The weather is warming up at last, and you know what that means – the first long weekend of summer is finally here. Memorial Day is a day to honor our fallen military heroes, but it’s also associated with one of our favorite summertime traditions, grilling. Sharing food and laughter with family and friends is the best way to celebrate the beginning of summer.
So go ahead, fire up the grill and invite your crew. We have all the best red, white, and blue recipes for an epic Memorial Day barbecue.
The barbecue might be the main event, but your guests will need something to snack on while they wait for their burgers. Load up your outdoor tables with tasty, eye-catching apps that match your color scheme.
Skewers that alternate strawberries (red), bananas (white), and blueberries (blue) are healthy and refreshing. If you want to add a little sweetness, marshmallow dip is the perfect companion.
- 8 ounces of cream cheese (softened)
- 1 15-ounce jar of marshmallow fluff
- Mix by hand and serve chilled
If you want to skip the chips but still offer something crunchy, try our patriotic popcorn blend. Use store-bought or microwave popcorn, then add dried blueberries and cranberries for a little color but big flavor.
The Main Meal
Everyone is expecting burgers, and you don’t want to disappoint the crowd. But if you want to really wow your guests, try our favorite homemade seasoning blend for mouth-watering results. Just mix together paprika, brown sugar, garlic salt, and pepper. Sprinkle over the patties before grilling.
Not a Grill Master? No worries! Here are some tips that will turn you into the King or Queen of the Grill!
- Low and slow is the name of the game. The longer the meat cooks, the more flavorful it will be.
- Soak a paper towel in your favorite cooking oil and use your tongs to rub it over the grill. This will keep your burgers from sticking. Genius!
- Before grilling, pinch the center of the patties with your fingers or a spoon and make an indentation. This will keep the burgers from puffing up while you cook them.
- This one takes a little more practice, but try to take the burgers off the grill before they’re done. The heat inside will keep cooking them for a couple of extra minutes, and this way you can avoid having overdone burgers.
- Don’t poke at the patties to see if they’re done, or you risk losing the juiciness. The edges will start to curl up to let you know when they’re ready.
Here’s your chance to really lean into your red, white, and blue theme! Almost any dessert you can think of can be given the right colors with a bit of imagination (and food coloring): cupcakes, cake pops, popsicles, star-shaped cookies; you get the idea.
And while there’s nothing as American as apple pie, you can show off your baking skills with something unexpected. Blueberry pie is surprisingly easy to make, and the tart flavor adds the perfect zing to your evening.
Want to offer something a little lighter? Raspberry parfaits are just the thing. Layer vanilla yogurt, berries, and crunchy granola in individual servings – mason jars are the perfect grab-and-go size.
If you’re going to be spending a warm day outdoors, your guests will need to stay hydrated. So you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of cold water on hand, of course. Freeze blueberries or raspberries in ice cubes the day before to keep the H20 cool and cute, both!
Take your favorite white sangria up to a patriotic level by adding blueberries, strawberries, raspberries… and star-shaped pineapple chunks. It won’t take long to cut, but the effect is party-perfect! Serve in clear glasses so your guests can see the fruit.
For kids and non-drinkers, serve our Patriotic Punch. Combine blue raspberry punch (made with Kool Aid) with a 2-liter bottle of lemon-lime soda. Garnish with cherries.
And finally, instead of straws, place a red Twizzler in each glass as you hand it to your guest. So festive!
The Perfect Party
Keep your decorations in line with the occasion by adding a few festive touches. For a whimsical table setting, fill mason jars or tall tumblers with a red or blue napkin and utensils. Add a striped runner (for decor) and citronella candles (for the bugs) as finishing touches.
Take care of seating ahead of time. Count your outdoor seating to make sure you have enough spots for everyone. If you need to, bring out some extra tables and chairs. Buy matching tablecloths to tie everything together and give it a more finished look. Or, lay out some picnic blankets and give your guests the option of lounging in the grass.
Your crew is probably going to want to do more than just eat. Be prepared with some classic outdoor games. Bocce, corn hole, and croquet are all crowd-pleasers with easy rules.
And if you think your Memorial Day barbecue might spill over into the evening, string a few fairy lights or bring out some hurricane candles to keep the party going.
Are you ready for your first official barbecue of the summer? Share your favorite recipes with us in the comments!