37 Peak Summer Recipes

salmon ceviche

The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

When the mercury rises and summer's bounty starts to show up at the farmers' market and your backyard garden, we all crave fresh foods that bring the outdoors in. We gathered the best healthy summer recipes that will give you lots of energy for fun in the sun, plus look pretty on the plate and taste delicious. We've got lots of options for every meal, course, and preparation style. You won't run out of recipes until Labor Day.

Your Produce Checklist

Summer is rich in peak-season fruits and vegetables. Look for these items at your farmers market or local grocery for the best flavors:

  • 01 of 37

    Salsa de Aji Picante: Colombian Hot Pepper Salsa

    Salsa de Aji Picante

    The Spruce Eats / Preethi Venkatram

    In South American cuisine, aji is the name for both a variety of chili peppers and fresh salsa made with the peppers. This Colombian recipe is known as salsa de aji picante, and it features a single habanero pepper, making it pretty spicy. 

  • 02 of 37

    Grilled Watermelon

    Grilled Watermelon on a platter with lime wedges, jalapeños and mint leaves

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

    Seriously, nothing can be any easier to grill than this super-quick and delicious French grilled watermelon recipe. Yes, you can grill this wonderful, refreshing fruit.

  • 03 of 37

    Salmon Ceviche with Mango

    salmon ceviche

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    This salmon ceviche is packed with mango and jalapeños. It is a perfect appetizer served with tortilla or plantain chips for scooping. Serve it at your next gathering for a refreshing and delicious snack, or include it as part of a summertime lunch or dinner. 

  • 04 of 37

    Kachumber (Indian Cucumber Salad)

    Kachumber salad recipe

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    What makes kachumber unique is its dressing, which doesn't contain any oil, but rather a very simple combination of freshly squeezed lemon juice, salt, and pepper. This quick-to-make kachumber recipe brings to your table a flavorful salad whose refreshing nature makes it a great side to any spicy food, curries, dal, rotis, or even burgers.

    Continue to 5 of 37 below.
  • 05 of 37

    Grilled Eggplant

    Perfect Grilled Eggplant

    The Spruce/Victoria Heydt

    Grilling eggplant gives the purple summer fruit a tender sweetness and a slight smoky char that turns it into a star as a veggie main or side. Feel free to embellish with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, a dollop of pesto, or a little feta cheese to really make it shine.

  • 06 of 37

    Shrimp Avocado Salad

    Shrimp Avocado Salad

    The Spruce/Jennifer Perillo

    For a light lunch or bright and simple starter, try avocado and shrimp salad. It has a zippy citrus dressing that does double duty by keeping the avocado from turning brown. It makes a nice change from the creamy salads that often appear at backyard barbecues.

  • 07 of 37

    Cold Soba Noodles

    cold soba noodle salad

    When it's too hot to eat warm food, cold soba noodles with colorful vegetables and a sweet and spicy chili, ginger, and honey dressing will hit the spot. Make it ahead and pack it for lunches all week, since it keeps well in the refrigerator.

  • 08 of 37

    Shaved Asparagus and Arugula Salad

    Shaved Asparagus and Arugula Salad With Cilantro Dressing

    Laurel Randolph

    Early summer asparagus and peppery fresh arugula come together with shaved parmesan and a honey, lemon, vinegar, and garlic dressing for a unique salad that tastes great alongside whatever's on the grill. Make it a day ahead to give the flavors time to meld.

    Continue to 9 of 37 below.
  • 09 of 37

    Thai Mini Shrimp Lettuce Wraps

    Thai Mini Shrimp Lettuce Wraps

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    If you're looking for a deliciously different shrimp dish, try making up a platter of these Thai shrimp mini lettuce wraps. These bite-sized wraps are just perfect for a party appetizer served with beer, wine, or cocktails, or make up a batch to serve as an entrée for dinner.

  • 10 of 37

    Grilled Napa Cabbage

    Grilled napa cabbage

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

    Grilled cabbage may sound a bit odd to people. Really odd to some. Yet we can assure you that this grilled napa cabbage is as delicious as any other grilled vegetable. After just a bit of time over a hot flame, cabbage takes on a lovely sweetness, picks up crispy blackened edges, and gets slightly soft while stubbornly holding onto its crunchy texture.

  • 11 of 37

    Tomato, Corn, and Basil Salad

    Tomato, Corn, and Basil Salad in blue bowls

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

    Keep things light and easy with this no-cook salad filled with fresh, juicy tomatoes, crunchy corn, and peppery basil. It's the ultimate, no-sweat side dish for grilled meat or fish.

  • 12 of 37

    Vegan Black Bean and Mango Salad

    Vegan Black Bean and Mango Salad

    The Spruce/Emily Hawkes

    For those who don't eat the eggs and mayo that often show up in picnic sides, serve a colorful and delicious mango and black bean salad. With fresh bell pepper, green onions, cilantro, and jalapeño, it makes the most of your garden and brings a little heat.

    Continue to 13 of 37 below.
  • 13 of 37

    Spicy Pickled Asparagus

    Picked asparagus recipe

    The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel

    Savor the brief early summer season of tender asparagus for as long as possible by pickling them with a little spice. Use the freshest spears you can find for best results. Your own garden's harvest or farmer's market bunches are both good bets.

  • 14 of 37

    Melitzanes Me Feta: Baked Eggplant With Feta Cheese

    Melitzanes Me Feta: Baked Eggplant With Feta Cheese

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    Eggplant, tomatoes, and feta cheese are three ingredients that are ubiquitous to Greek cuisine, and this dish of melitzanes me feta (eggplant with feta) brings them together beautifully. Slices of eggplant are first pan-fried and then layered with a tomato-herb mixture; the dish is then topped with feta and baked until golden and bubbling. Serve as an appetizer, side dish, or meatless main dish.

  • 15 of 37

    Tandoor Paneer Tikka

    Tandoori Paneer Tikka Kebabs

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

    Marinate juicy chunks of soft paneer in tandoori masala and then skewer them with vegetables like bell peppers, red onion, and even zucchini for an Indian treat. They make a tasty appetizer or a vegetarian main when served with naan or white rice.

  • 16 of 37

    Vegan Oven-Roasted Buffalo Cauliflower

    Vegan Oven-Roasted Cauliflower Buffalo Wings

    The Spruce

    Cauliflower will start appearing in many farmer's markets in midsummer, so snap one up to make vegan Buffalo cauliflower. They have all of the flavor of your favorite bar snack with much less fat and cholesterol. Serve with blue cheese or ranch dressing and carrot and celery sticks.

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  • 17 of 37

    Quick Cucumber Salad

    Quick cucumber salad

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

    Cucumbers are a delicious addition to salads, sandwiches, rice bowls, and even cocktails, but they rarely get the spotlight they deserve. To really enjoy cucumbers in all of their crispy, crunchy glory, make a quick cucumber salad. Tossed with just a few simple ingredients, it's the perfect summer side dish for your next grill-out, picnic, and more.

  • 18 of 37

    Spicy Edamame

    Spicy Edamame (Soy Beans)

    The Spruce / Ana Maria Stanciu

    Fresh edamame will hit the market around August, but you can often find them frozen in supermarkets in the off-season, too. Just a quick blanch in boiling water then a sprinkle with spice and you have a tasty appetizer for an Asian feast.

  • 19 of 37

    Balsamic Tomato Salad

    Balsamic Tomato Salad

    The Spruce / Elizabeth Briskin

    Ripe, juicy tomatoes don't need much to make them sing. A simple dressing of balsamic vinegar, garlic, and fresh herbs are all you need for a summery salad.

  • 20 of 37

    Easy Bruschetta

    Easy Vegan Bruschetta

    The Spruce

    The season's best tomatoes hardly need any accoutrements to taste absolutely delicious. Highlight those beauties with good, crusty bread, some fresh basil, and olive oil in this simple bruschetta appetizer.

    Continue to 21 of 37 below.
  • 21 of 37

    Everything Slaw

    Everything Slaw

    The Spruce / Eric Kleinberg

    This colorful and delicious coleslaw is easy to make and the perfect side dish for any and all BBQ meats. Use it as a summer salad, but also make it year round to accompany your weeknight meals as it only takes 15 minutes to come together. It's perfect to make ahead to allow the flavors to meld. Mix it in the morning and serve for lunch with grilled chicken breasts and potatoes, or use it to top fish tacos or pulled pork sandwiches.

  • 22 of 37

    Thai Spring Rolls

    Vegan Thai-Style Spring Rolls

    The Spruce 

    Hit the herb garden for cilantro, mint, and basil then grab some carrots, spring onions, bean sprouts, and green cabbage for homemade Thai spring rolls. If you use rice wrappers, they can also be gluten-free.

  • 23 of 37

    Shrimp Boil Foil Packets

    Shrimp boil foil packet

    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt

    For all the goodness of a low country boil without making it a big production, try shrimp boil foil packets. Lightly precook the potatoes and corn before tossing them into a foil packet with shrimp, andouille sausage, and your signature seasonings so everything comes out done perfectly.

  • 24 of 37

    Grilled Peaches

    Grilled Peaches with dollops of crème fraîche

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

    For a healthy dessert, just halve summer's sweetest peaches and toss those babies on the grill. They take on a lovely char that just intensifies their flavor. Dollop a little whipped cream or vanilla ice cream on top if you like.

    Continue to 25 of 37 below.
  • 25 of 37

    Cool Vegan Cucumber Soup

    Cool vegan cucumber soup

    The Spruce Eats / Emily Hawkes

    Turn cucumbers into a light chilled summer soup that works as a simple lunch or dinner with a loaf of crusty bread. Use nondairy milk to keep it vegan or whatever milk you have on hand for a quick and easy meal.

  • 26 of 37

    Texas Potato Salad

    Texas Potato Salad

    The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

    If you haven't tried a Texas-style potato salad, you're missing out. Think German potato salad meets traditional potato salad with a touch of Southwestern flair. A must try at your next cookout!

  • 27 of 37

    Roasted Vegetable Quiche

    Classic Roasted Vegetable Quiche

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

    Start the day off right with a roasted vegetable quiche that comes chock full of veggies. Almost anything you have in the crisper will work, but we especially like tomatoes, mushrooms, zucchini, asparagus, onion, and bell pepper.

  • 28 of 37

    Black Bean Veggie Burgers

    Vegan Black Bean Veggie Burgers
    The Spruce.

    Make your own black bean burgers to give the vegetarian main tons of flavor. Top them with your favorite burger fixins and serve on your roll of choice or a bed of lettuce for a lower-carb option. They also freeze well, so make a double or triple batch.

    Continue to 29 of 37 below.
  • 29 of 37

    Thai Rice Noodle Salad With Chili-Lime Vinaigrette

    Thai Rice Noodle Salad With Chili-Lime Vinaigrette

    The Spruce/Maxwell Cozzi

    This Thai rice noodle salad is fresh and flavorful, and it's simple to make, too. It features vermicelli rice noodles and lots of fresh summer vegetables—feel free to add or substitute depending on what's available at your local market.

  • 30 of 37

    Sautéed Garlic-Herb Bell Peppers

    Garlic and Herb Sautéed Bell Pepper Strips

    The Spruce 

    Bell peppers are a great low-calorie vegetable, filled with vitamins C and A, and fiber. In this recipe, garlic and herbs add flavor to crispy strips of sautéed bell peppers. It's a quick preparation that accentuates their natural sweetness. A few herbs, seasonings, and good quality olive oil make a fantastic dish in less than 20 minutes.

  • 31 of 37

    Sweet Corn Fritters

    Sweet Corn Fritters

    The Spruce / Eric Kleinberg

    Sweet corn fritters are a great way to enjoy the summer's bounty of fresh corn. They're delicious little bites that can be a snack or a tasty side dish for barbecued meats.

  • 32 of 37

    Spicy Roasted Cauliflower

    Spicy roasted cauliflower recipe

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    Our recipe for spicy roasted cauliflower highlights the beautiful cauliflower texture. Spices and just a bit of sugar turn a head of cauliflower into a caramelized, spicy treat, ready in just 40 minutes.

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  • 33 of 37

    Grilled Vegetable Kebabs

    Grilled Vegetable Kebabs on a platter

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

    Whether served as a side vegetable or as the main entree, grilled vegetable kebabs are an easy, colorful, and tasty dish to include at your summertime cookout.

  • 34 of 37

    Grilled Asian Corn on the Cob With Garlic Soy Glaze

    Grilled Asian Corn on the Cob With Garlic Soy Glaze on a platter

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

    This super-simple garlic soy glaze recipe really brings out the natural sweetness of ​grilled corn. The combination of soy sauce, seasoned rice vinegar, garlic, brown sugar, and cayenne pepper creates a delicious but unexpected finish to grilled corn-on-the-cob, making this recipe the perfect side for both Asian-inspired and traditional cookout dishes.

  • 35 of 37

    Niçoise Tuna Salad With Dijon Dressing

    Salad Nicoise hero

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

    The beauty of a Niçoise salad is in the combination of its ingredients. It's simple, but as with most simple things, the quality of the ingredients is paramount. For this basic salade Niçoise, use good quality fresh tuna and don't overcook.

  • 36 of 37

    Scallion Salad (Pa Muchim)

    Korean green onion salad recipe

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga 

    In Korean cuisine, it's not uncommon to serve many different side dishes, called banchan, with an entrée. This fresh Korean scallion side is often served alongside grilled meat and seafood dishes in Korean restaurants. Scallion salad, called pa muchim, is so simple to make but really adds a lot of flavor to whatever it's served with. 

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  • 37 of 37

    Grilled Plums

    Grilled Plums on a platter

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

    A bit of heat from the grill brings out the already sweet nature embedded in plums, caramelizing the sugars on the cut surface to wonderfully yummy effect. And, because these luscious summer and early fall delights tend to come into season all at once, finding novel ways to serve them is unusually welcome.