18 Top Easy Summer Dinner Recipes

18 Top Easy Summer Dinner Recipes

The heat outside soars into the 90s and the last thing you want to do is heat up your kitchen cooking a full meal for your family. However, eating out every night gets expensive is doesn’t fit into the budget at all. Enter easy summer recipes for dinner that don’t require you heat up your oven or spend a lot of time. Spend a few extra minutes at the pool, and put dinner on the table in under 15 minutes.

If you’re looking for summer recipes to flesh out your dinner menu, you probably don’t want anything too involved. After all, summer should be a time to kick back and relax a bit. Plus, who wants to heat up the house by cooking a full course meal such as a turkey dinner? Instead, try these 18 easy dinner recipes that can be made without cooking, in the crock pot or outside on the grill.

cold food ideas
Sandwiches are a cold food ideas go to but you can make them special by creating a buffet of choices.

Cold Food Ideas

Before we get to the roundup of summer recipes, let’s talk about cold foods that are satisfying enough to make a meal. All of these ideas are affordable even for larger families.

  • Sandwich buffet
  • Make ahead pasta salad
  • Fresh vegetables and fruits from the garden
  • A collection of cheeses, meats and olives
  • Cold soups
  • Tuna salad with celery for dipping

18 Summer Recipes

Let’s talk about simple summer recipes for dinner. These recipes are easy to get ready ahead of time or put on the table fast so you don’t spend hours heating up your kitchen. Some of them do require a little cooking, but it’s minimal.

Summer Recipe # 1: Easy Crock Pot Chicken

easy crock pot chicken provencal in a bowl with kitchen in background: Title image
Get Easy Crock Pot Chicken Recipe

The last thing you want to do on a particularly hot day is heat up your kitchen. The crock pot can be your best friend because it causes very little heat and cooks your food while you run errands, work or take the kids to various activities. You get to come home to a nourishing meal with very little effort. Invest in a large crock pot and you’ll be able to make a bigger batch and eat on the leftovers.

Summer Recipe # 2: Delicious Easy Kabobs

kabob appetizers
Get Easy Kabob Recipes

You don’t have to actually grill kabobs to make a meal. Check out these delicious ideas that are more like finger foods than a meal but when combined together are quite filling. These make the perfect lunch, dinner or food to serve at a gathering.

Summer Recipe # 3: Grilled Peppers

grilling peppers
Get Grilled Peppers Recipe

Did your garden give you an abundance of sweet peppers or you found a great bargain at the farmer’s market? Throw them in some dressing and add them to your grill. If you need some meat in the mix, you can add some pre-cooked ground beef you froze ahead of time or you can throw a couple of burgers on with them. Healthy, colorful and so simple!

Summer Recipe # 4: Salads in a Jar

salads in a jar
Get Salads in a Jar Ideas

I don’t know about your family, but we eat a lot of salads in the summer. Throw in some pieces of leftover grilled chicken, cut up some berries, toss it all together and you have a nourishing meal on the table in a few short minutes. These salad in a jar ideas can be made ahead of time and grabbed when you come home. Instead of chicken, you can also add boiled eggs and lunch meat. 

Summer Recipe # 5: Ultimate BLT

ultimate blt recipe
Ultimate BLT Recipe from Bon Appetit

Fresh tomatoes from the garden paired with lettuce and bacon – what could be more delicious or scream summer as loud? This ultimate BLT sandwich recipe can be made on the stove top or grill and is ready in mere minutes. Buy pre-cooked bacon to save even more time.

Summer Recipe # 6: Grilled Vegetable Gazpacho

grilled vegetable gazpacho soup
Get Grilled Vegetable Gazpacho Recipe from Food and Wine

I love a good soup and why not use up those leftover vegetables you made on the grill and create an amazing soup you can grab and eat anytime. Pair with crackers or sandwiches for a full meal.

Summer Recipe # 7: Grilled Veggie Burgers

easiest ever grilled veggie burgers
Get Easiest Ever Grilled Veggie Burgers Recipe from Bon Appetit

If you want to stick with things lighter and vegetable based, try these veggie burgers made to stick together well enough to cook out on the grill courtesy of Bon Appetit.

Summer Recipe # 8: Grilled Corn Tacos

grilled corn tacos
Get Grilled Corn Tacos Recipe from Love and Lemons

The thing I love about tacos is that you can stuff them with almost anything and have a meal. Why not use up some of that grilled corn from your cookout and make these delicious grilled corn and green bean tomatilla tacos from Love and Lemons.

Summer Recipe # 9: Tropical Layered Chicken Salad

tropical layered chicken salad
Get Tropical Layered Chicken Salad Recipe from Taste of Home

Ingredients such as mango, lime juice, honey and avocados give this salad a little tang and lot of flavor. Throw it together the night before.

Summer Recipe # 10: Basil and Parmesan Pasta Salad

easy basil pasta salad reicpe
Get Romesco Pasta Salad with Basil and Parmesan Recipe from Bon Appetit

Serve this pasta salad hot or cold for a quick meal. Make the pasta ahead for easier prep. Bon Appetit comes up with a super simple recipe you can throw together quickly for dinner.

Summer Recipe # 11: Hummus and Veggie Wrap

hummus and veggie wrap recipe
Get Hummus and Veggie Wrap Recipe from Taste of Home

Get in some legumes and veggies without any cooking by putting together this delicious hummus and veggie wrap. The summer recipe is also very budget friendly.

Summer Recipe # 12: Hot Dogs and Cast Iron Beans

hot dogs and cast iron beans
Get Hot Dogs and Cast Iron Beans Recipe from Country Living

We love this easy summer grilling recipe for hot dogs and baked beans in a cast iron skillet. Everything cooks on the grill, saving your home from the heat of the oven.

Summer Recipe # 13: Berry Spinach Salad

berry spinach salad recipe
Get Berry Spinach Salad Recipe from Cookie and Kate

Here is another amazing salad recipe that uses seasonal favorites such as fresh berries. Throw this together in just a few minutes for a quick, easy and cold dinner.

Summer Recipe # 14: Chicken Watermelon Tacos

chicken watermelon tacos recipe
Get Chicken Watermelon Tacos Recipe Here

These tacos combine two of our summer favorites – grilled chicken and watermelon. Use leftover chicken to throw it together even faster. Yum!

Summer Recipe # 15: Hawaiian Pasta Salad

hawaiian pasta salad
Get Hawaiian Pasta Salad Recipe from The Daily Meal

A salad filled with cold pasta, green onions, tomatoes, pineapple ham and topped with a special homemade dressing. Make ahead and have dinner on the table in minutes.

Summer Recipe # 16: Cutting Board Dinner

cutting board dinner
Get Cutting Board Dinner Ideas from Food Network

More of a concept than a recipe, cut up fruits, cheeses, meats and other cold finger foods and arrange them on a cutting board. Add some fresh bread and crackers.

Summer Recipe # 17: Hummus and Bread

homemade hummus recipe
Get Homemade Hummus Recipe from Martha Stewart

Another simple summer dinner that is also meatless is hummus. This homemade hummus is super simple to throw together.

Summer Recipe # 18: Orange-Almond Chicken and Cabbage Bowls

orange almond chicken and cabbage bowls
Get Orange-Almond Chicken and Cabbage Bowls Recipe from My Recipes

This salad recipe has an Asian flare. It brings together the best flavors of summer in a simple dish that’s quick to prepare.

More Time for Summer Fun

Utilizing no cooking cold food meals and low cook summer recipes frees up your time for summer fun before the warm days are gone and fall arrives. 

Crabby Housewife

AuthorCrabby Housewife

Lori is a full-time housewife and writer, living in the Midwest with her husband of 28 years - they have two daughters. They have a house full of pets and her house is never quite perfect.