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Memorial Day has been a date of significance for well over 150 years here in America. A day to pay our respects to the many American men and women who have so bravely given their lives for our home and country.
A Memorial Day tradition for a lot of us is to invite our family and friends around for a backyard get-together where the grill takes center stage.
Held on the last Monday in May, Memorial Day is also the unofficial signifier of summertime, and what better way to kick off summer than with a good old-fashioned family gathering.
Warm weather, outside, cold drink in hand, flaming hot grill on the go, salad table at the ready, Memorial Day is about giving thanks by enjoying what we’re lucky enough to have.
So, to make sure you’re getting all the compliments this coming Memorial Day, we’re showcasing the best grilling and BBQ ideas to impress you first, and your guests second. We’ve rounded up some of our own recipes along with some of the best from across the internet.
Memorial Day BBQ / Grill Recipe Ideas
Four Cheese Bacon Jalapeño Mac and Cheese
This four-cheese bacon and jalapeno mac and cheese are so dang naughty that it must be nice. Go big on Memorial Day by giving the people exactly what they want – a hefty portion of this jam-packed mac and cheese to ooze all over their plate.
Pepper Jack, extra sharp cheddar, Gouda, and fontina have been called up to the plate to give this bake its cheesy credentials. With a cheeky Ritz cracker topping offering the dish a crisped and crunchy edge – yes, make this on Memorial Day, but also slip it into your regular recipe list, it’s that good.
Want to add an extra layer of flavor? Throw your mac and cheese on the smoker for smokey flavors that balance nicely with the other ingredients in this recipe.
3 Ingredient Garlic-Herb Grilled Chicken Wings
You would be brave, and dare we say it, maybe even a little silly to invite the family over on Memorial Day and not have a ski-high pile of chicken wings ready for them.
Now, we’re not saying that you need to find the most labor-intensive recipe and spend an age sourcing too many weird and wonderful ingredients for your wings to be tasty, and this recipe proves it.
A 3-ingredient garlic and herb marinade and 30 minutes are all you need to ensure your loud-mouth uncle doesn’t give you grilling for not serving him some grilled wings.
Since this recipe calls for a marinade it’s not necessary, but if you have the time consider brining your wings to bring out even more flavor.
Steve’s Bodacious BBQ Ribs
On a similar level of importance as the wings, these sweet and sticky BBQ ribs are a must-have on Memorial Day. Saucy Steve sure has pulled out all the stops with this recipe, putting forward a seriously stacked marinade to give these ribs no chance but to be finger-licking delicious.
Cayenne pepper, paprika, cumin, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, garlic powder, ground pepper, and salt – once the ribs have spent an hour or so chilling in the fridge doused in this spiced dry rub, the hard work is officially done, and it’s time to sit back and let your smoker do its beautiful thing.
Balsamic Vinegar and Honey Pulled Pork Sliders
If you revel in preparing as much as you can the day before, these pulled pork sliders are essential Memorial Day backyard banquet fodder. There’s a reason why pulled pork has blown up in recent years and that is because it is delicious.
By slow-cooking a boneless pork shoulder roast for 9 – 10 hours on low, or 4 – 5 on high, you’ll be able to knock enough of these pulled pork sliders for many people, and they are anything but boring. Served on toasted slider buns with homemade slaw, this balsamic and honey pulled pork is ready and waiting to be the center of attention and table.
Surrounded by the heavy-hitting Memorial Day dishes, this no-mayo coleslaw can offer a light and citrusy freshness to help balance the BBQ table out. Instead of your slaw drowning in a slimy sea of mayo, this no-mayo slaw leans on honey, lemon juice, and olive oil for its dressing.
Shredded red cabbage, green cabbage, and carrot are all you need to bring this vibrant and crunchy slaw together that has no chance of going by the soggy-mayo wayside.
Grilled Chicken Caesar Sandwiches
Food that looks, sounds, and tastes gourmet, but doesn’t require an excessive amount of time and ingredients to put together is ok by us. If this “bang for your buck’ ethos sounds ok by you too, then, please, click this way and into the grilled chicken caesar sandwich light.
The deeply charred boneless chicken thighs have a distinct mustardy flavor that blends perfectly with the fennel-basil slaw and tangy cornichons. Add the Caesar dressing, and Pepper Jack cheese and sandwich it all between a toasted brioche bun for a big-impact Memorial Day BBQ sandwich.
Grilled pineapple is a super sweet, delicious, and versatile side piece to serve alongside your Memorial Day salad bar and meat tray. It would take a very hardened individual to turn down a slice of grilled pineapple when the opportunity presents itself.
Once your guests get wind of the pineapple being lathered in hot pepper sauce, butter and honey, dare we say it – there won’t be a pineapple-less plate in the building. To make the pineapple look as good as it tastes, make sure to strive for deep-charred lines of grilling approval – nobody argues with those.
Easy Potato Salad
Potato salad is a workhorse salad that doesn’t ask for much and gives plenty. What we mean by that is potato salad has got to be one of the easiest salads to whip up, and boy does it do wonders in filling the ravenous family members up.
This Easy Potato Salad recipe makes your salad prep easy-peasy by stripping it back to the bare essentials. Red potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, finely chopped chives, mayonnaise, milk, and a few herbs for flavor’s sake – give yourself 15 minutes to prepare this carb-loaded crowd-pleaser and not one minute more.
Grilled Corn on the Cob
The beauty of this recipe is that it takes you through grilling in-husk corn and out-of-husk corn. Which is the better of the two is a debate that has, and will continue to split opinion, as both have their advantages and disadvantages.
For instance, in-husk corn will remain juicier, while out-of-husk corn gathers a smokier flavor profile. To make matters even more confusing (we hope you like making decisions), this recipe features multiple flavored-butter options so that you can flavor your corn exactly how you like it.
Maple BBQ Grilled Chicken
There aren’t too many things that signal in the summer on Memorial Day more than grilled chicken. Gaining its sweetness from maple, and its fiery side from sriracha, the barbeque sauce of this recipe is nothing short of genius.
Pick up whatever chicken pieces tickle your tastebuds and smother them in this sticky, and sweet sauce for at least one hour before slapping them down on the grill. Purposefully simple, effortlessly delectable, this is one of those special recipes that doesn’t need to sell itself, you just need to eat it.
Grilled Bacon Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers
Preparing 16 individual jalapeno poppers in 30 minutes may seem like a tall order, but with this bacon wrapped jalapeño poppers recipe, you may proceed to succeed. Let it be known that this is an extremely cheesy affair, so if cheese isn’t where you get your kicks, we advise you to tap out now and keep scrolling.
For the folk who think cheese is the bee’s knees, then click this way and let these poppers take you to the promised land. Parmesan, cheddar, and cream cheese stuffed jalapenos wrapped in bacon and grilled until they turn all gooey and crispy – this is an instant-classic Memorial Day BBQ appetizer.
Summer Orzo Pasta Salad
As essential as potato salad is to a successful salad table, without this dish of pasta salad buddied up next to it, there will always be something missing.
This fresh and fabulous pasta salad looks like summer, and tastes of the Mediterranean with ingredients like feta, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, chickpeas, red onion, mint, basil, and fresh parsley. Orzo pasta helps to seal the deal on this Italian-inspired pasta salad that is mighty by sight and mighty in taste.
Grilled Carrots with Avocado and Mint
Gaining taste from lemon, smoothness from honey, and a punchy brightness by way of ginger, these grilled carrots are destined to be the talk of the salad table. Although these three powerhouse flavors sound pretty alright on their own, this healthy grill idea ain’t done with you yet, not by a long shot.
Ground cumin seeds, mint, and avocado are also in cahoots to bring you a gourmet take on, what is essentially, just carrots. The trick with this recipe is to leave the carrot skins on, exactly where nature intended.
This will help the carrots to char and bring on a smokiness to compliment everything else that’s going on with the high-flying vinaigrette.
Super Soft Bakery Style Chocolate Chip Cookies
What better way to round out our Memorial Day feast ideas than some soft and buttery bakery-style choc chip cookies. Ok, maybe cookies aren’t the first thing you think of when pondering your Memorial Day BBQ plates, but everyone deserves a sweet treat after their meal, right? And a choc chip cookie has never tasted or looked so good.
Cookies are also the ideal candidate for an after BBQ treat because they can be made the day before and pulled out of the fridge to wide acclaim. Taking just 20 minutes to prepare, these vanilla-infused, butter-heavy cookies will land on that special childhood place of heart and mouth that only good choc chip cookies can.
Paying respects and making memories on Memorial Day is about being close to the ones you love, and sharing in the great American grilling dream. Whether you’re looking to bring your gourmet A-game with an impressive selection of dishes that represent your devotion to cooking and eating!
Or, you just want to make your day as simple and as easy as possible, we hope you found the Memorial Day BBQ-inspo you were looking for.