16 Quick and Simple Memorial Day Recipes

Easy Recipes for a Great Cookout

Simple BBQ Chicken Sauce

The Spruce

Whether you're hosting a barbecue in the backyard or heading to a potluck picnic, planning a great Memorial Day menu is a lot of fun. It's the unofficial start of summer for many Americans and one of the year's first cookouts. To celebrate, you'll want plenty of delicious food and refreshing drinks. From patriotic desserts to tender meats hot off the grill, there are many simple recipes to choose from. 

  • 01 of 16

    American Flag Cake

    American Flag Cake

    Richard Eskite Photography / Getty Images

    While this beautiful dessert looks complicated, there's a simple secret lying underneath the flag. It's a no-fail recipe because the base for the American flag cake is a boxed cake mix. Once baked, adorn it with the cream cheese, whipped topping, and powdered sugar frosting, then create the stars and stripes with fresh blueberries and raspberries.

  • 02 of 16

    Raspberry and Blueberry Bundt Cake

    Raspberry and Blueberry Bundt Cake

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Rattray

    Raspberries and blueberries make another appearance in this simple bundt cake. The vanilla glaze completes the patriotic theme, and the cake is wonderfully moist. It's sure to be a hit and a recipe you'll want to come back to time and again.

  • 03 of 16

    Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

    Ice cream sandwich cake recipe

    The Spruce

    Ice cream sandwiches are a favorite treat for summer, and they're even more fun when you transform them into a tempting ice cream sandwich cake. For this recipe, you'll use the sandwiches to create the cake's layers then top it with hot fudge and whipped topping. Add red, white, and blue sprinkles, and it's a perfectly patriotic dessert.

  • 04 of 16

    All-American Sliders

    All American Sliders

    J-Roman / E+ / Getty Images

    Burgers on the grill are a favorite for any holiday. These all-American sliders are the perfect way to feed a hungry crowd. The miniature ground beef patties are above average, adding bread crumbs and seasoning to the mix. Serve them on mini buns, then add American cheese and your favorite burger toppings.

    Continue to 5 of 16 below.
  • 05 of 16

    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.

  • 06 of 16

    Homemade BBQ Sauce for Chicken

    Simple BBQ Chicken Sauce

    The Spruce Eats

    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.

  • 07 of 16

    Puka Dogs

    Hawaiian Puka Dogs

    The Spruce Eats / 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.

  • 08 of 16

    Sonoran Hot Dog

    Sonoran Hot Dog

    The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney

    A favorite in Arizona, you'll soon find out why Sonoran hot dogs are so well-loved. The recipe grills bacon-wrapped hot dogs, stuffing them into a toasted soft roll along with refried beans, avocado, jalapeño, onion, and tomato. Adding the fresh cilantro-lime crema sends it over the top for a taste everyone will enjoy.

    Continue to 9 of 16 below.
  • 09 of 16

    Grilled Meatball Kebabs

    barbecue cooking
    101cats / Getty Images

    While you have the grill going, try a fun kebab recipe. Everyone (especially the kids) will love meatball kebabs. Made with ground beef, Parmesan, basil, and parsley, the meatballs are skewered with pieces of onion and bell pepper. Serve them alone or add them to buns with marinara and cheese for quick meatball sliders.

  • 10 of 16

    Old-Fashioned Potato Salad

    Old-fashioned potatoes

    The Spruce Eats

    Potato salad is a classic dish for summer cookouts because it goes perfectly with any meat you toss on the grill. For a healthier alternative to the sour cream or mayonnaise salads, try an old-fashioned potato salad recipe. It's nice and light and perfectly seasoned.

  • 11 of 16

    Corn Cucumber Tomato Salad

    Corn Cucumber Tomato Salad

    The Spruce Eats / Molly Watson

    Summer is the season to show off fresh vegetables. There's no better way to do that than with a cold salad. The corn cucumber tomato salad combines all the best flavors of summer, including a red onion. It uses a light olive oil and vinegar dressing and can be prepared in just 10 minutes.

  • 12 of 16

    Garden Pasta Salad With Rotini

    Garden pasta salad with rotini

    The Spruce Eats

    Perfect for a potluck or picnic, the garden pasta salad is a pure delight. It's a mix of cucumber, tomato, olives, bell pepper, celery, and onion with rotini pasta. All that is tossed with a combination of mayonnaise, lemon, and pesto for a mouth-watering side dish.

    Continue to 13 of 16 below.
  • 13 of 16

    Grilled Eggplant

    Grilled Eggplant

    The Spruce Eats

    There are all sorts of fruits and vegetables that you can add to the grill, though eggplant is a favorite. To avoid overcooking it into mush, there are a few tricks to ​perfectly grilled eggplant that you'll want to know. Learn it now and show off your technique all summer.

  • 14 of 16

    Agave Lemonade

    Agave Lemonade

    MargJohnsonVA / Twenty20

    Memorial Day is also a time to enjoy fresh drinks, and few can beat a tall pitcher of homemade lemonade. This recipe skips the sugar and sweetens the lemonade with agave nectar instead. It creates a richer flavor that everyone will love and is a perfect base for your favorite lemonade drinks.

  • 15 of 16


    Shandy Recipe

     The Spruce Eats

    For the adults, take some of your lemonade and mix up a shandy. It's an ideal barbecue drink. This one even tastes a little bit better when you're standing over the grill or playing a game in the backyard. Best of all, the only other thing you need is your favorite beer. 

  • 16 of 16



    The Spruce Eats / 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.