Summer Dinner Ideas

This collection of summer dinner ideas includes all the best-grilled dishes, sandwiches, and fresh salads that are so enjoyable during the warm summer months.

More Collections: Summer Drink Recipes, Summer Dessert Recipes, Summer Salads

Collage of summer dinner ideas.

dinner ideas for hot summer nights

Do you feel like you’re MORE or LESS busy in the summertime??

Generally, I feel less busy because school is out and the kids’ sports and activities aren’t really in season. Although, I will say we spend a lot more time playing, doing day trips, and getting together with people!

That’s one thing I love about summer—having a little extra time to plan meals, and especially all of our favorite summer dinner recipes. We make a lot of grilled meats and fresh salads, and sometimes if we’re in the mood for a picnic, we’ll do sandwiches and wraps.

Here’s a collection of some of our most popular dinner recipes that we make in the summer!

Zucchini boats filled with meat, veggies, and cheese.

Tips for Summer Dinners

How to make summer dinner easy. Not only does the heat of the day keep me from wanting to slave away in a hot kitchen, but so do all my children – they’re all home from school clamoring for attention.

With all of the chaos, I’m always looking for easy summer dinner ideas. All of my best tips stem from one main idea: make a weekly menu.

  • Make a menu and fill out breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even snacks. Don’t forget to add the sides.
  • Base your grocery shopping list on the needed ingredients for the week. This way you know you have everything you need in the pantry and fridge for delicious meals without extra trips to the grocery store. 
  • Meal prep. Refer to your menu and decide if there is anything you can make ahead of time. At the end of each day look to see what you plan to serve the next day. Pull items from the freezer, chop, and mix up anything you can to make cooking go more smoothly the next day. Many people like to have one large meal-prepping day and keep items in the fridge or freezer until they’re needed. 

Summer Produce. Whether you want to create a delicious side dish, whip up a summer salsa, or serve a cool Summer Salad you can’t go wrong with using the fresh ingredients that are in season.  

  • Fruit. apples, avocado, lime, strawberries, grapes, pineapple, papaya, mango, blueberries, cherries, peaches, plums, raspberries, cherry tomatoes, watermelon, fig, pear, or lemon juice.
  • Vegetables. broccoli, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, green beans, radish, squash, lettuce, leafy greens, peppers, zucchini, beets, carrots, or onions.
  • Fresh herbs. basil, garlic, fennel, rosemary, parsley, bay, chives, dill,  mint, or oregano.
A rack of ribs being grilled.

cooking tips

Some recipes are worth turning on the oven for, but for the most part, cooking in the summer means utilizing the grill and my crock pot.

Here are a few quicks tips when using either.

Grill Tips.

  • Avoid putting cold food on the grill. Let the food sit at room temperature for 30 min before grilling. 
  • Don’t flip the food too much. If meat is sticking to the grill, just wait. It will release when it is ready to be flipped. 
  • Don’t squeeze or flatten the meat.
  • If cooking with wooden skewers, soak them in water before threading on the food.
  • Use a meat thermometer
    • Chicken: internal temp 165°F
    • Pork: internal temp 145°F 
    • Beef: rare 125°F, medium 145°F,  well done 160°F
  • Avoid burning thicker slices of meat by cooking in the oven for about 15 minutes before grilling.
  • Always allow the meat to rest for 10-15 minutes after cooking.

Crock Pot Tips.

  • Prep the ingredients the night before and add them in the morning.
  • Beef is often seared on the outside before adding it to the crock pot, but it isn’t necessary. Ground beef should always be browned. 
  • Cheaper cuts do better in the crock pot than more expensive cuts. 
  • For the most even cook, only fill the pot ½ to ⅔ full. Most recipes are adapted for a 5–6 qt pot.
  • For easy clean up use a crock pot liner. 
  • The appeal of the crockpot is to be able to set it and forget about it, usually for several hours. This is where the LOW setting comes in handy. The LOW setting (200°F ) takes twice as long to cook than the HIGH setting (300°F).
A bowl of asian pasta salad with a wooden serving spoon.

Serving tips

Keep those easy summer dinner recipes warm or keep them cold with these simple tips!

Keeping food warm outdoors

  • Keep warm food in an insulated carrier
  • Use chafing dishes
  • Cover pans with aluminum foil
  • If there is an outlet, use a crock pot
  • Don’t let food sit out for more than 2 hours

A few tips on how to keep food cold while outside:

  • Keep food in a cold cooler until you’re ready to serve it. 
  • Only set out enough food that will be eaten within 30-60 minutes. Keep the rest in the cooler and refill bowls and platters as needed.
  • Place ice in a bowl or baking tray. Nestle bowls/trays of food on top of the ice to help keep it cold.

Best summer dinner recipes

From classic summer hot dogs to Kalua pork, these summer recipes will not disappoint. Best of all? They’re all easy!

Sliders, sandwiches, and wraps are all perfect to take on a picnic, or just for a simple summer dinner at home.

Hot Dogs In Crock Pot

The easiest way to make hot dogs for a crowd! Cook hot dogs in the crock pot for all of your summer potluck needs.

1 How to Cook Hot Dogs in Crock Pot

Main Course How to Cook Hot Dogs in Crock Pot
Total Time: 2 hours 2 minutes
5 from 21 votes
Get the recipe

Steak Marinade

This is our all-time favorite steak marinade! It requires only four ingredients, and makes our steak taste SO amazing! Everyone always asks for this easy steak marinade recipe because it’s just that good!!

2 Steak Marinade Recipe

Main Course Steak Marinade Recipe
Total Time: 4 hours 5 minutes
4.96 from 67 votes
Get the recipe

Crock Pot Pork Roast

Prepare to be amazed by this ultra tender, fall off the bone crock pot pork roast. It only takes a handful of ingredients to make, including the complimentary gravy.

3 Crock Pot Pork Roast Recipe

Main Course Crock Pot Pork Roast Recipe
Total Time: 8 hours 5 minutes
5 from 16 votes
Get the recipe

Slow Cooker Kalua Pork

This slow cooker kalua pork is a classic Hawaiian favorite made easily in your slow cooker with just a few ingredients. Eat it on it’s own, or in tacos or sliders.

4 Kalua Pork Recipe

Main Course Kalua Pork Recipe
Total Time: 9 hours 5 minutes
5 from 30 votes
Get the recipe

Ranch Burgers

These ranch burgers make the BEST homemade hamburgers!! This easy burger recipe is complete with the most delicious secret sauce that compliments the ranch burger perfectly!

5 Ranch Burger Recipe

Main Course Ranch Burger Recipe
Total Time: 20 minutes
4.93 from 28 votes
Get the recipe

Pulled Pork

This delicious and easy pulled pork recipe is one that is made in the slow cooker and takes just minutes to prep!

6 Pulled Pork Recipe

Main Course Pulled Pork Recipe
Total Time: 8 hours 5 minutes
4.98 from 40 votes
Get the recipe

Huli Huli Chicken

This grilled Huli Huli Chicken is the juiciest and most delicious Hawaiian chicken you’ll ever try! Great alone or served on rice or noodles!!

7 Huli Huli Chicken Recipe

Main Course Huli Huli Chicken Recipe
Total Time: 21 minutes
4.99 from 50 votes
Get the recipe

Disney Copycat Corn Dogs

A copycat version of the famous hand-dipped corn dogs that you can find at Disneyland! This recipe is beyond simple and makes a delicious corn dog making you never want to buy store bought again!

8 Homemade Corn Dogs Recipe

Main Course Homemade Corn Dogs Recipe
Total Time: 17 minutes
5 from 69 votes
Get the recipe

Crock Pot Brisket

Juicy and delicious meat, easily made in your slow cooker! This crock pot brisket is so tender it just falls apart.

9 Crock Pot Brisket Recipe

Main Course Crock Pot Brisket Recipe
Total Time: 8 hours 5 minutes
5 from 143 votes
Get the recipe

Taco Casserole

Delicious taco casserole is like a taco salad in casserole form! This taco bake is perfect for dinner or your next potluck.

10 Taco Casserole Recipe

Main Course Taco Casserole Recipe
Total Time: 40 minutes
4.97 from 203 votes
Get the recipe

Hawaiian BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

Loaded with juicy grilled pineapple, red onion and crisp lettuce, this Hawaiian BBQ chicken sandwich is perfect for summer entertaining!

11 Hawaiian BBQ Chicken Sandwiches Recipe

Main Course Hawaiian BBQ Chicken Sandwiches Recipe
Total Time: 25 minutes
5 from 4 votes
Get the recipe

Chicken Souvlaki

Chicken souvlaki is a savory kabob infused with Greek flavors. With marinated chicken, onions, and peppers, it’s hearty and delicious.

12 Chicken Souvlaki Recipe

Main Course Chicken Souvlaki Recipe
Total Time: 41 minutes
5 from 12 votes
Get the recipe

Crescent Roll Chicken Bundles

Shredded chicken mixed with cream cheese, Italian dressing mix, and cream of chicken rolled into buttery crescent dough! These flavorful chicken crescent roll bundles have become a family favorite.

13 Chicken Stuffed Crescent Rolls Recipe

Main Course Chicken Stuffed Crescent Rolls Recipe
Total Time: 34 minutes
4.91 from 125 votes
Get the recipe

Monte Cristo Sliders

Sweet and salty Monte Cristo sliders are the ultimate party food!! Just like their name-sake, but as an appetizer.

14 Monte Cristo Sliders Recipe

Appetizer Monte Cristo Sliders Recipe
Total Time: 40 minutes
4.88 from 8 votes
Get the recipe

Sloppy Joes

Saucy and savory homemade Sloppy Joes are a delicious meat-loaded sandwich. This recipe is quick and easy, perfect for feeding a crowd!

15 Homemade Sloppy Joes Recipe

Main Course Homemade Sloppy Joes Recipe
Total Time: 30 minutes
5 from 13 votes
Get the recipe

BBQ Pork Chops

These baked BBQ pork chops are simple, delicious and smothered in a homemade BBQ sauce. They’re the perfect easy meal for the pork loin lover.

16 BBQ Pork Chops Recipe

Main Course BBQ Pork Chops Recipe
Total Time: 45 minutes
5 from 8 votes
Get the recipe

Baked Spaghetti Squash

Learn how to perfectly cook spaghetti squash every time with this fabulous recipe! Tender strands of spaghetti squash mixed with cheese, tomatoes, and a little bit of basil, both healthy and delicious!

17 Baked Spaghetti Squash Recipe

Main Course Baked Spaghetti Squash Recipe
Total Time: 40 minutes
5 from 5 votes
Get the recipe

Baby Back Ribs

BBQ baby back ribs are slathered in both a dry rub and sauce for a flavor explosion. They are tender and utterly delicious!

18 Baby Back Ribs Recipe

Main Course Baby Back Ribs Recipe
Total Time: 4 hours 40 minutes
5 from 10 votes
Get the recipe

Chicken Parmesan Sliders

Deliciously cheesy chicken parmesan sliders make a perfect appetizer, but can hold their own as a main dish too!

19 Chicken Parmesan Sliders Recipe

Appetizer, Main Course Chicken Parmesan Sliders Recipe
Total Time: 30 minutes
5 from 6 votes
Get the recipe

Steak and Tortellini Salad

A family favorite – steak and tortellini salad is hearty and refreshing. Tortellini, sirloin & romaine in a creamy pesto dressing is a must-have!

20 Steak and Tortellini Salad Recipe

Salad Steak and Tortellini Salad Recipe
Total Time: 25 minutes
5 from 7 votes
Get the recipe

Easy Summer Dinner Ideas

Baked, slow cooked, or grilled chicken dishes are always a hit with my family and make a delicious summer dinner.

This collection of no-brainer, easy summer dinner Ideas will let you spend less time cooking and more time playing!

Dr. Pepper Ribs

Pork ribs cooked in Dr. Pepper, grilled to perfection, and smothered in BBQ sauce. These Dr. Pepper ribs are fall off the bone delicious!

21 Dr. Pepper Ribs Recipe

Main Course Dr. Pepper Ribs Recipe
Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
4.85 from 19 votes
Get the recipe

Hawaiian Haystacks

A pile of fluffy rice stacked with chicken, gravy, and all your favorite toppings! Totally customizable, and great for feeding a crowd!

22 Hawaiian Haystacks Recipe

Main Course Hawaiian Haystacks Recipe
Total Time: 35 minutes
5 from 13 votes
Get the recipe

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Switch up pizza night with this smoky barbecue chicken pizza recipe. Best of all, it’s on the table in no time!

23 Barbecue Chicken Pizza Recipe

Main Course Barbecue Chicken Pizza Recipe
Total Time: 20 minutes
5 from 10 votes
Get the recipe

Pork Tacos

Pork tacos made simple using slow cooker pork and all of your favorite taco toppings! These tacos are flavorful, easy to make, and a big crowd pleaser.

24 Pork Tacos Recipe

Main Course Pork Tacos Recipe
Total Time: 6 hours 5 minutes
5 from 8 votes
Get the recipe

Easy Pizza Casserole

Quick and delicious easy pizza casserole – prepped in 5 minutes and only requires 5 ingredients. We call that a dinner win!

25 Pizza Casserole Recipe

Main Course Pizza Casserole Recipe
5 from 53 votes
Get the recipe

Egg Salad

Egg salad is classic, simple, and only requires a handful of ingredients! Serve it as a side, or make it into an egg salad sandwich. Either way, it’s perfect for feeding a crowd!

26 How to Make Egg Salad recipe

Main Course, Side Dish How to Make Egg Salad recipe
Total Time: 10 minutes
4.94 from 15 votes
Get the recipe

Buffalo Chicken Sliders

Simple + savory buffalo chicken sliders pack just the right amount of heat. They are great served as a dinner or appetizer!!

27 Buffalo Chicken Sliders Recipe

Appetizer Buffalo Chicken Sliders Recipe
Total Time: 35 minutes
5 from 17 votes
Get the recipe

Lemon Pepper Chicken

Flavorful and tender lemon pepper chicken is simple and requires just a few ingredients. Served on its own or over rice, this buttery chicken dish is perfect any night of the week for a simple, quick dinner idea.

28 Lemon Pepper Chicken Recipe

Main Course Lemon Pepper Chicken Recipe
Total Time: 15 minutes
5 from 1 vote
Get the recipe

Teriyaki Chicken Burgers

Marinated teriyaki chicken burgers are quick, easy and full of sweet, tangy flavor! Grilled pineapple make these burgers perfection.

29 Teriyaki Chicken Burgers Recipe

Main Course Teriyaki Chicken Burgers Recipe
Total Time: 1 day 20 minutes
5 from 18 votes
Get the recipe

Tuna Salad

Chopped tuna salad is the perfect summer side dish. Filled with fresh crisp veggies the color of the rainbow, protein packed tuna, and tossed in a light and refreshing lemon vinaigrette.

30 Tuna Salad Recipe

Side Dish Tuna Salad Recipe
Total Time: 25 minutes
5 from 15 votes
Get the recipe

Ham and Cheese Sliders

Quick + easy hot ham and cheese sliders are absolutely addicting. They are a crowd favorite and disappear in minutes!

31 Ham and Cheese Sliders Recipe

Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish Ham and Cheese Sliders Recipe
Total Time: 30 minutes
5 from 62 votes
Get the recipe

Chicken Caesar Salad

Ultimate Caesar Salad with grilled chicken, croutons, tomatoes, bacon, hard-boiled eggs, Parmesan cheese and tomatoes.

32 Chicken Caesar Salad Recipe

Salad Chicken Caesar Salad Recipe
Total Time: 10 minutes
5 from 19 votes
Get the recipe

healthy summer dinner recipes

Whether you’re making a delicious green salad or a wrap, use the freshest fruits and vegetables. Summer veggies, zucchini noodles, lettuce wraps, or turkey burgers.

There are plenty of tasty recipes to keep your summer delicious and healthy!

Zucchini Boats

Stuffed zucchini boats are filled with Italian sausage and tomatoes. They are a delish go-to healthy dinner idea.

33 Zucchini Boats Recipe

Main Course Zucchini Boats Recipe
Total Time: 35 minutes
4.94 from 29 votes
Get the recipe

Baked Chicken Fingers

A healthy way to eat chicken that kids absolutely love – baked chicken fingers! Chicken dipped in flour, egg, and panko, then baked to a crispy perfection! Not to mention they’re SO easy to make!

34 Chicken Fingers Recipe

Main Course Chicken Fingers Recipe
Total Time: 35 minutes
4.87 from 15 votes
Get the recipe

Asian Pasta Salad

Easy & delicious asian pasta salad topped with a sweet and tangy dressing is packed with veggies and flavor!

35 Asian Pasta Salad recipe

Salad Asian Pasta Salad recipe
Total Time: 15 minutes
5 from 2 votes
Get the recipe

Chicken Taco Salad

Crunchy and fresh chicken taco salad is a weeknight dinner dream! Easy, flavorful, and a recipe that everyone will enjoy.

36 Chicken Taco Salad Recipe

Salad Chicken Taco Salad Recipe
Total Time: 25 minutes
5 from 6 votes
Get the recipe

Strawberry Harvest Salad

Strawberry harvest salad tastes just like the salad at Zupa’s! It’s topped with a homemade strawberry vinaigrette dressing.

37 Strawberry Harvest Salad Recipe

Salad Strawberry Harvest Salad Recipe
Total Time: 10 minutes
5 from 8 votes
Get the recipe

Baked BBQ Chicken

Easy and healthy baked BBQ chicken – You can whip up the sauce, pour it over some chicken breasts, pop it in the oven and you’re done! 

38 Baked BBQ Chicken Recipe

Main Course Baked BBQ Chicken Recipe
Total Time: 25 minutes
4.72 from 14 votes
Get the recipe

Applebees Oriental Chicken Salad

This delicious copycat oriental chicken salad from Applebees is made with breaded chicken, cabbage, romaine, sliced almonds, and more tossed in a flavorful asian dressing! 

39 Applebee’s Oriental Chicken Salad Recipe

Salad Applebee’s Oriental Chicken Salad Recipe
Total Time: 15 minutes
4.93 from 54 votes
Get the recipe

Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad

Buffalo chicken pasta salad is filled with spicy buffalo wings and topped with a tangy blue cheese dressing. It is easy and delish!

40 Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad Recipe

Salad Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad Recipe
Total Time: 40 minutes
5 from 7 votes
Get the recipe

Cobb Salad

This simple cobb salad is so full of tasty ingredients it’s a meal all on it’s own. It is quick to make and utterly delicious. 

41 Cobb Salad Recipe

Salad Cobb Salad Recipe
Total Time: 15 minutes
5 from 9 votes
Get the recipe

Southwest Salad

Our favorite southwest salad recipe filled with chicken, peppers, beans, corn, tomatoes, avocado and topped with a homemade cilantro ranch dressing.

42 Southwest Salad Recipe

Salad Southwest Salad Recipe
Total Time: 15 minutes
5 from 14 votes
Get the recipe

Veggie Panini

Delicious veggie panini – one of our favorite sandwich recipes filled with cheese, tomatoes, avocado and spinach.

43 Veggie Panini Recipe

Main Course Veggie Panini Recipe
Total Time: 11 minutes
5 from 12 votes
Get the recipe

Chicken Caesar Wraps

Fresh chicken Caesar wraps are a simple, delicious variation of a Caesar Salad. It’s perfect for a lunch or picnic.

44 Chicken Caesar Wrap Recipe

Main Course Chicken Caesar Wrap Recipe
Total Time: 5 minutes
4.84 from 6 votes
Get the recipe

Simple Summer dinners

We hope you enjoy this collection of simple Summer dinners that are so easy to put together, but don’t compromise on taste! Whether you’re firing up the grill, using your slow cooker or putting together a hearty salad there is something for everyone on this list!

More Collections: Summer Soups, Summer Appetizers, Summer Side Dishes

Related Posts

Summer Desserts

During the summertime, we love making fruity, frozen, and no-bake desserts! This collection of summer desserts includes all of our favorites! More Collections: Summer Drink Recipes, Summer Dinner Recipes, Summer…

Summer Drink Recipes

Beat the summer heat with any of these delicious summer drink recipes! Serve these flavored drinks at BBQ’s and parties, or cool off with a refreshing fruit smoothie. More Collections:…

Summer Soups

Summer soups are usually lighter, less hearty and filling than soups served during other times of the year. Use up those summer veggies and get your soup on! More Collections: Winter…

Summer Side Dishes

Summer is a time of BBQs, swim parties, and lazy days. I love to BBQ, try new recipes, and have plenty of gatherings. From healthy to easy, I have summer…

About Kristyn

My name is Kristyn and I’m the mom of SIX stinkin’ cute kids and the wife to my smokin’ hot hubby, Lo. My mom’s maiden name is Luna, and I’m one of the many crafty “Lil’ Lunas” in the fam. On this site I like to share all things creative - from recipes to home decor to gifts and home decor ideas. Welcome!

Join the Conversation

Rate and Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. I really enjoy the lazy days of summer. The food choices are never ending. It’s a great time to grill or just make something really simple. All the recipes you need are right here.

  2. Summer is one of my favorite times for cooking! I love all these ideas, and can’t wait to try a few this summer.

  3. So many tasty looking recipes! I’m adding the ingredients for ranch burgers to my shopping list, and then I’ll be making the huli huli chicken! 🙂

  4. I love all the different salad options. Im just a beginning gardener, but do have a few things that I managed to grow. I’m looking forward to making all the different salads you have here.