Memorial Day cookout ideas

Memorial Day is the bright spot of sunshine at the end of a long, snowy winter. It’s also the perfect excuse to dust off the barbecue, tell your friends and family to don their choicest new whites and throw a soir e to celebrate the patriotic start of the summer.

Whether you’re planning a picnic-style party in the park or an at-home backyard bash to kick off the summer fun, we have you covered. From entrees and masterpieces straight off the grill to desserts and drinks, here are some ideas for a Memorial Day menu that will spotlight the most refreshing flavors of the season and give your spread a dash of the festive red, white, and blue.


If your grill isn’t quite ready to be fired up, create an Instagram-worthy entree course in the kitchen instead. To keep with the theme of “easy prep,” roast up some barbecue pulled pork in the slow cooker and let it shine on its own or serve it in a sandwich. Or really impress your guests with a dish starring fish such as citrus salmon with orange relish (don’t forget the paprika) or salmon topped with a wine, herb and lemon rub.

On the Grill

Grills go with summer such as corn goes with cob.

For an instant hit at your backyard bash, pull out your McCormick Grill Mates Barbecue Seasoning and get to shaking it over your choice of chicken, ribs, wings, or steak.

Meat plus seasoning is the easiest way to create a feast on the grill.

If you’re feeling a little more ambitious, serve up some Old Bay barbecue chicken, or for the vegetarians in your life, a platter of barbecue tempeh wraps spiced up with lots of ground black pepper.

OLD BAY Barbecue Chicken

Grilling over low heat then quick-searing ensures perfectly cooked chicken that’s juicy on the inside and crisp on the outside. Brush the chicken with a tangy homemade barbecue sauce that features the iconic taste of Old Bay Seasoning.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 50 minutes

Calories: 324

Ingredients: 6

Servings: 6

2tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning, divided

1cup ketchup

1/4cup cider vinegar

1tablespoon molasses, honey or packed brown sugar

3pounds bone-in chicken parts

1tablespoon oil

Mix 2 tablespoons of the Old Bay, ketchup, vinegar and molasses in medium bowl until blended. Set aside. Brush chicken with oil. Sprinkle with remaining 1 teaspoon Old Bay.

Prepare grill for indirect medium-low heat (275 degrees to 300 degrees ). Preheat grill by turning all burners to medium. Turn off burner(s) on one side. Place chicken on unlit side of grill. Close grill.

Grill 40 to 45 minutes or until internal temperature of thickest part of chicken is 165 degrees, turning occasionally. Move chicken to lit side of grill. Brush with barbecue sauce. Turn lit side of grill to high.

Grill, uncovered, 3 to 5 minutes longer or until chicken is charred, turning once and brushing with additional sauce.

Citrus Salmon with Orange Relish

Fresh oranges and ground ginger pair to make a bold and nutritious accompaniment to salmon fillets. Serve this delicious relish with any kind of fish, or with shrimp or scallops.

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 16 minutes

Calories: 283

Ingredients: 14

Servings: 4

Citrus Salmon

1/4cup orange juice

2tablespoons olive oil

11/2teaspoons McCormick Thyme Leaves, divided

4salmon fillets (about 1 pound)

1tablespoon brown sugar

1teaspoon McCormick Paprika

1/2teaspoon salt

Orange Relish

1/2teaspoon grated orange peel

2seedless oranges, peeled, sectioned and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

2tablespoons chopped red bell pepper

1tablespoon honey

1tablespoon chopped red onion

1tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1/2teaspoon McCormick Ginger, Ground

For the Salmon, mix orange juice, oil and 1 teaspoon of the thyme in small bowl. Place salmon in large resealable plastic bag or glass dish. Add marinade; turn to coat well. Refrigerate 30 minutes or longer for extra flavor. For the Relish, mix all ingredients in medium bowl. Cover. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix brown sugar, paprika, remaining 1/2 teaspoon thyme and salt in small bowl. Remove salmon from marinade. Discard any remaining marinade. Rub salmon evenly with paprika mixture. Place salmon on foil-lined baking pan.

Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Or, grill salmon over medium-high heat 6 to 8 minutes per side or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Serve salmon with Orange Relish.


It’s not just meat that can be tossed on the grill. Some of our favorite summertime vegetables are best-served piping hot with more than a hint of flavor. Pair your favorite fruits and veggies with the secret spice that makes them shine, like Mexican street corn, grilled fruit and veggie kabobs and grilled watermelon steaks (with rosemary and walnuts).

But don’t let your fancy grill work overshadow the tried-and-true dishes that have become summer shindig must-haves. We’re talking potato salad, delicious summertime slaw (ground mustard gives it that zest), and some savory parmesan cornbread.

Grilled Watermelon Steaks with Walnut Gremolata

Welcome to the grill, watermelon. Marinate these thick-cut “steak” fruit slices in a mixture of white balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and rosemary. Grill watermelon slices and top ‘em with a gremolata of walnuts, lemon zest and fresh parsley for knock-the-grill-tongs-out-of-your-hand taste.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 8 minutes

Calories: 126

Ingredients: 10

Servings: 8

1/2small seedless watermelon

1/2cup white balsamic vinegar

2tablespoons olive oil

1tablespoon lemon juice

1teaspoon McCormick Gourmet Organic Rosemary, Crushed

1/2teaspoon Sea Salt from McCormick Sea Salt Grinder

1/2teaspoon McCormick Black Pepper, Coarse Ground

1/4cup finely chopped toasted walnuts

1/4cup finely chopped parsley

1teaspoon grated lemon peel

Cut 4 (1-inch thick) half-moon slices of watermelon. Reserve any remaining watermelon for another use. Mix vinegar, oil, lemon juice, rosemary, salt and pepper in small bowl. Reserve 2 tablespoons for drizzling grilled watermelon. Place watermelon steaks in glass dish. Add remaining marinade. Refrigerate 20 minutes, turning watermelon halfway through marinating time.

Meanwhile, for the Walnut Gremolata, mix walnuts, parsley and lemon peel in small bowl. Set aside. Remove watermelon steaks from marinade. Reserve leftover marinade for brushing watermelon during grilling.

Grill watermelon steaks over high heat 2 to 4 minutes per side or until grill marks appear, brushing with leftover marinade.

To serve, cut watermelon steaks in half. Drizzle with reserved 2 tablespoons marinade. Sprinkle with Walnut Gremolata.


You’re never fully fed without some dessert! This is the course where you can really let the patriotic roots of Memorial Day shine. For easy, but impressive sweet treats, whip up some red white and blue mousse parfaits or a sheet cake decked out in your best berried American flag.

Red, White and Blue Cake

Celebrate the 4th with a patriotic cake of red and blue tinted layers, whipped topping and berries.

Prep time: 25 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Calories: 393

Ingredients: 8

Servings: 12

1package (2-layer size) white cake mix

2 teaspoons McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract

1/2 teaspoon Blue McCormick Assorted NEON! Food Colors & Egg Dye

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

2teaspoons McCormick Red Food Color

1container (16 ounces) white frosting

1cup raspberries

1/2cup blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare cake mix as directed on package, adding vanilla. Remove 11/2 cups of the batter. Tint blue with neon blue food color. Tint remaining batter red with cocoa powder and red food color. Pour each color batter into separate 9x5-inch loaf pans sprayed with no stick cooking spray.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes for blue-tinted cake; 30 to 35 minutes for red-tinted cake. Cool in pans 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely.

Trim cakes to remove rounded tops and edges. Slice red cake in half horizontally to form 2 thin layers. Place 1 of the layers on platter. Slice remaining red cake layer in half lengthwise. Slice blue cake in half lengthwise. (Blue and red cakes should be the same dimensions.)

Frost red cake layer on platter with 1/3 of the frosting. Top with a layer of 1 red and 1 blue cake placed side by side. Frost with 1/3 of the frosting. Repeat cake layer and frosting. Garnish with raspberries and blueberries to resemble a flag.


When the meat has been grilled and the sides dished out, it’s time to grab something sippable to wash down that feast. Cheer the new season with pitchers of flavorful–and refreshingly cold–iced tea. Rosemary infused green iced tea and hibiscus clove iced tea combine the delicious flavors of the season with tons of sassy spice.

If you want to up the ante with something a little more adult, go the sangria route. The options are nearly endless–sparking ros , red summer, sparkling ancho hibiscus, or a simple sangria liberally garnished with grilled fruit. Or combine your two favorite food groups and eat your drinks courtesy of some frosty and delicious froz Summer.

Sangria with Grilled Fruit

The refreshing combination of fresh fruit, wine and fizzy soda is the perfect beverage for summertime entertaining. Before you grill your food, char orange and lime slices on the grill to add extra depth and sweetness to this sangria.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time:12 minutes

Ingredients 9

Servings: 10

3 seedless oranges

3 limes


1 bottle red wine, such as Zinfandel (750 ml)

1 cup orange juice

1/4 cup orange-flavored liqueur, such as Triple Sec

4 McCormick Cinnamon Sticks

2 cups cold lemon-lime soda

3 cups ice cubes

Cut ends off oranges and limes then cut fruit crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices. Dip cut sides of fruit into sugar. Grill fruit slices over medium heat 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly charred, turning occasionally.

Mix wine, orange juice, liqueur, cinnamon sticks and grilled fruit in large pitcher until well blended. Stir in sugar to taste, if desired.

Refrigerate at least 2 hours or until ready to serve. Just before serving, stir in soda and ice.

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