Memorial Day weekend is coming in hot this year, and we think it’s the perfect time to show off some Latin flavors. Grilling is a way of life in many Latin American countries and so many of our dishes either originated on the grill or are easily adapted to be made on the grill. Memorial Day is of course observed in honor of all of the U.S. military members who’ve lost their lives in service to this country, and with Latinos being the fastest growing population within the military, the sacrifices of our people weigh heavy. Memorial Day Weekend of course, is also the unofficial kick off to summer and we can’t think of a more fitting way to honor the sacrifices of Latinos in the military than to showcase our heritage during the festivities. It’s a grilling holiday through and through and the vibrant, herbaceous and tropical flavors that are often used in our cooking can be exactly the thing to take your Memorial Day cookout over the top.
Whether you’re having your first big get-together in a while or you’re just hosting a small group, these 11 Latinx-inspired dishes are sure to impress your guests this Memorial Day weekend, and since they are all mostly prepared on the grill, you won’t even have to heat up the kitchen.
Dominican Hot Dogs
It’s no secret that us Latinos love adding as much flavor as possible and that includes condiments and we’re not just talking ketchup and mustard. Dominican hot dogs are different from American hot dogs in the sense that adding loads of different flavor-packed toppings is the norm. Bacon or ground beef, veggies, cheese and all the condiments are the usual. Colombian hot dogs are very similar, but in Colombia crushed potato chips are usually added on top. Yum!
Pull out all the stops this Memorial Day by grilling up some fresh octopus (pulpo) and using it as a filling for a taco that is sure to impress your most food-loving cookout guests. Whip up a crunchy, refreshing slaw on the side, and it’s the perfect dish for the adventurous eaters in your crowd.
Cuban Grilled Salmon
This Cuban-inspired grilled salmon is the perfect seafood dish to serve up for an elevated Memorial Day BBQ. The salmon is marinated in Cuban flavors like orange, lime and oregano and topped with an incredible avocado and tomato salsa and pickled red onions, which are ubiquitous in Latin cuisine.
Pinchos de Pollo
In Puerto Rico, pinchos are the ultimate beach food, which means stateside, they are the absolute best summer cookout food. They’re the Puerto Rican version of kabobs and feature chunks of juicy meat that has been marinated in any combination of adobo, sazon, garlic, vinegar or citrus juice and olive oil and then grilled until the edges char and get crispy. So good!
Grilled Pineapple Tacos
Vegetarians in your crew? Try grilled pineapple tacos. They are so simple to make and super-tasty. Just cut thick sticks of fresh pineapple and grill until you get some beautiful char marks on all sides. Serve in a tortilla with spicy, sour slaw and you’ll have a light, refreshing dish that’s perfect for the summertime and Memorial Day weekend.
Tequila and lime are a classic Mexican-inspired combination and the light, tangy flavor profile is perfect on shrimp. Grill them up on a skewer or in a foil packet for an irresistible appetizers or served as a main dish with any number of side dishes from rice to grilled veggies or even a fruit salad.
Spicy Grilled Watermelon
If you’ve never had grilled watermelon, now is the perfect time to try it. You’re probably going to buy the biggest watermelon you can find for your cookout anyway, so you might as well throw some of it on the grill. It’s absolutely incredible topped with an avocado and corn salsa and some hot sauce or even grilled with Tajin and topped with crumbled cotija cheese.
Grilled Chimichurri Chicken
Chimichurri is a traditional Argentinian condiment that can be served over pretty much any grilled meat. It’s a verdant, punchy combination of fresh herbs like oregano and parsley combined with garlic, olive oil and vinegar that adds moisture and loads of flavor to anything. It’s the perfect thing to take grilled chicken from basic to phenomenal – grill a baguette and soak up the remnants for a bonus treat.
Skirt Steak with Chimichurri
Alternately, you can go really traditional and serve your chimichurri sauce over grilled skirt steak, which is the way it is typically used in Argentina, where beef is a way of life. Skirt steak is also a more affordable steak option when serving a crowd, so it’s a win-win. You can also try salsa criolla, the Argentine equivalent of pico de gallo, with chopped bell peppers, onion, tomato and garlic tossed with red wine vinegar and olive oil.
Grilled Elote (Corn)
You can’t go wrong with elote (corn) for any summer holiday. This traditional Mexican street food can certainly be made with boiled or steamed corn on the cob, but grilling the corn gives it another layer of flavor and texture that brings it over the top. Just don’t forget to add plenty of cheese, lime juice and chili-lime seasoning.
A patacón sandwich is basically any sandwich that replaces the bread with fried plantains and they are common throughout Latin American, including in places like Puerto Rico and Venezuela. It’s a street food item not to be resisted, and using the concept for a burger is the perfect way to wow your Memorial Day guests. Just make a burger up your normal way and put it between two extra-large tostones with all the toppings, and you’re in for a treat.