty Images

    Celebrate the sweetness of fresh summer peaches by turning them into a tasty topping for ice cream. You don't even need your oven or stove for this scrumptious, fuss-free summer dessert topping. All you need to do is mix the sliced fruit with a little sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla extract, and pop it into the fridge until ready to serve.

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    Refreshing Frozen Lemonade Pie Recipe

    Refreshing Frozen Lemonade Pie Recipe

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

    This simple summertime lemonade pie is made with a 3-ingredient filling and graham cracker crust. This version is made with sweetened condensed milk, but you can also make it with ice cream.

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    4-Ingredient No-Bake Key Lime Pie

    4-Ingredient No-Bake Key Lime Pie

    The Spruce

    Even newbie bakers can impress their guests with this no-bake key lime pie that could have come from a bakery. You don't even need to turn on the oven for this silky chilled pie that needs just 4 ingredients, including egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk, lime juice, and a pre-made graham cracker crust.