18 Refreshing Summer Dinner Ideas

shrimp boil foil packets

Milena Perrine

As the temperature rises we like to cool down our dinners with crunchy salads, fresh seafood, and lots and lots of grilling. From burgers and hot dogs with unexpected toppings to hearty salads and sandwiches, these dinner ideas will leave you hungry for summer.

  • 01 of 18

    Creatively Topped Burgers

    Milena Perrine

    Nothing says summer quite like a burger hot off the grill. But don't just top them with the same old lettuce and tomato, mix it up with fun toppings like herb butter, kimchi, or tapenade.

  • 02 of 18

    Classic Cobb Salad

    classic cobb salad

    sbrogan/Getty Images

    For a salad that transcends the category, a classic Cobb is a full-fledged meal. It's a great use of leftover or rotisserie chicken and looks lovely arranged on a plate.

  • 03 of 18

    Bobby Flay's Fish Tacos

    Food Network

    Fish tacos are lighter than your standard tacos, but still full of flavor. Grilled, spiced fish gets a nice crunch from a fresh cabbage slaw and is topped with homemade salsa.

  • 04 of 18

    Grilled Corn on the Cob

    corn on the cob

    Anita Schecter

    The fact that corn and grilling are in season, at the same time, is more than just fate. They were meant for each other. Follow our tips for the very best grilled corn.

    Continue to 5 of 18 below.
  • 05 of 18

    Cold Soba Noodle Salad

    Laurel Randolph

    Cool off with chilled soba noodles, crispy veggies, and a simple sweet, spicy, tangy, and savory dressing. Pair with fish or chicken, or eat it on its own for a simple, yet tasty dinner.

  • 06 of 18

    Fried Shrimp Po' Boy Sandwiches

    shrimp po'boy

    kcline/E+/Getty Images

    The Po' boy, a classic New Orleans sandwich, can be filled with meat and gravy, fried oysters, or delectable fried shrimp. Don't skimp on the Cajun seasoning.

  • 07 of 18

    Easy Grilled Eggplant

    grilled eggplant

    Laurence Mouton / Getty Images

    A Thai-style marinade gives eggplant lots of umami flavor, and pairs perfectly with the smokiness of the grill. It's hearty enough to be a main dish, and you can make it on a grill pan if you're grill-less.

  • 08 of 18

    Green Papaya and Sirloin Steak Salad

    green papaya salad and steak

    Chris Radley

    Green papaya is refreshingly crunchy and pairs so well with marinated steak. Add any crispy veggies you have handy for the salad, even swapping the papaya for shredded cabbage.

    Continue to 9 of 18 below.
  • 09 of 18

    Crab Cakes

    crab cakes

    Joff Lee / Getty Images

    When you think of summertime, you might think of the beach, and soon after, seafoodCrab cakes are always a favorite, and they're easier to make than they seem. Serve with big wedges of lemon.

  • 10 of 18

    Grilled Shrimp and Scallop Skewers

    Jupiterimages / Stockbyte / Getty Images

    For a simply delicious way to grill seafood, stick shrimp and scallops on a skewer and sprinkle with spices. Grill a few veggies skewers alongside and you have a meal.

  • 11 of 18

    Easy Black Bean Salad

    black bean salad

    Lauri Patterson/Getty Images

    Black beans, corn, tomatoes, avocado, and jalapeño are tossed with a light vinaigrette for a fresh, but filling, salad. Add cubed, grilled chicken or cooked shrimp for an extra dose of protein.

  • 12 of 18

    Uniquely Topped Hot Dogs

    mexican street corn hot dogs

    Leah Maroney 

    You can't go wrong with hot dogs at a summertime gathering, especially if you have some fun options for toppings. Try a BLT dog or a Frito Pie dog with chili, cheese, and chips.

    Continue to 13 of 18 below.
  • 13 of 18

    Turkey, Bacon, and Avocado Club

    turkey bacon club

    Leah Maroney

    The key to a good club sandwich is high quality fillings: really good sliced turkey, crispy bacon, creamy avocado, fresh veggies, and toasty bread. A little mayo holds the tall sandwich together.

  • 14 of 18

    Shrimp Boil Foil Packets

    shrimp boil foil packets

    Milena Perrine

    Instead of cooking a shrimp boil the old-fashioned way—all piled into a giant pot—grill or bake individual servings in foil packets. Don't forget a sprinkle of seafood boil seasoning and a pat of butter for each parcel.

  • 15 of 18

    Poke Bowls

    poke bowls

    Molly Watson

    Keep cool with fresh, raw fish served with rice, cucumber, avocado, and a delicious sauce. Look for high quality, fresh fish, and adjust the spice level to your liking.

  • 16 of 18

    Corn Cucumber Tomato Salad

    corn and tomato salad

     Molly Watson

    For a salad that tastes like summer and comes together in no time, combine sweet corn kernels, cool and crunchy cucumber, and ripe tomatoes. Add a sprinkling of feta cheese for a salty bite.

    Continue to 17 of 18 below.
  • 17 of 18

    Curried Chicken Salad With Diced Apple

    curried chicken salad

     Brian Leatart/Photolibrary/Getty Images

    Cooked chicken gets a new life as a creamy salad with crunchy apples and celery, nuts, and a little curry spice. Serve as a sandwich or wrap, on top of a green salad, or in lettuce cups.

  • 18 of 18

    Juicy Grilled Pork Chops

    grilled pork chops

     James Baigrie/The Image Bank/Getty Images

    The key to a juicy pork chop? A flavorful marinade and high heat followed by low heat. You'll get a nice smoky char on the meat before cooking it through slowly.