After all the barbecues, burgers, trips to the beach and outings in the garden, what’s the best way to end Memorial Day weekend? With gentleness of course. But not only any a sweet treat – easy enough to whip up in the hubbub of the big weekend; one that’s savory and carefree enough to help you sink back into the most dreaded of Tuesdays.
These 23 simple dessert recipes do the trick, for Memorial Day and, frankly, all summer long. Check them out and let us know if you try any.
The Best Memorial Day Dessert Recipes
1. Maialino olive oil cake
You know that old adage, “When there’s a will—plus a nine-inch cake pan, whisk, and two rental mixing bowls—there’s a way?” Yeah, it’s about that olive oil cake. True story: I did this once in a particularly sparse rental kitchen without any cup measurers, and it was gone again in 15 minutes.
2. Rosé Berries
Just when you needed another excuse to open up more rosé, this sophisticated – yet extremely simple – dessert blows town and steals the show. It’s great topped with whipped cream, or you can swap out your favorite ice cream flavors. Oh, and save any leftover rosé syrup for cocktails.
3. One-Step No-Churn Coffee Ice Cream
This brilliant recipe by Nigella Lawson is basically magic: it makes creamy, airy ice cream with no cooking, no churning, and no fuss. Your waving wand? A whip. Serve the ice cream as is, straight from the freezer, or make it like a three-day weekend and crumble cookies on top.
4. Berry summer pudding
For a juicy, berry-filled bread pudding that tastes like it took all day to make, look no further than a loaf of sandwich bread. In this recipe from Food52’s Merrill Stubbs, you’ll use it to line a bowl, which you’ll then layer with barely-cooked fresh berries and more bread. Weigh it all out to chill overnight and, as Merrill writes, “The result is the essence of summer: the bread soaks up the juices and melts into a sweet, fragrant sponge, and when you cut the pudding , the berries fall like so many rubies and sapphires.”
5. Maple and Olive Oil Chocolate Chip Cookies
These caramel-rich cookies are dotted with puddles of chocolate and only require a whisk, bowls and baking sheets to make. Oh and did we mention they are vegan? They are vegan.
6. Classic Cooler Cake
Whipped cream and chocolate wafers to the rescue! If you can stack it, you can make this festive chocolate icing cake. It’s both summery and simple.
seven. Swedish Chocolate Cake
This deeply decadent, fudgy chocolate cake takes just five ingredients and 20 minutes; no sieve, stand mixer or double boiler in sight.
8. Homemade vanilla pudding
If there is an easier vanilla pudding recipe, we haven’t come across it! This one — all it takes is a whisk, a saucepan, a gentle heat, and something to stir — is the perfect blank canvas for toppings.
9. Ridiculously Easy Totally Homemade Hot Fudge Sundae
These awesome hot fudge sundaes only require a whisk, plus a saucepan and spoon for the fudge. Psst: don’t skip the icing on the cake.
ten. Blueberry Pecan Oatmeal Cookies
Slightly fruity, slightly nutty, all easy as pie. Sohla shows us how to make nut butter from scratch to shape these cookies, but with no pressure — use your favorite store-bought brand (can we recommend Big Spoon Roasters’ selections?).
11. Salty and tangy candied lemon bars
Upgrade your classic lemon bars with funky, pleasantly salty preserved lemons. Although the ingredient is typically used as a savory condiment, it pairs really well with the buttery sweet shortbread crust that serves as the base for this dessert.
12. Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Salted Peanuts
The definition of “looks hard; actually isn’t”. Want a layered cake, but don’t want to wait for a thicker circular cake to bake, cool and cut? Use two baking sheets to create them instead.
13. Churn-Free Chocolate Soft-Serve
And if you haven’t found your chocolate fix yet (neither do we!), try this no-churn ice cream. There’s enough alcohol to tickle your taste buds, so pick a liquor you like the flavor of (we’re fond of Kahlua or amaretto).
14. Peanut butter cookies with miso, sesame and chocolate
Stuffed with everything that looks like everything salty and sweet, these cookies have a ton of things to do, but that’s why we love them. The recipe makes a big batch, so freeze half the dough for a rainy day and thank yourself later.
15. Sohla Go-To Vanilla Pound Cake
And for the epitome of simplicity, streamlining and quality, look no further than Sohla’s A+ pound cake. Her recipe happens to be full of secrets to pound cake success, so go ahead and have a look, right?
16. Erin McDowell’s Not So Short Strawberry Cake
Instead of making a bunch of small strawberry shortcakes, make a giant one! A whole pound of butter and a pint of buttermilk are used to make the cookie dough, so it’s flaky and moist (unlike the dried out dough of your nightmares). It’s the ultimate crowd-pleasing dessert for a Memorial Day picnic.
17. Valencia Orange Aperol Ice Pops
The zest and juice of California Valencia oranges, along with a little orange blossom honey, bring a bright, lemony flavor to these refreshing popsicles.
18. Brownie and Salty Cracker Ice Cream Sandwich
This frozen treat falls somewhere between the trendy brownie and traditional ice cream sandwiches. The recipe serves 25, which should be more than enough to get around your Memorial Day party.
19. Strawberry Coconut Ice Pops
These totally vegan popsicles only require four ingredients: sliced fresh strawberries, whole coconut milk, sugar and vanilla extract.
20. Open Faced Fresh Blueberry Pie from Rose Levy Beranbaum
Hear us out – we know it’s a bit controversial to serve blueberry pie without a double crust, but this recipe lets you enjoy all the bounty of juicy summer blueberries waiting for you inside. . . uh, outside, I guess.
21. Chocolate Coffee Ice Cream Cake
There’s no doubt that this caffeinated ice cream cake is meant to be served as a dessert on Memorial Day. It’ll keep everyone awake (even after eating a few too many burgers or sticky barbecue ribs) and refreshed as the summer rays kick in.
22. Effortless Angel Food Cake
Bake this light-as-air angel food cake and dress it up any way you want. May I suggest a berry compote with freshly whipped cream and a tiny bit of lemon zest?
23. Strawberry Buttermilk Ice Cream
Even though the ice cream truck is making the rounds on Memorial Day, how fun will it be to create your own ice cream bar with that extra-creamy, extra-silky ice cream at the center of it all? The sweet berries contrast deliciously with the light buttermilk flavor – and the rosy red color is festive as it can be for the holidays.