Memorial Day Menu

A Delicious Summer Start

picnic basket with cheese, wine, grapes, and gingham cloth napkins

We're going to make your Memorial Day menu a cinch to construct. Pick one food from each of the categories below. Make them, pack them up in a picnic basket or lay them out on an outdoor table. Done!

Need still more summer recipe ideas? Hop over to our 4th of July Food section for yummy barbecue grilling recipes and all the scrumptious fixings. And what's a picnic without dessert? 4th of July Desserts, 4th of July Cakes, and 4th of July Cupcakes have plenty more red, white, and blue sweets to finish up your Memorial Day menu with a bang!


Fruit Salad

Summer's just starting, and the most luscious summer fruits may not be plentiful just yet. Here's a fruit salad good for not only your Memorial Day menu, but for all seasons.

  • 3 apples
  • 3 oranges
  • 3 pears
  • 1 large bunch seedless green grapes
  • 1 fresh pineapple or 1 can of pineapple chunks
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  1. Peel the oranges. Peel and core the pineapple, if fresh one. Wash and dry the apples, pears, and grapes.
  2. Cut apples, oranges, pears, and pineapple into small chunks. Cut grapes in half.
  3. Mix all the fruit in a large bowl.
  4. Mix honey and orange juice together. Pour over fruit and toss to coat evenly.
  5. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.

Strawberry & Blueberry Medley

strawberries and blueberries in a shallow white ceramic bowl

Sometimes the simplest recipe is the best. Here's proof that your Memorial Day menu can be colorfully delicious while wonderfully easy.

  • 2 pints strawberries
  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 1 to 3 Tbsp sugar
  1. Wash, pat dry, and slice strawberries into medium bowl.
  2. Sprinkle strawberries with sugar, to taste. How much sugar will depend on the sweetness of the fruit.
  3. Wash and pat dry blueberries, discarding any stems. Gently mix into strawberries.


Asparagus Grilled

asparagus laid out on grill, glistening with olive oil

While this spring vegetable is at its best, throw it on the grill for a bright-tasting addition to your Memorial Day menu.

Yes, I know, asparagus is one of those vegetables that a lot of people disdain (think brussel sprouts). I'm tellin' you, this recipe will make a believer out of them!

  • 1 to 2 bunches of asparagus
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper, freshly ground
  1. Wash asparagus and pat dry. Cut off about 1-1/2" of tough end on each stalk.
  2. Brush with olive oil. Place on heated grill in one layer.
  3. Grill for approximately 3 minutes, turning once. Do not overcook; it should be crisp to the bite. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper during last moments of cooking.

Caesar Salad

This salad is well worth the effort. How many limp, tasteless Caesar salads have you eaten thus far in your life? Well, limp along no more. Flavorful and fresh, I guarantee you've never had a better version. So go ahead and utterly delight your guests with this addition to your Memorial Day menu.

  • 1 coddled egg (Warning: A coddled egg is undercooked. If Salmonella bacteria are present, illness may occur.)
  • 8 anchovy fillets, cut up (optional)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp dry mustard
  • Black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 large head of romaine lettuce, torn into pieces
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, fresh-grated
  • Croutons
  1. Prepare coddled egg: bring a small pot of water to a boil. Gently immerse the egg in the water and cook for 45 seconds. Cool egg in cold water to stop the cooking process.
  2. Mix anchovies, garlic, olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, salt, mustard, and pepper in bowl.
  3. Add romaine lettuce and toss till evenly coated.
  4. Break egg onto salad. Cut lemon in half and squeeze over salad. Toss again.
  5. Sprinkle cheese and croutons over salad. Toss a final time.

Spinach Salad with Mandarin Oranges

plate of spinach salad with mandarin oranges, pine nuts, and red onion slices

When time is short and you still need some healthy greenery on the Memorial Day menu, this spinach salad is your answer. I say thank heaven for pre-washed salad greens!

And if you're really pressed for time, you can dispense with the toasted pine nuts and still have a delectable salad.

  • 1 bag of ready-to-eat baby spinach
  • 1 can mandarin oranges
  • 1 red onion
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • Salad dressing
  1. Discard wilted or discolored spinach leaves and remove any large stems.
  2. Drain mandarin oranges.
  3. Slice red onion very thinly. Pull apart the rings.
  4. Spread pine nuts on a piece of aluminum foil and toast in 350 degrees F. oven until lightly browned.
  5. Mix spinach, mandarin oranges, red onion, and pine nuts in large bowl.
  6. Serve with salad dressing. Suggestion: honey mustard or poppy seed dressing.


Broccoli Pasta Salad

This is a one-bowl tasty wonder. You've got your carb; you've got your green vegetable. Be sure to use an Italian dressing that's high quality to make this a worthy addition to your Memorial Day menu. Cheap dressing just isn't flavorful enough. Umm, we won't dwell on how I know that.

  • 12 oz (1 box) tri-color rotini pasta
  • 1/2 bunch broccoli florets
  • 3 scallions, sliced
  • 3 to 4 tsp Mrs Dash
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • Black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup Italian dressing
  • 1/2 box grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half (optional)
  1. Cook pasta until tender.
  2. Run under cold water and drain well.
  3. Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl.

Sweet Potato & Carrot Packets

Such a colorful, yummy combination! Raw sweet potatoes are surprisingly hard to cut, so proceed carefully when wielding your knife. This veggie combo is so enticingly sweet that even the kids will be glad it's on the Memorial Day menu.

  • 4 sweet potatoes or yams
  • 1-1/2 cups baby carrots
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  1. Wash and peel the sweet potatoes. Cut into slim strips.
  2. Divide sweet potato strips and carrots evenly among 6 squares of aluminum foil. Drizzle honey over the vegetables, then dot with butter.
  3. Bring edges of foil up so that vegetables are in center. Fold down to seal in vegetables, leaving space at the top for steam.
  4. Place packets on grill or in oven. Cook until tender, about 25 to 30 minutes.
  5. Serves 6.


Fried Chicken

pieces of golden fried chicken piled in white bowl lined with an absorbent towel

Fried chicken says summer outing like no other. Sadly, lots of folks steer clear of it because, I suspect, it can be very hard to pull off well.

And yes, store-bought at the deli counter can be an adequate substitute, but if you want your Memorial Day menu to shine, take the time to make this recipe. Follow each step faithfully and at last you'll have tender, slightly tangy, lip-smackin' good fried chicken!

  • 1 whole fryer, or 6 to 7 pieces of chicken
  • 1 cup hot sauce
  • 4 Tbsp mustard
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 Tbsp cornmeal (use 3 Tbsp if don’t have Bisquick on hand)
  • 2 Tbsp Bisquick
  • 1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt, at least
  • Black pepper
  • Vegetable oil
  1. Mix together hot sauce and mustard. Coat chicken thoroughly with mixture. Marinate in shallow pan for 1 hour.
  2. Place flour, cornmeal, bread crumbs, Bisquick, and baking powder in plastic bag (holds up better than paper bag). Add salt and pepper to taste. Gently shake excess hot sauce/mustard off of chicken (but do not pat dry; the chicken should still be coated in the sauce). Shake chicken pieces in bag to coat, one or two at a time.
  3. Preheat iron skillet. Heat 1/2 pan of vegetable oil till hot.
  4. Fry chicken in batches on high heat until light brown on one side. Do not crowd!
  5. Lower heat. Cover and fry until almost crispy brown: approximately 20 minutes for large pieces; about 7-10 minutes for wings.
  6. Remove cover. Cook 3 minutes more.
  7. Turn over and turn heat up. Cook until crispy brown—approximately 7 minutes for large pieces.
  8. Drain on paper towels.
  9. Serves 4.

Shrimp & Pineapple Skewers

skeweres of shrimp and pineapple chunks cooking on grill

I adore seafood, so shrimp on a Memorial Day menu—or any menu, for that matter—is already a winner in my book. The pineapple adds a lovely tropical touch to these tasty skewers.

  • 1-1/2 lb shrimp
  • 2 Tbsp teriyaki sauce
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp garlic, chopped
  • 1 fresh pineapple (or 1 can pineapple chunks)
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 onion, large
  • Wooden skewers
  1. Mix together teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, honey, and garlic. Pour over shrimp in a shallow bowl. Marinate shrimp for about 1 hour in refrigerator.
  2. Soak skewers in water for about 1/2 hour.
  3. Cut into chunks: pineapple, bell pepper, onion.
  4. Alternating pieces, thread shrimp, pineapple, bell pepper, and onion on skewers.
  5. Cook on grill until shrimp is opaque, 4 to 6 minutes, turning every couple of minutes.
  6. Serves 6.

Tuna Wraps

Wraps are such a nice change from sliced bread. Bonus: they look like you took lessons from a caterer. Gussied up Memorial Day menu, here you come!

  • 1 large can tuna fish
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp relish
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 egg, hard-boiled and chopped
  • 4 pieces of romaine lettuce, torn into pieces
  • 1 tomato, sliced thinly
  • 4 small flour tortillas (8" in diameter)
  1. Mix all ingredients except lettuce and tomato.
  2. Spread tuna mixture on one end of each tortilla.
  3. Place lettuce and tomato slices on top of tuna mixture.
  4. Roll up each tortilla, tucking in sides after the first roll forward.
  5. Secure with a toothpick on each end. Cut in half diagonally.
  6. Arrange on a platter. Serving suggestion: garnish with cherry or grape tomatoes scattered among the tuna wraps.
  7. Serves 4.


Banana Bread

loaf of partially sliced banana bread with bunch of bananas laying alongside

The great thing about banana bread is it's made in just one bowl. No separating eggs and sifting ingredients separately. And for you that means it's easy to add a scrumptiously moist dessert to your Memorial Day menu.

  • 5 or 6 small bananas, mashed in bowl
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 Tbsp melted butter or margarine
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease and flour 2 loaf pans.
  3. Mix all ingredients together, except melted butter.
  4. Stir in melted butter.
  5. Bake until pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.
  6. Cool slightly. Loosen sides of loaves from pan with knife and remove from pans.
  7. Cool completely before slicing.
  8. Makes 2 loaves.


Chocolate. Really, I don't need to say anything more than that, do I? I will tell you that these brownies are the best. They're moist and nutty, and freeze really well. Young and old will appreciate your having put this on your Memorial Day menu.

  • 2 squares (1 ounce each) unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/3 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat chocolate and butter in medium size saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until melted. Remove pan from heat.
  3. Mix in sugar, eggs, and vanilla.
  4. Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt.
  5. Stir in nuts.
  6. Spread in greased 8" x 8" pan.
  7. Bake until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan, approximately 30 minutes. Don't overcook or will be too dry.
  8. Cool for 10 minutes in pan (no longer or will dry out). Cut into squares and remove from pan.
  9. Note: if double the recipe, cook in 13" x 8" pan for 35 minutes.


Iced Tea

glass and pitcher of iced tea with lemon slices

Any Memorial Day menu must include the iconic summer drink: iced tea. Sweetened and lemony, this is the way iced tea should taste.

  • 8 tea bags
  • 1 kettle full of boiled water
  • 1 to 1-1/2 cups of sugar
  • 2 lemons
  • Cold water
  • Ice
  1. About 1 hour before serving time, remove tags from teabags and tie them together for easier removal later. Put teabags in a pitcher; add boiling water.
  2. Let the tea steep and cool for about an hour.
  3. Remove teabags from pitcher. Stir in sugar.
  4. Add juice of 1 lemon. Add cold water until pitcher is full. Stir.
  5. Cut second lemon into thin slices. Add the slices to pitcher, reserving some for glasses. Stir.
  6. Serve in ice-filled glasses with one lemon slice.
  7. Serves 8.


Lemonade is the stuff of hot summer days and kids getting their first taste of entrepreneurship with their lemonade stands. Complete your Memorial Day menu with this thirst-quenching perfect balance between tart and sweet.

  • 9 lemons
  • 1 to 2 cups sugar
  • 6 cups water
  • Ice
  1. Squeeze 8 lemons into pitcher, discarding seeds.
  2. Mix lemon juice, sugar (to taste), and water.
  3. Cut 1 lemon into slices. Add to pitcher.
  4. Serve in ice-filled glasses.
  5. Serves 8.

Return from Memorial Day Menu
to Memorial Day Celebrations

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