Our Favorite Memorial Day Menu Ideas Of All Time

Classic Grilled Corn on the Cob
Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Prop Styling: Christine Keely; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer

Memorial Day is often considered the unofficial beginning of summer. Some summer produce is starting to trickle into grocery stores, the weather is warmer, and the grill is just begging to be fired up. The long weekend is the perfect time to gather friends and family for a big meal, whether that’s for an effortless no-cook spread or for a more elaborate seafood dinner. We’ve gathered some of our favorite menu ideas for everything from beach retreats to a vegetarian-friendly meal. You’re bound to find some fresh inspiration in these menus for whatever your Memorial Day plans may hold.

01 of 06

Backyard Memorial Day Cookout Menu

Southern Living Bourbon- and Cola-Glazed Steak Kebabs on a platter to serve with smashed cucumber salad beside

Victor Protasio; Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn; Prop Stylist: Christine Keely

Recipe: Bourbon- And Cola-Glazed Steak Kebabs

Recipe: Classic Grilled Corn on the Cob

Recipe: Grilled Wedge Salad with Buttermilk-Blue Cheese Dressing

Recipe: No-Bake Cheesecake

Recipe: Berry Splash

If you would rather man the grill than stand over the stove, then this is the menu for you. The main attraction is our glazed steak kebabs, which are coated in a tangy and sweet bourbon-cola mixture. On the side we suggest corn on the cob and a grilled wedge salad (our fun twist on the steakhouse classic.) Our Berry Splash is the perfect sweet-tart drink for outdoor sipping, and to ensure you won't have to touch the oven, we suggest serving No-Bake Cheesecake for dessert.

02 of 06

No-Cook Memorial Day Menu

Shrimp Cobb Salad with Bacon Dressing
Photo: Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Missie Neville Crawford; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Recipe: Cucumber-Buttermilk Soup

Recipe: Shrimp Cobb Salad with Bacon Dressing

Recipe: Big-Batch Spiked Arnold Palmers

Recipe: Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

Sometimes we want an effortless meal that looks more impressive than it might actually be: Enter our no-cook menu. To start, we opt for a refreshing cold soup that comes together quickly in your blender, but feels (and tastes) fancy. The centerpiece of this lineup is a loaded Shrimp Cobb Salad with Bacon Dressing. It's piled high with creamy avocado, funky blue cheese crumbles, and juicy cherry tomatoes. To sip alongside, we think you should try our Big-Batch Spiked Arnold Palmers (you can make a separate batch sans alcohol for the kids). For dessert, try a showstopping ice cream cake that can be made-ahead and pulled out of the freezer right after dinner wraps up.

03 of 06

Memorial Day Beach Retreat Menu

Heavenly Key Lime Pie

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Recipe: Shrimp-Okra-and-Sausage Kebabs

Recipe: Corn-And-Tomato Salad

Recipe: Quick Pickled Slaw

Recipe: Heavenly Key Lime Pie

Recipe: Strawberry Lemonade

If you're headed to the beach to soak up the sun on Memorial Day weekend, you need a menu that is easy to execute from your beach rental. Our Shrimp-Okra-and-Sausage Kebabs don't require much more than a quick trip to the grill, and the two summer sides we paired with them are simply tossed together in a bowl. It wouldn't be a beach trip without Key lime pie, and our recipe comes together in three easy steps for an ultra effortless meal. Finally, we think a pitcher of fruity and tart Strawberry Lemonade is the perfect companion to all these light and bright dishes.

04 of 06

A Plant-Powered Memorial Day Menu

Black Bean Burgers with Comeback Sauce
Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Torie Cox; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke

Recipe: Black Bean Burgers with Comeback Sauce

Recipe: Heirloom-Tomato Salad

Recipe: Creamy Cucumber Salad

Recipe: Watermelon Sangría

Recipe: Cakey Strawberry Cobbler

Even if you aren't a vegetarian, this menu designed around fresh produce is a great way to dive into the bounty of fruit and vegetables that start to arrive this time of year. Take our Heirloom-Tomato Salad, full of colorful in-season tomatoes, or our Creamy Cucumber Salad featuring crunchy fresh veggies. We suggest serving our Watermelon Sangría alongside, because it's filled with seasonal summer melons like cantaloupe and honeydew. To anchor this plant-powered meal, serve our delicious Black Bean Burgers with Comeback Sauce as a main dish. (You can slip some beef patties on the grill for the die-hard carnivores, too.) For a sweet finish, serve a fresh cobbler featuring fresh strawberries.

05 of 06

A Memorial Day Seafood Celebration Menu

Grilled Clambake Foil Packets with Herb Butter
Linda Pugliese; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Anna Hampton

Recipe: Grilled Clambake Foil Packets with Herb Butter

Recipe: Cajun-Style Potato Salad 

Recipe: Tangy Rainbow Slaw

Recipe: Lemon-Mint Sparklers

This menu blends the flavors of a clambake and low country boil together. Foil packets are packed with clams, shrimp, corn, and smoked sausage for a flavorful seafood main that guests can dig into with their hands. Alongside we suggest our Cajun-Style Potato Salad, which has some of the same flavors as the clambake folded in, and a Tangy Rainbow Slaw, for a refreshing palate cleanser. To keep things light and bright, we think a Lemon-Mint Sparkler is the right drink to serve with this lineup. We'll leave it up to you as to whether you spike it or serve it as is.

06 of 06

The Ultimate Memorial Day Barbecue Menu

Southern Living Grilled Chicken Legs on a platter to serve with white barbecue sauce

Victor Protasio; Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn; Prop Stylist: Christine Keely

Recipe: Grilled Chicken Legs

Recipe: Sweet Potato-And-Cabbage Slaw

Recipe: Southern Skillet Cornbread

Recipe: Homemade Baked Beans

Recipe: Old-Fashioned Banana Pudding

You can't go wrong with a classic barbecue menu, and this lineup is no exception. We took inspiration from Alabama and centered this menu on Grilled Chicken Legs with a tangy white barbecue sauce. This menu also includes a colorful Sweet Potato-And-Cabbage Slaw, skillet cornbread, and baked beans for a trifecta of barbecue sides. If there's still room at the end of the meal, we suggest our Old-Fashioned Banana Pudding; it's a tried-and-true crowd-pleaser.

RELATED: 35 Side Dishes For Your Memorial Day Cookout

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