Memorial Day Food Ideas and Cookout Recipes
Second only to 4th of July, and well ahead of Labor Day, Memorial Day weekend is one of the heaviest barbecue weekends of the year.
In addition to being a fine day of remembrance, Memorial Day BBQs are the official kick-off to summer and always involve an immense collection of food. If you’re looking for something fresh and light to ring in the warm weather this year, we’re here to help make your celebration delicious. Below you’ll find an array of scrumptious, summer-filled food ideas that provide a different take on the typical hot dog and burger for your Memorial Day Cookout 2013.
Memorial Day Food Ideas
Try to summer-up your entrées and salads with these twists.
The Burger: Inside-out burger made by forming the beef around the cheese and some of the fixings before cooking. TIP: be sure to use a hard or a semi-hard cheese like Swiss, Gouda, Edam or Cheddar.
The Chicken: Margarita chicken cooked with lime, chile pepper and a splash of tequila, and served with a light summer salsa. TIP: serve as a main entrée or cut up and serve in a mixed salad.
The Salad: A light vinaigrette-based herb potato salad—with no mayo! TIP: add a squirt of lemon juice and a teaspoon of grated lemon peel for a little zest.
Memorial Day Appetizers
Appetizers are really just additional side dishes at a Memorial Day BBQ. Accompany your Memorial Day weekend menu with some of these summer apps.
The dip: Fresh, spicy salsa served with baked tortilla chips. TIP: when you bake your own chips and serve with a spicy enough salsa, you can skip the salt for a healthier—yet still tasty—appetizer.
The fruit: Fruit salsa, though technically another dip, is a delightfully sweet appetizer option. TIP: serve the fruit salsa with cinnamon-flavored pita chips for a killer combination.
The cheese: Grilled goat cheese may not be the most popular of side dishes, but you’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t enjoy the taste. TIP: dedicate a small section of the grill for any non-meat food items. That way, vegetarians can enjoy this and other dishes without any contact with meat.
For more Memorial Day recipe ideas, visit our Memorial Day Party Ideas Pinterest board.
Memorial Day Drink Recipes
Offer a healthy selection of both non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages, but offer both with a summer variation.
The Cocktail: Watermelon-flavored martinis are the epitome of summer drinks—what’s more “summer” than a watermelon? TIP: serve this as a greeting cocktail, and limit it’s availability to before dinner only.
The Beer: Local breweries will have the best selection of summer beers, and fortunately for us Bostonians, Samuel Adams has a deliciously refreshing Summer Ale. TIP: Boston beer lovers have all of New England’s breweries to choose from, including such summer beers as Red God, Fisherman’s Sunrise Saison, Otter Summer and Harpoon Summer Beer.
The Lemonade: Arnold Palmers are the traditional half-lemonade, half-iced tea beverage that’s often overlooked at barbecues, but loved by all. TIP: premix the drinks in a large lemonade dispenser and offer the option of adding vodka to the adult beverages.
For more Memorial Day drink recipe ideas, visit our Memorial Day Party Ideas Pinterest board.
Memorial Day Dessert Recipes
Not many will have room in their bellies for more food after you’ve served them all of the above. Nonetheless, Memorial Day desserts are still a necessary part of the weekend BBQ tradition.
The Crisp: Peach Crisps are sweet and summery in all the right ways. TIP: cook two, leaving one out to eat and the second warming in the oven. Those waiting to digest their meals can still enjoy a warm treat.
The Shortcake: Very Berry Shortcake is an easy and customizable meal topper because you can put any combination of your favorite berries (or the most readily available berries) into the recipe. TIP: use blueberries, strawberries and whipped cream to show off a little support for our red, white and blue.
The Cookie: Lemon-flavored shortbread cookies are the summer cookies. TIP: leave a few platters of the cookies out on several tables so people can nibble on them as they mingle with other guests.
For more Memorial Day dessert recipe ideas, visit our Memorial Day Party Ideas Pinterest board.
Healthy Memorial Day Recipes and Ideas
Memorial Day food doesn’t have to be unhealthy. In fact, most of these menu ideas are the lighter versions of standard BBQ food concepts. For an even healthier Memorial Day experience, you can always consider these ideas:
Healthy cookout alternatives: Grilled veggie gazpacho, red cabbage coleslaw, veggie baked beans, lettuce wrapped turkey burgers, salmon burgers, water with lemon, unsweetened iced tea, angel food cake with fresh strawberries and fruit sorbet—these are all an even healthier alternative to the Memorial Day appetizers, salads, main dishes, sides, drink and desserts listed above!
For more healthy Memorial Day recipe ideas, visit our Memorial Day Party Ideas Pinterest board.
Memorial Day Cookout Recipes
Some people might envision how to prepare and cook some of the Memorial Day food ideas above, while others might be looking for the actual recipes. Below you can find the Memorial Day grilling recipes for some of our suggested menu items, in the event that you’re not the creative culinary connoisseur you wish you were. You can still provide something fabulous for the party!
Inside-out Burger, recipe makes 4 servings
You’ll need: ½ lb your choice of cheese, 1 lb lean ground beef, 1½ tsp paprika, 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce, 1 egg, ½ tsp pepper and your choice of fixings.
To prepare: mix beef, spices, sauce and egg in a bowl using your hands. Shape into eight very think patties. Mound ½ tsp cheese into center of four and cover with remaining four patties. Seal the edges with hands. Grill evenly on each side over medium heat. TIP: Do not “press” the patties or the cheese will ooze out.
Herb Potato Salad, makes 8 servings
You’ll need: ¾ cup olive oil, 1 lemon, 1½ tsp grated lemon peel, 1 green pepper, 1 small- to medium-sized onion, ¼ cup each of chopped cilantro, basil and mint and 2½ lb red-skinned potatoes.
Directions: Mix oil, juice of 1 lemon and lemon peel in a bowl. Mix in green pepper and onion, finely chopped, and cilantro, basil and mint. Cut already boiled and cooled potatoes into cubes. Mix in with other ingredients. Season with salt and pepper.
Fruit Salsa, makes 12 servings
You’ll need: 2 kiwis and 2 green apples, peeled and diced; 1 lb strawberries, diced; 8 oz raspberries, diced; 2 tbsp sugar; 1 tbsp brown sugar; and 3 tbsp fruit preserves.
Directions: Mix all ingredients in a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes before serving.
Watermelon Martini, makes 8 servings
You’ll need: ½ cup sugar, ½ cup water, 5 cups seedless watermelon, 1¼ cup vodka, 2 tbsp lemon juice, and 3 oz watermelon schnapps.
Directions: Boil the sugar and water until sugar is dissolved. In a blender, puree the watermelon. Blend the sugar water, watermelon, vodka, lemon juice and schnapps. Sweeten with simple syrup to taste and serve with watermelon garnish.
Very Berry Shortcake, makes 8 servings
You’ll need: 1 lb sliced strawberries, ½ lb blueberries, ½ lb raspberries, 1/3 cup sugar, juice from one lemon, 8 ounces Greek yogurt, 1 cup heavy cream, ½ cup sugar, 2 tbsp brown sugar and 8 store-bought or handmade biscuits.
Directions: In a large bowl, mix berries, 1/3 cup sugar and juice from one lemon. Refrigerate. In a medium bowl, whip yogurt, cream, ½ cup sugar and brown sugar until fluffy and stiff. To serve, cut biscuits in half and spoon on berry mixture and sweet yogurt whipped cream. Cover with top half of biscuit and serve.
Fun Memorial Day Family Activities
This weekend is about getting up and having fun as much as it is about eating. Try these fun, family-friendly Memorial Day activities to loosen up the party and cause a little laughter.
The games: pickup slow-pitch softball game, badminton, volleyball, horseshoes, swimming or water games, card games, card tournament between tables, guess-the-amount-of-candy-in-a-jar game, bocce ball, lawn darts, Frisbee golf and, the ultimate barbecue game that all Memorial Day cookouts must have: bags, or, as some people call it, cornhole.
For more fun Memorial Day celebration ideas, visit our Memorial Day Party Ideas Pinterest board.
Devora is the Director of Sales at BG Events & Catering.