Juneteenth is a time to reflect, spend time with family and of course enjoy some good food! To celebrate the holiday, make this delicious menu with citrusy BBQ chicken, pineapple slaw, tomato and cucumber salad, spicy grilled corn and banana pudding parfaits.

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An overall shot of a dinner table with 5 different dishes on it
Credit: Andrea Mathis

My family has adopted many new holidays over the years, and a few years ago, we added Juneteenth to the lineup. Juneteenth is a holiday celebrating the emancipation of African Americans from slavery in the United States. It's celebrated on June 19 because on that date in 1865, Major General Gordon Granger of the Union Army landed in Galveston, Texas, and informed enslaved people that the Civil War had ended and slavery had been abolished. The name Juneteenth comes from combining the words "June" and "nineteenth."

How to Celebrate Juneteenth

Juneteenth is a joyous time to spend with family and friends. It's also a great time to reflect and educate others about this holiday. Most people like to celebrate this holiday by having family cookouts and attending events to honor African American history. To celebrate this momentous occasion, my family likes to have a Juneteenth cookout. We take this time to reflect, enjoy time with our family, and of course enjoy some good food! Every year, I try to keep our cookout menu traditional, but still exciting. Here's what we're having this year.

What's on the menu?

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Grilled Citrus BBQ Glazed Chicken

Grilled Chicken with Citrus-BBQ Glaze

The key to a great cookout is choosing a great entree! For most of our cookouts we usually have hamburgers or barbecue ribs, but this time I decided to prepare this Grilled Chicken with Citrus-BBQ Glaze. This recipe is extremely easy to make and is packed with so much flavor, thanks to the sweetness from orange zest and juice. 

Easy Pineapple Coleslaw

Easy Pineapple Coleslaw

The second most important component to a cookout is the side items. This pineapple coleslaw is a fresh take on the traditional coleslaw recipe. It contains those familiar savory flavors, and a touch of sweetness thanks to the pineapple. When making this recipe, I recommend using fresh pineapple, which helps to give this slaw such amazing flavor and crunch. And even though fresh pineapple is available year-round, pineapple's peak season runs from March through July, which is the best time to buy them. This easy pineapple coleslaw is going to remind you of summer all year long and pairs well with just about anything.

Spicy Grilled Corn on the Cob

Spicy Grilled Corn on the Cob

No cookout is complete without corn on the cob, and this grilled corn is a real summertime treat. It's basted with a spicy butter blend and grilled to perfection in about 20 minutes. For a fun serving idea, tie back the husks with a little piece of twine. This will allow your guests to conveniently pick up the corn by the husks and enjoy!

When grilling the corn in the husks, here's a little tip—soak the corn in the husks in a bucket of water for about an hour before cooking so they don't dry out and flame up while on the grill.

Marinated Cucumber & Tomato Salad

Marinated Cucumber & Tomato Salad

Next on the menu is this marinated cucumber and tomato salad. It's the perfect summer salad. It's both sweet and tangy, and contains the perfect combination of flavors. This simple salad is a mixture of olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper along with freshly sliced tomatoes, onions and cucumbers. Cucumbers are so versatile and inexpensive, especially during the summer months. They have a very high water content which is a great way to stay hydrated during those hot summer months.

Mini Banana Pudding Parfaits

Banana Pudding Parfaits

For the finishing touch and to make my Juneteenth menu complete, I decided to make Banana Pudding Parfaits. Banana pudding is always a great dessert option for any outdoor gathering. It's super easy to make and requires zero cooking. For this recipe, I used Greek yogurt, fresh bananas, a little sugar for sweetness, vanilla wafers, and whipped cream for the topping. It contains all of those traditional banana pudding flavors, but it's lower in sugar and calories than many versions. Plus, the individual portions are a fun way to serve it. I like to serve mine in small mason jars or martini glasses.

To complete the meal, all you need is a few drink selections, such as iced tea and water. Now that our Juneteenth menu is complete, it's time to sit back, relax, and dig in! Enjoy!

Related: A Juneteenth Jubilee Menu to Celebrate Emancipation with Shared History and Shared Meals by Jessica B. Harris