Kick Off Summer with Sporked’s Guide to Memorial Day Foods

Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer, and for many of you that means embracing your inner Grill Dad and hosting the first backyard BBQ of the season. But what separates Memorial Day BBQ ideas from your regular old cookout lineup? From classic mains and comforting sides to patriotic Memorial Day desserts, we’ve assembled the ultimate grocery list to help you celebrate the long weekend with smoke, flavor, and all-American flair.

What to Buy at Costco for a Memorial Day BBQ

what to buy at costco for a memorial day bbq
Credit: Liv Averett / Costco

Costco is a gold mine for Memorial Day cookout ideas. They’ve got staples like Kirkland pulled pork and gigantic cans of Bush’s baked beans, as well as inclusive Memorial Day cookout ideas, like pre-pattied smoked salmon burgers for your pescatarian friends (yes, you read that correctly).  

What to Buy at Sam’s Club for a Memorial Day BBQ

what to buy for a memorial day bbq at sam's club
Credit: Liv Averett / Sam’s Club / Total Wine and More

Sometimes Costco gets all the love, but honestly? Sam’s Club should be part of the conversation when you’re planning a Memorial Day cookout. I’ll tell you right now, I’m eyeing that Member’s Mark Loaded Potato Salad like a hawk.

Best Hot Dogs

best hot dogs
Credit: Liv Averett / Albertsons / Instacart / iStock / Whole Foods

You can’t have a Memorial Day cookout menu that doesn’t include hot dogs. Lucky for you, our taste-testing team just updated this list of the best hot dogs in time for cookout season—that means you’re getting the top dogs here, okay? And please, it’s Memorial Day, a day of remembrance. So remember to buy the best hot dog buns, too.

Best Burger Buns

best hamburger buns

Soft sesame buns? Sweet Hawaiian rolls? Pretzel buns? We’ve got it all on our list of the best hamburger buns. Also take a peek at our list of the best frozen burgers and burger sauce! (If you’re sneering at me right now for even suggesting frozen burger patties for your Memorial Day BBQ versus patties made from scratch, well…I get it. You’re a true Grill Dad. But these are really good, okay?)

Best Macaroni Salad

best macaroni salad
Credit: Liv Averett / Ralphs / Smart and Final / Walmart

Is there anything better, anything more American, than a juicy burger on a sesame bun with a side of sweet, tangy macaroni salad? When I picture Memorial Day food ideas, that’s the first classic BBQ combo that comes to mind. And hey, along with mac salad, we also have the best deli coleslaw, the best deli potato salad, and even the best seasonings for your deviled eggs to ensure you’re hitting all of the Memorial Day cookout sides. 

Best Frozen Chicken Wings

best frozen wings
Credit: Liv Averett / Instacart / Target / Walmart

When you’ve got two dozen burgers to throw on the grill, keeping an endless supply of chicken wings on the table can be the difference between a happy crowd and neighborhood mutiny. Make sure you buy the best chicken wings for your cookout.

Best Canned Baked Beans

best canned baked beans
Credit: Target / Walmart

When it comes to foolproof Memorial Day side dishes, few things hit the spot quite like a savory, stick-to-your-ribs pot of baked beans. Dress them up with some crispy bacon bits or diced onions if you’re feeling ambitious. Either way, a batch of beans isthe perfect protein-packed addition to your spread of Memorial Day side dishes. 

Best Lemonade

best lemonade
Credit: Liv Averett / Instacart / iStock / Target

Cool off your cookout crew with a classic Memorial Day beverage for the kids: fresh lemonade. (Fresh-tasting, not freshly squeezed, because, yes, these are store bought…but you get the gist.) 

Best Popsicles

best popsicles
Credit: Liv Averett / Amazon / Instacart / Sprouts / Target

It’s not a summer cookout until you have melted popsicle juice running down your hands and making them uncomfortably sticky for the rest of the day. Pro tip: If you really want your popsicles to be on theme for Memorial Day desserts, don’t skip the Firecrackers. 

Best Cheesecakes

best cheesecake

Patriotic Memorial Day desserts aren’t limited to red, white, and blue cupcakes (though I’m sure those wouldn’t be too hard to find). While traditional cheesecake dates all the way back to Ancient Greece, the modern cheesecake—you know, the types with uncooked cream cheese on a graham cracker cookie—that’s all U.S. of A., baby.

About the Author

Sporked Staff

The Sporked Staff tastes everything and anything. They are obsessive about groceries and finding the best of any type of food or drink, from frozen fried shrimp to Dijon mustard to gummy candy. And they're always on a hunt for the best new products. When they aren't eating professionally, they're eating recreationally. And often they're browsing grocery store aisles, just for fun.

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