50+ Summer Dinner Ideas for Hot Days

updated Aug 17, 2023
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Ah summertime: it’s when temperatures soar and we all head outdoors to soak up every bit of the season. Who wants to spend time indoors cooking this time of year? Since we can’t subsist on watermelon and Popsicles alone, I’ve armed myself with a roster of quick and easy dinners I know I can pull off — even on the hottest of nights.

These days, no-cook dinners are some of my very favorite, as are meals from my favorite gas grill, but I also won’t say no to quickly turning on my oven or stovetop if it will result in something totally satisfying for the season.

From farmers market salads and foil-packet dinners from the grill, to satisfying sandwiches and shrimp skewers, here are over 50 easy recipe ideas that will save you, now through Labor Day.

Farmers Market Salads

1 / 12
Mediterranean Cauliflower Couscous Salad

The Mediterranean flavors really shine in this simple spring salad and the roasted chickpeas add a lovely crunch.

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2 / 12
Upside-Down Taco Bowl

Top it with a scoop of carnitas, some black beans, and a handful of crushed tortilla chips for crunch, and you have a fabulous warm salad or dinner bowl that gives you vegetables first.

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3 / 12
Nigel Slater's Five-Spice Chicken & Pea Shoot Salad

It’s a super fast meal bursting with garlicky, spicy flavor, and packed with greens.

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4 / 12
Italian Chopped Salad with Creamy Garlic Vinaigrette

This is a crazy-pungent yet crazy-good dressing. When you taste it by itself you may fall out of your chair, but it blends perfectly once tossed with all of the other components of the salad.

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5 / 12
Light & Easy Broccoli Salad
A recipe for a lightened-up version of classic broccoli slaw, which can be made ahead and serves a crowd.
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6 / 12
Summer Corn Salad

Gone are the days of cheesy casseroles and braised meats or stews — summer’s all about celebrating fresh, colorful produce. And this salad does just that.

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7 / 12
Zucchini Noodles with Parsley-Pistachio Pesto

Zucchini noodles pair perfectly with all of summer’s bounty, especially this zesty pistachio-parsley pesto — you’ll want to put it on anything and everything

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8 / 12
Spinach Salad with Warm Brown Butter Dressing

The result of using brown butter instead of bacon fat is a salad that’s worth making again and again.

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9 / 12
Spicy Carnitas Salad Bowl

This spicy carnitas number tells that tale five times over with a bold and crisp base and toppings ranging from slow-cooker carnitas to pickled avocado.

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10 / 12
Flank Steak Panzanella
This quintessential summer salad, fashioned with day-old bread and ripe veggies, is tossed with seared flank steak to make it a meal.
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11 / 12
Chicken and Veggie Pesto Salad
Filled with a robust assortment of tender veggies, strips of juicy chicken, and tossed with an herby pesto, this no-lettuce salad is a summer essential.
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12 / 12
Greek Chicken Salad

It’s one of those salads that works well as a one-dish meal — a great lunch or dinner that comes together in just a few minutes.

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Bean and Legume Salads

1 / 7
Chickpea, Barley and Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Mint and Feta

This chickpea salad is a special one, full of tender beans, chewy barley, and crunchy zucchini, all held together with a bright, refreshing vinaigrette.

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2 / 7
Chickpea Waldorf Salad

This simple chickpea Waldorf salad takes a lighter approach with flavors that take you from the warmer weather into fall and winter.

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3 / 7
Tomato Chickpea Salad
Tomatoes and chickpeas are tossed in a simple vinaigrette for a light dinner or easy lunch.
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4 / 7
Chopped Chickpea Salad
This meal-worthy salad puts toothsome, protein-packed chickpeas in the center of your bowl to build a truly filling salad for dinner.
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5 / 7
Spicy Salmon Black Bean Salad
A quick and easy gluten-free recipe for black bean salad with hot smoked salmon, tomatoes, and avocado in a cumin-lime dressing.
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6 / 7
Cold Lentil Salad with Cucumbers and Olives

This salad, whether to dole out for lunches throughout the week or as a healthy contribution to a summer cookout.

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7 / 7
Tomato and Feta White Bean Salad
A light and easy recipe for a no-cook tomato and white bean salad. Make it now before the season's tomatoes disappear!
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Summer Grain and Pasta Salads

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Quinoa Tabbouleh
In this riff on traditional tabbouleh, the bulgur gets replaced with tender, nutty quinoa. It's a make-ahead salad, perfect for summer barbecues.
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2 / 8
Tex-Mex Quinoa Salad
Mixed with quinoa, beans, and vibrant fresh veggies, and topped with a zippy chili-lime vinaigrette, this is a potluck salad that everyone can eat.
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3 / 8
4 / 8
Minted Summer Couscous with Watermelon and Feta

Cubes of sweet watermelon, chunks of crunchy celery, and savory feta cheese — this hybrid between fruit salad and savory salad has lazy lunch written all over it.

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5 / 8
Radish and Goat Cheese Farro Salad Bowl

This hearty grain salad is a celebration of spring radishes and all their flavors, textures, and forms.

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6 / 8
Broccoli and Feta Pasta Salad
A recipe for pasta salad filled with broccoli, feta, and Kalamata olives, which can be made ahead.
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7 / 8
Cold Sesame Chicken and Noodle Salad
This crowd-pleasing chilled noodle salad brings bright and savory flavors to the potluck along with chicken and a rich sesame ginger dressing.
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8 / 8
Pesto Tortellini Pasta Salad

This version is particularly suited for lazy vacations because it takes advantage of flavorful ingredients found at most grocery stores and brings them together in one crowd-pleasing salad.

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Satisfying Sandwiches

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Open-Faced Chicken Salad Sandwich

You could try to split the difference between sandwich and no-sandwich by making it open-faced, one piece of toast with the ingredients on top, eaten with a knife and fork.

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2 / 11
California BLT with Avocado and Basil Mayonnaise

t’s hard to go wrong with the combination of crisp lettuce, salty bacon, ripe tomato and avocado. But this homemade version is much better, if only for the addition of a bright basil mayonnaise that makes every bite taste like a mouthful of summer.

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3 / 11
Caprese Sandwich for a Crowd

In the spirit of celebrating ripe summer produce, this version gets its inspiration from one of my favorite fresh salads.

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4 / 11
Mozzacado Sandwich

It’s utterly simple and yet captures the best of summer.

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5 / 11
Summer Vegetables Sub Sandwich with Garlic Cream Cheese
Gilded with a flavorful cream cheese and topped with an assortment of fresh and jarred vegetables, this sandwich fuels your travels and keep things tidy.
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6 / 11
Sauerkraut and Sausage Roll
A recipe for spicy chicken sausage with sauerkraut and roasted red peppers on a pretzel roll.
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7 / 11
Garlicky Broccoli Subs

Each bite is a delightful combination of savory and sweet flavors, creaminess from the feta, and the fiery tang of pickled Peppadew peppers.

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8 / 11
Naan Wraps with Homemade Cucumber Raita

These naan wraps are a mid-week family favorite. They’re filled to the brim with cumin-spiced lamb, shredded iceberg lettuce, and a quick homemade cucumber raita.

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9 / 11
Sirloin Steak Sandwiches

This recipe takes sirloin steak, one of the best cuts of meat for your budget, and transforms it into the hearty filling for this dinner-ready sandwich.

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10 / 11
Caprese Grilled Cheese

Paired with a crisp glass of rosé, it’s guaranteed to be your new favorite way to eat caprese in summer.

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11 / 11
Pan Bagna

This sandwich, a classic of southern France, is perfect picnic fare.

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Barely Cook Bowls

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Mediterranean Hummus Bowl
An easy recipe for a vegetarian hummus bowl topped with roasted eggplant, chickpeas, and tabbouleh.
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2 / 9
Roasted Eggplant and Brown Rice Bowl with Turmeric Tahini
This vibrant grain bowl is topped with chickpeas, roasted eggplant, and a vibrant turmeric tahini sauce.
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3 / 9
Caesar Shrimp and Avocado Noodle Bowls

hese bowls, which are ideal for a weeknight meal, are inspired by the ease and versatility of noodle bowls, with the tangy lemon and Parmesan flavor combo you get from a bold Caesar dressing.

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4 / 9
"Low-Rent" Tuna Poke Bowl

If you’re looking for a quick, cheap lunch and want new ways to fancy-up canned tuna, this recipe is for you

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5 / 9
3-Ingredient Pesto Zoodle Bowl
A simple recipe for sautéed zucchini noodles tossed with pesto, and topped with a fried egg.
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6 / 9
Smoky Roasted Vegetable Hummus Bowl

This is one of those recipes that originated as an off-the-cuff concept while speedily scanning the grocery store aisles a mere hour before dinner.

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7 / 9
Garlicky Soba Noodle Bowls
This quick cooking vegetarian noodle bowl is made with soba noodles, cucumbers, greens, and a light chili garlic sauce.
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8 / 9
Roasted Eggplant Sabich Bowl
This vegetarian hummus bowl is inspired by sabich, a Middle Eastern sandwich stuffed with fried eggplant, tomato-cucumber salad, and hard-boiled eggs.
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9 / 9
Savory Yogurt Bowl with Sliced Veggies and Fried Mustard Seeds
This savory yogurt, inspired by cool and creamy raita, makes for a breakfast that's satisfying without being heavy.
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Grilled Favorites

1 / 10
BBQ Ranch Chicken Bites
All you need is chicken, ranch dressing, and barbecue sauce to reach BBQ ranch nirvana.
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2 / 10
Sausage, Potato & Green Bean Packets
Combine cooked sausage, chopped potatoes, and green beans; add some butter and a dash of Cajun seasoning; and wrap in foil for a no-mess dinner in minutes.
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3 / 10
Grilled Smoked Sausage Skewers with Three Zesty Sauces

Smoked sausages are perfect for any backyard barbecue, whether you are grilling at home or packing it up to cook on the road.

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4 / 10
Bacon and Basil Wrapped Corn

This recipe has a tendency to sputter a bit as it cooks.

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5 / 10
Smoky Portobello Mushroom Cheeseburgers
An easy grilling recipe for vegetarian portobello mushroom burgers topped with smoked Gouda, tangy peppers, and arugula.
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6 / 10
Summer Vegetable and Tofu Kebabs

You can prepare them in advance, and they’re practically a meal unto themselves when served along with couscous, potato salad, or a grain-based dish. And what a great way to showcase summer’s bounty of vegetables!

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7 / 10
Grilled Pesto Chicken Flatbreads
Harness the flavorful power of pesto in these easy grilled chicken and cheese flatbreads.
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8 / 10
Grilled Juicy, Flavorful Shrimp
The answer is skewers and yogurt, my friends. Curious? Let's light up the grill and literally put shrimp on the barbie. (Yep, I went there.)
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9 / 10
Juicy, Flavorful Grilled Chicken Breast
The key steps to really juicy grilled chicken, from pounding the chicken, making a marinade, and achieving great grill marks.
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10 / 10
Grilled Yogurt Flatbreads with Israeli Salad
A simple, no-rise flatbread dough is grilled until crispy, then topped with hummus and a fresh cucumber-tomato salad.
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Quick Stovetop Dinners

1 / 8
Caramelized Eggplant and Onion Orzo
An easy recipe for one-pan orzo and summer vegetables that's both vegetarian and vegan.
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2 / 8
Shrimp with White Beans, Spinach and Tomatoes

This dish of pan-seared shrimp served over a saucy mix of beans, spinach, and tomatoes is perfect for those nights when you crave a grown-up meal, but lack the energy for anything elaborate.

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3 / 8
Scallops with White Wine Beurre Blanc and Lemon Orzo

Scallops sear in mere seconds, and while whipping up a beurre blanc (a.k.a. white butter sauce) may seem intimidating to the uninitiated, it’s actually one of the easiest and tastiest classic sauces to know.

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4 / 8
Eggs with Summer Tomatoes, Zucchini, and Bell Peppers

It takes no more than five or 10 minutes, and can be done while the piperade is cooking; it adds such a wonderful, deep-charred flavor that you just can’t get from a jar.

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5 / 8
No-Chop Cold Veggie Noodle Bowls With Soy Lime Vinaigrette
This summer sauté served over rice noodles is everything you'll crave in a cold noodle bowl.
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6 / 8
Crispy White Beans with Greens and Poached Egg
It answers the comforting call of breakfast for dinner, and though it's so simple, a couple poached eggs know how to kick it up a notch.
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7 / 8
Spinach and Refried Bean Quesadillas

Stuffed into quesadillas, adding a much-needed dose of green vegetables to a normally cheese- and meat-heavy dish.

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8 / 8
10-Minute Black Bean Tacos

making tacos in 10 minutes is absolutely possible. In less time than it will take you to wait for delivery (it feels like it takes forever when you’re hungry), these hearty vegetarian tacos can be on your plate.

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