10 Last-Minute Memorial Day Recipes That Take 30 Minutes or Less

By Jess Novak
|
May 24, 2022
Chili Lime Watermelon
Image credit: How Sweet Eats

Sometimes Memorial Day weekend just sneaks up on us, and we realize we’re expected to bring a dish to a cookout that’s… oh, yeah, today. If you’ve found yourself in this particular boat, we’re here for you: just make a quick run to the grocery store and grab the ingredients for one of these simple Memorial Day recipes — none of which require marinating a tough protein overnight. 

Read next: 50 Memorial Day Recipes That Are Healthy *and* Delicious

As usual, these recipes are free of refined sugar and grains, and focus on lean proteins, healthy fats, whole grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables. A few are ready in less than five minutes, but none of them take longer than half an hour. 

No-Grill-Needed Recipes

1. 5-Minute Smoked Salmon Dip

5-Minute Smoked Salmon Dip

Image credit: Cookin Canuck

Everybody loves the person who brings the salmon dip to the party, and this one comes together so quickly, it’s an ideal last-minute addition to a cookout. We love this recipe, but to be honest, we’d swap out the fat-free Greek yogurt for the full-fat kind — fat is good for you, and full-fat yogurt tastes amazing and adds a lot of body to a dip. To keep it extra chilled, serve in an inexpensive-but-elegant cold dip bowl with ice cubes. 

2. Chili Lime Watermelon

Chili Lime Watermelon

Image credit: How Sweet Eats

This is one of those five-minute recipes that tastes like so much more than the sum of its parts. Creamy, salty cotija cheese is offset perfectly by the sweet crispness of the watermelon and the heat from the chili powder. It’s perfect as-is, but for a little crunch (and a hit of iron) toss in some toasted pepitas, and to bulk this salad further, you can toss in a few cups of arugula.

3. Simple Baba Ganoush

Memorial Day Recipes: Simple Baba Ganoush

Image credit: Minimalist Baker

If you’re meeting up with a large group, chances are high that someone else is going to bring a container of hummus, so your smoky baba ganoush will fit right in and be a welcome addition — and will take you less than half an hour from start to finish. Pack some sliced baby bell peppers, rainbow carrots, and English cucumber to serve with it, too.  

4. Spring Citrus Salad with Avocado and Pistachios 

Spring Citrus Salad with Avocado and Pistachios

Image credit: Salima’s Kitchen

Citrus-based salads hold up extremely well in the heat, and are seriously refreshing on a summer’s day. This light, simple salad is one of those perfect Memorial Day recipes — it takes just ten minutes from start to finish, it can sit in the sun for a while and still taste good, and it’s actually hydrating. To keep the avocado from browning, toss with a little lime juice beforehand. 

5. Southwestern Sweet Potato Salad

Southwestern Sweet Potato Salad

Image credit: Julie’s Eats and Treats

We’re always fans of cool, mustardy potato salad at a cookout, but for a super-nutritious play on the theme, try this southwestern sweet potato salad. With a big hit of protein from the black beans and plenty of vitamin-packed bell peppers and cilantro, this is a stellar vegan dish that can work as a side for some and a main dish for others. If you’re short on time, you can make this recipe in under 25 minutes by dicing the sweet potatoes into ¼ inch cubes and air frying or pan frying them — which helps them cook through in just 15. 

Super Quick Grilling Recipes

6. Grilled Beef Short Ribs with Smoked Spanish Paprika Rub

Grilled Beef Short Ribs with Smoked Spanish Paprika Rub

Image credit: Shutterstock

These short ribs take just 23 minutes from start to finish, and they’re packed with flavor. Rather than marinating for a long time, these ribs just require a spice rub, and they’re cut thin enough that they cook super quickly. Use grass-fed beef if possible — it’s been shown in studies to be considerably healthier than its grain-finished counterparts.

7. Garlicky Grilled Shrimp Skewers

Garlicky Grilled Shrimp Skewers

Image credit: Dinner At The Zoo

Shrimp is one of those delightful proteins that tastes fantastic and cooks in under five minutes. With seafood, you rarely want to marinate for a long time — these shrimp are ready to hit that grill after marinating for just 15 minutes total. Unless you’re getting the freshest seafood at a really high-quality fish market, opt for frozen shrimp, since most grocery store shrimp are previously frozen and then defrosted, making them a less-fresh bet.

8. Grilled Tofu Skewers with Pineapple Teriyaki Sauce

Memorial Day Recipes: Grilled Tofu Skewers with Pineapple Teriyaki Sauce

Image credit: Simple Veganista

Tofu gets a bad rap for being flavorless, but the truth is, it’s the perfect, neutral vehicle for big, bright sauces like this pineapple teriyaki. Choose extra-firm tofu to avoid the whole pressing process, and if you’re pressed for time, skip making your own teriyaki sauce and just pick up a bottle at the store (but check the label — they can be packed with added sugars).

9. Super Easy Grilled Fish Tacos

Super Easy Grilled Fish Tacos

Image credit: I Wash You Dry

One of our favorite Memorial Day recipes, these fish tacos are a perfect way to kick off summer and are done in just 15 minutes. We love this recipe as a base to work from, but we’d swap canola oil for heart-healthy avocado oil, and opt for a sauce made out of Greek yogurt, smoked chipotle hot sauce, and lime juice. When choosing tortillas, opt for sprouted, whole-grain corn tortillas where you can.

10. Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Charred Lemon Chimichurri

Memorial Day Recipes: Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Charred Lemon Chimichurri

Image credit: Platings and Pairings

Don’t let the phrase “charred lemon chimichurri” scare you off — this recipe really does come together in under 30 minutes. And if you want to save time, you absolutely can just squeeze the lemon without grilling it, although if you have the extra minutes, the charred lemons add a lot of smoky flavor. Make sure you let your tenderloin rest at room temperature for half an hour before grilling to get juicier, more evenly-cooked meat. 

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