Memorial Day is a reverent holiday dedicated to all those brave armed service members we’ve lost. It’s absolutely important to remember that on this patriotic day. However, Memorial Day has also become the unofficial start to summer and grilling-out season. For many family and friend groups, a Memorial Day barbecue marks that first big outdoor party of the season. Dad will fire up the grill. Mom will make the lemonade, the sides, and pretty much everything else. Everyone will gather around the picnic table, soak up the sun, and share in each other’s company. So, over time, Memorial Day has also become a time of togetherness. And when you’re together, it’s hard not to have fun — not to mention nearly impossible not to eat all the things, especially when the menu includes Memorial Day desserts.
After all, while you’re enjoying that freshly mowed lawn, you need to make sure you stay fed and hydrated. Burgers, ‘cue, juicy watermelon, potato salad… all the staples are essential. That picture wouldn’t be complete without a little something sweet to end the meal. Since it’s usually the last thing everyone eats, it will be the flavor that sticks with them the longest. Obviously, you want to make sure the Memorial Day dessert you make is delicious because, yes, you love the people who’ll be eating it. But also because you want to low-key lord your dessert’s popularity over Dad the Grillmaster (*shrug*).
Savor the sweet, sweet taste of having the best dish of the holiday weekend with one — or more — of these Memorial Day desserts. Bonus: They even have a bit of patriotic flair.
No-Bake Cherry Cream Cheese Dessert
Ramona Cruz-Peters from Fab Everyday proves you don’t have to spend hours upon hours on a Memorial Day dessert for it to be a showstopper. Thanks to no-bake cream cheese and prepared cherry pie filling, you can whip up these little beauties in 15 minutes.
Mixed Berry Galette
As Tina Zaccardi, aka “The Italian Cookie,” so aptly puts it, a galette is the “less fussy cousin of the pie.” And her mixed berry version with an all-butter pecan pie crust is the kind of gooey, bubbly, rustic goodness that’ll have you wondering where the unpretentious galette has been all your life.
Baked Strawberry Meringue Nests
‘Scuse me, what? These little meringue nests from Julie Marie Eats are heavenly (they literally look like fluffy clouds!). This recipe calls for a topping of chantilly frosting and baked strawberries, but you can pile ’em high with any fruit you want. Fresh fruit, a dreamy cream, and crunchy meringue create a dynamic dessert experience.
Rice Krispy Treats
Never underestimate the power of Rice Krispie treats around kids! Plus, they’re convenient for you — not only can you make Cookies & Cups’ sticky, yummy squares a night or two before your big cookout, but you can also customize them in countless ways. While the obvious answer for Memorial Day is red, white, and blue sprinkles in the mix or on top, you could also go with white chocolate coating on one side with toothpick flags sticking out the top.
Patriotic Mini Pound Cake “Flags”
Heather Jo’s adorable mini pound cake “flags” are the kind of dessert that only looks like you spent forever on it. In reality, using store-bought mini pound cakes means you’ll save a ton of time without sacrificing the wow factor. This recipe uses yogurt, blueberries, and red sprinkles to create the flag, but you can use any combination of sweet items you have on hand at home.
Red, White, & Blue Layered Jello
You’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who won’t marvel over these jiggly towers of red, white, and blue Jell-O. Kids? Oh, they’ll think you’re a culinary genius. Fun and easy, these treats from Alicia over at Balancing Motherhood make the perfect after-meal finger food. Just make sure you start them with enough time before your festivities for the Jell-O to set.
No-Bake Cheesecake Trifles
If the mere thought of spending a warm day pulling things out of the oven sounds like torture, you need a no-bake dessert for Memorial Day. And these cheesecake trifles from Hoosier Homemade — creamy filling, crushed shortbread cookies, and pie filling with cherries and blueberries — are just the thing. Besides, something about serving dessert in a glass jar makes it that much more festive.
Berry Slab Pie
Premade pie crust, lemon curd, cream cheese, and fresh fruit come together to create a star-spangled dream of a dessert in The Matcha Mama’s no-muss, no-fuss recipe. Bonus: It’s so versatile! You could even let little ones pick out their toppings for a truly custom treat.
Angel Food Cake Trifle
Angel food cake takes the actual cake for easy summer desserts. The only thing better? An oversized angel food cake trifle — ask any southerner, and they’ll tell you the same. Ann Scarberry’s gorgeous version includes layers of fluffy angel food cake with thick blueberry syrup, laced with cream cheese frosting and topped with fresh fruit.
Patriotic White Chocolate Pretzels
Sometimes, you just need a grab-and-go kind of dessert — something sweet and salty that people can munch on while they mingle. Look no further because Sarah’s Bake Studio has just what you need. Dressed in patriotic sprinkles, these white chocolate pretzels will be a hit with barbecue-goers of all ages. Pop them in the freezer for a crisp and refreshing bite if it’s extra hot outside.
Patriotic Chocolate Cookies
You’ve had cookies with M&Ms before. But have you had dark chocolate cookies with M&Ms?! To be so simple, these treats from Love to Be in the Kitchen will rack you up all kinds of compliments. The contrast between the patriotic M&Ms and rich brown cookies will definitely turn heads (and attract lots of little hands).
No-Bake Black Forest Cherry Pie
Calling all chocolate-covered cherry lovers! While the classic boxed treat is often associated with Christmas, Gastronotherapy’s Mary Anne Hoekstra has created a brilliant version perfect for warm weather holidays: no-bake black forest pie. Say hello to a rich chocolate cookie crust topped with creamy chocolate ganache, cherry filling, and fresh whipped cream.
The beauty of these frozen yogurt bites from Jess Larson over at Plays Well With Butter is that, even though they take some time to freeze, they’re wildly easy to make. Just plop your favorite yogurt and toppings into bite-sized mounts on a baking sheet lined with parchment and freeze. They’re the cool snack your kids will crave while running around outside over the long weekend, and it’ll be a go-to treat you can make all year long for after school.