Labor Day is both an amazing holiday and a sad holiday. It’s great because it’s that final three-day weekend of every summer; it celebrates American workers and their need for a very necessary day off. But Labor Day is also a little sad because, well, it means the unofficial end of summertime is here. But luckily before you need to pack away those swimsuits and exchange them for cardigans, you can throw one last warm-weather bash full of beautiful summer produce, cookout favorites and refreshing cocktails.
So, what dishes should a host make for the ultimate Labor Day party menu? Well, any summer party needs to use the best and freshest summer produce, so head to your local farmers market and pick up plenty of corn, green beans, watermelon and zucchini to make fresh sides and appetizers. And because it’s still summer, you definitely want to grill as much as possible and serve only the coldest, fruitiest cocktails to your guests.
So what are you waiting for? Call your friends and start cooking these 18 must-have Labor Day party recipes.
Green beans are the perfect summertime snack: They’re crisp, crunchy, delicious and pretty dang good for you too. Make this better-for-you appetizer that still tastes totally indulgent.
For the Fresh Green Bean Fries recipe, click here.
Make the best use of that end-of-season sweet corn by grilling it up and dressing it with a touch of lime, a little spicy seasoning and plenty of cheese. It’s the perfect portable appetizer or side.
For the Mexican Street Corn recipe, click here.
A caprese salad is a classic summertime appetizer: It’s light, easy to make and totally delicious. This twist uses a seasonal favorite, peaches.
For the Peach Caprese recipe, click here.
Grilled vegetables do not have to be boring. This kebab with bell peppers, zucchini, mushrooms and a fresh herbaceous dressing proves that.
For the Grilled Veggie Kebabs With Green Goddess Dressing recipe, click here.
No matter what age you are, it’s impossible to resist perfectly-grilled chicken on a stick. With a bit of spice and a scrumptious peanut sauce, these skewers will be the star of Labor Day.
For the Thai Marinated Grilled Chicken Skewers recipe, click here.
Bacon and blue cheese are the perfect salty accompaniments to a beautiful beef burger. Serving these slider sized allows more plate space for sides, which is a major plus.
For the Bacon and Blue Cheese Sliders recipe, click here.
Steak is always an impressive party food choice, and this beautifully marinated and grilled dish is sure to win your friends over.
For the Beer-Marinated Flank Steak With Blue Cheese Chimichurri recipe, click here.
An Instant Pot can be the key to a perfect party, even in the summer. These ribs fall off the bone and have the absolute most flavor, and they don’t take up any space on your grill!
For the Instant Pot Smoky Ribs recipe, click here.
If you’re going to make a coleslaw, you better do it right. This Asian-inspired slaw is an umami bomb and perfectly pairs with any grilled dish.
For the Asian Coleslaw recipe, click here.
Sweet, mildly smoky, rich, meaty… these baked beans are everything you could ever want in a Labor Day side dish, and then some.
For the Barbecue Baked Beans recipe, click here.
There are a few classic sides that are a must-have for any cookout. Along with salads that aren’t salad and baked beans, the favorite has to be a backed mac and cheese dish.
For the Baked Mac and Cheese recipe, click here.
Fall has its fair share of beautiful produce, but in the final days of summer, you definitely want to embrace summer’s bounty. This fresh corn and squash salad does just that.
For the Charred Corn and Zucchini Salad recipe, click here.
Listen, you’re going to want to get every last use of your grill you can before winter rears its ugly head. So throw your potato salad on the grill! It gives a unique and beautiful charred flavor.
For the Grilled Potato Salad recipe, click here.
No national holiday is complete without this patriotic pie. Use the best end-of-summer red berries (whether they’re strawberries, raspberries or cherries) you can find alongside blueberries.
For the Flag Pie recipe, click here.
This Bundt pan cake is a picnic icon and a total crowd pleaser. There’s no wrong time for a decadent chocolate cake.
For the Tunnel of Fudge Cake recipe, click here.
Hand pies are kind of the dessert du jour, and you definitely want your end-of-summer fete to be on trend. Strawberry and rhubarb are the iconic duo deserving of this delicious pie treatment.
For the Strawberry Rhubarb Hand Pies recipe, click here.
While every #basic party will be sipping on frosé, your guests can have this unique frozen chardonnay sangria. It’s made with white wine, watermelon and strawberries, so it’s practically a health food.
For the Frozen Chardonnay Sangria recipe, click here.
Sure, you can just eat that juicy, sweet watermelon. Or you can be a Labor Day MVP and turn it into a delicious tequila cocktail. And if you want to kick up your party yet another notch, consider making these refreshing summer cocktails.
For the Watermelon Margaritas recipe, click here.
More From The Daily Meal:
16 Grilled Dishes That Take the Labor Out of Labor Day
Easy Salsa and Dip Recipes Perfect for Summer Parties
25 Best Grilled Chicken Recipes
15 Best Potato Salad Recipes
The Healthiest and Unhealthiest Summer Food Favorites