summer

53 Easy Summer Dinner Recipes for Hot Days

updated May 29, 2024
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Ultimate summer salad with serving utensils on side.
Credit: Shelly Westerhausen

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 refreshing watermelon and icy 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 meals are some of my very favorite, as are meals from my favorite grills, 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 big summer salads and lettuce wraps, to hearty sandwiches and cold noodles, here are 53 easy recipe ideas to make on those hot weather days.

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Easy Pasta Salad

Is there a more quintessential warm-weather side dish than cold pasta salad? This easy pasta salad is one we think you should know by heart.

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The Ultimate Summer Salad

A bright and fresh mix of sweet summer peaches, juicy cherry tomatoes, and feta cheese tossed in a tangy cilantro-lime vinaigrette.

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The Perfect BLT

A step-by-step guide to making the sandwich of summer, filled with juicy, ripe tomatoes, salty bacon, and crisp lettuce.

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Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Chicken lettuce wraps are super easy and a surprisingly quick weeknight meal. Bibb or butter lettuce are the best picks for these wraps.

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Easy Shrimp Ceviche

Made with poached shrimp marinated in citrus juice, tomato, avocado, and cilantro, this is the perfect thing to make when it's too hot to cook. Serve the shrimp ceviche with homemade tostadas, crunchy plantain chips, or tortilla chips for scooping.

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Classic Cobb Salad

This classic Cobb salad recipe hits that sweet spot of just the right ingredients made in the easiest way possible. Serve it with a summery soup or simply pair it with a loaf of crusty bread.

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Cold Sesame Noodles

The ultimate refreshing cold noodle dish of chewy noodles tossed in a tossed in a sesame-peanut sauce. Serve them with a Taiwanese cucumber salad or a Sichuan smashed cucumber salad.

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Chopped Greek Salad with Grilled Steak

Grilled skirt steak turns a regular Greek salad into a hearty main salad that's full of crunchy veggies and feta cheese in a lemon-oregano vinaigrette.

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Pesto Pasta Salad

Nothing says summer like tendrils of pasta, fresh mozzarella pearls, juicy tomatoes, and crunchy cucumber dressed in a basil pesto sauce.

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Cheese Tortellini with Salami, Mozzarella, and Marinated Veggies

This quick and easy tortellini dinner is filled with all the flavors of a classic antipasto spread: Roasted red peppers, marinated artichokes, salami, and of course, cheese.

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3-Ingredient Costco Chicken Caesar Salad Wraps

There’s nothing a Costco rotisserie chicken can’t do. By shredding the chicken breast meat (here’s how to do it in less than a minute!) and picking up just two other ingredients while I’m at Costco, I can turn them into a super-quick and tasty meal that’s perfect on a busy weeknight.

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Mediterranean-Style Chopped Salad with Oregano Vinaigrette

This vegetarian chopped salad — packed with farro, fresh veggies, and hearty chickpeas — gets even better as it sits.

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1-Minute Tomato Sandwich

If you love tomato toast, you'll love this simple summer tomato sandwich. A pinch of salt brings out their juiciness, honey highlights their sweetness, and the nuttiness of whole-grain bread grounds the sandwich with a hearty foundation.

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Creamy Tuna Pasta Salad

Tuna salad meets pasta salad in this light and creamy mash-up that's the perfect make-ahead meal in the summer.

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The Best Grilled Chicken Salad

Packed with bright, fresh, bold flavors and juicy strips of grilled chicken breast, this is the summer salad you'll eat on repeat all summer long.

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Chicken Caesar Salad

The homemade dressing and juicy strips of chicken are really what make this a hit. You can always swap in your favorite bottled Caesar dressing in place of homemade. If you have a brand of store-bought croutons you really, really love, go ahead and use those.

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Vegetarian Italian Chopped Salad

This make-ahead friendly salad is packed with crunchy veggies and tossed in a garlicky oregano vinaigrette. Eat as-is or serve alongside your favorite pizza.

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Classic Italian Sub Sandwich

This classic, make ahead-friendly sandwich is piled with Italian cured meats, provolone cheese, tomatoes, shredded iceberg lettuce, and picked peppers.

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Easy Chicken Shawarma Salad

It’s fast, flavorful, and easy to make — the trifecta of a staple recipe! What sets this apart from all other salads? A trick using rotisserie chicken that delivers the fastest shawarma.

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Summer Rolls

Summer rolls for dinner? Yes, please! Serve them with nước chấm (Vietnamese dipping fish sauce) or creamy peanut sauce for dipping.

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Tortellini Salad with Marinated Artichokes and Feta

Cheesy tortellini pockets are tossed with marinated artichokes, fresh veggies, feta cheese, briny olives, and a bright lemon vinaigrette.

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Shrimp Salad

A delicious mayonnaise-based shrimp salad that you can serve over toast, on a bed of salad greens, or on a buttered roll for a quick, satisfying summer meal.

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Muffuletta Sandwich

Invented in New Orleans, the muffuletta sandwich features an olive salad, Italian deli meats and cheeses. One giant sandwich is known for feeding several people.

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Lemon Herb Pasta Salad with Green Beans

This light and fresh summer salad is packed with fresh herbs, snappy green beans, and a sunny lemon vinaigrette.

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Antipasto Platter

This abundant Italian spread of cured meat, cheese, marinated vegetables, and more is the ultimate way to kick of a meal. Like building a charcuterie board, pulling together a platter of antipasti is a creative endeavor.

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20-Minute Steak Salad with Chile, Garlic, and Herbs

This easy 20-minute steak salad gets an umami hit from fish sauce, sherry vinegar, and lime juice tossed through a mix of crunchy veg, and is finished with fresh herbs.

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Creamy Caesar Pasta Salad with Chicken

If you love chicken Caesar salad, you’re going to fall hard for this recipe. Inspired by the beloved salad, tendrils of spiral pasta are partnered with bite-size pieces of juicy chicken breast, crisp romaine, ruby-red tomatoes, buttery croutons, and shards of salty Parm, all tossed together with creamy Caesar dressing.

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5-Ingredient Shrimp Lettuce Wraps

Low-carb shrimp lettuce wraps are crisp, crunchy and need just 5 ingredients.

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Gỏi Gà (Vietnamese Shredded Chicken and Cabbage Salad)

Gỏi gà (translated to “chicken salad”) couldn’t be simpler: shredded cabbage and chicken, mixed up with julienned veggies, all tossed in a vinegary dressing cut with sugar and fish sauce. The dish can actually be made with rotisserie chicken for an easy summer dinner without cooking.

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Grilled Short Rib Chimichurri Party Sandwich

A whole loaf of bread is filled with tender grilled short ribs, chimichurri sauce, pickled red onions, and peppery arugula before being sliced into individual sandwiches to feed a crowd.

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Garlic and Ginger Turkey Lettuce Wraps

If you’re a fan of restaurant-style lettuce wraps and are searching for a quick weeknight recipe, these are for you. They’re filled with a flavorful combination of ground turkey, cashews, ginger, and garlic, and are ready in less than 20 minutes.

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Chicken Salad

Grapes shouldn’t work, but they really, really do. Serve this easy chicken salad on a flaky croissant or on top of greens for a quick 20-minute dinner in the summer.

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Marinated Chickpea and Feta Salad

This star of this crunchy, veggie-packed salad is a tangy Greek-inspired dressing, which doubles as a marinade for the feta cheese and chickpeas.

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Turkey Sandwich

Classic, deli-style turkey sandwich made with sliced, roasted turkey, cheese, lettuce, and tomato. Spread spicy or honey mustard over the mayonnaise before topping with turkey, or add strips of cooked bacon or slices of creamy avocado to this once simple sandwich.

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Shrimp Pasta Salad

This shrimp pasta salad recipe is laced with tiny succulent shrimp, crunchy celery, colorful red onion, bell pepper, juicy cherry tomatoes and feta cheese. A short-cut pasta with lots of nooks and crannies like fusilli is perfect for pasta salads because it’ll hold onto the dressing better.

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Korean Soy-Marinated Jammy Eggs

These jammy marinated eggs can make even my most lazy meals feel extra-special. Enjoy them on a bed of steaming white rice with a drizzle of the soy sauce marinade over the top.

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Summer Veggie Chopped Salad

A simple summer salad with tomatoes, corn, bacon, mozzarella cheese balls, peppery arugula, basil, and a simple lemon vinagrette.

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Warm Fajita Steak Salad

This steak fajita salad features cumin-rubbed flank steak along with charred peppers and onions over a bed of crunchy, chopped romaine and red cabbage.

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Chicken Club Chopped Salad

This club sandwich-turned-salad is incredibly fun to make. Stack all of your ingredients on a cutting board and just chop, chop, chop until everything is bite-size. Then, toss it in a creamy vinaigrette with mayo and Dijon mustard (classic sandwich spreads) and you have dinner in about 10 minutes.

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Classic Egg Salad

This egg salad is creamy and easy to make, and really lets the flavor of the eggs truly shine through. If you’re starting with hard-boiled eggs, it takes less than 10 minutes to make! Turn it into a sandwich, eat it with crackers, or wrap it up in lettuce leaves.

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Niçoise Salad with Fresh California Avocado

Swap out the tuna for some flaky Dungeness crab in this California twist on the classic niçoise salad.

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The Best-Ever California Sandwich

A cool, refreshing veggie sandwich inspired by ones sold in California natural foods grocery stores. You’ll smear creamy hummus on one half and an avocado mash on the other. To ensure the sandwich doesn’t get soggy, make sure to deeply toast the bread: the crispier it is, the better.

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Curried Chicken Salad

A few hints of sweetness take this classic curried chicken salad into a winner that you can stuff into bread or eat as lettuce wraps.

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Heirloom Tomato and Steak Caprese

Inspired by traditional caprese, this dinner salad is topped with marinaded grilled steak and a punchy basil vinaigrette.

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Charcuterie Board

A step-by-step guide to shopping and putting together the ultimate charcuterie board. Add small bowls of whipped feta dip, olive tapenade, and pickled vegetables for tasty additions.

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Tuscan Tortellini Salad with Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

An easy pasta salad with cheese tortellini, sun-dried tomatoes, and baby spinach tossed in a balsamic dressing.

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Dak Naengchae (Korean Cold Chicken Salad)

Say what you will about boiled chicken breast, this cold chicken salad with crisp cucumber, ripe mango, and a toasty sweet mustard dressing is greater than the sum of its parts.

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Gado Gado (Indonesian Salad with Peanut Dressing)

This hearty, easy-to-make Indonesian salad features different blanched vegetables like bean sprouts, spinach, and chayote, plus tofu and tempeh for heft. It’s served alongside a savory, spicy peanut sauce, sprinkles of fried shallots, and crispy shrimp chips.

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Mediterranean Hummus Bowl

An easy recipe for a vegetarian hummus bowl topped with roasted eggplant, chickpeas, a soft-boiled egg, and tabbouleh.

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Taiwanese Sesame Cold Noodles

Full of crunchy cucumber and carrots, these Taiwanese cold sesame noodles take under 30 minutes to make.

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Shrimp Cocktail for Dinner

The easiest, most luxurious hot-weather meal involves exactly zero cooking: just open a bag of shrimp and swish up a quick cocktail sauce.

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BLT Pasta Salad

This pasta salad takes everything you love about that classic BLT sandwich, then folds it into a quick and easy summer meal.

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Mediterranean Tuna and White Bean Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette

An easy recipe for an Italian-inspired tuna and white bean salad with fresh fennel, radicchio, and arugula in a basil pesto vinaigrette.

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