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33 easy barbecue recipes for a fantastic Memorial Day cookout

Make all your favorite barbecue basics, sides and desserts in a snap for a hearty holiday weekend cookout.
/ Source: TODAY

Memorial Day weekend gatherings with family and friends usually involve big, memorable menus filled with all the best tastes of the summer season.

This year, the unofficial start to summer may look a little different, but whether you're in the kitchen or at the grill, TODAY Food cooked up a list featuring some of our go-to, festive recipes that require fewer ingredients and don't take much time to put together. From succulent steaks to refreshing salads, and beer-soaked hot dogs to bubbling berry crisps, there's something simple enough for every kind of home cook — and eater.

Best Memorial Day barbecue main recipes

Natalie Morales' Easy Grilled Chimichurri Soy Steak

No guest would ever guess this make-ahead steak took only 30 minutes to make. It's great for entertaining since you can put the meat in the marinade and prep the sauce the day before to make cooking and serving a cinch.

Grill up perfect pork chops with just four easy ingredients for a sweet and savory dish that no one will be able to resist.

Thai BBQ Chicken

The secret to moist, tender, evenly cooked chicken is roasting it in the oven, then finishing it on the grill. Trying to grill chicken from raw will make you nuts. Roasting the bird in halves cooks it evenly while locking in the juices and also intensifies the marinade flavors.

Al's BBQ Brisket

Al Roker's beautiful, smoked brisket only takes five minutes to prepare (no, we're not kidding) and then spends the next eight hours slow-roasting in the oven until it's ready to be the juiciest star of the cookout.

Grilling over charcoal is the favored way to cook most fish and seafood in Ghana — especially along the Accra coastline where there is an abundance of fresh seafood, and up into the region alongside Lake Volta. This recipe is inspired by Zoe Adjonyoh's experience in Jamestown, Accra, where she watched local fishermen hauling in their catches.

Chef JJ Johnson loves cooking with Peruvian-style adobo sauce. This recipe features the unexpected sweetness of rice vinegar along with West African palm sugar, known for its rich, caramel flavor.

Grilled salmon with an asparagus tapenade is a healthy dish that doesn't always get to shine come Memorial Day amid the smoked meats and dogs. But with only 10 minutes prep time and 10 minutes on the grill, it's totally worth making and is a great for a lighter spread.

Tired of the same old burger? Stuff it with your favorite cheese and smoky bacon for an over-the-top inside-out bacon cheeseburger.

You can create a delicious, multi-purpose barbecue sauce with ingredients you most likely already have on hand.

Katie Lee Biegel's husband Ryan taught her this technique with the foil and she'll never make ribs any other way. It's so easy and foolproof.

Bobby Flay loves to make pork chops on the grill. They only need a little seasoning and a flavorful sauce on the side to make them so satisfying and delicious.

Siri's Beer-Soaked Hot Dogs

When entertaining, Siri is a big fan of setting up topping bars so that guests can help themselves. In the summer, nothing is more fun or festive than a hot dog bar … except maybe grilling those toppings in foil, making cleanup a breeze!

Chili Marinated Shrimp

Spice up the grill with this easy seafood dish. These shrimp have an amazing smoky flavor due to the charring of the chili in the marinade. It takes ordinary to extraordinary, plus the marinade uses only six simple ingredients.

Chili on the Grill

There is chili, and then there is chili from the grill. Cooking the ingredients in an open searing hot Dutch oven in a covered grill allows the ingredients to get both a flavorful browning without losing any natural juices to the flames and plenty of smoky flavor. The result is a complex, delicious chili. It is formidable on its own in a bowl with your preferred garnishes, or as the key component on a hot dog or brat.

Chile-Maple Skirt Steak Salad

Rich dark maple syrup, smoky spices, and fresh lime juice add sweet and sour contrast to this easy steak and salad combo. The maple caramelizes on the grill as it cooks, adding savory charred flavor and beautiful grill marks.

Chef D's Grilled and Glazed Baby Back Ribs

These ribs get infused with a ton of flavor from a wet rub and grilling process. Chef Damon Stalworth loves serving these tasty ribs with summery salads, seasonal grilled veggies and traditional barbecue sides like baked beans, potato salad or mac and cheese.

Memorial Day appetizers and side dishes

Cornbread Salad

Cornbread Salad

Elizabeth Heiskell

Is it a salad, a dip or cornbread? Well, it's all three! This wonderful trifle is bursting with sweet corn, crunchy bell peppers, sharp and creamy cheeses and salty bacon. It can be served in a clear dish for a fun appetizer or on the side of your main dish.

Skillet Nachos with Pulled Pork

This recipe calls for slow-roasting a pork butt on the grill to make up a batch of ultimate nachos — but truth be told, you can still use this skillet-on-the-grill technique to whip up any type of nachos. Be a nacho pro by layering the chips with an even distribution of cheese and toppings for a perfect bite every time.

Grilled Corn (Maíz Rustido)

Maíz rustido is Spain's version of Mexican street corn. Like its south-of-the-border counterpart, this sweet corn is charred and served with salty cheese, smoky spices and zesty citrus. It will be on the plate in less than 30 minutes.

Grilled Garden Vegetable Pizza

This pizza incorporates so many fresh summer flavors and puts a bright spin on a traditional pie. The seasonal veggies and rich walnut pesto are an irresistible combination. Cooking the pizza on the grill makes it even more summery and adds a deliciously smoky char to the dough.

This refreshing salad tastes like summer on a plate. The bright citrus, sweet watermelon and grilled shrimp really showcase the light and fresh flavors of the season.

There's something undeniably refreshing about the combination of juicy watermelon and salty feta. When you add sweet blueberries, you get the perfectly patriotic summer salad.

Roasted Vegetable and White Bean Salad

Samin Nosrat loves this recipe because she believes that cooking a bunch of vegetables is one of the most luxurious things you can do for someone. And she loves showing people that simple, humble ingredients can be extraordinarily delicious.

Grilled Corn with Chili Honey Butter

We love how this corn gives you a combination of sweet, spicy, smoky and salty all in one bite!

Roasted Tomatoes with Strawberries

Alex Guarnaschelli loves the combination of tomatoes and strawberries. A fruit salad masquerading as a fun summer side dish? Sign us up! You can roast the tomatoes in advance and assemble the dish just before serving. I like strawberries that are slightly under ripe for this so the “green” favor note of strawberries compliments the sweetness of the tomatoes.

Corn relish has traditionally been eaten throughout the South and stored in the larder for leaner months. Chef Bryant Terry's family has found multiple uses for this tangy condiment: stuffing it into tacos, serving it atop beans and simply sautéing it to serve as a side dish.

Memorial Day desserts

Skillet fruit crisps are probably my number one go-to for desserts because they're so easy to make. You just toss in the fruit, top it with a crumble, bake it and that's it!

Katie Lee's Corn Ice Pops

These are different and surprisingly delicious. It's the type of thing that sounds a little odd but they're amazing. Plus, they're made with yogurt so they feel good, too.

No-Bake Blueberry and Banana Icebox Cake

When you don't feel like turning on the hot oven but still want to make a gorgeous cake, try this vanilla, blueberry and banana dessert. Featuring fresh fruits, rich golden Oreo cookies and homemade coconut whipped cream, this almost-vegan, no-bake icebox cake is the perfect dessert when it's hot outside.

When you can't decide between a dessert and a cheese course, make this dish. It's a little savory, a little sweet, and perfectly balanced. It's just the thing when the grill's been fired up all day but you're not quite ready to let those hot coals go.

"I had never heard of blueberry buckle before I met my husband. His grandmother makes it for him and it's his absolute favorite," said Dylan. "When he asked me to make it for him, I didn't want to compete with his grandmother's recipe or try to imitate hers, so I made a completely new recipe of my own, mixing a few elements from various recipes. This way, we each had our own version of buckle. Mine was a hit and passed the taste test. I make it whenever blueberries are in season.

Sunny's No-Bake Strawberry Blueberry Pie

If it's too hot out, why bake? With this easy fruit-filled recipe, you can make a delicious dessert without ever turning on the oven.

During spring and summer, you can bet on an abundance of fresh fruit. Instead of letting extra stone fruits and berries go to waste, put them to use in this delicious tart. The flavors will blend together seamlessly and guests will definitely be impressed.