For most, Memorial Day is the official kick-off to summer cookout season. To keep your party fun and stress-free, certain bbq must-haves are a requirement: Summer slow cooker recipes are essential because they do most of the work for you, and cold dishes like pasta and potato salad are even better the next day. What do these things have in common? They can all be made in advance, so you have more time to spend with your friends and family. Thankfully, we have you covered with 18 make-ahead dishes, from fruit salad to homemade hamburger buns, that will make your Memorial Day cookout a total success. Get to pinning, because you don’t want to forget these recipes.


1. 3-2-1 Ribs Method: The 3-2-1 method of cooking ribs refers to the number of hours spent at each stage. Three hours are spent smoking the meat, unwrapped and at a low temperature. Then there are two more hours of continued smoking, this time wrapped in foil. Lastly, there’s one final hour of smoking. This method ensures flavorful and tender ribs every time. (via Fox Valley Foodie)


2. Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes: Cheese and potatoes are one of the best combos ever, amirite? These scalloped potatoes can be made way in advance and reheated right before serving. Just try not to eat them all before your guests arrive. (via Chew Out Loud)


3. Strawberry Oreo Chocolate Icebox Cake: Icebox cakes have been a potluck staple since… forever. This strawberry Oreo recipe is a crowd-pleaser that will be loved by adults and children alike. The cake needs to be made at least eight hours before your party so the cookies have time to soften, so allow for plenty of chilling time. (via Sweetest Menu)


4. BLT Deviled Eggs: Sundried tomatoes, green onions and bacon are the delicious threesome that makes up the filling of these delightful deviled eggs. Be sure to make extra, because these will fly off of the platter as soon as you set them out. (via Ketogasm)


5. Cowboy Caviar: If you’re interested in testing out your knife skills, this dip is great for practice. It’s full of hearty beans, cilantro, chopped peppers and onion. You can even try adding a chopped avocado if you’re a major guac fan (and who isn’t?). (via Culinary Hill)


6. Cucumber Lemon Orzo Salad: Pasta salad is a cookout must, but you may not have had it with orzo. It’s just the right size to mix with finely chopped veggies and goes great with the fresh flavors of lemon and cucumber. Allow this to sit in the fridge overnight so the pasta can absorb all that delicious flavor. (via Give Recipe)


7. Fruit Salad With Lemon Dressing: By the time everyone has scarfed down their burgers and potato salad, dessert might be an afterthought. This fruit salad is a wonderful post-dinner treat that eases your sweet craving without being too heavy. (via Paleo Leap)


8. Homemade Hamburger Buns: If you really want to impress a crowd, show up to a party with homemade hamburger buns. They’re not at all as difficult as you would think, and they’re the best accompaniment to a gourmet burger. (via Domestic Dreamboat)


9. Healthy Pepperoni Pasta Salad: This pasta salad could be a whole meal in itself. It’s packed with veggies, protein and whole grains that will keep you energized for all the fun outdoor games (lookin’ at you, volleyball). (via Well Plated)


10. Make-Ahead Layered Picnic Salad: Your mom will be so proud when you bring out this dish she made when you were a kid. There’s a reason this type of layered salad has stood the test of time: It’s easy, delicious and can be assembled way before your barbecue. (via The Kitchen Is My Playground)


11. Grilled Maple Sriracha Chicken Skewers: These simple skewers have only four ingredients, but pack some intense flavor. The chicken is best marinated overnight and takes only 15 minutes to grill the next day. Score! (via Table for Two)


12. Minty Pea Salad: We’ve all had those moments when we forget about a barbecue until the day before. Those times call for this easy salad that can be made on the fly or ahead of time. (via Budget Bytes)

13. Potato Salad Bites: It’s just not a Memorial Day cookout without potato salad, but the same-old-same-old can get a bit boring. These little two-bite potatoes are a mix of potato salad and a twice-baked potato. They’re perfect as an appetizer or as a cute hand-held side dish. (via The Recipe Rebel)


14. Prosciutto Wrapped Melon With Sage and Black Pepper: Class up any outdoor party with these sweet and salty prosciutto-melon bites. The mix of flavors is addictive, but there’s no cooking involved. That means you can wrangle in just about anyone to help you assemble. (via The Homemade Haus)

shrimp boil

15. Shrimp Boil Foil Packets: Put together all of these shrimp boil packets whenever you have a spare moment — that way, all you have to do is throw them on the grill come party time. Did we mention there’s also ZERO cleanup involved? (via Damn Delicious)


16. Vegan Barbecue Baked Beans: When hosting a cookout, it may be tempting to grab a can of baked beans from the store and call it a day. Refrain from that temptation and you will *not* be sorry you took the time to make your own. The flavor is unreal, and you can even mix everything up and throw it in your crockpot if you like. (via A Virtual Vegan)


17. Vegan Mexican Sweet Potato Salad With Avocado Dressing: You’ve never had potato salad like this before. If you’re dying to switch it up, go for this Mexican version with corn, avocado and chipotle. Everyone will be begging you for the recipe. (via Food Faith Fitness)


18. White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Greek Yogurt Popsicles: Cold treats on a hot day are absolute summer perfection. These pops last in the freezer for weeks, so don’t be afraid to make a big batch… just in case. (via Tastes of Lizzy T’s)

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