9 Memorial Day Recipes to Celebrate the Start of Summer

No matter how old you are, there's something special about Memorial Day. April showers have finally subsided, the kids are playing outside, your backyard garden veggies are sprouting up—Memorial Day weekend is, for many of us, an unofficial kickoff to the summer season.

And what better way to celebrate than with an intimate family cookout with your loved ones, full of some of our country’s most classic dishes? We’re here to help you plan a menu with our picnic-perfect collection of Memorial Day recipes, from dinner to dessert.

All-American Main Dishes

Your summer rendezvous wouldn't be complete without someone manning the grill. Hand a pair of tongs to the grillmaster in your family and sit back as the smell of juicy, tender grilled meat wafts through your backyard.

Kansas City Style BBQ Ribs


Perfect for a backyard BBQ, these iconic ribs will have everyone licking their fingers. The payoff is well worth the time you’ll invest in this recipe, which is treated with a homemade rub that blends spicy flavors, like cayenne and chili pepper, with sweet undertones from sugar and molasses to create a perfectly seasoned rack of fall-off-the-bone, tender ribs. Don’t skimp on the napkins!

Best Ever Grilled Burgers


These thick, juicy burgers, seasoned with just salt and pepper, are proof that sometimes, simpler really is better. For a meatless option, try Gardein Ultimate Beefless Burgers–you won’t believe how much they remind you of the real thing. Bonus points if you set up a condiments spread with some Hunt's® Best Ever Ketchup, Gulden's® Bold Yellow Mustard, and Vlasic® Pickle Chips so everyone can exercise their American freedom of choice with their hamburger toppings.

Kosher Italian Beef Topped Chicago Dog


These Chicago-style dogs put a gourmet flair on the classic hot dog with creative toppings like spicy giardiniera peppers, roast beef, sweet relish, and tomatoes. Make sure to use Hebrew National® Beef Franks to give your Chicago dogs that all-American, summertime feel.

Uncle Sam-Approved Sides

A great main dish will go a long way, but let's face it–the sides are what everyone’s piling onto their second plate. Since there's no such thing as too many sides, try a few of these options.

Avocado Corn Salad


The Mexican-inspired flavors in this zesty Avocado Corn Salad bring the flavors of taco night to your cookout with lime, fresh cilantro, red onion, and smoky chili powder. Birds Eye® Sweet Kernel Corn makes this simple recipe even more seamless to prepare, but if you can, try it with a few ears of freshly shucked corn. Eat it with a spoon, or give it the dip treatment and scoop it up with some tortilla chips.

Zesty Fire-Roasted Tomato Salsa


Making fresh salsa sounds intimidating, but it’s easier than you think–especially when you use RO*TEL® Fire Roasted Tomatoes with Green Chilies. And you can skip the food processor–just add your ingredients to a bowl and mix. While you’re at it, use an extra can of RO*TEL to whip up a batch of RO*TEL Famous Queso Dip–because nobody says no to queso.

Grilled Potato Salad with Mustard Dressing


Punch up this all-American cookout staple with a few simple changes: Sear the potatoes on the grill, add in plenty of fresh dill, and use Gulden’s zippy Spicy Brown Mustard for a subtle flavor kick. If you’re really short on time (or looking to lighten it up), skip the dressing recipe and use a generous pour of herby Healthy Choice® Creamy Ranch Power Dressing instead.

Perfectly Patriotic Desserts

Because the best meals end with dessert. Finish the night by watching the sunset while you cool down with one of these fresh fruit-forward sweet treats.

Red, White, and Blue Ice Cream Pie


Pie is about as all-American as it gets when it comes to dessert. We’re all about a good, fresh-baked piece of pie, but in the summer, cold desserts reign supreme. This pie mixes the best of both worlds with a crunchy, homemade graham cracker crust and layers of cool, creamy vanilla ice cream, a rich blueberry filling, and fresh strawberries on top.

Berry Banana Split


This no-fuss twist on the American diner classic is an even easier way to mix the season’s fresh fruit into dessert. Nothing beats the taste of juicy, sweet strawberries sandwiched between two perfectly ripe bananas, topped with a healthy dollop of Reddi-wip® Original whipped topping.

Grilled Fruit Ice Cream Sundaes


Who knew—your grill isn’t just for meats and veggies. Grilling your fruit will bring out all of its juicy, natural flavor, so once you’re done with your main meal, clean off the grill and make dessert. Paired with cool ice cream, these sundaes make for an incredibly simple sweet treat. Bonus: It’s easily adaptable depending on whatever fruit you have in the crisper.

Whether you're crafting the perfect main dish, sides, dessert, or all three, these Memorial Day recipes bring out the best of the sunny season. Fire up the grill, pour yourself a frosty drink, and kick off the season with the flavors of summer in your backyard.

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