Memorial Day Backyard BBQ Activities [Recipes Included]
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The weather is getting warmer, and summer vacation is getting closer, which is why Memorial Day is often celebrated as the unofficial start of summer.
And what better way to bring in the start of summer than with a Memorial Day Backyard BBQ?
We’ve put together a list of activities you can enjoy in your own backyard, as well as a complete Memorial Day Backyard BBQ menu.
Take Time to Remember
Memorial Day is far more than the unofficial start of summer. Memorial Day honors the men and women who died serving this country.
So, while you are having fun and soaking up the sun, pause and take some time to remember those brave men and women who died serving our great nation.
Hold a moment of silence or say a prayer.
Play Lawn Games
According to The NPD Group, “Sales of Outdoor and Sports Toys surged by $193 million during April, 2020, a 51 percent increase over the same time period last year*. The Outdoor and Sports Toys supercategory contributed 53 percent of the total growth in the toy industry during that time period.”¹
There is a big chance you have some of these outdoor toys in your backyard or garage.
Pull out all your lawn toys and games, such as cornhole and giant Jenga, for your Memorial Day Backyard BBQ.
If you don’t own any lawn games, play some old-fashioned games, such as relay races or toss water balloons.
As the unofficial start of summer, Memorial Day weekend is the perfect time to uncover the pool or get out the sprinklers.
If you plan to be outside in the hot sun for hours, set up some sort of water station, such as a kiddie pool or misting fan.
While we tend to think of a Memorial Day Backyard BBQ taking place in the middle of the day, that is not a hard-and-fast rule.
You can always host a party in the evening as temperatures cool down. Should you go this route, look for opportunities to celebrate around a fire. Have a bonfire or use a fire pit. Cook s’mores and roast hot dogs.
If the weather cooperates, consider camping in the backyard.
If you have a family of makers, look for activities that embrace your creativity.
- Have a sidewalk chalk art competition.
- Paint patriotic planters or bricks for your garden.
- Bake some patriotic treats together.
- Put together care packages for soldiers stationed overseas.
Tasty Memorial Day Backyard BBQ Recipes
According to Statista, Memorial Day is a close second to the 4th of July when it comes to grilling out on holidays. 56% of Americans grill out over Memorial Day weekend, compared to 68% over the 4th of July.²
We’ve put together a complete menu for those of you who plan to fire up the grill for a Memorial Day Backyard BBQ.
Hot Dog Bar
Memorial Day weekend is the start of hot dog season.
From Memorial Day through Labor Day, Americans eat 7 billion hot dogs (or 818 hot dogs every second).³
Consider setting up a hot dog bar if you plan to serve hot dogs at your Memorial Day Backyard BBQ. Beyond having plenty of hot dogs and buns, include a variety of toppings.
Possible Hot Dog Bar Toppings
- Shredded Cheese
- Pimento Cheese
- Nacho Cheese
- Crumbled Bleu Cheese
- Diced Raw Onions
- Dill Pickle Spears
- Shredded Lettuce
- Crumbled Bacon
- Sauteed Bell Peppers + Onions
- Salsa Verde
- Pickled Jalapenos
- Grilled Pineapple
- Refried Beans
- Avocado or Guacamole
- Crushed Fritos or Tortilla Chips
- A Variety of Mustard
- Hot Sauce
- Buffalo Sauce
- Ranch Dressing
Best Grilled Chicken Breast
For a main dish, try your hand at this tasty marinated grilled chicken breast recipe from Delish.
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- 4 chicken breasts
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- In a medium bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar, olive oil, brown sugar, garlic, and dried herbs, and season generously with salt and pepper. Reserve ¼ cup.
- Add chicken to the bowl and toss to combine. Let marinate at least 20 minutes and up to overnight.
- Preheat grill to medium high. Add chicken and grill, basting with reserved marinade, until cooked through, 6 minutes per side.
- Garnish with parsley before serving.
Red, White, and Blue Potatoes
Make your traditional potato salad a little more festive with this recipe for Red, White, and Blue Potatoes from Taste of Home. Don’t let the lengthy ingredient list intimidate you – it’s quick and easy to toss together.
- 1-1/4 pounds small purple potatoes (about 11), quartered
- 1 pound small Yukon Gold potatoes (about 9), quartered
- 1 pound small red potatoes (about 9), quartered
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1/4 cup white wine or additional chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1-1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1-1/2 teaspoons stone-ground mustard
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 celery ribs, chopped
- 1 small sweet red pepper, chopped
- 8 green onions, chopped
- 3/4 pound bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
- 3 tablespoons of each minced fresh basil, dill and parsley
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
- Place all potatoes in a Dutch oven; add water to cover. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cook, uncovered, 10-15 minutes or until tender.
- Drain; transfer to a large bowl.
- Drizzle potatoes with stock and wine; toss gently, allowing liquids to absorb.
- In a small bowl, whisk vinegars, mustards, salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in oil until blended.
- Add vinaigrette, vegetables, bacon and herbs to potato mixture; toss to combine.
- Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve warm.
Bang Bang Corn
Spice things up with this recipe for corn on the cob from Delish.
- 1/2 cup sweet chili sauce
- 3 tbsp melted butter
- 1 tbsp sriracha
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- Juice of 2 limes
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 6 ears corn, husks removed
- Freshly chopped cilantro
- Make bang bang butter: In a medium bowl, mix together chili sauce, butter, sriracha, garlic, and lime juice. Season generously with salt and pepper.
- Heat grill to medium-high. Slather butter all over corn and grill, turning occasionally and basting with remaining butter, until tender and charred, 10 to 15 minutes.
- Garnish with cilantro.
Patriotic Flag Cake
For dessert, bake and decorate a patriotic cake, which is a simple white cake decorated with white icing, blueberries, and strawberries to look like an American flag.
Here’s a simple recipe for the cake from All Recipes.
- 1 (18.25 ounce) package white cake mix
- 1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
- 1 pint blueberries, rinsed and drained
- 2 pints fresh strawberries, rinsed and sliced
- Prepare cake according to package directions and bake in a 9×13 inch pan. Cool completely.
- Frost cake with whipped topping.
- Place blueberries in a square in the corner, and arrange sliced strawberries as stripes to make an American flag.
- Chill until serving.
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