The Best Outdoor Recipes to Make Memorial Day Weekend
Prepare to grill and appreciate nature on Memorial Day weekend! We’ve compiled our favorite tips and tricks for outdoor entertaining in the summertime, plus offer up a few of our favorite grilling recipes.
Memorial Day weekend is coming up later this month, and like a good little food blogger, I wanted to put together a helpful article for y’all on Memorial Day entertaining, food and more.
While Memorial Day is a somber one as we reflect on the lives lost in wars and conflicts, the weekend also marks the unofficial start of summer.
Which, to me, means grilling some great food and (hopefully) sharing it with people I love.
Memorial Day food traditions
Since Memorial Day weekend is often thought of as the unofficial start to summer, lots of folks fire up their grills and cook outdoors. We’re talking burgers, hot dogs and more.
Whether they’re making hamburgers, hot dogs or other grilled entrees, it’s all about eating outside, enjoying the (hopefully!) beautiful weather while sharing food and memories with the people you love.
How to host a Memorial Day gathering
Hosting is a pretty easy thing when you break it down into steps!
- Choose the time and date of your gathering.
- Invite friends.
- Decide your menu. (Keep in mind that some of your guests might have different dietary requirements and diets than you do.)
- Go grocery shopping.
- Create your kitchen timeline.
- Be the host with the most!
Also, you might want to check out How to Host a Backyard Barbecue (and Backyard Barbecue Essentials) if you’re planning to make barbecue this Memorial Day weekend. (Because, ahem, barbecue and grilling are different things.)
Some products you might want to entertain on Memorial Day Weekend
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When you’re entertaining, you want to make things as easy as possible on yourself. When you’re entertaining outdoors, this is doubly so.
While I would normally serve guests on our everyday dinner plates and glassware, an outdoor gathering is infinitely easier when you purchase the following items. Not only will you not have to fret about your nice glass products getting broken, but clean up will be easier, too.
- A grill–after all, you’re going to be firing this up!
- Paper plates (we like purchasing biodegradable ones if we can get our hands on them so our footprint is a little smaller)
- Disposable forks, knives and spoons
- A cooler, to keep beverages cold
- A pitcher, should you be making some pitcher drinks
- A bar cart (or a table that can easily come outdoors) so you can make a drink station
Now… what recipes are good for grilling and serving outdoors?
Check out the following, friend.
Grilling and Outdoor-Friendly Memorial Day Weekend Menu
Whenever Memorial Day weekend rolls around, we find ourselves outdoors, soaking in the sunshine and the good weather. We also find ourselves longing to eat outdoors and share these dishes with our friends.
So, here's a fabulous menu of foods that work well together and that work well outdoors. Meaning—you don't have to keep them cold for long (or there are ways to keep them cold!)
Memorial Day Weekend Grilled Entrees
It's officially grilling season, which means we're going to fire up ours as often as possible starting on Memorial Day weekend. I've compiled several of our favorite entrees that are easy to serve for the family and for a crowd, if that's more your style.
Hot Dogs with Caramelized Onions on Homemade Pretzel Buns
Nothing speaks of the summertime much like a HOT DOG! This recipe is elevated, complete with creamy caramelized onions and homemade pretzel buns. (Yes, I realize making your own pretzel buns might seem a little extra, but these are super special and pretty easy to make if you have the ingredients and the time!)
PRO TIP: Make the pretzel buns the day beforehand, and caramelize those onions the 1-2 days before your gathering, too. This'll make the morning of a lot less frantic!
Cheeseburger Kebabs (Deconstructed Cheeseburger Bites)
These kebabs are like a cheeseburger... but on a stick! Pick and choose your favorite toppings to make this recipe extra special. We like 'em with onions, pickles, tomatoes and more, but you do you.
PRO TIP: If you're hosting folks with various dietary preferences, consider making some hamburger kebabs (so, without the cheese) and others without buns, should your guests be dairy free and/or gluten free.
Grilled Cajun Wings
Spicy, sticky and sweet wings on the grill are a great way to start any outdoor gathering! These Cajun-spiced wings are just the thing for anyone who wants to get their hands dirty and taste ALL the things!
PRO TIP: Marinate these wings first thing the morning of your gathering. They've gotta be in the fridge hanging out for 8 hours before you grill them, so build in that time!
Grilled BBQ Chicken Flatbread
Kind of like pizza on the grill, this BBQ Chicken Flatbread is something special! Thrown on your favorite summery veggies and get to grilling this goodness.
PRO TIP: This chicken has to marinate, too, so plan for that. Also, don't let the chicken burn! Turn off the burners on the side you plan to cook the chicken on because the sauce WILL catch fire.
Juicy Lucy Burgers
Who doesn't love a burger, stuffed with your favorite cheese? This take on a classic Juicy Lucy Burger is perfect for summertime grilling and super easy to prep in advance!
PRO TIP: Double or triple this recipe for a crowd. Stuff the burger patties the night before and refrigerate them, covered in plastic wrap, until it's grilling time.
Memorial Day Weekend Side Dishes
Since we're kicking off the summertime, these side dishes are fabulous for enjoying outside! Most are OK to sit at room temperature for a little while, and the ones that aren't... well... I'm sharing my tips and tricks as to how to make 'em work in the great outdoors.
Ramen Noodle and Clementine Salad
This classic summery salad is one of my favorites for entertaining because it's so SIMPLE but so flavorful! Packed with romaine, fresh broccoli, clementines (or any oranges you can get your hands on) and a honey vinaigrette, this salad is hard to beat.
PRO TIP: Make the dressing the 1-2 days before, and let it hang out at room temperature. Toast the ramen noodles 1-2 days in advance, and store in a food storage container at room temperature. Peel the oranges the morning of, too.
Seasoned Grilled Potato Wedges
Who doesn't love a classic potato wedge? Crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside, these beauties are reminiscent of fries and absolutely scrumptious, with or without your favorite dipper.
PRO TIP: Parboil those potatoes in advance, and have them ready to grill when you've fired up your grill. Also, double or triple this recipe for a crowd.
Easy Broccoli Salad
Creamy Broccoli Salad couldn't be any easier! Filled with crunchy bacon, sunflower seeds, a creamy dressing and more, this is sure to be a winner at any outdoor gathering.
PRO TIP: Make this in advance, but keep it in the fridge. The dressing has mayonnaise in it, and it needs to stay refrigerated until time to serve.
Strawberry Melon Salad
Use your favorite melons and pair 'em with summer sweet strawberries,
PRO TIP: Chop and prep the fruit early, and keep it cold in the fridge until it's time to serve. Toss with the balsamic and feta cheese (if using cheese) when it's go-time.
Instant Pot Vegetarian Baked Beans
Who doesn't love baked beans when eating outdoors? I know I do. These beauties are made in the Instant Pot, so you don't have to turn on your oven when it's already hot outside!
PRO TIP: This isn't a 5-minute Instant Pot recipe. You've still got some time for the beans to cook in the IP, so plan accordingly. Also, confirm your Worcestershire sauce is vegetarian—many brands are not.
Grilled Mexican Corn
Mexican Corn is one of my favorite things in the world, and paired with sweet summer corn, this dish is hard to beat. Also, you can serve it on a stick, and who doesn't like food on a stick while eating outdoors?
PRO TIP: Mix the sauce for this corn and keep it in the fridge until the corn has finished grilling, and you're serving your food.
Memorial Day Weekend Desserts
Because no Memorial Day weekend gathering would be complete without something sweet at the end of the day! These desserts are easy to make in advance, easy to transport and easy to enjoy in the great outdoors, too!
Funfetti Ice Cream Sandwiches
Use your favorite sprinkles to make the most fun ice cream sandwiches! This cookie and ice cream combination is a winner for sure!
PRO TIP: Bake the cookies two days in advance, and make the ice cream sandwiches the day before your get-together. Keep 'em frozen in the freezer until it's serving time.
S’mores Rice Krispies Treats
Rice Krispies treats highlighting s'mores flavors are totally my jam! And these are super easy to make while also making a nod to everyone's favorite campfire treat!
PRO TIP: You can use your kitchen blowtorch or the broiler on your oven to get the marshmallows all toasty.
All-American Sugar Cookie Bars
These patriotic sugar cookie bars are the PERFECT treat to serve for friends and family members on Memorial Day weekend. Topped with a fluffy frosting and colorful berries, this is a memorable dessert.
PRO TIP: You can bake the cookie bars in advance, but don't ice them OR top them with berries ahead of time. We want the berries to be as fresh as possible!
Raspberry Pretzel Salad
This salty-sweet dessert combines a crunchy pretzel crust, creamy whipped filling and a slightly sweet-tart raspberry top. What's not to love about this classic summer dessert?
PRO TIP: This "salad" has to set for 2-3 hours in the fridge, but you could make it a day beforehand if need be. The layers each require a little resting time, so that might be best if your hands are full the day of.
Mint Smores Bars
Mint and chocolate and marshmallows and Graham crackers... what's not to love about these summery bars? These beauties never last long at our house for a good reason, and they're brilliant for summertime entertaining, too!
PRO TIP: Make the bars in advance, but heat them individually in the microwave when serving so that the chocolate is slightly gooey. It's a little extra awesomeness.
Memorial Day Weekend Drinks
Because no gathering is complete without drinks, I've compiled a few summery sippers that you and your guests will love!
Vodka Lemonade with Raspberry
Lemonade, vodka and raspberry liqueur... is there anything easier than this super summery drink? The color is stunning, and when you top this mixed drink with fresh raspberries and lemon wheels, it's pretty AND tasty.
PRO TIP: Make your lemonade a day in advance, or purchase pre-made lemonade from the store.
The traditional Texas sipper, a Ranch Water is wonderful for sipping on a hot, hot, hot day. Made with just three ingredients and customizable to your tastebuds (and how much you like tequila), this drink goes down easy.
PRO TIP: Topo Chico is the only sparkling water you should use in a Ranch Water.
Bourbon Peach Slush
Bourbon and peaches are a match made in heaven, in my opinion, and this slush is just perfect for the summer. The slush consistency is on point for a warm day, too, and since this is a stronger drink, it's great for sipping slowly.
PRO TIP: If you don't have fresh peaches, consider using frozen. They'll be delicious, too!
Grilled Jalapeno Orange Shandy
Throw jalapeños and oranges on the grill to elevate this delicious beer cocktail. Sweet and spicy flavors abound in this mixed drink.
PRO TIP: Make the lemonade in advance, and keep it cold in the fridge.
You know, years and years ago I visited some friends in New York state (as an Aussie teen, that was awesomely cool. My first trip to America!) and their mother made that Clementine and Ramen noodle salad. I still remember how amazing it was and how I had eaten nothing like it ever before (but then again, I hadn’t eaten a bagel either). It makes me feel warm and fuzzy to see it here! Hope that you had an amazing weekend of thankfulness for our freedom and your own warm feelings from spending time with those you love! xx
How amazing is this!! I always love reading your blog! Thank you for sharing 🙂
Whoa! All of that looks AMAZING!! Saving this for next weekend. We were off camping and had steak, sweet potatoes, corn on the cob, and ribs on the campfire. Yummy but my stomach hurt afterwards. lol
What gorgeous photos! I always forget to plan posts in advance. For my “real” job I have to write articles and develop recipes about 6 months in advance, so you’d think I’d learn! hehe. That apple pie looks insane!!! I want a slice. Love the crust and those juicy apples. Mmm I’d like that for breakfast please!