Four cheeseburgers, a small jar of sauce, and several roasted yam slices in a white baking dish.
: Alana Taylor-Tobin

It’s here. The unofficial start of summer. The One and I have opened the pool, power-washed the patio, scrubbed down the teak table, brought out the grill, and wiped down the Adirondack chairs. All so we can start entertaining en plein air. 

And, like so many folks, we kick off the season on Memorial Day weekend.

This year, our menus are set. (I say menus–plural–because we usually entertain on the Saturday and Monday of the weekend.) And you’re looking at our menus below.

Burgers always make their seasonal debut during Memorial Day weekend. And we have tried every recipe on the site: killer barbecue pork burgers with a tangy slaw, juicy lamb burgers, spicy Indian chicken burgers, you name it.

And brisket has graced our table on more than one occasion. Besides the one below, some of my favorites are Coke brisket, a good old-fashioned Texas brisket, and Korean BBQ brisket.

And desserts? Well, it’s the beginning of fruit sweets for me. I’ve had to revive people after having my blueberry lemon cake recipe. But I’m also partial to classic strawberry shortcake and pineapple upside-down cake in a cast-iron skillet always brings smiles. 

Whatever you serve, do what The One does and make it colorful and fun. He pulls out his 8 billion pieces of classic Fiestaware, washes our rainbow glasses, irons our checkered tablecloths, and goes to town. Gotta love all that enthusiasm at his ripe old age…

The word "David" written in script.
Three glasses of sweet tea cocktail on a wooden table.
Brian Woodcock
1 of 12

Sweet Tea Cocktail

In the South, you can’t have a garden party—or any summer get-together, for that matter—without sweet tea. This is a sweet-tea-based cocktail with a kick of white whiskey.
A pitcher and two glasses of limeade on a colorful platter with a linen napkin on the side.
Peter Cassidy
2 of 12


This limeade is simple to make with no refined sugar or added preservatives. Just simple, refreshing goodness.

Aguas frescas of Mexico are wonderful. This is one of my favorites. For something a little different add a handful of fresh strawberries and a little orange juice.

A yellow bowl filled with cowboy caviar salad with a bowl of tortilla chips on the side.
Ellen Silverman
3 of 12

Cowboy Caviar Salad

Cowboy caviar salad–a no-ccok mix of beans, scallions, onion, bell peppers, jalapeños, corn, tomato, and avocado tossed in a lime-honey dressing. Perfect for picnics and tailgating.

This cowboy caviar is amazingly good! Followed it exactly, except I used banana pepper instead of jalapeño. Wonderful summer side dish.

lynne t.
A colorful serving platter filled with coleslaw with cilantro with wooden serving utensils on the side.
Kathryn McCrary
4 of 12

Creamy Coleslaw with Cilantro

This easy-peasy creamy coleslaw combines cabbage, red onion, carrot, and cilantro in a tangy mayonnaise-based orange dressing. It can be mostly prepared ahead of time and tossed with dressing just before serving. No wonder people are calling it the best creamy coleslaw they've ever tried.
A white bowl with some Memphis BBQ mop sauce and a spoon in it with a bottle of sauce on the side.
Ken Goodman
5 of 12

Memphis BBQ Mop Sauce

This Memphis BBQ mop sauce is an amazing yet simple concoction of everyday ingredients that captures that elusive balance of sweet, spicy, salty, and tangy. Slather onto brisket, chicken, ribs, burgers, and pulled pork. Here’s how to make it.

This Memphis BBQ mop sauce is just exquisite–I found myself putting it on all sorts foods. The recipe has a fair amount of heat. I did find that it mellowed just a bit over the next few days to the point of perfection. Very much appreciate you sharing this one with us!

tommy b.
Seven spice-rubbed baby back ribs on a piece of parchment on a wooden surface.
Maren Caruso
6 of 12

Spice-Rubbed Baby Back Ribs

Spice-rubbed baby back ribs are first given a dry rub of paprika, cumin, garlic, and more spices. After they sit for a spell in the fridge, they're grilled and slathered with your favorite sauce.
A partially sliced smoked coffee brisket on a wooden cutting board with a meat fork resting beside it.
Leigh Beisch
7 of 12

Smoked Coffee Brisket

Smoked brisket with coffee takes a few of our favorite things and combines them into a meltingly tender, spicy, and smoky masterpiece.

I soaked a brisket using this recipe. The only thing I did differently was to soak the brisket over night in a can of beer. This is an awesome recipe, and I suggest it to anyone who wants a succulent piece of meat. Super good recipe.

Two barbecue pork burgers with slaw and barbecue sauce stacked on top of each other.
Romulo Yanes
8 of 12

Barbecue Pork Burgers

Spicing up store-bought barbecue sauce with cayenne and vinegar is an easy trick that makes a big difference. Here, the sauce is mixed into the meat, slathered onto the cooked burgers for the last minute of grilling, and brushed on the bun.

This pork burger was one of the best I’ve ever eaten. I will definitely make more of the sauce next time.

Key lime pie bars, cut into squares and garnished with whipped cream, lime zest, slices of lime, and chopped almonds.
Christy Denney
9 of 12

Key Lime Pie Bars

We’re an hour and a half from the Florida Keys and take advantage of the tropical atmosphere as often as we can. At certain gas stations along the long road down to the keys they sell slices of key lime pie and I can’t resist the tangy, creamy treat. Do you need to make some key lime pie bars to make you think you’re in a tropical paradise? I thought you might.
A silver spoon holding a large scoop of the milkiest chocolate ice cream in the world.
10 of 12

Milkiest Chocolate Ice Cream

This milkiest chocolate ice cream is made with whole milk, cream, and evaporated milk, and boasts plenty of chocolate flavor thanks to bittersweet chocolate and cocoa powder.

This chocolate ice cream is the stuff that dreams are made of. It has a deep chocolate flavor and has just the right amount of sweetness. It’s reminiscent of chocolate pudding in all of the best ways.

trisha t.
A large chocolate chip skillet cookie topped with ice cream with four spoons resting inside.
Jacqui Caulton
11 of 12
This giant chocolate chip cookie is made in a cast-iron skillet and served warm. Top with ice cream and chocolate sauce and devour.
A portion of blueberry crumble on a white plate with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.
Christopher Hirsheimer
12 of 12

Blueberry Crumble

This blueberry crumble, easy to make with blueberries and a buttery oat cookie topping, is simple, easy, and the best blueberry dessert we can imagine. Simple and spectacular. Better make a double batch.

Loved this blueberry crumble!! Followed the recipe exactly and had to make it again the next day as there weren’t any leftovers!

nancy w.

Memorial Day Food FAQs

What side dishes can I pair with grilled meats?

Classic Memorial Day side dishes include easy potato salad, creamy coleslaw, and barbecue baked beans. Grilled corn on the cob is also a welcome treat. If you want to offer something a little different, try this chickpea and orzo salad.

How can I make a budget-friendly meal for Memorial day?

To keep costs down, offer hot dogs. If you want to fancy it up a little, you can offer beer-braised bratwurst, but there are also many ways to cook regular hot dogs that turn out incredibly tasty. If you need a meat-free option at your meal, whip up a batch of carrot hot dogs.

Round it out with a big pitcher of homemade lemonade and s’mores for dessert.

Do you have any tips for food storage and safety during my backyard BBQ?

There are a few simple rules to follow to ensure your food doesn’t become spoiled while hosting an outdoor gathering.

1. Keep cooked and uncooked meats separate from each other. This means using different platters and utensils for handling raw meat and cooked meat.

2. Keep perishable foods cold until just before serving. This includes items made with eggs or dairy, such as mayo-based potato salad or spicy deviled eggs, which are particularly prone to spoilage.

3. Don’t let food sit out for more than 2 hours. If it is an exceptionally warm day (above 90°F), food will spoil more quickly and shouldn’t be left out for more than 1 hour.

What sort of party are you throwing to celebrate Memorial Day long weekend, and what are you serving? Let me know in a comment below.

Four cheeseburgers with everything sauce tucked into a white casserole dish with sweet potato chips and a dish of everything sauce.

13 Memorable Memorial Day Recipes

5 from 1 vote
There are so many incredible recipes to choose from when kicking off your summer season. If you're going for an easy backyard meal, I highly recommend these crowd-pleasing ☞ CHEESEBURGERS WITH EVERYTHING SAUCE.
David Leite
Servings4 servings
Calories528 kcal
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time30 minutes


For the everything sauce

For the burgers

  • 1 1/3 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 heaping teaspoon Diamond brand kosher salt or 3/4 teaspoon Morton’s brand
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Nonstick cooking spray or mild vegetable oil
  • 4 thin slices sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 4 soft store-bought or homemade hamburger buns
  • 8 store-bought or homemade dill pickle slices
  • 4 thin slices red onion
  • 4 crunchy lettuce leaves, such as romaine


Make the everything sauce

  • In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients until smooth.

    ☞ TESTER TIP: The everything sauce moonlights as an excellent dip for fries (whether classic deep-fried fries or easy oven baked fries).

Make the burgers

  • Divide the ground beef into 4 equal portions and gently roll each portion into a ball. Pat each ball into a hamburger patty about 3/4 inch (18-mm) thick and 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter. Do your best to make the burgers evenly thick.
  • Sprinkle half the salt over the burgers. Grind a little pepper over the burgers. Flip the burgers and sprinkle with the remaining salt and a little more pepper.
  • Warm a 12-inch (30-cm) skillet over high heat until it sizzles when you flick a couple drops of water into it, 2 to 3 minutes. Lightly coat the pan with nonstick cooking spray or oil.
  • Add the burgers to the skillet and cook for 3 minutes.
  • Use a spatula to flip the burgers. Immediately place a slice of cheese on each burger and cook until the desired doneness, 3 to 4 minutes for medium.
  • While the burgers cook, split the buns in half and, if desired, lightly toast them.
  • Use a spatula to move the burgers to the bottom buns. Top with the pickles, onion, and lettuce. Schmear the sauce on the top bun and plop it on top. Devour immediately.
Prep Cookbook

Adapted From


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Serving: 1 cheeseburger with everythingCalories: 528 kcalCarbohydrates: 26 gProtein: 44 gFat: 26 gSaturated Fat: 11 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 128 mgSodium: 1336 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 6 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Photo © 2019 . All rights reserved.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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