33 Memorial Day Recipes for Your Holiday Cookout

Mark the unofficial start of summer with a selection of crowd-pleasing favorites.

grilled chicken with bbq sauce
Photo: Armando Rafael

Memorial Day is a poignant time of remembrance; it offers a moment for the nation to honor those who have died while serving in the military. It also signals the unofficial start of summer and is often celebrated with parades, picnics, and other gatherings. If you're planning a cookout this year, use our Memorial Day recipes to craft your menu. We have everything you need to mark this special holiday, from potato salad and pulled pork to baked beans and brownies—plus burgers, grilled chicken, and sides galore.

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Chili-Pie Burgers

Chili-Pie Burgers
Frank Frances

This is a handheld riff on Frito pie that's sure to be the hit of your Memorial Day cookout. Beef patties are topped with chili-spiked sautéed onions, pickled jalapeños, melty American cheese, and crunchy Frito chips on a soft potato roll.

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Cauliflower Faux-tato Salad

cauliflower faux-tato salad served in a pink bowl
Linda Xiao

If you think you can't have a cookout without potato salad, think again. This "faux tato" salad hits the spot, but cuts the carbs. We'd never have guessed steamed cauliflower would make such a delicious side and substitute for white potatoes, but it does. It's tossed with celery, onion, and a mustard vinaigrette—and this salad is even better the next day as the flavors meld.

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Homemade "Drumstick" Cake Cones

in a nutshell cake cones
Con Poulos

Who can resist these retro ice-cream treats? A quick homemade shell and chopped nuts coat the rim of each cone, as well as on the top of the ice cream scoops. Plus, there's a spoonful of fudgy chocolate ganache and even more nuts at the bottom.

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Cilantro-Lime Kale Slaw with Seeds

cilantro-lime kale slaw with seeds served in a blue bowl
Linda Xiao

Here's a hearty, healthy, make-ahead slaw that's packed with superfoods. Quinoa adds heft and a savory flavor, mixed seeds, kale, cabbage, and carrots bring color and crunch, and a protein-rich yogurt dressing lends a low-fat creaminess.

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Red, White, and Blue Potato Chips

Red, White, and Blue Potato Chips
Noe Dewitt

Skip store-bought potato chips and make our special Memorial Day recipe instead. We use three different types of potatoes to give these chips some all-American color.

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Blueberry Crumble

blueberry crumble
Bryan Gardner

Summer's shining stars—blueberries—form the base for the sweet, jammy filling. The topping is a crumbly combination of butter, brown sugar, and flour.

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Iced Watermelon-Lemon Tea

watermelon lemon tea
Ren Fuller

Cool off on Memorial Day with this bright pink twist on an Arnold Palmer. Simply blend cubed watermelon and then mix with store-bought half-and-half lemonade and tea (of course you can prep this yourself, too).

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Favorite Potato Salad

Test Kitchen's Favorite Potato Salad
Ren Fuller

Potato salad is a Memorial Day classic—and this recipe is as good as it gets. Mayonnaise brings the necessary creaminess, while a couple of tablespoons of whole-grain mustard and sliced cornichons give it a tangy edge.

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Classic North Carolina Pulled Pork

Jason Varney

Instead of slow-cooking pork, try grilling the boneless pork shoulder before pulling it. Grilling gives the meat an extra smoky flavor that complements the sweet and sticky barbecue sauce.

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Perfect Lobster Roll


Even if you're not spending Memorial Day at the beach, your tastebuds will be transported seaside with this lobster roll. It's the perfect blend of a hot lobster roll and cold lobster salad—poached lobster meat is tossed with just a touch of mayonnaise, plus lemon juice and butter.

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Simple Coleslaw

Jason Varney

Complete your Memorial Day cookout with our quick coleslaw recipe. There's nothing fussy or unexpected—just plenty of crunchy cabbage and carrots and the stellar duo of mayonnaise and Dijon mustard.

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Cucumber-Herb Salad

cucumber-herb salad served in floral-patterned dish
Noe Dewitt

When it comes to entertaining for a holiday like Memorial Day, our philosophy is the more that can be made ahead, the better. This low-key, fragrant salad fits the bill. You only need four ingredients, which can be made into a salad an hour—or up to a day—in advance.

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Quick BBQ Sauce

Quick BBQ Sauce
Amy Neunsinger

Everyone's favorite barbecue sauce recipe is just the thing for adding to pulled pork sandwiches, grilled ribs, or even burgers. Our recipe calls for just six ingredients: ketchup, light brown sugar, white wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, and cayenne for heat.

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Martha's Strawberry Ice Cream

strawberry ice cream
Marcus Nilsson

Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer, which means it's also start of ice cream season. Martha of course has the perfect recipe, a pretty-in-pink ice cream that's made with an entire pound of strawberries. For an optional boozy edge, add a generous splash of tequila or vodka.

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Classic Burger-Joint Cheeseburger

burger lettuce tomato pickle cheese
Armando Rafael

Some might say it's not a Memorial Day cookout without a cheeseburger. This recipe hits the spot. It calls for all the best fixings—American cheese, thick slices of tomato, dill pickle slices, and shredded lettuce.

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Cross-Country Hot Dogs

three varieties of cross-country hot dogs
Kristen Francis

Want to serve something new at your cookout this year? Try these hot dogs inspired by three classic sandwiches: a Philly cheesesteak, a muffaletta, and a Cubano.

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Chewy Brownies


No matter the occasion, brownies are a winner but we especially love them for a casual backyard barbecue or Memorial Day cookout. This easy recipe makes the ultimate fudgy treat.

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Baked Beans with Bacon

baked beans bacon
Bryan Gardner

Homemade baked beans are an essential Memorial Day recipe. A little bit of garlic and fresh thyme add an earthiness that offsets the sweet barbecue-style sauce.

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Grilled Corn with Chile-Lime Salt

corn cob grilled
Lauren Ross

Grilled corn is always juicy and delicious as is, but accessorized with grated Parmesan cheese, chipotle-chile powder for some heat, and lime zest, it's just sublime.

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lemonade in serving container

Our homemade lemonade is sweet as can be and couldn't be easier to make. All you need is freshly squeezed lemon juice and granulated sugar to make this favorite Memorial Day beverage.

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Strawberry Biscuit Sheet Cake

strawberry biscuit sheet cake
Alpha Smoot

Quick to make but so very special, that's this sheet-cake take on strawberry shortcakes. All the classic elements are there; flaky, sweet biscuits, whipped cream, and juicy berries—but in a feed-a-crowd format.

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Grilled Sausages With Charred Tomato Relish

Grilled Sausages with Charred Tomato Relish

Choose your own adventure by selecting either hot and spicy or sweet Italian sausages. Grill them, then serve them alongside a jammy relish made from grilled mixed chiles, plum tomatoes, and garlic.

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Barbecue Chicken

test kitchens favorite grilled chicken
Armando Rafael

Our all-star recipe calls for a whole chicken, cut into breasts, thighs, and wings so everyone can choose their favorite cut. The pieces are grilled then tossed with a simple yet spectacular sauce made from ketchup, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce.

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No-Bake Blueberry Cheesecake for a Crowd

no-bake ricotta blueberry cheesecake
Alpha Smoot

Come summer, we're all about no-bake desserts and this one fits the bill for Memorial Day weekend. That's because the light and creamy cheesecake is topped with a sweet blueberry compote that makes use of this in-season berry.

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Lemon Mezcal Margarita

lemon mezcal margarita
Bryan Gardner

Surprise (and delight!) your loved ones with this smoky twist on a classic margarita.

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Grilled Dry-Rubbed Rib-Eye Steaks

rancho san julian ribeyes
Lauren Ross

Rib-eye steaks are extra-special treat for a Memorial Day gathering. Here, we seasoned them with a fabulous and flavorful mixture of Spanish smoked paprika, garlic powder, dried oregano, and crushed coriander seeds.

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Pinwheel Cherry Pie

Spiral sour cherry pie

Jonathan Lovekin

Show off your stars and stripes for Memorial Day with this festive cherry pie that's the ultimate sweet ending.

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Creamy Macaroni Salad


The duo of mayonnaise and low-fat yogurt bring the creaminess—and a touch of tang—to this classic Memorial Day recipe. For some crunch, we added thinly sliced radishes, celery, and dill pickles, which also cut through the richness of this staple side.

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Grilled Chicken Breasts With Lemon-Thyme Sauce

Grilled Chicken Breasts with Lemon-Thyme Sauce
Kate Sears

Dress up grilled chicken breasts for the holiday with a zesty sauce made from lemon juice, fresh thyme leaves, a pinch of sugar, and red-pepper flakes.

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Gazpacho Salad With Croutons

gazpacho salad with croutons
Christopher Testani

Inspired by the cool Spanish soup, this genius salad combines small tomatoes, yellow bell peppers, mini cucumbers, and croutons for a colorful and refreshing cookout side dish.

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Herbed Celery-Potato Salad

herbed celery-potato salad
Linda Pugliese

If you're not a fan of mayo-rich potato salads, we bet that you'll love this more delicate recipe. Peewee potatoes are tossed with a combination of extra-virgin olive oil and apple cider vinegar, plus a cup and a half of minced fresh herbs.

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Zucchini Dill Pickles

zucchini dill pickles
Dana Gallagher

Make homemade zucchini pickles for some crunch at your cookout. The squash are pickled in white vinegar and fresh dill along with mustard seeds, cumin seeds, celery seeds, and chile peppers. You can serve them right away, or let them marinate for up to one month.

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Rose Sangria With Nectarines and Strawberries

Rose Sangria with Nectarines and Strawberries
Noe Dewitt

Get the party started with this sangria recipe that uses everyone's favorite summer wine. Combine vodka, fresh strawberries, and sliced nectarines and let the fruit absorb the booze—then top with two bottles of rosé and garnish with fresh mint.

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