Labor Day: Recipes and Traditions

Holidays | Labor Day Image

Labor Day is an American holiday that traditionally marks the last weekend of the summer. Vacations have ended and the kids are going back to school, and Labor Day is a final chance to get out and enjoy a picnic or a barbecue with family and friends.

Most countries celebrate Labor Day on May 1, and celebrations are centered on parades and demonstrations. The American version of the holiday also originated as a “working man’s” holiday, and was made a national holiday in 1894. But Labor Day in the United States is a more low-key affair, with rest and relaxation taking much more prominence.

Picnic and barbecue dishes are great for Labor Day. Old standards are fried chicken, hamburgers, corn dogs, coleslaw, potato salad, lemonade, corn on the cob, baked beans and sliced tomatoes. Finish up with sliced watermelon, apple pie and freshly churned ice cream.

If you’re a traditionalist, put away your white shoes and straw hats when the day is done. It was once a fashion faux pas to wear them after Labor Day.

Labor Day Recipes

Blueberry Pie

Desserts | Blueberry Pie Image

(American blueberry-filled double-crust tart)

True blue American blueberry pie. Simple, sweet, rich, delicious and chock full of antioxidants. Blueberry pie is the perfect finish to a meal during the summer blueberry season. Try the star-studded crust variation for your next Memorial Day, Fourth of July or Labor Day celebration. Read more »

Boston Baked Beans

Vegetables | Boston Baked Beans

(American white beans baked with molasses)

The earliest colonists in North America learned how to slow cook beans with maple syrup from Native Americans. Molasses was a common sweetener in the United States throughout the 19th century, and Boston was a center of production. One tasty result of this abundance was Boston baked beans. It's not called Beantown for nothing! Read more »

Corn Dogs

Meats | Corn Dogs Image

(American hot dog and cornbread on a stick)

Corn dogs are American carnival, fair, and amusement park food. They are one of many "foods-on-a-stick" found at such celebrations and venues. A favorite of children, corn dogs are best served with a good amount of ketchup. Read more »


Beverages | Lemonade

(American lemon beverage)

Lemonade and its basic theme of lemon juice, sugar and water is a popular drink around the world. It is a summertime favorite in the United States, where ramshackle stands selling glasses of the sweet-tart beverage are a favorite way for children to earn a little spending money. Read more »

Potato Salad

Salads | Potato Salad Image

(American potatoes with mayonnaise)

Potato salad is an American picnic and barbecue favorite. The basic recipe of cooked potatoes bound with mayonnaise and served cold is also found in northern Germany. Potato salad recipes vary greatly, but here is a basic recipe you can build upon. Read more »

Southern Fried Chicken

Poultry | Southern Fried Chicken Image

(American fried chicken with a crispy crust)

Fried chicken is an American favorite, especially in the South. Pieces of chicken are dredged in seasoned flour and then fried to crispy perfection in a skillet of oil. Read more »

Sweet Coleslaw

Ingredients | Cabbage Head Image

(American cabbage salad)

Sweet coleslaw is a type of cabbage salad, or slaw, that is popular in the Midwestern section of the United States. This recipe comes directly from Chef Brad's father, Dan Harvey, in Macedonia, Iowa. Read more »