5 Tasty Side Dishes for Your Memorial Day Weekend Cookout

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Memorial Day weekend is known as the kickoff to summer. Here in Michigan, it’s one of the first weekends that family pools are open, docks are put in, and lawns are looking groomed. Typically, we’d head off to the local parade to commemorate the brave men and women who have died fighting for our country. Then, we’d cap it all off with a big ol’ American weekend cookout.

Things look a bit different this year– no parades, no ceremonies, and certainly no large gatherings– but you can bet that millions of Americans are still going to be firing up their grills and carrying on with smaller-scale traditions. Whether you’re grilling at home or gathering in a small group, you’ll need some sides to go with whatever is cooking up on that grill. Today I am sharing some of our tried and true family recipes that fit right in with the all-American weekend cookout menu. Enjoy!

My Mama’s Famous Baked Beans

  • 2 28oz cans Bush’s Homestyle Baked Beans, drained
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/8 cup yellow mustard
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 pound thick sliced bacon (mom likes Wright’s), cut into 1” pieces

Combine all ingredients except bacon. Add to casserole dish and top with bacon, double layering if needed. Place in a 375 degree oven and bake 2-3 hours until thickened and bubbly. Stir in bacon and keep warm until serving. We love these a day or two old, so feel free to make in advance! My mom has made these beans by request at family gatherings for years upon years.

Nana’s Pasta Salad

  • 1 pound cooked rotini
  • 1 8-ounce stick pepperoni, cubed
  • 1 6-ounce can medium black olives
  • 1 8-ounce block low moisture mozzarella, cubed
  • 1 English cucumber, cubed
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 16 ounces Italian dressing (we love Olive Garden or Wishbone)
Combine all ingredients, reserving about 4 ounces of the dressing. Cherry tomatoes can be halved or left whole based on your preference. Best made 12-24 hours in advance. I normally use about 12 ounces of the dressing on the initial mix, let it absorb into the pasta overnight, then add the rest just before serving. This is one of our favorite recipes passed along from our extended family close to 30 years ago.

Peas & Peanuts

  • 1 cup frozen peas (thawed)
  • 1 cup Spanish peanuts (with skins)
  • 1 cup Miracle Whip

Combine all ingredients and serve promptly. My grandma worked as a cook at The Embers restaurant in Mt. Pleasant for many years. This salad was created by the head chef, Clarence Tuma, and was served on their complimentary relish tray. Yes, it sounds a little strange, but I promise, this recipe has been well known and loved in the area for decades. Give it a try! But please, do not make any substitutions.

Bleu Cheese Macaroni Salad

  • 1 pound cooked macaroni
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1 8 oz. block medium cheddar, cubed
  • 1/2 pound crumbled bacon
  • 1 cup chunky bleu cheese dressing (I like T. Marzetti’s)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions

Combine all ingredients and serve. Cherry tomatoes can be halved or left whole based on your preference. You can also add crumbled bleu cheese if desired. Can be made 12-24 hours ahead. I came up with this recipe all the way back in 2008 and it became an instant favorite of my husband’s.

Broccoli Salad

  • 1 bunch broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 pound crumbled bacon
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup white balsamic or champagne vinegar

Combine broccoli, onion, and raisins in large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together mayo, honey, and vinegar. Pour the whisked dressing over the broccoli mixture and mix to evenly coat. Can be made several hours ahead, best if made at least one hour ahead. This is another recipe I tinkered with and perfected somewhere around 10-15 years ago after I had something similar at a party. I get cravings for this one often! 

As a hardcore foodie, there is nothing I love more than sharing recipes and spreading the love. I love the thought that one of these dishes might become a go-to recipe in your family. You can find me sharing about all the random goings-on in my kitchen on my Facebook page or Instagram. Come say hello!

Please be safe and have fun this Memorial Day weekend! Take a moment to reflect on what the day means while enjoying your weekend cookout. Click here for more ways to celebrate at home.

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