Easy, breezy get-togethers are a hallmark of summer. From last-minute picnics in parks to potluck parties poolside (or just in the backyard), we want dishes that feed a crowd without excessive planning. After all, summer brings a bounty of ready-to-eat fruits and vegetables that basically just ask you to slice them up and set them out.
Summer technically begins June 21, but Memorial Day’s our first long weekend in warm, sunny weather. And you can bet we’re throwing some sort of gathering outdoors. If you’re on the fence, these 19 simple, party-ready recipes will have you inviting a few friends over, too.
1. Grilled Corn with Basil Butter
The flavors in this quick and easy grilled corn are magically summery: the herby basil butter complements the natural sweetness of the corn, while the char from the grilling adds a nice element of smokiness.
2. Grilled Avocado "Guacamole" with Parmesan & Basil
You'll never make guacamole the same way again after trying this version. Grill the avocados before mixing them into this zesty, cheesy spread, which is especially perfect for a backyard BBQ.
3. Grilled Okra with Sriracha Lime Salt
This classic Southern vegetable gets taken in a whole new direction when skewered over the grill and sprinkled with a spicy, tangy Sriracha and lime salt.
4. Grilled Marinated Tomatoes
Juicy summer tomatoes really shine in this easy summer appetizer, which calls for a piquant marinade (lime, fish sauce, chili, and shallot) and a quick kiss from the grill.
5. Halfsies Chicken
This no-nonsense chicken recipe is perfect for a big crowd—all you need is five simple ingredients and a bit of planning (you just let the chicken marinate overnight before it hits the grill the next day).
6. J. Kenji López-Alt’s Grilled Shrimp Scampi-ish With Garlic & Lemon
This seemingly simple dish is loaded up with tips for the crispiest, juiciest grilled shrimp out there: air-drying, dry-brining, adding baking soda, and snuggling on the skewers.
7. Flank Steak with Green Sauce
As impressive as it is easy to pull together, this tender flank steak can come together in the oven or on the grill, while the chimichurri-esque green sauce needs just a whiz in the food processor.
8. Black Bean & Corn Burgers
These vegetarian-friendly burgers have just the right balance of heat (thanks to paprika, cumin, and chili) and sweet (thanks to fresh summer corn).
9. Alabama-Style Chicken Kebabs
What makes something Alabama-style? A "white" barbecue sauce, which is tart and tangy with mayo and vinegar, that's famous to the state.
10. Speedy Romeo's Grilled Pizza with Marinated Tomatoes & Ricotta
The key to pulling off this Genius-approved grilled pizza is simple: buy the ripest, freshest, best tomatoes you can find at the farmer's market.
11. Michael Ruhlman's Rosemary-Brined, Buttermilk Fried Chicken
The best part about this fried chicken (aside from the flavor, and tender meat): It'll hold warm in the oven for up to a few hours, so you can have everything ready to go before any guests show up.
12. Maialino's Olive Oil Cake
Bake off this crackle-crusted, extra-moist olive cake the day before the big holiday. That way, all you have to do the day of is slice and serve with fresh fruit and dollops of whipped cream.
13. Salted Chocolate Buckwheat Cookie
These gluten-free cookies are tender and crumbly and rich and chocolatey all at once. Make an extra-big batch, because once people get a taste, we guarantee they'll disappear.
14. Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Pops
These nostalgic ice cream pops are just three ingredients—yellow cake crumbles, vanilla ice cream, and finely diced strawberries—and make the most refreshing dessert on a hot summer day.
15. Berries-and-Cream Mini Layer Cakes
These cute little layer cakes make the perfect personal-size dessert. Finish them off with fresh whipped cream, blueberries, and raspberries for an easy treat that still feels very festive.
16. Big-Batch Matador Cocktail
Similar to a margarita, this cocktail for a crowd uses a simple combination of blanco tequila, fresh-squeezed (this is key) pineapple juice, lime juice, and plenty of lime and pineapple wedges for garnish.
17. Tea Thyme Soda
This non-alcoholic bubbly drink is a riff on your favorite iced black tea, plus an herby-sweet thyme syrup. If you do want to go the cocktail route, though, bourbon fits in here nicely.
This sweet, colorful refresher makes the perfect drink for any kids in attendance (although the adults might also like it with a splash of vodka).
19. Red Sangria
This red sangria is an absolute must for any hot-weather get-together; mix up all the ingredients (plus any type of fruit you like), let those flavors meld overnight, and serve over ice the next day.
We originally published this article in May 2018, but who doesn't want some new Memorial Day menu ideas in 2019?
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