Memorial Day BBQ Ideas for Appetizers, Mains, Drinks, and Desserts



Last Updated: May 23, 2022

Memorial Day weekend kicks off the beginning of summer as friends and family come together for neighborhood potlucks and BBQs. Whether you’re looking for fun drinks to impress or something sweet and simple to end the evening, here are 20 Memorial Day BBQ ideas.

Memorial Day BBQ appetizer ideas

Keep it classic with a hearty potato salad or mix it up with a decadent charcuterie board. Start your Memorial Day off right with appetizer ideas.

1. Fruit dip with seasonal fruit

Skewers of fresh fruit kabobs with a side of yogurt dip, garnished with mint leaves.

Fresh fruit is a must at summer parties. Serve a seasonal fruit platter with a rich dip made out of cream cheese and marshmallow crème.

2. Taco dip

Taco dips are always a hit at summer parties. You can customize the dip but it’s difficult to go wrong with the classic chopped tomatoes, cheddar cheese, cream cheese, lettuce, and sour cream.

3. Patriotic popcorn

Create your own red, white, and blue party mix. All you need is plain popcorn, melted butter, dried blueberries, and dried cranberries.

4. Strawberry and goat cheese bruschetta

Serve a festive and sophisticated plate of bruschetta made with sliced strawberries, goat cheese, and a balsamic glaze on a toasted baguette.

5. Grilled watermelon

It’s not summer without watermelon. Throw some on the grill and season it with salt, lime juice, and a touch of sugar. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, sprinkle on some Tajin.

6. Classic potato salad

Who doesn’t love a classic potato salad? It’s easy to prepare a batch at home and even easier to pick up of few pounds from your local deli.

Memorial Day BBQ food ideas

BBQ entrees run high in carbohydrates and even higher in flavor. With seasonings and techniques varying across the country, here are some of the core Memorial Day main courses.

7. Classic cheeseburgers

Grilled burgers on the grill.

There is nothing like a classic cheeseburger at a Memorial Day BBQ. You can easily keep this tasty American staple simple by using American cheese and having a burger bar of toppings like crispy lettuce, tomato slices, and dill pickles.

8. Grilled corn

You can serve grilled corn on the cob with simple garlic-chive butter, or you can jazz up the grilled corn and serve it with a tangy and spicy sauce and cotija cheese. Alternatively, consider serving Mexican street corn as it pairs perfectly with barbecue.

9. Baked beans

Baked beans offer a vegetarian option and are easy to customize from a canned base. Just add spices, brown sugar, or bacon and top with shredded cheese.

10. Sweet tea barbecued chicken

Brining the chicken thighs in sweet tea gives the chicken a subtle sweetness. Marinate the chicken for up to 24 hours, then brush the chicken with BBQ sauce and grill until cooked thoroughly.

11. Chicken kebabs

Chicken kebabs are another grilled item you can easily customize. Add cubed chicken, grilled vegetables, and mozzarella balls to assemble Greecian kebabs. Serve with tahini.

12. Grilled brats

Serve up grilled Bratwursts on toasted buns. Remember to fill your toppings bar with roasted peppers, chopped red onions, and spicy Sriracha mayonnaise.

Memorial Day BBQ dessert ideas

As an adult, we can bring the childhood dessert bar dream to fruition. Many summer fruits are ready for harvest in May, offering endless sweet and refreshing choices. You can even play around with a red, white, and blue color pallet while decorating for a presentation your guests are sure to adore.

13. Grilled peaches

Grilled Peaches with Thyme, Honey and scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream on white plate.

Grilling peaches elevates the juicy fruit from a snack to a memorable dessert. Brush the peach halves with olive oil to prevent sticking. Grill them for around 5 minutes per side over medium heat and serve with vanilla ice cream.

14. Red, white, and blue poke cake

Poke cakes are perfect for any patriotic holiday. Prepare a white cake box mix as directed. While it’s still warm, poke holes in the top. In every other hole, pour hot blue jello, and repeat the red jello in the other holes. Finish it by decorating it with red and blueberries.

15. American flag donuts

DIY baked donuts into something aesthetically patriotic. Dip plain donuts into melted white chocolate and let dry. Then use icing in a sandwich bag to pipe red stripes and blue stars onto each treat.

16. Easy strawberry pie

Strawberries’ peak season is in May, so it’s the perfect time to make or buy a strawberry pie. It’s easy to make one with a premade crust and ripe strawberries, or you can find one in the bakery section.

17. Patriotic brownies

Whip up a batch of your favorite brownies from scratch or use a box mix. Once cool, drizzle white chocolate over them and add blue, red, and white sprinkles for decoration.

Refreshing Memorial Day BBQ drinks

Aside from the quintessential cooler of bottled water, soda, and beer, fill a few serving pitchers with one of these beverages and let your guests can help themselves.

18. Strawberry lemonade

Strawberry Tea on the table.

Prepare homemade lemonade with pureed strawberries, freshly squeezed lemons, sugar, and water. This can be kept as-is for the kiddos or turned into a fantastic adult beverage with the addition of vodka.

19. Piña colada in a pineapple

Whip up several bulk batches of piña coladas and serve them in cored-out pineapples with little umbrellas. Everyone loves pineapples with tiny umbrellas.

20. Simple homemade peach iced tea

As sweet as a backhanded compliment, this heavenly iced tea is surprisingly simple to make. All you need are juicy peaches, black tea, and a little sugar.

Get your Memorial Day shopping done easily

Take the stress out of prepping and spend more time enjoying yourself. Plan your BBQ like a pro and schedule your grocery and alcohol delivery in advance through Instacart. Forgot something essential? Add everything you need to your cart and choose same-day delivery at check out.



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