Memorial Day BBQs have always been events at our house to look forward to––sunshine, spring temperatures, the smell of fresh cut grass and yes, grilled things! Check out this list of unique Memorial Day recipes to shake up your grill this year and serve something different alongside (or in lieu of?) your burgers and hot dogs.
Celebrating Memorial Day This Year
If you’re a Woks of Life reader outside the U.S., Memorial Day is an American holiday observed to honor the men and women who’ve perished while serving in our country’s military.
It’s a day of reflection first, for remembering those who sacrificed their lives to defend our country, so we can enjoy our freedom (and BBQs) in comfort and safety. (As you are reading this post, let’s take a moment of silence to honor and think of those who have given their lives in the line of duty.)
The holiday also marks the unofficial start of summer, when we get outside, pull out the deck/patio furniture, and dust off our grills.
Of course, this year we may find ourselves celebrating Memorial Day a bit differently. As we all continue to observe social distancing guidelines to keep each other safe and healthy, we may be celebrating the holiday in smaller household groups or even solo. But that’s no reason not to enjoy some delicious grilled food.
In fact, since we’re all celebrating in smaller groups and don’t have to worry about feeding a whole backyard party of people, it might be prime time for something a little different on the Memorial Day menu.
If you’re lucky enough to have an outdoor space, take advantage of it this weekend if you can. If you live in an apartment like Sarah & Kaitlin do, you can make some of these recipes indoors!
So here they are, 25 unique Memorial Day recipes to pick from this weekend. Get grilling, or if you’re stuck indoors, open up the windows, put on your best BBQ playlist, break out your cast iron/grill pan, and enjoy. Happy Memorial Day, folks!
25 Unique Memorial Day Recipes
I do love a nice home grilled steak. This soy butter glazed ribeye is an amazing creation from our family grill master, Kaitlin. Give the glaze a try on any cut of beef you put on the grill!
You may have seen our oven recipe for Chinese BBQ Pork (Char Siu)––indeed, it’s probably the most-cooked recipe from the blog over the last couple months. This version on the grill may wow you even more! You’ll have to hide some pieces if you want to make Pork Fried Rice or Pork Buns (Char Siu Bao) the next day, because if you leave it out, there won’t be any leftovers. This recipe takes some patience and love on the grill, but it’s worth it!
A favorite in Beijing and throughout China that you MUST try this weekend. Spicy and delicious, these will make you a lamb lover if you aren’t one already!
Simple, yet delicious, the secret is grilling them slowly to form a nice crust on the chicken. These inevitably show up on our grill several times throughout the spring and summer. It’s one of our favorite ways to prepare chicken wings, period. Who would have thought that just salt, pepper and chicken wings would make such a great dish?
Sarah’s recipe for Lemongrass Chicken Banh Mi is perfect on the grill––or just cooked in a pan indoors if you can’t get outside this Memorial Day. It’s a delectable mix of flavors with juicy marinated chicken, a crunchy carrot and daikon salad, spicy jalapeños, and fragrant cilantro. It also just feels like “outdoor food!”
More of a seafood person than a meat person? Shrimp and mango cooked on the grill make an excellent combination. Wrap it all up into a soft taco with some guac, add fresh squeezed lime juice, and you will be very pleased eating this while sitting on your deck on a sunny Memorial Day weekend afternoon!
This chicken satay with peanut sauce is great on the grill, or cooked indoors. If cooking on the stove, don’t bother with the skewers. Just sear the chicken in a grill pan or cast iron pan!
Don’t eat pork? Instead of pork char siu, try this char siu grilled chicken, with all the same sweet and savory flavors. This recipe works with drumsticks, thighs, or leg quarters!
Chimichurri is one of our family’s favorite accompaniments for grilled steak. It’s just delicious, especially when served with some rice and beans! If you can’t get skirt steak, any grilled steak––flank steak, sirloin, ribeye, etc. would be great here.
Looking for a lighter meal option this Memorial Day weekend? This farro salad with grilled turkey will hit the spot. It’s one of Sarah’s recipes, and while it may be on the lighter side, it is very tasty!
The pork chops in this refreshing, yet savory salad can be seared on the stove, or out on the grill. We also have a version of Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad with Chicken.
This is not your typical burger. Flavored with the same Northern Chinese spice mix used in our Cumin Lamb skewers, these burgers are flavorful, delicious, and different.
If you’re a pescatarian or trying to eat less meat, try these Green Goddess Salmon Burgers! The bright Green Goddess dressing and buttery avocado takes these juicy burgers over the top.
This smashed cucumber salad makes the quickest side dish you’ll ever try. Lots of fresh garlic and chili oil gives it tons of flavor. Delicious and refreshing, this cucumber salad will be welcome at your Memorial Day BBQ, or any BBQ for that matter!
Curried potato salad is welcome at any BBQ event. Add some grilled chicken, and it can make a great meal by itself!
Another refreshing salad option to try is Sarah’s Papaya Salad. It would serve as a great side dish for many of the recipes on this list, including the Chicken Satay, Rice Noodle Salad, Banh Mi, or Char Siu Chicken or Pork!
Kaitlin’s favorite––Hawaiian macaroni salad, made with macaroni and…potatoes? Trust us, it’s a really good addition, and the perfect compliment for any grilled food.
It may sound like kind of a weird combination, but this pesto pasta salad is both sweet and savory. It’s a refreshing counterpoint to rich meats off the grill.
Did you stock up on some frozen fruit at the grocery store? Try these frozen peach daiquiris (or replace the frozen peaches with whatever fruit you have on hand).
This sour plum drink is tart and refreshing, and often served alongside rich foods in China. If you can get to a Chinese grocery store for the ingredients, it’s a unique and tasty alternative to iced tea.
You could also try a classic bubble tea this weekend. It’s fun, different and really easy to make!
This unique combination is a great way to kick up your classic Arnold Palmer. Enjoy this cool drink all summer long!
Yes, this unique cake does have basil in it, giving it a light green pistachio-like tinge. The fresh basil flavor, mixed with sugar and tart berries is a killer combo, especially if you serve it with some whipped cream on the side.
A red, white, and blue dessert that’s also a feast for the eyes. Judy particularly enjoys this tart, because it is lightly sweet.
Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone!