21 Refreshing Summer Dinner Ideas

Yuca With Garlic Sauce (Yuca con Mojo)

The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

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 21

    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 21

    Classic Cobb Salad

    Classic Cobb Salad

    The Spruce / Nyssa Tanner

    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 21

    Tilapia Fish Tacos with Baja Sauce

    tilapia fish tacos

    The Spruce Eats/ Leah Maroney

    Tilapia fish tacos are the perfect way to mix up your Taco Tuesday or weeknight meal situation. They’re cool, creamy, and crunchy. The fish is blackened in the oven, then served with tangy Baja sauce and crisp cabbage slaw. A squeeze of lime juice finishes off the tacos with just the right zing for a taste of brightness.

  • 04 of 21

    Elote (Mexican Street Corn on the Cob)

    Mexican Street Corn (Elote)

    The Spruce / Nyssa Tanner

    Elote is salty, sweet, crunchy, and creamy in every bite. It hits all the right flavor notes, especially hot off the grill in the summer months when fresh corn is at its peak and abundantly available at every market.

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  • 05 of 21

    Cold Soba Noodle Salad

    chilled soba noodle salad

    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 21

    Fried Shrimp Po' Boy Sandwiches

    Fried shrimp po boy sandwiches

    ​The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

    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 21

    Grilled Shrimp With Garlic Butter Dipping Sauce Recipe

    Grilled Shrimp With Garlic Butter Dipping Sauce Recipe

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

    Grilled garlic shrimp are delicious when served with an easy butter dipping sauce. The marinade takes just a few minutes to put together, and it flavors the shrimp perfectly. The dip is a flavorful combination of butter, garlic, lemon, and a touch of hot sauce and Worcestershire.

  • 08 of 21

    Crab Cakes

    Serve crab cakes

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    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 and crab cake sauce.

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  • 09 of 21

    Yum Goong (Thai Shrimp Salad)

    Thai Shrimp Salad (Shrimp Yum Goong)

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    Thai shrimp salad—also known as Shrimp Yum Goong—is a refreshing dish that can be made quickly and easily. There are many varieties to these kinds of salads, but the herbs, aromatics, and dressing stay the same. Feel free to add vermicelli noodles to this dish as it adds more body to this salad and absorbs all the juices and dressing of the sauce very well.

  • 10 of 21

    Shrimp Boil Foil Packets

    Shrimp boil foil packs recipe

    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt

    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.

  • 11 of 21

    Perfect Grilled Eggplant

    Perfect grilled eggplant recipe

    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt

    This easy recipe uses the power of salted water (or brining) to guarantee great grilled eggplant. It's easy and adds 30 minutes to this otherwise quick recipe, but it's worth it. Serve it with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, a dollop of pesto, a spoonful of romesco, or a scattering of crumbled feta cheese and make this simple technique a recipe of your own.

  • 12 of 21

    Easy Black Bean Salad

    Easy Black Bean Salad

    The Spruce / Stephanie Goldfinger

    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.

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  • 13 of 21

    Homemade Hot Dogs

    Homemade Hot Dogs

    The Spruce / Laura Donovan

    Have you ever wanted to make your own hot dogs from scratch? Well, they aren't as difficult to make as you might think. After all, frankfurters are nothing more than ground meat with seasonings. In just an hour, you can whip up some delicious hot dogs in your kitchen.

  • 14 of 21

    Grilled Shrimp Salad

    grilled shrimp salad

     Leah Maroney

    Cook the entire dinner on the grill—including the lettuce in this delicious salad. Romaine lettuce takes on a nice nutty flavor when cooked on the grill, the perfect complement to grilled shrimp and charred corn. The homemade avocado lime dressing and a sprinkling of cotija cheese finish off this salad beautifully.

  • 15 of 21

    Burrata Salad

    Burrata Salad

     Elaine Lemm

    Made with summery produce like fresh lettuce, herbs, juicy tomatoes, and grilled nectarines, this burrata salad is centerpiece worthy. Serve with crusty bread for a light but satisfying meal.

  • 16 of 21

    Sautéed Chayote Squash

    Chayote squash sauté with garlic and chives.
    Diana Rattray

    Chayote squash is a summertime squash that's native to Mexico and is popular in Creole and Cajun cuisine. It has a firmer texture than many summer squashes, making it good for sautés.

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  • 17 of 21

    Turkey, Bacon, and Avocado Club

    Turkey Bacon Avocado Club Sandwich Recipe

     The Spruce

    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.

  • 18 of 21

    Yuca con Mojo (Yuca With Garlic Sauce)

    Yuca With Garlic Sauce (Yuca con Mojo)

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    This is a version of yuca con mojo — yuca with garlic sauce. It's a delicious vegan Cuban dish, a combination of citrus, onions, garlic, spices and — of course — yuca. A staple of the Caribbean diet and very popular in African and Asian cuisine, this tuber is usually available in large U.S. grocery stores as well, either fresh or frozen.

  • 19 of 21

    Chicken Souvlaki Gyro

    Greek Chicken Souvlaki Gyro Wrap

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

    This Greek chicken souvlaki gyro sandwich recipe uses fresh marinated chicken which is cooked over a hot grill and then stuffed into a warm pita and topped with homemade tzatziki, tomato, onion, lettuce, and fresh dill.

  • 20 of 21

    Boquerones en Vinagre (Anchovies Marinated in Vinegar)

    Anchovies Marinated in Vinegar (Boquerones en Vinagre)

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    Anchovies have a bad reputation sometimes, which isn't quite fair. In Spain, these delicious and healthy little fish are prepared in a variety of ways: salt-cured, marinated, or pickled, and even battered and fried. This recipe for boquerones en vinagre or pickled anchovies are typically eaten as a snack and served with an alcoholic drink—sometimes as the free tapa that comes with the drink, especially in Madrid.

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  • 21 of 21

    Summer Seafood Pasta Salad

    Summer Seafood Pasta Salad

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    There's something so swoon-worthy about a big bowl of creamy pasta salad. Take the classic pasta salad up a notch by adding fresh seafood. The creamy ranch dressing pairs perfectly with crab, making this cold dish a real treat. Set it out at a potluck, grill-out, or picnic.